Thursday, July 07, 2005

Thoughts on the terrorist strike in London

Some disjointed thoughts from me on the abominable bombings in London, which were timed for rush hour to maximize the loss of innocent life:

Dennis Ross on Fox News just now. He expressed something that many of us have been thinking for some time now, but that one rarely hears a diplomat say (this is not an exact quote from him, but it is more or less what he said):

The War on Terror is a misnomer. Terror is just a method. This is really a war on Islamic fanaticism.

And Tony Blair used a word I'd been thinking of: barbarians--the type of word that just a few years ago I would have thought to be as archaic as the historic barbarians themselves. Blair looked angry, too, in his statement, a restrained but white-hot clenched-teeth sort of fury: The purpose of terrorism is just that--to terrorize--and we will not be terrorized.

Ross also mentioned another thing I'd been thinking about, that attacks such as these in London are paradoxical for Al Qaeda. They want to show us they are still active and determined to strike with impunity and great viciousness. On the other hand, attacks such as this on the civilian population, designed to cause a "Spain effect" (appeasement and withdrawal), can instead cause some who would otherwise sympathize with the terrorists and/or make excuses for them to harden their hearts and their resolve against them. Let's hope for the latter from the Brits, who certainly showed a great deal of grit in the past when faced with the Blitz.

I am glad that there doesn't seem to have been any of this "maybe it's the IRA" business that would have paralleled what initially happened in Spain and that caused a backlash there in some of the populace against the government. This present attack had all the earmarks of Al Qaeda from the beginning. Unfortunately, from bitter repetition, we now know only too well what those earmarks are.

The terrible stunned and traumatized look on the faces of the bloodied survivors of the bombing also brings back 9/11 memories.
It seems an amazing coincidence to me that former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was in London today for the bombing. Who better to address Londoners and to empathize with how they feel right now? Watching him speak brings back for me those first days after 9/11, when he showed previously unguessed-at fortitude and leadership.

For more, Norm Geras offers a guide to local news on the subject of the London bombings.


At 12:26 PM, July 07, 2005, Blogger goesh said...

I am thankful the death numbers are not more than they are. By the looks of bus, it appears to be low-level in nature, the explosive, meaning they could not get quality C-4 type stuff to use. Yes, it sure brings back gut-wrenching 9/11 memories. I sincerely hope there will a massive outpouring of sympathy and condolences from America, surely there will be. The Brits are such decent folk and such staunch allies.

At 1:30 PM, July 07, 2005, Blogger Pancho said...

I can only imagine what sort of emotional wreck I would have been had this tragedy happened 3 weeks ago when my wife and child were in London.

We are suggesting that as a small token of our sympathy that bloggers fly the Union Jack somewhere on their website. United we stand, divided we fall.

At 3:47 PM, July 07, 2005, Blogger Ho Chi Minh said...

Gee, thank God they can't get their hands on the real explosives, like the stuff we use on them.

A terrible tragedy today in London. But make no mistake about it, it's not "our values", "our freedom", or "who we are" they hate, it's what we're doing, and have been doing to them for a long time.

It takes more then an imbecile not to see it, or that our current political course will only pour more fuel on the fire.

There must be a political settlement to the Palestinian question, promises of non-interference in the internal affairs of the region, and dis-engagement, or I fear there is worse to come.

At 3:50 PM, July 07, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Huh? Don't those terrorist guys know they're supposed to be over in Iraq getting killed?

At 4:38 PM, July 07, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we "solved the Palestinian problem" the jihadis would find some other excuse to kill.

I've seen a suggestion that this might be the work of some of the many, many jihadis living in London with the knowledge and permission of the British government, specifically the followers of "Captain Hook". I'm not going to say Britons deserved this, but maybe they will finally realize they have to clean up their act in this regard.

At 4:40 PM, July 07, 2005, Blogger Dreamer said...

ho chi min and anonymous: I find both of your comments disgusting. There is not even a pause for breath before you use this event to spin your neo-isolationist/anti-american agenda. Geez...I'm going to stop now; send emails to loved ones in London; investigate what I can do to help. My heart goes out to the British - they have been steadfast allies and have paid the price for their bravery.
God bless

At 7:01 PM, July 07, 2005, Blogger T J Olson said...

