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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 July, 2005, 15:15 GMT 16:15 UK
Is London Mayor right over Middle East?
Ken Livingstone
Do you agree with Ken Livingstone's comments on the impact of Western policy in the Middle East?

Mr Livingstone argued that Western policy in the Middle East motivated those behind the London bombings.

He said the attacks would not have happened had the West left Arab nations to decide their own affairs after World War I.

However, Mr Livingstone added that he had no sympathy with the bombers and opposed all violence.

What do you think of Ken Livingstone's comments?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

Well done to Ken for educating the masses who are generally ignorant of lengths to which the west has gone to maintain the status quo in the Arab world. But we don't need a history lesson; we need our representatives to be seen to be actively addressing issues that have been of our societies creating which have only recently been so brutally brought to our attention.
Daniel Martin, London

I am a Muslim (Lebanese origin) who has lived in London for almost 4 years. Not every terror attack is related to US to Britain, to Israel or god knows whom. These are killers that cause more damage to Islam then anything else. Mr. Livingstone should be condemned for what he says.
Abdul Hassan, London, UK

For the first time in years I feel deep respect and admiration for a man of public office. The mayor's words represent the situation as it exists in totality - from the raw core of history that created the bombers to the present day aftermaths. He has my faith and confidence from now onward.
Rani, London

I agree with what Ken Livingstone has said and the example that he sets. Honest and challenging debate is the only way that things can change. To split the world into good and evil in the way that Tony Blair tries to do is only fuelling the problem.
Giles, London

Extremist will always use any excuse or reason to justify their own actions
Martin, Cape Town, South Africa

Extremist will always use any excuse or reason to justify their own actions, which are radical and terrorist in nature. Tony Blair made that point at length already by saying that everything they stand for is wrong. They are not interested in finding solutions or solving problems. They want their own way- or nothing at all costs.
Martin, Cape Town, South Africa

Spot on Ken! Respect for a politician who finally says what so many of us think. And before he's criticised for excusing terrorism, to excuse and to explain are NOT the same thing.
Chris, Edinburgh, Scotland

Ken's comments on Palestine hit home. It is interesting to stop and think if we were in a situation where our friends and family were being killed around us on a daily basis how we would react to this and what actions we would take. It's easy to judge from the relative safety of our comfortable lives. The people of Britain will not be swayed by these terrorist extremists but we have a responsibility as individuals to look at our foreign policies carried out by the people we elect in more detail.
J.Hammond, Chipping Camden,UK

Mr Livingstone is wrong in his assesment of why these terrorist attacks are being carried out. These aren't politically motivated attacks, the attackers don't have any demands. I believe even if the West stopped meddling in the Middle East and if somehow the different governments there managed to create proper peace then these attacks would still continue. I find it very disturbing that the UK has been attacked by terrorists and yet you get the general sense from politicians like Red Ken and also the media that we the UK are apologising for this as if its our fault. Is Mr Livingstone trying to score polictical points or does he really just not understand the issues?
Nathan, London

Ken Livingstone has hit the nail on the head
Mamour, Banjul, The Gambia
Ken Livingstone has hit the nail on the head. Please stop trying to address the problem by dealing with the symptoms, and not the root causes.
Mamour, Banjul, The Gambia

Ken's right on the mark. The bombers were depraved but it is wishful thinking to say they operated completely out of the context of middle-eastern politics and British foreign policy decisions. A tribute to the people they killed would be to do everything to prevent further attacks, and that involves operating a morally defensible Middle-Eastern policy and thus curtailing the anger that can overwhelm, rather than guide, the evil people that target civilians.
Robin Llewellyn, Powys, Wales

Spot on Ken. It is good that you are seeking to understand the reasons why they did those crimes. Many people think that when someone is trying to understand, he is justifying. That is not true! We need to understand what goes on in those people's minds so that we can stop others from conducting those events again.
Abu Abdissalam, London, UK

Red Ken Lives! It's obvious Ken is still a proud and active member of the Looney Left. All those who voted for him for Mayor because they thought he had mellowed will hopefully now realise their mistake.
Eddie, London

I understand and support what Mr Livingstone is saying, although he must be careful not to concentrate on one group of people, this is a problem that is world wide. I believe that US led interference (and arrogance) with other countries has bred a feeling of contempt and dislike towards the western ideology.
Jason Wilding, Exeter, England

