The Right Coast

July 19, 2005
Fifth Column Marches Again
By Maimon Schwarzschild

There was a week's pause after the London bombings, just for form's sake. Now those hoping that terrorism will achieve in Britain what it achieved in Spain are emerging, as inevitably they were going to. A report by two academics (of course...) has been splashed on all the British front pages, blaming Britain's participation in Iraq -- and especially Britain's subordinate role as a "passenger" in the US-led coalition -- for the terrorist attacks. Tony Blair and his government are rebutting vigorously, pointing out the obvious, that Islamist (and al-Qaeda) terrorism long antedated allied action in Afghanistan and Irag. And Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, says he is "astonished" that the report suggests "that we should not have stood shoulder to shoulder with our long-standing allies".

The fundamental bad faith in the academics' report comes through in their prominent complaints about Britain being a "passenger", and the US being the leader of the alliance in Iraq. (This is academese for "Bush's poodle".) Obviously, if Britain is a target for joining in the action against Saddam Hussein, she would be no less a target if she were an "equal partner" (or the "leader") in the war. It's clear enough: like many intellectuals (and "intellectuals") in England, the authors no doubt despise the US and resent the Anglo-American alliance, especially with the reviled Bush as President.

Will "Spain" come to pass in England? There is reason to think the British are made of sterner stuff, despite the best efforts of much of the intelligentsia. Also, the Chirac French and Schroeder Germans are less and less an option for any sort of alliance with Britain.

Also, there is no imminent election in Britain.

But Tony Blair -- and those who stand with him, and with the alliance -- will never have an easy time politically. And there will be no inhibitions now, among any of the usual suspects, about invoking (and exploiting) the terrorist attacks against Blair and against the alliance.