I’ve been amazed at the amount of scepticism over the recent terrorist scare in Britain. Many, mostly left-liberal, commentators and huge sections of Muslim opinion don’t think there really was a terrorist plot at all. Nothing inherently wrong with that, except the bizarre rationalisations of their evidentially-challenged position that have been spewed out over numerous newspaper pages and air waves.

Many Muslims have played the race card: “it’s just us poor Muslims being victimised again…yadda yadda yadda.” [I suspect the same would have been said had we arrested the 7/7 bombers prior to their act of destruction.] Others think that it was just a government stunt to whip up fear. [Despite the fact that much of the intelligence came from Pakistan.] Even more suggest that it was a diversion tactic to take the focus off what was happening in Lebanon. [Despite the blanket coverage of that conflict through the press on a daily basis.] It’s important to note that this sort of shaky political analysis comes from the same minds that provide lots of weird and wonderful conspiracy theories about other world events. One Muslim interviewed mentioned that it was a matter of proven fact that it was the US air force who flew planes into the WTC. We’re using “proven fact” a bit loosely there, no? I guess if that qualifies for a “proven fact” label then so does the proposition that Elvis and Hitler enjoy tea-parties together in Mozambique. Another lovely theory deeply embedded in some minds is the one that denies the fact that the 7/7 London bombers were British Muslims, but which instead suggests it was the work of intelligence agents. I’m amazed at just how widespread this utter denial seems to be. Many Muslims simply won’t accept that some of their “brothers” have been radicalised to the point of terror plots.

However, what is also emerging is that mouth-pieces of such mindless conspiracy theories also keep their options open, just in case their recently arrested brethren are indeed guilty. And many of our left-liberal analysts help them to beef up the theory: These Muslims are all innocent men, but if they aren’t then British foreign policy is to blame.

I feel sorry for British foreign policy. It gets blamed for everything. There is a certain group of political commentators who like to link every misfortune to British foreign policy. The 7/7 London bombs: because of foreign policy. Increased racial tensions: because of foreign policy. Social unrest in impoverished areas? Blame foreign policy. Burn your toast? Bloody foreign policy! Finger go through the toilet paper when you were wiping your arse? Change the frickin’ foreign policy!

It’s an obsession. No sooner were we told that a massive terrorist plot to bring down transatlantic planes had been foiled than we were deafened by the clamour of guilt-ridden explanations regarding the “root-cause” of such extremist actions. It was Blair’s fault. It was the fault of our foreign policy. It’s illegal and immoral! The Socialist Workers Party were at it. The Guardian was at it. Muslim spokesmen were at it (despite the aforementioned denial). The spiel is spreading like the AIDS virus in Africa. Few of these folks can find it in them to condemn attacks or potential attacks without “we told you so,” or “well, no surprise really,” tagged on, along with a finger of blame pointing at someone other than the nut-cases who wish to and do blow themselves – and numerous innocent people – to shards. I wonder how they would respond to the family of a man killed while walking through a dodgy area: “Well, he had it coming really, didn’t he, going there? It’s his own fault really.”

Apologists for murderers and wackos have always been with us. Of course, they will deny that they are apologists for murderers. In their own minds they are just honestly attempting to understand the things that are going on in the world around them. But, their comments are both smug and self-satisfied. It’s as if they might just like to see a massive terrorist attack just to vindicate their position and placate their feelings of guilt. And it should be pointed out that their seeking to dissipate the responsibility for mass murder and terrorist plots has little to do with understanding. It is difficult to view the apologists as honestly seeking explanations for things going on around them when they are highly selective about what crimes and atrocities they apply their “root-cause” methodology to. They only ever use it when it suits their political ends. For instance: it suits the political agenda of the anti-war movement to offer a root-cause explanation of Islamist extremism in terms of the war in Iraq. The Socialist Workers Party also gain political capital with a root-cause explanation in terms of the oppressed people around the world bullied by Western Imperialists, (last year I was told by a member of the Socialist Workers: “you’re naïve if you think the 7/7 bombs in London were motivated by anything other than British and American imperialism”). They can easily direct blame towards their political opponents. What I want to know is why you never hear a “root-cause” explanation for certain other forms of thuggery. For example, lets say a bunch of racist thugs beat up an African immigrant because of the government’s immigration policy. I very much doubt that the apologists would be out in such force to give us a sympathetic “root-cause” explanation of this violence.

