The timing of the London bombings
In the comments section, "camojack" made the following observation about the London bombings:
At least they didn't time the attack in such a way as to influence Blair's recent re-election. Had that happened, it may very well have had the desired effect...
An excellent point.
Back when the Madrid bombings occurred, it was immediately apparent that the goal of the terrorists was to influence the Spanish election. I was on tenterhooks for the few days between the bombing and the voting, and when the results of the latter came in, they seemed to intensify the grief and anger I felt about the bombing itself. Not only had all those innocent people been murdered, but the country's populace (or, at least, the majority of it) had given their murderers exactly what they wanted. The precedent was a terrible one, tremendously empowering to the terrorists.
Before each of the subsequent elections: Australia, Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Britain (I don't know whether I have the order exactly right, but you get the picture) I wondered what sort of violence might precede or accompany them. After all, why not? It doesn't seem so difficult to set off a bomb, or even to coordinate a timed attack like the one in London. All it takes is the will, some explosives, a timer, and some luck--you don't even need a suicide bomber (not that that seems so hard to find, either).
So I was encouraged by the fact that these elections seemed to go off relatively smoothly. Even the one in Iraq, in which many people died in isolated attacks, was nowhere near as violent as had been expected. And, of course, I was also happy with the electoral results in the English-speaking world, since the trio of Howard, Bush, and Blair were returned to power.
But camojack's question remains: why this bombing now? What not two months earlier, in an attempt to repeat the glory days of Madrid?
My guess is that it wasn't for lack of trying. Perhaps earlier attempts were comprised in terms of security, perhaps coordination lagged for some reason--but it seems likely that the bombers would have dearly loved to have executed this attack prior to the election. Camojack's next question: what would the British people have done in response?--is unanswerable, of course. Is there still enough of that Churchillian Blitz spirit to have avoided a repeat of Madrid? I hope so. But I'm very glad that, at least this time, it wasn't put to the test.