Blowback from ‘Regime Change’ policies: the need for better public debate

Terrorist acts on British soil have been committed by people revealed to have been not only known but actively supported by British intelligence agencies.  They were supported in carrying out acts of violence in other countries, including Libya and Syria, because it was in accordance with UK foreign policy objectives. Those objectives themselves were highly questionable, and the methods still more so.  Meanwhile, we have started to learn – and at a bitter cost to those killed or injured, and their friends and families – what goes around comes around.  What went around was not fair or deserved in Libya or Syria, and it is cruelly arbitrary for lives to be lost or terribly changed in our country too.

Blowback is, I fear, a word we may find ourselves using increasingly and for some time to come. We should certainly try to get as focused, rational, mature and responsible an approach as possible to the complex problem we face.  That would mean raising the level of public and political debate somewhat from what has become usual.

For that reason, a number of us – 62 academics and journalists, including John Pilger – have signed the letter below that has today been sent to the Guardian.  In case you don’t get to read it there, it is reproduced below. 

Update: the letter appears in the Guardian 9 June 2017,

Update: Noam Chomsky has added his signature 19 June 2017.

(For more background see also the article on OpenDemocracy by our letter’s lead author Piers Robinson.)


From 9/11 to the London Bridge Attack: Time to Rethink the ‘war on terror’

Today, 16 years since 9/11 ushered in the US-led ‘war on terror’ and with attacks now occurring across Europe and multiple wars across the MENA region, it is time for the West to reflect far more deeply on these matters. Whilst the attacks should be condemned and sympathies expressed for the bereaved, these actions will not address the ways in which terrorism has become interwoven with Western foreign policy.

To date, policy responses involving civil liberty crackdowns, threats to control the internet and repressive measures such as Prevent, which target entire communities, especially Muslim, have not been evidence-based and have, indeed, run counter to advice from experts and the security agencies themselves. Responses to the immediate problem of terrorist acts, such as those witnessed in London and Manchester, need to be much more intelligent and informed.

At the same time, simplistic and politicised representations of ‘Islamic fundamentalist’ terrorism vs. the West are wholly inadequate and are belied by emerging facts. It is now clear that, even as far back as the response to 9/11, the US sought to exploit this event in order to initiate regime operations against countries unconnected to Al Qaeda. The recent Chilcot Report quoted a British Embassy report stating ‘The “regime-change hawks” in Washington are arguing that a coalition … (against international terrorism) could be used to clear up other problems in the region’. The most notable outcome of this exploitation was the catastrophic invasion of Iraq.

More recently, the highly destructive conflicts in Syria and Libya have highlighted powerful inconsistencies regarding Western governments claim to be fighting terrorism. In Syria, the priority of toppling Assad has involved support, intentional or unintentional, for a variety of extremist groups and key allies, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which have been implicated in providing support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups. Indeed, the UK’s relationship with Saudi Arabia based on massive arms deals, and support in that country for ‘Islamist Jihadists’, has now become an election issue in the UK. Regarding Libya, the recent Manchester attacks have triggered remarkable claims regarding the possible relationship between the alleged attacker, Salman Abedi, and British security services and a broader policy of facilitating the movement of extremists between the UK and Libya to help overthrow Qadafi in 2011.

Responding to the dreadful events in London and Manchester requires level-headed policy responses and critical reflection upon the way in which Western governments have become embroiled in exploiting terrorism and even facilitating it. If we are to move beyond the ritualistic cycle of terror attack-condemnation-military response-terror attack, it is time to come to terms with, and bring to an end, Western involvement in terrorism.


John Pilger, Journalist and Documentary Film Maker

Professor Noam Chomsky, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Professor Vian Bakir, University of Bangor

Professor Ruth Blakeley, University of Kent

Professor Oliver Boyd-Barrett, Emeritus Bowling Green State University

Professor Daniel Broudy, Okinawa Christian University

Professor Emanuela C. Del Re, University of Niccolo’ Cusano

Professor John L. Esposito, Georgetown University

Professor Des Freedman, Goldsmiths, University of London

Professor Natalie Fenton, Goldsmiths, University of London

Professor David Ray Griffin, Emeritus, Claremont Graduate University

Professor Penny Green, Queen Mary University London

Professor Tim Hayward, University of Edinburgh

Professor Jenny Hocking, Monash University

Professor Eric Herring, University of Bristol

Professor Tareq Y. Ismael, University of Calgory

Professor Richard Jackson, University of Otago

Professor Jeremy Keenan, Queen Mary University London

Professor Timo Kivimäki, University of Bath

Professor Paul McKeigue, University of Edinburgh

Professor David Miller, University of Bath

Professor Mark Crispin Miller, New York University

Professor Fredrick Ogenga, Rongo University

Professor Julian Petley, Brunel University

Professor David H. Price, Saint Martin’s University

Professor Piers Robinson, University Of Sheffield

Professor Salman Sayyid, University of Leeds

Professor Tamara Sonn, Georgetown University

Professor David Whyte, University of Liverpool

Professor James Winter, University of Windsor, Ontario

Amir Amirani, Producer and Director

Dr Nafeez Ahmed, Anglia Ruskin University

Dr Matthew Alford, University of Bath

Max Blumenthal, Author and Journalist

Dr Emma Briant, University of Sheffield

Remi Brulin, New York University & John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Dr TJ Coles, University of Plymouth

