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In Iraq, Britain Need not Apologise
Last uploaded : Monday 3rd Oct 2005 at 00:03
Contributed by : Carol Gould


London --

In recent weeks the word ?apology? has crept into the daily discourse as often as we in Britain ?ave a pint down the pub.?

London?s Mayor ?Red Ken? Livingstone was meant to apologise to a reporter from ?The Jewish Chronicle? for shouting at him and accusing him of behaving like a Nazi guard. To date it seems Livingstone has not done so and is due for a grilling by a committee that censures public officials. One doubts he will, considering his penchant for feting questionable imams and writing scathing editorials in the British broadsheets about the crimes of Israel.

The Metropolitan Police chief Sir Ian Blair has come under unprecedented fire for having suppressed letters that indicate he delayed the official investigation into the accidental killing of Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell underground station on 22nd July. The death of Menezes has garnered an extraordinarily large amount of press coverage and national angst, with every imaginable liberal writer and public official declaring this yet another example of Israeli-style ?head-shot? execution of a potential suicide bomber.

Never mind that in the immediate aftermath of the killing, it was reported that the Brazilian was not properly registered in the United Kingdom. Indeed, as he was not a Commonwealth citizen he would not have had the right to work or run a business in England without detailed permission from the Home Office. The police were exhausted, overcome with stress and fear as was all of Britain after the bombings and the near-tragedy of 21st July, and the fact that he had emerged from the same block of flats as one of the suicide bombers may have caused the trigger-happy officers to attack the electrician. (When I learned of his profession I could not help thinking of the nickname of the sleazy character immortalised by Jonathan Pryce in ?Miss Saigon.?)

This week, the family of Menezes visited the site of the murder, and the media circus around the tragedy continued unabated. Blair is now expected to do more than apologise and to resign. Little praise and honour have been accorded the police chief and his remarkable force who so quickly identified the bombers and apprehended, without a drop of blood being shed, the 21st July suspects. Sir Ian has warned this week of more attacks to come, but if his officers have to stand idle and watch suspects board tube trains and blow more Londoners up, we may as well all emigrate now.

This brings us to the apology the Church has recommended be offered the Muslim community of Great Britain for the nation?s involvement in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Putting aside for a moment the woeful situation that now exists in post-liberation Iraq, the idea that any Western nation that decides to support the removal of a brutal Gulf dictator should ?apologise? to a segment of its own population is absurd.

It is believed by some that this will ease the ?Muslim rage? amongst the young Britons who adhere to the religion and populate its ubiquitous mosques. Whenever the Iraq war is wheeled out as the motivation for terror attacks, one has to remind the world that during the Rabin-Oslo peace era Israel suffered unparalleled misery at the hands of suicide bombers, snipers and kidnappers. It was known as the ?Oslo Intifadah.? September 11th occurred after eight years of Clinton and his universally well-liked America, led in 2001 by a virtually inactive new President, George W Bush. At that time, pre 9/11, the Pentagon was the object of stories about the imminent departure of Donald Rumsfeld. That is how much the United States was provoking the Muslim world -- just about goose egg.

The very idea that the Church in England wishes to see the British government apologise for the Iraq engagement is ludicrous and should be abandoned without delay.

Perhaps instead the Muslim world might like to offer the planet?s Jews an apology for the disappearance of Dora Bloch, the cruel murder of Leon Klinghoffer, the obscene slaying of the Israeli Olympians and the countless civilians killed in suicide bombings in Israel and across the globe?

An even more grotesque request for an apology has come from the governor of Basra, where a fortnight ago a convoy of British soldiers, who up until then had got on famously with the local populace, was set upon by crazed rioters. The startled young troopers were forced out of their tanks as they became engulfed in flames.

Meanwhile, a car containing two SAS agents attacked two men in Basra. The Britons were taken into custody. The tanks then crushed the walls of the prison in which they had been told they were being held, only to find that the men were not inside. Prisoners escaped as a result. The men were eventually rescued from a private house, but not before the government of Basra demanded an apology from the British government for the attacks by their troops. Never mind the British, who have demonstrated generosity and restraint in the areas of Iraq they patrol, were attacked by a vicious mob intent on burning all of the tank crews to death and stoning those who were on fire. Never mind that the SAS men were at the receiving end of fire from men in police uniforms who, it transpires, are members of the dreaded insurgency.

The entire incident has exposed the unpleasant fact that the Iraqi police force is indeed being infiltrated by insurgents. So why on earth does the British government have to apologise ??? It beggars belief.

Finally, this week Walter Wolfgang, an eighty-two-year-old refugee from Nazi Germany and member of the British Labour party since 1948, was rather brutally ejected from the Labour conference in Brighton, England when he shouted ?Nonsense! It is a lie!? at Foreign Secretary Jack Straw during a speech about the value of the Iraq invasion. Walter and a young man who came to his aid were thumped by three enormous bouncers. They were dragged away by their shirt collars and then the elderly delegate was charged under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and led away by two police officers. Lauren Booth, Cherie Blair?s sister, told the media she has been ?warned? about voicing any dissent from the government line. Never has Great Britain looked so much like Nazi Germany as it did this week.

Even for those of us who supported the Iraq invasion and Tony Blair?s staunch alliance with the United States this incident was ugly and squalid. This sort of cheap thuggery has done nothing to advance the platform of the party whose Iraq and anti-terror agenda so many, including this publication, have supported. I know Walter and he is an eloquent man of immense integrity. Tony Blair has not yet apologised in person to him. What arrogance. This is one apology that is due.


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