Friday, November 21, 2003


What an extraordinary performance from British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on BBC Radio 4's 'Today' programme this morning. He dismissed as 'nonsense' any attempt whatsoever to link the invasion and occupation of Iraq with the current upsurge in activity by Al Qaeda and similar networks. Whereas one of the pillars of the government's support for US military policy on Iraq was precisely the link between Saddam Hussein's regime and 'terror networks', now Mr Straw is not demurring from interviewer John Humphries' assertion that there is 'not a shred of evidence' for such connectivity. It is a breathtaking reversal which indicates just how non-plussed the Western powers are right now.

The line coming out of Downing Street today is that 'extremists need no excuse for their cowardly and inhuman actions' -- the old ploy of simply reducing one's adversary to sub-humanity and irretrievable irrationality. This is not politics, it is superstition. By contrast, writer and former Catholic priest Oliver McTernan gave another considered Thought For The Day, drawing upon his fine book Violence in God's Name: Religion In An Age Of Conflict, which maps out the cultural, societal, geo-poltical -- and, yes, religious -- disturbances which have to be faced if governments are to respond with understanding rather than simply self-justification to the new world disorder.

See also McTernan's response to US Secretary of State Colin Powell's assertion that Iran has ‘dragged the sacred garment of Islam into the political gutter.’

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