As the death toll of the London bombings continues to rise, I can't help thinking about the Downing Street Memo and wonder if, deep down inside, Tony Blair, George W Bush and John Howard, are starting to realize what they have started. Are they connecting the dots? Was this part of a collateral damage assessment when they made the decisions in 2002/2003 to invade Afghanistan and Iraq? When they were carefully duping the public about the justifications for attacking these countries, did they genuinely believe they could prevent the fight being brought to our streets indefinitely?
Let's not forget who started this conflict. It was Western governments who sent troops into Arab countries - not the other way around. It's Western countries who maintain a multi-billion dollar per annum investment in military bases on Arab land - not the other way around. We - Australia and our allies - invaded Iraq in March 2003 with no justification. And our chickens will be coming home to roost for many years to come. Our leaders are fond, at moments like this, to stand at podiums and talk somberly about "defending our values and our way of life" and the terrorists' "determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people".
And then I start thinking about the 22,787 - 25,814 civilians who are estimated to have been killed in Iraq since March 2003 and I wonder about the hypocrisy... I wonder... if I were Blair, Bush or Howard, how would I rationalize these deaths (Iraq, 9/11, London) and the ongoing security threat in our countries to myself? Are a few thousand deaths here and there just collateral damage?