"Ho Chi Minh" and "anonymous" are under the delusion that religious differences are tantamount to geographic or political ones, and thus are susceptible to talking, negotiation, mediation, remidiaton, and ultimately a political settlement.

Wrongo - and that's why our enemies use bombs and attack the UN instead of using forums like it.

Sometimes people are beyond suasion. Jesus was a pacifist and on a quest to confront people witt the Truth, and a tradition of truth seeking and talking evolved - not a general wielding conquering armies over vast territories like Muhammid! Get a clue, people.

At 9:17 PM, July 07, 2005, Blogger Joe Schmoe said...


Those savages don't want women to read. In Afghanistan, under the Taliban, women who taught others to read were beaten with clubs. Literally.

Are you okay with that?

Do you think those women, who just wanted to learn to read, were okay with that?

Do you think that the men who actually beat those women with clubs did so becuase he was outraged at America's refusal to "engage" the Palestinians?

How about clictorodectomy? Is that our fault?

When Sadaam hereded the Kurds into mass graves, did he do so becuase he was angry at American imperialism? Or was it becuase he was a bloodthirsty dictator who wanted to crush anyone perceived as a threat to his rule?

My God, man, what is wrong with you? Why are you so decadent? So weak?

At 10:04 PM, July 07, 2005, Blogger TmjUtah said...

I've been using "barbarian" and "clash of civilizations" to describe the enemy and our struggle since before 9/11.

And on a day when one small part of the civilized world was blighted with a visit from the barbarians I COUNTED on finding the mindless asninity that I know too well will punctuate the discussion of today's tragedy.

Ho and anon - congratulations. This is the first blog I've visited after yet another twelve hour day in the field and there you are, pitching in for the enemy.

This war is not a struggle for religious primacy. It's a deathmatch between a failed political/cultural model and western civilization. We inject representative democracy into Iraq, and it takes hold across the sorry cesspit that is the mideast and the Muslim arc beyond or we eventually will be forced to kill them on a scale that will make the second half of the twentieth century look like a scrimmage.

The Bush Doctrine is the most singularly generous and most profoundly faithful application of liberal philosophy in a conflict by a global power in history.

Think Carthage. We are going after leaders and actors because we understand how human nature works. Populations under dictatorships are powerless to control the actions of their government - so even if the Muslim street turns out to dance every time some muj cuts off an infidel's head, the power to effect change in the street still lies with the people holding the guns and whips.

So, since we can afford to, and bearing in mind partly because our western sensibilities don't really want to believe a billion people are really ALL savages, we are trying the soft option of democratization first. Take away the despots, give the street a chance to rise to the status of neighbor, not threat, and see what happens.

I have my own opinions on whether or not it will work. Would that the western world could present a united front; the task would be much more likely to succeed.

But no - we've got our Ho's, Anons, Soros, Chiracs, Carters, and Deans, too angry, insular, and ignorant - too blind to the scope of the threat to react honestly, and frankly more concerned with scoring points for their own agendas to be worried about a few commuters being blown into chunks on the tube or any losers who bet on KBR and ended up quartered and hung from a bridge someplace in Iraq.

I know who the enemy is. They have many friends, and they are easy to spot.

At 11:30 PM, July 07, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have taken worse blows, and God knows we can deliver them. Ask the residents of Dresden where their "historic" district is. Our wheels move slowly, but they grind exceedly fine. I'm not sure what the tipping point is, but I'm sure there is one and once it has been reached there will be hell to pay.

At 11:49 PM, July 07, 2005, Blogger Mad Zionist said...

Well, well, well...

A pack of wild moslems kills at least forty in a series of coordinated subway attacks in London. Surprised? Not at all. I've been saying all along that the enemy is islam, that it knows no borders, no compromise, no value for life, and has three fundamental, worldwide objectives:

Jihad, Dhimmitude & Sharia Law.

One cannot expect to defeat such a foe with diplomacy, reasoning or appeasement. We win by force or we lose by force. I'm afraid we must make the "war on terror" be redubbed the "war on islam."

And please: don't give me the "few bad apples" speech. I have heard about enough of the bogus
"religion of peace" crap, thank you.