Muslims globally have begun to sympathise with the plight of the Palestinians, the prisoners of Camp Xray and Abu Ghraib. We can relate with them through our common religion and culture. The frustrations amongst Muslims is growing as there is no one to represent their grievances, and no one to listen to them. Ken, has correctly identified the root causes of the current conflict that continues to suck in civilian casualties on all sides.
Muhammad, Maidenhead, UK

He has the courage and conviction to face the truth squarely in the eye
Sashi Chandran, Coimbatore, India
I was in London on the 14th July, when the Mayor addressed the people in the vigil and heard him on the TV. His words then and now impressed and touched me deeply. He has the courage and conviction to face the truth squarely in the eye.
Sashi Chandran, Coimbatore, India

Ever since 7 July Ken has stood out by his wholehearted response to events. And now he has the courage to speak his mind and give air to what's in the hearts and minds of so many of us. Thank you, Ken!
Robert, London

I feel like shaking my hands, nodding excitedly, and shouting, "YES"! Mayor Livingstone has articulated the thoughts of hundreds of millions of citizens around the world who share the same despair and disgust for US and British foreign policy.
Darin Brown, Toronto, Canada

Mr Livingstone has always been a man of great integrity who said what he believed in regardless of how popular it might be. Leaders like him are what make the UK a great and admirable nation.
Muhammad, Liverpool

This man is a menace; there can be NO justification of suicide bombers or terrorist attacks. If he wants to criticise governments killing civilians, what about the blitz or bombing German towns during the war?
Nick, London

Let them live in peace and they will let us live in peace
John Dillrads, London
Mr Livingstone's comments reflect the truth and the underlying cause which has resulted in militant activities in the Western world. Let them live in peace and they will let us live in peace.
John Dillrads, London

Arshad Mahmood from Luton rhetorically asks whose fault it is that more people are dying in Iraq now than before the invasion. As usual, the tired finger of blame is pointed at the West. Never mind that it's other Muslims killing the Iraqis, never mind that the West removed a (Muslim) tyrant who had been killing his own people for years. It's always OUR fault.
Robin, Birmingham

Ken's views are absolutely correct. I have been thinking about the possible causes for Muslims to even think about bombing for some time and Ken has articulated most of my thoughts.
Farouk Ismail, Ilford

I cannot even begin to express my rage at his insensitivity, total lack of political acumen and complete ignorance of history.
Hugh, London

Whilst there is obviously a link between terrorism and events in the Middle East, it is not the cause
Steve Fielding, London
What utter rubbish. The US has backed rebels or authoritarian governments in Latin America, Africa and East Asia, but none of these have led to terrorism. Similarly, there have been recent attacks in Bali, Istanbul, Morocco and Kenya, none of whose governments supported the Iraq war. Whilst there is obviously a link between terrorism and events in the Middle East, it is not the cause.
Steve Fielding, London

Hats off to the London Mayor, for saying it like it is. What a refreshing change. And yes, he is dead right.
Shazra, Male, Maldives

After the appalling bombings in London a lesser leader would have been happy to supply meaningless and hollow sound bites. Bravo Ken, for reflecting the complexity of the situation in plain language and direct tone.
Kate, Leeds

Congratulations to Ken! He has the guts to say what most of us are thinking. If we had more wise and honest politicians like him, the world would be far better.
Maurice, Enschede, The Netherlands

Mr Livingstone is absolutely right
Femi Olawale, Edinburgh, Scotland
Mr Livingstone is absolutely right. May the West be humble enough to accept their wrongs. They have been very selfish and unfair in the way they have handled and continue to interfere in the affairs of the Middle East and Africa.
Femi Olawale, Edinburgh, Scotland

Thank you Ken! At last we see a great politician here who has the courage, boldness and humbleness to address the root cause of present day terrorism.
Indian, Oslo, Norway

Mr Livingstone's comments are completely illogical. None of the bombers were Arab. The vast majority of Muslims are not Arabs. Yes, the West has created and supported double standards in the Middle East. But unless you're prepared to say that any act against any Muslim justifies 'revenge' by any other Muslim, his comments are untenable.
Danny, London, UK

Mr Livingstone is too narrow minded in his judgement. Islamist terrorists are very active in Thailand and Indonesia. Western policy in the Middle East has nothing to do with terrorist attacks in Southeast Asia.
Don, Collierville, TN USA

