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British Fifth Column By: Michael Radu
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, October 03, 2002


On September 28 a march "against war and for Palestine" was held in London. It was, as The Guardian put it, "a big day out in Leftistan." What the police initially described as "four men with beards and a small dog" became a large-scale demonstration of what is becoming a serious threat to Western values, civilization, and security: the transformation of the remnants of the Left into fellow travelers of Islamic terrorism. The sons of "Uncle Joe" Stalin's admirers have found a new hero in Yasser Arafat and a new victim to defend against "imperialist" (read democratic Western) aggression in Saddam Hussein. This also explains the simultaneous march in Rome, organized by the unreconstructed Stalinists of the Communist Refoundation Party, with the participation of a PLO representative and Bishop Hilarion Capucci, convicted in Israel's courts in the 1970s for aiding PLO terrorists.

The London demonstrators included the likes of London's independent Lord Mayor, Ken Livingstone (so "Red" that it got him expelled from the Labor Party), the Bishop of Bath and Wells, former Labour candidate for prime minister Tony Benn, the by now ubiquitous nuisance Scott Ritter, and, most interestingly, the Muslim Association of Great Britain.

One may wonder what socialists, who are atheistic by self-definition, have in common with Islamic fanatics. Or what Muslims in Britain (I do not say "British Muslims" since many of their leaders have said they do not see themselves as British at all), mostly from Pakistan or Bangladesh, have to do with Palestine. Indeed, what do "Red Ken" and the imams have in common with each other?

The twin slogans in London were "Don't Attack Iraq" (i.e., "Leave Saddam Alone!") and "Freedom for Palestine" (as in, "Leave Hamas Alone!") - a consistent approach indeed, but one that may be puzzling to those who fail to understand the profound moral and conceptual relationship between the Western Left and the equally anti-Western Muslim terrorism.

We must turn to "slogan analysis" to understand this. Osama bin Laden talks about Western imperialism and considers Muslims its victims, too. When he occasionally remembers the Palestinians, he says that they too were victims of Western and Zionist aggression. This is just how the Marxist and anarchist Left sees them. Many spokesmen of Islam describe their religion as one of "peace" (never mind the Islamic empires after empires throughout history, or the actions of Mohammed himself), which is as credible as the claims of the present reincarnation of the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament to be for "peace" rather than capitulation. In the Islamists' case, the pretext for unilateral Western disarmament against Islamist terrorism is that any use of force is "against Islam." For their leftist allies, the use of force is by definition "imperialist aggression" and hence evil. The intended result is the same: that when an act of provocation puts a nation into the position of having to choose between giving terrorists immunity or using Western (especially American) force against them, one is morally forced to choose immunity. After all-and here again, Osama and "Red Ken" agree-Islam is the aggrieved side, historically victimized by crusaders and imperialists.

Both the Western Left and the Muslims agree that the Palestinians are victims of Zionist aggression, and thus, indirectly, of the American imperialism behind Israel. Implicitly, they also agree that suicide bombers in Tel Aviv restaurants act in self-defense, just as both agree that September 11 was a response to American aggression. Ultimately, what unites them is a common enemy: the United States. That is what promises to make this de facto alliance a lasting and dangerous one. Viewed in this light, when the Stalinist and the pro-terrorist Bishop march together, they do it for reasons beyond opportunism. They do it because they share the same fundamental values.

Consider the recent statement by the communist parties of Jordan, Sudan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt opposing a U.S. attack on Iraq, even though they all recognize Saddam's long-standing policy of murdering communists. The implicit argument? That between even the appearance of siding with the Great Imperialist Satan and being killed by Saddam, one has to prefer the latter. When Rev. Garth Hewitt, vicar at All Hallows on the Wall in London, condemns those who "seem to think that violence is the solution," he is not talking about Saddam or Hamas, only about Bush and Blair. This is precisely the implicit sentiment of those, mostly clerics, who say that they oppose war because innocent Iraqis may die, which must mean that they prefer for innocent Iraqis to be killed by Saddam Hussein than by Americans.

Islamists have consistently called for the use of the "oil weapon" against the West. But then, so do their fellow travelers on the Left. "This is all about oil," says "Red Ken" (along with the antiglobalist mobs in Washington). The implication-"this is about keeping capitalism and Western civilization going, so we must oppose it"-mirrors Osama's sentiments.

But there are differences. The Palestinian children marching in London and singing about "Sharon and Hitler" would have it wrong in Osama's eyes: to him and his ilk, Hitler was the good guy. It's only the Stop the War Coalition (SWC) that sees the two as the same. No doubt the Palestinian children's parents will reeducate their children in time.

Morally, all this is repulsive. Logically, it makes as much sense as the London activist hawking T-shirts at the march with the sales pitch "Get your T-shirts here! Say no to war! No to Blair's global imperialism! No to Capitalism! Only ten pounds." An accurate, and capitalist, pricing!


Michael Radu is Senior Fellow and Co - Chair, Center on Terrorism and Counterterrorism, at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia.


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