TCS Daily

Blaming the Victim

By Nima Sanandaji - July 19, 2005 12:00 AM

In many European countries both the populations and the politicians strongly oppose the war against terrorism. This might seem strange, given the fact that Islamic terrorism today poses the greatest threat to Western civilization. The reaction in Sweden towards the terrorist attacks in London might offer some insight in the European anti-war mentality.

The bombings in London were a merciless attack against innocent civilians that occurred in a country that is both geographically and culturally close to Sweden. Many of us have friends and family in London, where some 40,000 Swedish citizens reside. We have closely followed the vicious attack and are filled with sympathy for the British people. We understand that this is most probably the work of the same Islamic fundamentalists who were behind the Madrid bombings and the tragedy on 9/11. So why do we oppose the war on terrorism?

In our left-wing dominated political climate we are told that military force is the wrong way to deal with terrorism. Terrorism arises from "social injustices" and the only way to combat it is to create "global justice". We hear that the reason the Middle East is poor is not due to the catastrophic economic policies leaders in the region have implemented; rather the blame falls on the West, or more specifically the US. In the wake of terrorist attacks you can always count on Swedish left-wingers to suggest that we reward nations where the terrorists came from by giving them more foreign aid.

A good example of this argument comes from the editorial pages of the Swedish Social Democratic magazine, Norrländska Socialdemokraten. The day after the London bombings it explained that the war against terrorism was a failure and concluded that terrorism is "a warfare that we cannot protect ourselves against but that our leaders can eliminate. Something that is more about reconciliation and justice than warfare". The editorial further argued that the West was responsible for the poverty in third-world countries and explained how extensive aid programmes were the (only) solution to defeat terrorism.

In Sweden we are told that terrorism is simply a reaction to Western imperialism. By this twisted logic, many Swedish leftists put the guilt of the terrorist attacks in London on the British and the Americans, who have been fighting the terrorists, rather than the terrorists who have conducted the attacks. Perhaps Swedish "intellectuals" actually believe that the terrorists are trying to defend themselves from Western imperialism when they are filling the streets of London, New York and Madrid with the blood of the innocent. The more likely explanation is that the attacks are simply exploited as an opportunity to spread anti-American, anti-capitalist and anti-Western propaganda.

The editorial pages of the Social Democratic magazine Dala Demokraten summed up these left-wing ideas the day after the London bombings by explaining to its readers that "neither Bush nor Blair stand for the equal value of all people. Instead they are themselves to be regarded as terrorists... Blair's and Bush's perception of democracy creates terrorism and destroys people".

The predominant anti-war left in Europe always finds a way to see itself as morally superior. But its "strategies" to fight terrorism are not among the best. Rewarding countries that foster terrorism by giving them foreign aid would have the same effect as surrendering the war against terrorism; giving the terrorists positive feedback. This is exactly what happened after the Madrid bombings. The terrorist attacks that were conducted by Islamic fundamentalists changed the outcome of Spain's elections. Instead of a right-wing government that was dedicated to fighting terrorism in Iraq, a left-wing government was elected that withdrew Spanish troops from Iraq. This is exactly the kind of victory that fundamentalist Muslims seek when they carry out their acts of terror.

Islamic terrorists cannot militarily defeat the West, but they can intimidate us to bend ourselves after their will. Giving in to their force is the best encouragement they can get to perform further attacks. And that is often exactly what the left would like to see: "Bush out of Iraq" translates as "Surrender the Iraqi democracy to murderous terrorists".

There is little doubt that Islamic terrorists are willing to kill as many westerners as possible. If they got their hands on biological or nuclear weapons they would wreak havoc in the Western world. Hopefully, the Americans, the British and their allies can stop them before this happens. Even if the worst came through and millions fell as victims to Islamic fundamentalism, countries such as Sweden might very well stand as "neutral" in the war against terrorism, putting the blame on the American and the British. After all, Sweden has a long tradition of "neutrality". We did not take sides against Adolf Hitler and we placed the Soviet Union and the US on the same moral ground during the Cold War.

The only reason that freedom and democracy still exists in Europe is that nations such as the UK and the US were willing to fight the evils of Nazism and Communism. This might not often be acknowledged in anti-war nations such as Sweden, but as a Swedish citizen I would like to express my gratitude for the sacrifices that the UK and the US have made in fighting the evils of our time. Thank you for standing up against Islamic fundamentalism.

The author is the president of the Swedish think tank Captus and the editor of the Captus Journal ( He has been admitted to graduate studies in biochemistry at the University of Cambridge.


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