Sarah Earnshaw, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich

Dr Philip Edwards, Manchester Metropolitan University

Dr Lucy Morgan Edwards, Researcher

Muhammad Feyyaz, University of Management and Technology, Lahore

Dr Ciaran Gillespie, University of Surrey

Stefanie Haueis, Fachseminarleiterin, JGHerder-Gymnasium, Berlin

Dr Mark Hayes, Southampton Solent University

Dr Emma Heywood, Coventry University

Dr Nisha Kapoor, University of York

Dr Paul Lashmar, University of Sussex

Dr Sarah Marusek, University of Johannesburg

Dr. Narzanin Massoumi, University of Bath

Dr Anisa Mustafa, University of Nottingham

Ismail Patel, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Peace in Palestine

Dr Elizabeth Poole, Keele University

Dr Fahid Qurashi, Canterbury Christ Church University

Dr. Piro Rexhepi, Max-Planck-Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity

Cathrin Ruppe, University of Applied Sciences, Münster

Dr Rizwaan Sabir, Liverpool John Moores University

Dr Joshua Shurley, Clovis Community College, California

Dr Katy Sian, University of York

Dr Greg Simons, Uppsala University

Stephanie Weber, Curator of Contemporary Art, Lenbachhaus Munich

Dr Milly Williamson, Brunel University

Dr Kalina Yordanova, Assistance Centre for Torture Survivors

Dr Florian Zollmann, University of Newcastle





This entry was posted in blowback, journalism, media, Syria, UK Government, Uncategorized, war. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Blowback from ‘Regime Change’ policies: the need for better public debate

  1. Tony Blunt says:

    You’ve said it Tim.

  2. Norman Pilon says:

    “If we are to move beyond the ritualistic cycle of terror attack-condemnation-military response-terror attack, it is time to come to terms with, and bring to an end, Western involvement in terrorism.”

    Yes. The time to come to terms with and to end Western involvement in terrorism is indeed well past due. And I applaud this public statement and condemnation, and all of its signatories.

    I fear, however, that something “more” will be needed to bring the barbarism to an end, and the general culture in the West is nowhere near recognizing just what it is that must be done if eventually the madness into which we long ago descended is ever to be quelled.

    In the meantime, raising awareness among the general population about the criminal involvement of our governments, through the intermediaries of their military and intelligence agencies, is all that can be done.

    Above all, then and indeed, what needs to happen on the broadest scale possible is both individually and collectively to engage in “. . . critical reflection upon the way in which Western governments have become embroiled in exploiting terrorism and even facilitating it.”

    Once “that” happens, people might be ready to critically reflect on what needs to be done in the face of “states” that do not rule in behalf of the people, but to the exclusive benefit of national and transnational oligarchies.

  3. marley engvall says:

    thermite is present in all world trade center dust.

    Click to access TOCPJ-2-7.pdf

  4. Martin Odoni says:

    Reblogged this on TheCritique Archives and commented:
    Reblogged from Tim Hayward.

  5. Martin Odoni says:

    The ignorance in the West as to what is really happening in the Middle East is what makes the fraudulence of foreign policy so easy, and the only way to prevent it is to make sure the real information becomes much more prominent. I have read people online confidently declaring, just for instance, that Hamas is ‘obviously’ aligned with al-Qaeda. That anyone can conclude that a Shi’a political faction in the former Palestine would be allied to Militant Wahhabists i.e. extremist Sunnis in Pakistan just demonstrates that the juvenile ‘All-Muslims-are-the-same’ mentality is still much too prevalent.

  6. Pingback: Blowback from ‘Regime Change’ policies: the need for better public debate | Worldtruth

  7. Pingback: Long version of letter in today’s Guardian on the failure of war on terror. PL a signatory.

  8. Pingback: Last White Helmets in Aleppo: in lieu of a film review | Tim Hayward

  9. Pingback: UK Government Funds Terrorists In Syria? | Tim Hayward

  10. Pingback: 23.05.2018 – Syria: 964 dzień sprzątania świata… | KODŁUCH

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