Speculation such as that from Mr Livingstone is idle and less than helpful
Dave, Sheffield
As far as I am aware, the bombers left no explanation for their actions. Perhaps, something will emerge in due time. Meanwhile, speculation such as that from Mr Livingstone is idle and less than helpful.
Dave, Sheffield

Throughout history there have been many groups of people who have been mistreated, exploited, or taken advantage of, that are not Muslim; yet throughout time the majority of terror attacks against civilians have been carried out by Islamic fundamentalists. I do not agree with the mayor's comments.
Robert, New York, USA

Ken has it spot on, unlike the PM, who went very defensive when this was first suggested. In fairness to Mr Blair, he seemed to be hearing it wrong - no one I've heard suggests that UK foreign policy is justification for atrocities, but it doesn't take a great deal of brain power to work out that it is motivation for what happened.
John McG, Reading, UK

Thank you, Mr Livingstone, for portraying the agony of the Muslim world. Why do people forget that no weapons of mass destruction were found from Iraq? God bless you, Mr Livingstone.
Shahrez, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

If only we had more politicians who thought like Ken
B Smith, Prague, Czech Republic
If only we had more politicians who thought like Ken and had the courage to come out and stand up for these type of views rather than saying only things that saves them their political seats or does not upset their overseas 'partners'. We would not have this situation.
B Smith, Prague, Czech Republic

Ken has a very narrow understanding of the Middle East as do those that agree with him.
J Stanley, London

Ken Livingstone states the obvious and is entirely correct in all of his comments, but the governments of both the UK and the United States choose to deny these facts.
Dave B, Canada

Mr Livingstone has made some comments that the political leaders of the Western world need to give serious consideration.
Vincent Spina, NY USA

Horrifyingly ill-informed on the historical record, particularly for a public servant, and a frightening incarnation of the kind of leadership that liberal thought leads to.
Mike Hughes, Houston, TX USA

Ken Livingstone is one of the few high-profile 'politicians' to condemn the bombing in an even-handed way, for which he should be applauded. He will win the hearts and minds of more than a few British Muslims for his comments.
Mark Gillespie, Lisburn, N Ireland

His comments are short-sighted and out of touch with reality
Dwayne Chastain, West Jefferson, Ohio
The West was invited into most of these countries to modernise them, defend them and show them how to tap their natural resources. I think it is time that people like Mr Livingstone understand that there are fanatics in all cultures and that the West cannot be blamed for all the problems in the world. I think his comments are short-sighted and out of touch with reality.
Dwayne Chastain, West Jefferson, Ohio

I think Ken should stay out of areas that he is not responsible for. Whether right or wrong (and people will argue both cases well), he should not make public statements about subjects he has no accountability for. If anything, he is indirectly justifying the bombers' actions and giving reasons for divisions in society. He should shut up and concentrate on getting London back to its old self.
Simon, London

The involvement of secret services of Western governments in the manipulation of Middle Eastern regimes via direct and indirect means is well documented; Ken is merely indicating that perhaps the indigenous people may think that the West's motives may have been less than altruistic.
David Pitchfork, Aldenham, UK

Mayor Livingstone - although I usually disagree with his view points - is probably right here. He actually denounced all acts of violence as a route to change opinions no matter who causes it and for whatever reason. The 'West' as always readily used violence to impose its will whether directly or indirectly. It is high time that we looked at our foreign policy and addressed the double standards.
James Addison, Woodbridge

Nice one Ken, absolving yourself from any responsibility for protecting Londoners. Whilst the West has meddled in foreign affairs (not just the Arab world) for many decades, we don't see any other nations attacking us in such a barbaric way. These people are quite simply criminals and their leaders need to be dealt with as such. Stop making excuses for them.
Simon, Manchester, UK

Ken Livingstone should stick to what he knows best, whatever that might be. To take the argument back to the First World War is simplistic and naive in the extreme, to the extent that the remark is pointless. Mr Livingstone knows no more than I do about what motivates a terrorist, what alternative excuses they might find, or what the course of the history of Islamic extremism might have been under different circumstances.
Barry, Deeping St. James, UK

