FOUR decades after making his name as one of Britain's leading student radicals and Vietnam War protesters, Tariq Ali still finds his career being shaped by Washington's military entanglements.
The veteran left-winger spent most of the 1970s and '80s producing political history books and documentaries for British television but was jolted on to a new writing path by the 1991 Gulf War.
Tony Blair is not just misguided, he is a ruthless menace to democracy and willing to destroy thousands of lives to suck up to George W. Bush. The shooting on the London Tube of innocent Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes was not an accident committed by nervous police but a "public execution" intended to show everybody that the security services meant business. Torture and detention without trial are other weapons deployed by a government "determined to dodge the fact that the recent wave of violence in London was provoked by its own disastrous [foreign] policies". Blair's "repeated insistence that the invasion had nothing to do with the London bombings is simply preposterous", Ali declares, citing opinion polls that show most Londoners agree with him. In fact, the bombings on London's Tube and bus networks would not have happened at all, Ali says, if the British Prime Minister had been voted out of office in May.
Instead of dismissing Islamic extremists as irrational evildoers, Western governments must acknowledge that most Islamic terrorism is a deplorable but understandable response to "the violence that is being inflicted on the people of the Muslim world".
Ali insists that terror suspects are being tortured in British prisons - he admits that he can produce no evidence - and accuses Blair of using an unprecedented hold on "state, media, church and party" to curb civil liberties.
expatriot in Middle East as child, retired teacher.