Comment, Comics and the Contrary.
Jack Straw has today rebutted the conclusions of the report [pdf]
produced by Chatham House. According to the Guardian
, the report “found that a key problem in the UK for preventing terrorism is that the country “is riding as a pillion passenger with the United States in the war against terror”.” Straw’s response was reported as “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,” Now, this is not what Chatham House have said. They have said that this position is not a productive position with regards to reducing the level of terrorist threat. This argument may be wrong, but Jack Straw is not arguing this. He is simply engaging in a piece of misrepresentation.
But his utter stupidity comes when he cites the bombing in Turkey this weekend. The Guardian writes; “Mr Straw said Saturday's attack at a beach resort in Turkey also showed that terrorists “will seek any excuse” to strike. “They struck this weekend in Turkey, which was not supporting our action in Iraq,” Mr Straw said.”
Hang on. First, it is not correct to say that Turkey did not back the attack on Iraq. Turkish airspace was used by Coalition aircraft, and there are US military bases in Turkey. It may be the case that there are no Turkish troops in Iraq, but it is rather disingenuous to suggest that Turkey is disconnected from the War in Iraq.
But this is a minor point. The attack in Turkey was not the work of Al Qeada-inspired terrorists, so far as we currently know, but the work of the PKK
, a Kurdish non-Islamist group fighting for Kurdish autonomy. Kurds fighting for independence are useful heroes in one context and damnable villains in another, it seems.
The PKK may commit terrorist acts. But to imagine that they are part of the same phenomena or ideology as Al Qeada inspired terrorist acts is to commit yourself to a nursery school analysis where the IRA, ETA, Al Qeada, the Tamil Tigers etc. are all equivalent.
Furthermore, as the PKK are the prime suspects in this weekend’s bombings, the idea that there would be no link to the Iraq was is hardly surprising. Jack Straw is, appropriately enough, attacking a straw man, though one so poorly constructed it is difficult to know where to begin criticising his anatomy.
Given that Jack Straw is Foreign Secretary, you would expect him to have spotted that Turkey is blaming the attacks on the PKK, and to know the difference between Kurdish separatists and Islamists. So, the question is; is Jack Straw as misleading dissembler or simply an incompetent Foreign Secretary?