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The Chatham House report


Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 14 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have, to put it mildly, mellowed.

I'm not a believer in brushing the past under the carpet. I've written some offensive rubbish on here in the past: deleting it and pretending it never happened doesn't change that. I hope that stumbling across something that's 14 years old won't offend anyone anew, because I hope that people can understand that what I thought and felt and wrote about then is probably very different to what I think and feel and wrote about now. It's a relic of an (albeit recent) bygone era.

So, given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views may well have changed in the last 14 years. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find utterly cringeworthy today.
  • This post might use words or language in ways which I would now consider highly inappropriate, offensive, embarrassing, or all three.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken, and embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

Chatham House has published a report (PDF) whose conclusion is, in a nutshell…

There is no doubt that the situation over Iraq has imposed particular difficulties for the UK, and for the wider coalition against terrorism… The UK is at particular risk because it is the closest ally of the United States.

Jack Straw and Tony Blair, who have published precisely zero reports into this, are absolutely convinced that Chatham House is wrong:

“I’m astonished that Chatham House is now saying that we should not have stood shoulder to shoulder with our long-standing allies in the United States,” Mr Straw told reporters before chairing an EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels.

“The time for excuses for terrorism is over,” he said. “The terrorists have struck across the world, in countries allied with the United States, backing the war in Iraq and in countries which had nothing whatever to do with the war in Iraq.”

Of course, he’s very helpfully misrepresnted the contents of the report, which does not say that the UK should not have supported the USA, and also does not say that if we had not done so, there would be no terrorist attacks. The report merely suggests that antagonising terror cells increases the chance of a terror attack occuring. Which, logic says, it does.

Whilst terror cells are quite happy to attack many places in the Western world in order to make their voices heard, they are doubtlessly going to expend greater efforts attacking the countries which most greatly represent the ideology which they wish to attack. And if this country is attacking Muslims around the world, logic follows that we’re going to be somewhere near the top of the list. If we weren’t attacking them, we’d probably be a little lower down.

It’s also interesting to see today that Charles Clarke has decided that his ‘crucial’ new terror laws, which he claims are necessary to secure the country and help prevent further attacks like those in London, are now to be introduced only in December, because our hard-working MPs need a summer holiday, and really can’t be expected to stay back for an extra couple of weeks. If Charles Clarke continues to say that these laws are so ‘crucial’ after the summer, then I hope someone will point out to him that his own government have delayed their introduction twice – once by calling an early General Eleciton, and once by refusing a summer recall – and so they really can’t be that important.

As serious a story as this is, I think there’s room for a little humour. The Times provides this for us, with possibly the most ridiculous heading for a newspaper graphic so far this year: ‘Tentacles of Terror‘. Whoever said The Times was becoming more tabloidesque?

In all seriousness, Mr Blair and his government must begin to accept that their foreign policy has an impact at home as well as abroad. Until they do this, the country will be in much greater danger than is truly necessary.

This 678th post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics.

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Comments and responses

Comment from JTC

by JTC

Comment posted at 20:33 on 18th July 2005.

The front of todays daily mail says that the report directly links the London bombings with the Iraq war!! they’ve been on all the newschannels now denying it!!!!

Comment from sjhoward (author of the post)

by sjhoward

Comment posted at 20:35 on 18th July 2005.

The denials are probably as a result of the fact that the report doesn’t directly connect the two – it merely says that the actions of the British Army abroad increase the threat of terrorism. I’m not entirely sure from your comment whether you thought the report did or didn’t connect them…

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