Who let the bombs out?

Jim Jepps


Well, according to Aljazeera the occupying forces are clearly to blame for the mosque bombing.


Here's an extract "Wednesday’s attack on al-Askariya shrine is an insult to the sanctities of all Muslims that could be seen as the continuation of the offensive move by some Western newspapers that published disrespectful cartoons of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)... With Iraq heading closer to civil war, many feel like Dr. Nabil Salim, a political science professor at Baghdad University who says that U.S.-led occupation forces share blame, directly or indirectly, for the shrine bombing."

Now we don't know who is responsible for the bombing but I was shocked by the attempt to directly link the publication of the racist cartoons (our take on the cartoons row) with the bombing. The Hindustan Times gave prominence to this "[Mahboob Ahmed] vehemently denied the US charge that the recent bombardment of Shia shrine in Iraq was the work of Al Qaeda. Entire Iraq, he pointed out, was at the mercy of US and British troops and nothing could be done without their connivance."

Some other voices seem to share the idea that the occupiers might not simply be indirectly responsible (which I think is completely reasonable) to actually saying they might be directly responsible - despite there being no evidence for this at all, other than a respectable hatred of the occupying powers.

For example the normally excellent Lenin's Tomb moves into this territory here, but I wonder if this isn't a little hasty... Now the occupiers are dirty bastards - no question - this report from Socialist Worker is very useful at showing this, or this piece from the San Hose Mercury News, but that does not mean we should jump in feet first blaming every act of barbarism in Iraq on US special forces or whoever because "nothing could be done without their connivance" which is just plain rubbish.

The occupation has created the conditions where horrific acts of violence have become a daily occurrence and human beings are perfectly capable of acting against their own self interests at the slightest provocation. I'm not ruling out the possibility that US forces are to blame - but I'm certainly not going to suggest they were until I actually have a reason to think it.

Otherwise the anti-war movement is just going to be a mirror image of the pro-war ideologues like in this CBS piece which blames Al Qaeda without evidence. I suppose if we have a world full of goodies and baddies we know without the necessity of proof that the bad things are all done by the bad people and the good things by our lot. Unfortunately (or fortunately perhaps) the world is slightly more complex and we actually need to investigate things before we know what happened.

This piece in the Guardian is far more reflective for example (Martin Kettle) and what it helps clarify is that the allied forces can be held responsible for the mayhem, of which the recent bombings are a part, without necessarily being the people who laid the explosives. Of course there are also lots of things in this article that the anti-war movement will have an issue with, and rightly, but there is much here that's worth engaging with too.

I think it would be worth moving away from the 'good vs. bad' sloganising model of analysis on the war, particularly because most of the public are now convinced that the war was a bad idea. What we need more of is an understanding and discussion of the complexities of the situation - a bit more depth and a little less posturing perhaps.


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March 2006

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