At 9:51 AM, July 08, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please Michael and Tmjutah, save your righteous indignation for Sunday School. This isn't my diary, I don't have to post here every single emotion I have about the event or action I take as a result.

You guys are just avoiding my point. How do you get to work out in Kansas and Utah every morning? I live in Brooklyn and believe me *every* morning when I cross that bridge in a crowded subway car I think about the possibility of an attack that they suffered in London yesterday.

Yet you guys tell me I'm supposed to feel safer because we are "injecting representative democracy" and building schools in Iraq. And just the other day some politican said something like "As a result of our invasion, Islamic terrorists from all over the world are flocking to Iraq to be killed."


Do me a favor, when it happens again in NY, spare us your heartfelt sentiments and moments of silence. That is, if you think we are even worthy, since most of us here voted democratic and oppose the war, and so according to you that makes us "pitching in for the enemy." Talk about disgusting comments.

At 10:25 AM, July 09, 2005, Blogger TmjUtah said...

"You guys are just avoiding my point. How do you get to work out in Kansas and Utah every morning? I live in Brooklyn and believe me *every* morning when I cross that bridge in a crowded subway car I think about the possibility of an attack that they suffered in London yesterday."

You know, it's really serendipitous that you ask about my commute.

I'm currently the site surveyor for a hugeous golf course/estate home development being built between Park City and Kamas, Utah. I leave my house in Orem at 0600 every morning and tool the fifty miles up to the project via Provo Canyon.

The road crosses Deer Creek Dam, an earth berm structure that stores about 80% of our drinking water, fifteen miles up the canyon.

Last night we were tooling west for home along the canyon road amongst the RV's, construction vehicles, and other weekend headstarters when we passed a commercial sized white van parked in the breakdown strip dead center in the middle of damn, on the eastbound side. The breakdown strip is only about seven or eight feet wide there, so his wheels were resting on the white line of the traffic lanes.

It's an old dam, and the road on top is currently slated for improvements. There are signs on both ends prohibiting any stopping or standing...

The driver (I assume) was sitting on the guard rail, just looking at his feet. Now we were moving by at about forty miles per, and I had to devote attention to oncoming traffic that tended to creep over on our side of the line, but I did notice a couple of things.

It was a largish van, like one of the new Peterbilt express rigs. There were no decals. The windows in front were darkly tinted and the rear body was just panels - no windows at all.

The driver looked pretty dejected. No phone in his hand; he may possibly have been regretting the disruption of his schedule. Maybe he had intended to take his kids out to a movie and wasn't going to make it.

He was hispanic, or possibly Indian...maybe mideastern? White shirt, black trousers, wavy, neatly barbered hair and a rather striking beard...

Or maybe he was making his peace in his final seconds before he completed his mission?

I pulled off to the shoulder immediately after I got off the dam on the downstream side. While I was working through 911 to get the Summit County Sheriff on the line I asked my partner to call my wife's cell.

She works at a nice business park at the mouth of Provo Canyon, you see...

The sheriff answered my call and said they had units on the way to check out the truck, and that the state CT agencies were in the loop as well. He asked if I could verify the license plate number they had been given and if the driver was still sitting on the rail.

A unit rolled up to the van while we were talking, and the deputy seemed pretty relaxed about the whole thing. The driver produced I.D. and then opened the back of the truck.

Looked like office supplies from where we sat. So we went home.

Brooklyn is not the only place where people think about terror every day.

I'm sure the Greeks putting out to sea felt nervous about the Persians, and the Poles probably got the willies listening to Nazi radio until they woke up under the Swastika, too.

We must defeat these people. Not make peace with them. And I support the strategy of democratization in the abscence of any other viable, published, alternative.

At 7:50 AM, July 10, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well thanks for providing some perspective on your commute. But do you really think about it every day?
I think about it twice a day, every day, ever since 9-11 and I imagine I probably will for the rest of my life.

If you think the strategy of democratization (which only became a published option after the "imminent threat" theory went "poof"), then you haven't been looking hard enough. Why did it take *years* after 9-11 for the Bush administration to start cracking down on financial institutions that help terrorist organizations? Why are over 100 chemical plants near populations of more thatn a million people still unprotected?

