The U.K., Terrorism, and their experience with it

After waking up to the news on Wednesday, I had to send a message to the only person I know in London just to make sure things were okay. Daniel was fine, if perhaps a bit stunned at the frightening ordeal. Here's the meat of his description:

Police cars and ambulances flying around. Everybody using their mobile phones - but too many as the networks went down after a while. A little bit frightening, but people were actually incredibly calm. The emergency services reacted with unbelievable speed: they were clearly following a well-rehearsed script. Where I was heading was near to one of the bomb blasts, and they had already cordoned off the area and closed streets within a sizeable radius.

I was able to speak with him the next day and we got into a discussion of why and how Londoners are somewhat more accustomed to terrorism than New Yorkers or Americans in general. Of course, the IRA is the reason -- people have lived in that city for decades with the feeling that something dreadful could happen at any time. I can't imagine what that's like, though I'm sure some of my friends still living in New York felt like that for months after the Twin Towers fell. Continuing our discussion in a later email, Daniel elaborated on that a little.

Regarding the IRA: now that the threat from that quarter has lessened, it is easily forgotten that for periods things were quite worrying, though the chances of being directly caught were still extremely slim. It is the fear that is the worst part (though that is small comfort for those actually hit). There is one very bizarre legacy from those times: try looking for a litter bin at a mainline station! This was a common place to drop a bomb - hidden but public. Result: all the litter bins were removed!

If nothing else, my discussion brought one thing into crystal clear focus: We're the new kid on the block when it comes to terrorism, not only fighting it, but in knowing how to recover from terrorist attacks. That, in turn, made me ask if the English would have adopted the same kind of "pre-emptive attack" war policy in their fight against the IRA.

Terry Jones answers this directly in his editorial: OK, George, Make with the Friendly Bombs. It's well worth a read to expose some of the poor reasons we've given in going to war with Iraq. I'm also taking this as a reminder to look for similar faulty reasoning to continue this "War on Terror" in the way we have under "President" Bush.

As a side-note, I've found Terry Jones to be a master of the absurd in the exact same vein as Swift's "A Modest Proposal". He handles reductio ad absurdum like the sharp weapon it is. If you're at all interested in what else this former member of Monty Python has said, I'll encourage you to read more with this list of Terry Jones articles. As Daniel himself says: "Trust a Python to tell you the truth."

Let Them Eat Bombs, April 14, 2005.
George, God here ..., October 22, 2004
In Iraq, it's already July 9th, July 7, 2004
The War of the Words, June 16, 2004
This Week, May 22, 2004
* This Won't Hurt Much, April 30, 2004
Tony Really Must Try Harder, April 14, 2004
Why Tony Went to War, October 5, 2003
Alastair, God and the Devil, July 6, 2003
If Fish Can Feel Pain, Then Maybe Iraqi Children Can, Too, May 4, 2003
Mr Blair's Dark Days, April 27, 2003
Poor Tony Blair Wakes Up, March 16, 2003
Mr Bush Goes for the Kill, March 9, 2003
Could Tony Blair Look at the Internet Now, Please?, March 2, 2003
* Powell Speaks with Forked Tongue, February 23, 2003
* I'm Losing Patience with My Neighbours, Mr Bush, January 26, 2003
The Audacious Courage of Mr Blair, September 22 2002
Spare Our Blushes and Put a Sack On It , January 6, 2002
I Remain, Sir, Haggard of the Hindu Kush, December 30, 2001

* Personal favorites. If you have time to read a only a few, read these.

Posted on July 10, 2005 in other things that matter . | 1395 Trackbacks, 0 Comments

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