Sometimes the offering of this root-cause explanation even comes across as a threat, intended or not. A spokesman for the Muslim Public Affairs Committee condemned the murder or attempted murder of innocents but went on to suggest that if Britain didn’t grasp how very angry young Muslims are then more attacks would happen. Not a full-bodied condemnation by any stretch of the imagination. And I seriously doubt that if we sat down with these young angry Muslims over freshly brewed coffee and toasted bagels and reassured them that we understood how they felt but didn’t agree they would stop trying to blow up aeroplanes.

On their constant quest after the causes of terror they never quite manage to go beyond the “Blame Blair and Bush” mantra that has become rather tiresome. They never seem to catch on to the most basic “root-cause” of such atrocities. Why does George Galloway, who feels as strongly about Iraq as anyone else, not contemplate blowing himself up in the London underground? Why do millions of people in Britain who oppose much of our foreign policy not react via the bomb-belt? Why don’t Christians behave this way when they hear stories of persecution of their “brothers and sisters” in Islamic countries? How come most people don’t murder others when they’re angry? Could it be something to do with the fanatical, fundamentalist belief and values system that infects the heads of those who engage in this sort of terror? Might it have something to do with the cultures that nurture this mindset or at best fail to check it? This system teaches hatred and justifies murder. Unfortunately this most obvious of root-causes never gets a mention from the mouths of the apologists.

In any event, lets say the apologists are right on this occasion: the increase in the terrorist threat is solely because of our foreign policy. What is supposed to follow from this? It’s a classic logical error which runs like so: If X causes Y and Y is bad, then X is bad. But that simply doesn’t follow. The apologists seem unable to differentiate between two very different concepts: causality and moral responsibility. Just because a person, group or nation does something that contributes causally to a crime, atrocity, or other misdeed, does not mean that they are agents who must bear moral responsibility for that crime. An obvious example is the Second World War. Our involvement in the Second World War contributed causally to the German bombing of British cities, but this certainly did not mean that Britain had to bear moral responsibility for it. Moreover, our resistance of Nazism contributed to our being bombed by German planes. Since the latter was a bad thing are we committed to holding that the former was also? Hardly.

Unfortunately conceptual blurs and confusions are rife in the minds of the apologists. Writing in the Belfast Telegraph some time ago, the socialist thug Eamon McCann gave approval to sentiments expressed in a poem by his friend Mike Rosen. At several points in this poem we have the line: “If you go into other people’s countries and bomb them they will bomb you.” This poem was written after the London bombs, seemingly to explain the “root-cause” of the bombs – which for McCann & Rosen was the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – and dissipate responsibility for them. On this occasion the facts weren’t allowed to get in the way of a “good” poem. The plain truth was ignored: the bombers in London were all British. They were not Iraqis or Afghans. They weren’t even of Iraqi or Afghan origin. Three were Pakistani and the other one was Jamaican. To the best of my knowledge Britain had not engaged Pakistan or Jamaica with military action.

The idea that if we changed our foreign policy we would be safe is naïve at best, but in my view is utterly delusional. Extremists simply won’t vanish like a fart in the wind with a change of foreign policy. For a start we must remember that 9/11 came BEFORE Afghanistan & Iraq and during a time when the USA was making strenuous efforts to forge a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Also worth remembering is that the recent round of violence in Lebanon was initiated by Hizbollah – not Israel, the US or Britain. And in any event it’s not at all obvious that Britain would be safe from terror attacks if it changed its foreign policy. Extremists will not be appeased by such political fluctuations. They are defined by an intense hatred of the West, since its values are diametrically opposed to ours. There are many other grounds on which religious nut-jobs might seek to cause mayhem in Britain. The fact that we are infidels who should succumb to the supposed will of Allah in the form of Sharia law is an obvious one. Some commentators seem to think that the Middle East will return to some form of hippy utopia if only Britain and America changed their foreign policy? Nonsense. Most likely it would continue to pull itself to bits. Make no mistake about it, a change in foreign policy would bring only one change: a change in the justification for Islamist terrorism.

Furthermore, even if we would be safe from terrorist attacks by changing our foreign policy this is insufficient in and of itself to warrant a change. Take the Second World War once more as an example. If we stopped bombing Germany and withdrew our troops from Europe then the German bombing of British cities would have ceased. And yet despite this fact it would have been much worse to have withdrawn.

If stupidity was rice then the current band of apologists would be China. It’s bad enough having to fight a war against fundamentalist lunatics but it seems that we are destined to fight on a second front: against the lunacy emanating from the political left.

Stephen Graham.