Sunday, July 10, 2005
  Casus Belli
(Edited and reposted)

London not only deserved to win but, what's more, really, really deserved to enjoy how that made it feel for a whole lot longer than it did.

But it wasn't about London. What happened on Thursday was a routine day in Baghdad.

It isn't about incidents at all, devastating though they are to the victims and their families.

It isn't about al-Qaeda. Their time is now, but it could have been, and in the 70's and 80's in London, Birmingham and Belfast it was, the IRA. It could also have been, and before last year in Madrid it was, ETA.

It isn't about Islam, although al-Qaeda may claim it is.

It isn't about anti-imperialism or anti-Americanism, although these are convenient pegs.

The Bali bomb killed more Australians than any other nationality, but bombs, by their very nature are indiscriminate. No nationality can claim freedom from terror, and therein lies the root cause.

What the world faces now is akin to fascism, communism, multinationalism and all the other isms. This is a totalitarian quest to dominate.

Whether you are brown or white, Muslim, Christian, Jew or atheist, it is uncomfortable to face the fact that there is a messianic cult of death which, like European fascism and communism before it, will send you to your grave whatever you do.

The perpetrators are in denial of diversity and the essence of the human spirit. In binding humanity both for and against it, al-Qaeda pursues a single-minded path.

Casus belli is now widely used to simply mean a nation's motives for going to war, without reference to any other formal documents or proposed means of redress, and sometimes without even implying that these motives are just.

Adherents to their cause do not have a choice once that choice is made. The rest of us do, yet few seem to be asking why such outrages can even be dreamt up let alone perpetrated.

Two similar viewpoints are offered which are unlikely to be taken on board by the powers-that-be.

Zaid Hassan has posted his reflections as a Londoner and a Muslim.

Why is no one talking about injustice? Surely it's obvious? Surely we all know that the prime cause of terrorism, of such acts is injustice? Surely we know that if terrorism is madness then it's a madness caused squarely by being a victim of forces beyond comprehension? By being on the receiving end of an intolerable amount of injustice? Of having no tears left, of being drained of empathy.

I search around me in vain for empathy. I can see courage, bravery, bluster, pain, fear, sadness, but no empathy. No empathy and no justice.

Ali Mostashari at Free Thoughts on Iran suggests that extremists of all stripes are partly to blame.

The choice of the Islamic fundamentalists, the Neocons and Christian Fundamentalists seems clear. What is unclear in this period of time is the role of the progressive peoples representing the multiple civilizations at odds. For long the only thing we have achieved is to condemn acts of wars and atrocities, without an actual and concrete alternative to offer.

So how about it? Do we want to sit and watch while the hatemongers in our nations take over the destiny of mankind and steer us towards massive bloodshed? What concrete ways are there to address issues of terrorism and bigotry in the Middle East, the growth of the military-industrial complex and religious fundamentalism and the retreat of rationality and human ideals in the West? Are there ways to address these issues on a global level?

Jakartass can see that the powers-that-be intend to continue their 'war against terrorism'. Not only will this involve military escapades against 'radicals' in oil producing, previously non-Coca Cola consuming countries but 'back home' there is the ready made excuse to reduce civil liberties.

In Britain, these long-enshrined civil liberties are already being eroded with the move to introduce a compulsory ID card and the notion to introduce email spying.

However, crushing Islamo-fascism means clinging to our grandiose dreams of eradicating poverty. It means never allowing last week's spirit of survival to fester into hatreds and bad laws.

It's important to remind ourselves that we have in our hands the tools for our own transformation, and we can make the world a better place through our own actions. There are some who wish to change the world through fear and violence, but there are far, far more of us who want to change the world through knowledge, cooperation, democracy and a long-view wisdom about both our responsibilities and our opportunities. The future is on our side.

Who will take on board the 'clear and sane message' of Mary Robinson? She was the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights who reminded world leaders that any effort to eradicate terrorism can not be made at the cost of human and civil rights.

What she said was: "The best tribute we can pay to the victims of terrorism and their grieving families and friends, is to ensure that justice, and not revenge, is served".

She also cautioned against the violation of human rights in the global 'fixation' with the war against terrorism and said: "What must never be forgotten is that human rights are no hindrance to the promotion of peace and security. Rather they are an essential element of any strategy to defeat terrorism."



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