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Former British Soldier: London Attackers Motivated By US and UK's Imperial Foreign Policy

A former British soldier who served in Afghanistan wrote an opinion piece for The Guardian arguing that “of course British foreign policy had a role” in the knife attack in London yesterday.

Joe Glenton, who spent five months in prison for refusing to serve a second tour in Afghanistan, addressed arguments that the attack was inspired by the Muslim faith, rather than blowback from US and UK foreign policy. According to one witness, who is currently being hailed as a hero for intervening, one of the alleged attackers said he was “…fed up with people killing Muslims in Afghanistan …"

Glenton writes:

It should by now be self-evident that by attacking Muslims overseas, you will occasionally spawn twisted and, as we saw yesterday, even murderous hatred at home. We need to recognise that, given the continued role our government has chosen to play in the US imperial project in the Middle East, we are lucky that these attacks are so few and far between.

Indeed, if there is collective responsibility for the killings, it belongs to the hawks whose policies have caused bloodbaths – directly, as in Afghanistan and Iraq, and indirectly in places as far apart as Woolwich and Boston, which in turn have created political space for the far right to peddle their hatred, as we saw in the immediate aftermath of the Woolwich attack.

Glenton’s point may seem obvious, but the response of some Londoners proves the necessity of reiterating the concept of blowback. After the attack, scores of members from fascist English Defence League stormed the streets of Woolwich, the South London distinct where the attack occurred. "This issue is political Islam, political Islam that is spreading across this country," EDL leader Stephen Lennon told Sky News. 

Glenton closed his piece by addressing the potential for reactionary violence against British Muslims and called for an end to imperial military actions.

What we must do now is straightforward enough. Our own responsibilities are first of all to make sure innocents are not subject to blanket punishment for things that they did not do, and to force our government – safe in their houses – to put an end to Britain's involvement in the vicious foreign occupations that have again created bloodshed in London.

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