Once again Britain has been the victim of a terrorist attack. Its the second in two weeks and the third one, in the UK, this year. As usual social media is full of comments ranging from ‘we will not be overcome’ to ‘don’t blame Islam’ to ‘ban all religions now’. To be fair some of these comments are understandable in a time when people are just trying to make sense of what is going on. But they all miss the point.
At this point it would be easy to go into a tirade about how civilians in the West are paying the price for the deaths of civilians in the East. When America dropped the ‘mother of all bombs’ on Afghanistan back in April it wouldn’t have been just combatants that got killed. Air strikes against military targets very rarely have just combatant casualties. Innocent lives will have been lost as well. So that makes an attack in London and Manchester ok?
No of course not.
That also misses the point.
The fundamental problem comes down to the West’s foreign policy towards the East. For years the West, in particular America and the UK, have manipulated regimes in the middle East. We’ve sold them weapons and in return they promise of access to much needed oil reserves and other natural resources.
Saddam Hussein was useful and our friend, until suddenly he wasn’t.
Osama Bin Laden had his uses against Russia, during the soviet- Afghan war. Until he didn’t.
Time and again this policy has come back to bite.
And yet nothing changes.
At the beginning of April Theresa May visited Saudi Arabia, the result of which was a £3.5bn worth of arms export licences. While Saudi may be our friends for now how long will that friendship last? It would be too simplistic to draw a link between the arms agreement and the Manchester and, second, London attack but these events do not happen in isolation.
I’m not for one moment suggesting that we should get rid of all our weapons. While I hate the idea of a first strike policy (at the very least there are too many possibilities for error) I do think a country should have the means to defend its population. However there is a difference between having something for self defence and selling it to someone else.
Perhaps instead it is time to stop building a financial structure around the bomb and, instead, focus on fostering a relationship built on friendship and trust.
We need to build trade around non-violent goods and services.
If we can build a culture of mutual respect and understanding we might then be able to go out onto our own streets without worrying that we might be the next target in an on-going cycle of violence.