Ken is always going to be outspoken
Ashraf Helmi, London, UK
I am delighted Ken has made these comments. As a British Muslim, I believe he has articulated the feelings and concerns that many of us have regarding Britain's pervading foreign policy in the Middle East over the past fifty years, as well as Israeli aggression towards Palestinians. Ken is always going to be outspoken, and we need someone like him in the public eye to provide some balance to the Blair government and its incessant spin.
Ashraf Helmi, London, UK

I think Ken is spot on. Double standards are used by most politicians. Making statements deploring the attacks or asking the Muslim leaders to make statements deploring the attacks will change nothing. People who feel disaffected want to see the injustices in the Middle East tackled head on. Far more innocent people are dying in Iraq after the western intervention than were before. Whose fault is that?
Arshad Mahmood, Luton

Ken has always had his own opinion about everything and he is refreshingly honest. This doesn't mean that you have to agree with him, he wouldn't like that!
Anthony Barnes, Geneva, Switzerland

He seems to have hit the nail on the head
Mo, Glasgow
I think that Mr Livingstone's comments are spot on, it's encouraging to hear that someone in a position of authority can think like that. He seems to have hit the nail on the head with pointing out the blatant double standards that young Arab and Muslim men have to see and live with everyday.
Mo, Glasgow

His comments are self-evidently true. The West has supported and continues to support some very unsavoury Middle East regimes, including, of course, Saddam Hussein, when he was bombing and killing his own people with weapons supplied by the West. It will be interesting to see how much of that comes out in his trial.
Colin Craig, Snitterfield, Warwickshire

I agree with the mayor's comments. Politicians need to address the root cause of this problem, preventing terrorist attacks is not the solution. They need to address the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, stop any future "regime changes", stop trying to force the Western way of life down their throats, address any issues through the United Nations etc.
Pat, London

I must admit I often disagree with Ken but on this topic I agree completely with his views. We can all sit about condemning the London bombers until we're blue in the face, the real question that needs answering is what drove them to do it? History is littered with clumsy Western intervention that is nearly always completely counter-productive but do our politicians learn? Apparently not!
Chris, Derby, UK

The root cause of the problem needs to be dealt with
S, Liverpool, UK
I am glad someone has made this view public. The current government refuse to accept any responsibility for fuelling anger in the Middle East. In order to prevent further terror attacks, the root cause of the problem needs to be dealt with, as Mr Livingstone explains.
S, Liverpool, UK

I believe Mr Livingstone is correct. I am heartened to see such a rational argument from an authority figure.
John Park, Leicester

The suicide bombers in London were not under "foreign occupation and denied the right to vote, denied the right to run (their) own affairs, often denied the right to work for three generations" were they? They were British citizens. Mr Livingstone should stop talking such rubbish and get back to making London safer.
Paul Hughes, Hampshire, UK

There is more than a grain of truth in what Ken Livingstone says, but the whole relationship between the West and Islam and the Arabs is far more complex, and the oil question is just one very small part of it. The treatment of Muslims and other minorities in the UK must also be partly to blame. We are in transition from a monocultural country with closely shared values to a society with very few and we have to learn to tolerate people as neighbours who have totally different cultures.
Robert Hill, Arbroath, Scotland

First time I have agreed with the Mayor that I can remember - he is spot on. I hope Blair takes note.
Cookie, UK

As a Bengali British Muslim Londoner I disagree with Mr Livingstone's attempted linkage between the London bombings and Western foreign policy in the Middle East. Although the events in Iraq are a factor, the fact that three of the four bombers were of Pakistani and not Arab origin shows that these people are part of a diffuse but coherent Islamic supremacist ideological movement bent on creating a worldwide Khilafa (Empire) in order to vie with the technologically and economically advanced (but in their eyes spiritually bankrupt) West.
Iqbal Ahmed, London, UK

Ken continues to prove his inept ability to put two and two together. Shame on him. Look to Iqbal Ahmed's earlier post for some true enlightenment on the situation. Or continue to bury your heads in left wing multicultural nonsense and end up in the ash heap of history.
Bob Sloggin, Washington DC USA

Ken has struck the right chord for many people although he only focuses on the Middle East. It is Western interference in many parts of the world (for its own selfish wants) that needs to be addressed.
Zoran Kalenic, Radlett, UK

Ken is obviously right. But he has no responsibility for foreign policy and so does not have to mince his words like the PM has to. British voters don't vote in elections on foreign policy, and suicide bombers won't change this.
Andrew, Cirencester, UK


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