If I learned anything from 9-11, it is that conventional war is no longer going to cut it, we have to be smarter than that.

But let's assume for a moment that democratization is a viable option. Before the invasion of Iraq, Saudi Arabia produced more Al-Quaed terrorists (I can think of 16 off-hand) than Iraq ever did. They probably still are. So if democratization is so important to stop Al-Qaeda, why did Iraq get the invasion and the Saudis get jawboned by Condoleezza Rice?

At 3:18 PM, July 10, 2005, Blogger TmjUtah said...

"If I learned anything from 9-11, it is that conventional war is no longer going to cut it, we have to be smarter than that."

Then you are on the same sheet of music as the Bush administration and the neocon theorists.

Conventional war is one relation possible only between nation states. Transnational terror acts carried out by essentially stateless persons (though supported by nations at seperations excruciatingly constructed to prevent conventional war as an option on the part of the targets of terror) have become the chosen strategy of groups that are the logical result of the failure of Islamic fundamentalism to compete with or coexist inside of societies based on secular government.

I say that Saudi Arabia is a work in progress; at this time they are vigorously attacking domestic terror elements that directly threaten them - and may possibly find themselves forced to widen their efforts in the future as democratization begins to work in neighboring countries that will remember who supported them, and who gave sanctuary and aid to those who tried to sabotage their effort.

Syria is the nation poised to lose most first from a successful Iraq; after the bombings and shootings stop, they are in no position to provide baksheesh as the Saudis are.

On how much time I devote to preperations for a terror attack here:

I go armed with a cellphone loaded with most of my local, state, and federal contact numbers. We have a police scanner, but anecdotal evidence from law enforcement friends is that encryption will be activated should the balloon truly go up in this area.

I carry trauma first aid kits in both our family vehicles. I won't bore you with my first aid credentials or history of practical app; my kids are CPR and Red Cross trained to the level you might see in any Eagle Scout.

We have a rally plan, with options, should a terror attack or natural disaster occur when the family is seperated. Everyone has cell phones, of course, and our go bags contain sideband FM radios that can reach several miles, in case cell service is down.

I'm one of those wild eyed concealed carry permit holders, too. I don't carry everywhere or every day, but have the option of doing so. I add a long gun to our travel kit if we are going on extended trips. These measures are primarily anti-crime. The chances of being directly involved in a tactical confrontation with terrorists are negligible in the extreme. My planning is predicated to responding and recovering, not preventing or confronting.

The enemy killed thousands of your neighbors and our fellow citizens in 2001. They killed my best friend in 1983. We both have our own ways of dealing with the loss, and that's just fine by me.

At 8:53 AM, July 11, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Tmjutah for your level-headed response. Although I would disagree that we are on the same sheet of music, at least you seem to ackowledge that we are still in the same band.

I think it is really counter-productive to label all those who disagree with the war in Iraq as cowards, traitors, "with the enemy", etc.

At 12:21 PM, July 11, 2005, Blogger knox said...

"I live in Brooklyn and believe me *every* morning when I cross that bridge in a crowded subway car I think about the possibility of an attack that they suffered in London yesterday. Yet you guys tell me I'm supposed to feel safer because we are "injecting representative democracy" and building schools in Iraq."

I really don't mean this to sound glib, but I think such overwhelming fear at this point suggests that it might be good to consider moving or go to therapy. I don't blame you for worrying about the dangers of where you live, but it sounds like what you're experiencing is pretty bad to me. I have friends and relatives in Brooklyn and Spanish Harlem who go to Manhattan all the time and they don't talk like this.

At 12:43 PM, July 11, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous: I think it is really counter-productive to label all those who disagree with the war in Iraq as cowards, traitors, "with the enemy", etc.

Agreed -- and not just "counter-productive", but wrong.

However -- those whose first impulse on viewing another Islamist atrocity is to announce their own fear over their commute to work should be told to find a backbone; those whose first impulse is to use it as merely another excuse for Bush-whacking should be told to find a sense of priority; and those whose first impulse is to blame the victim should be told to find a moral compass.

At 1:40 PM, July 11, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...



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