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DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- George Galloway, the British MP who was last seen embarrassing the right-wing yahoos on the U.S. Senate committee investigating the so-called UN "oil-for-food" scandal, was absolutely correct when he said that "Londoners paid the price for Tony Blair's decision to go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan."
"Does this House believe that the hatred and bitterness engendered by the invasion and occupation of Iraq, by the daily destruction of Palestinian homes, by the construction of the great apartheid wall in Palestine, by the occupation of Afghanistan ... feeds the very terrorism of Bin Laden and other terrorists," Galloway said in Parliament after the July 7 bombing in London. "Is that really such a controversial point? Isn't that obvious?"
We know the answer to Galloway's question. It is a controversial point to those who believe that the U.S.-led and British supported invasion and occupation of Iraq was the right thing to do. It is a controversial point to those who believe the Sharon government can do no wrong and that the Palestinians deserve to have their houses bulldozed. It is a controversial point to those who believe Afghanistan is a success story and ignore the chaotic narco-state it has become.
The bombs that went off in London on July 7 didn't go off because the Muslim world "hates our freedom." On the contrary, they would love to see more freedom and less U.S. and British support for virtually every autocratic regime in the Middle East.
No, the bombs went off because too many Muslim countries hate the U.S. and Britain because of the actions of the two nations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Conservatives call this moral relativism. Let them, because they are wrong.
Osama bin Laden may not have directly plotted the London attacks, but he made it clear what the game is about. "If you bomb our cities, we will bomb yours," he said in one of his recent videos.
The bombs aren't going off in Stockholm. They're not going off in Geneva. They're not going off in Buenos Aries or Johannesburg. They're not going off in Beijing or Tokyo.
Why? Because the Swedes aren't sodomizing prisoners. The Swiss aren't dropping cluster bombs. The Brazilians didn't level Fallujah.
The Muslim world knows which countries launched an invasion of Iraq under dubious pretenses. They know which countries have committed atrocities. They know which countries support some of the worst dictatorships in the world. Most Muslims seethe silently with resentment and anger. A few, however, want revenge.
The Muslim world hates us for Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. They hate us for the 100,000 Iraqi civilians killed over the past two years of fighting. They hate us for the 500,000 Iraqis who died of disease and starvation during the decade-long U.S.-British embargo of Iraq after the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
It's time to dispense with the illusions.
President Bush may say, as he did on July 4, that "we're taking on the terrorists abroad so we don't have to face them here at home."
The only problem is, according to U.S. State Department data, the number of terror attacks tripled in 2004. A recent CIA report says that the number of terrorists is increasing, and Iraq is now a training ground for terrorists, just as Afghanistan was in the 1980s.
Invading Iraq didn't keep the bombs from going off in Madrid or London. And it won't prevent the next attack from happening on our soil.
Last September, a report commissioned by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld from the Defense Science Board, a non-governmental agency, came to the conclusion that the United States "should seek to reduce, not increase, perceptions of arrogance, opportunism, and double standards."
That panel also said that "when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy ... in the eyes of Muslims, American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has not led to democracy there, but only more chaos and suffering." It's not a question of diplomacy, they conclude, but "a fundamental problem of credibility. Simply, there is none."
The policies of the Bush administration have made us less safe. They have made us more vulnerable to terrorism. We cannot bomb our way to peace. We cannot impose democracy with guns. You can't expect to wage war and not get attacked in return.
Do you want to see peace? Getting the U.S. and Britain out of Afghanistan and Iraq and Israel out of the occupied territories would be a good start.
Do you want to see peace? The U.S. and Britain should support real democracy, and not merely pro-Western puppets. Support economic self-determination and not the capitalism on steroids that is the WTO.
In other words, the only effective way of dealing with terrorism is eliminating the conditions that produce terrorists. Without ending the cycle of violence, we'll see more days like July 7, perhaps again in this country.
Our current leaders can't see this. Worse, it seems that they don't want to see this.<


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Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 25 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at randyholhut@yahoo.com.

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