Politics & Policy

The London Streets

Who are these anti-Bush people?

LONDON–George W. Bush’s visit to London this week will be historic for at least two reasons. He will be the first U.S. president to come to Britain on a state visit. He will also observe a bizarre political marriage: one between the remnants of the Marxist-Leninist Left and militant Islamists. Negotiated over the past two years, the “wedding,” will be celebrated in a mass demonstration against Bush’s visit.

#ad#The demonstration is organized by a shadowy group called “Stop the War Coalition,” part of the Hate-America-International, which has orchestrated a number of street “events” in support of the Taliban and the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein since 2001.

When I called the coalition to ask whether the idea was to stop all wars, a spokeswoman assured me that this was not the case.

She referred me to the first article of the coalition’s charter that states: “The aim of the coalition is simple: to stop the war currently declared by the United States and its allies against ‘terrorism.’”

“We really want to stop Bush and Blair from going around killing babies,” she said. “Our objective is to force the U.S. out of Iraq and Afghanistan.”

But what if a U.S. withdrawal means the return of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein?

“Anything would be better than American Imperialist rule,” she snapped back.

Who are these nostalgics of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein?

The coalition has a steering committee of 33 members. Of these, 18 come from various hard left groups: Communists, Trotskyites, Maoists, and Castrists. Three others belong to the radical wing of the Labour party. There are also eight radical Islamists. The remaining four are leftist ecologists known as “Watermelons” (Green outside, red inside).

The chairman of the coalition is one Andrew Murray, a former employee of the Soviet Novosty Agency and leader in the British Communist party. Cochair is Muhammad Asalm Ijaz of the London Council of Mosques. Members include John Rees of the Socialist Workers’ party and Ghayassudin Siddiqui of the Muslim Parliament. Tanja Salem of the Al-awdah (The Return) group, an outfit close to Yasser Arafat, is also a member along with Shahedah Vawda of “Just Peace,” another militant Arab group, and Wolf Wayne of the “Green Socialist Network.”

A prominent member is George Galloway, a Labour-party parliamentarian under investigation for the illegal receipt of funds from Saddam Hussein. In his memoirs, Galloway says that the day the Soviet Union collapsed was “the saddest day” of his life.

Galloway says the only terrorism in the world today comes from the United States, not from organizations such as al Qaeda or the remnants of the Iraqi Baath party.

The coalition was created in London in September 2001, at first as an exclusively leftist concoction bringing together the remnants of the Stalinist “peace movement” of the 1950s, diehard “no nukes” activists, and some fellow travellers.

The coalition has succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of its founders. For the first time ever it has brought together all radical leftist and anarchist groups. Under its umbrella march such traditional former archenemies as Stalinists and Trotskyites.

But the coalition’s biggest success is the alliance that it has forged between the extreme Left and militant Islamist groups. This would have been unthinkable even a couple of years ago. The Left always regarded Islam as a “relic of feudalism” and an instrument of reactionary Arab regimes. For their part, the Islamists regarded leftists as atheist enemies who had to be put to the sword.

The first to advocate a leftist-Islamist alliance against Western democracies was Ayman Al Zawahiri al Qaeda’s #2.

In a message to al Qaeda sympathizers in Britain in August 2002, he urged them to seek allies among “any movement that opposes America, even atheists.”

The idea has received strong support from Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, the Venezuelan terrorist known as “Carlos the Jackal.”

In his book Revolutionary Islam, published in Paris last month, Carlos, who says he has converted to Islam, says he has advised Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader, to forge an alliance with “all guerrilla, terrorist and other revolutionary groups throughout the world, regardless of their religious or ideological beliefs.”

Carlos says Islam is the only force capable of persuading large numbers of people to become “volunteers” for suicide attacks against the U.S.

“Only a coalition of Marxists and Islamists can destroy the US,” he says.

This week’s anti-Bush demonstration in London will mark the emergence of a coalition the hard core of which consists of the radical Left and militant Islamism. Around it we find other groups who hate the U.S. for different reasons. There are supporters of free abortion, opponents of capital punishment, anti-globalization fanatics, advocates of the Kyoto protocol on the environment, and anti-Semites who believe the Jews control the United States. But a good part of the planned demonstrations will, as always, consist of what Lenin called “the useful idiots”, men and women of good faith whose political naiveté makes them natural targets for experts in agitprop.

But why are these people taking to the streets?

One reason is that the parties, groups, and individuals involved have consistently failed to find a place in the normal institutions of British democracy.

The 60 or so leftist and Islamist groups involved in this odd enterprise have never managed to win more than one half of one percent of the votes in any British general election. Nor have they succeeded in winning a single seat in parliament or a majority in a single municipal council.

Those who can never win elections, always take to the streets. Street politics enables them to escape debate on complex issues that cannot be reduced to a few simplistic slogans.

Britain’s participation in the war against terrorism was the subject of four exhaustive debates in the House of Commons in 2001 and 2002, each followed by a vote that Prime Minister Tony Blair won.

Street politics is for those who wish to abolish individual political judgment, the cornerstone of democratic life. Street politics encourages the irrational tendencies of crowds that could turn into hunting packs or lynch mobs. Power won in the streets produces only ochlocracy (rule by the worst).

To make sure that no discordant voice is heard, the organizers of the demonstrations have announced that only “authorized” t-shirts, hats and other paraphernalia will be allowed. Only four slogans are permitted: “Stop Bush,” “Stop Blair,” ” U.S. Out of Iraq and Afghanistan,” and ” Bush Go Home!”

The demonstration’s security force, made up of muscular Marxists and Islamists, has instructions to prevent any sign of pro-American sentiments. A group that has said it wants to take part in the demonstrations with t-shirts saying “Bush-Cheney: Four More Years!” has been warned of “dire consequences.”

The London demonstration is planned and will be supervised in the best Stalinist traditions still in force in North Korea.

In countries that suffer under despotism, the street is, at times, the only space available to the opposition. This is why we hear so much about the so-called “Arab street.” But do we need a “British street” that disdains the institutions of democracy, including mainstream political parties, and the parliament?

Amir Taheri, and NRO contributor, is an Iranian author of ten books on the Middle East and Islam. Taheri is reachable through www.benadorassociates.com.

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