Friday, July 08, 2005

who's next?

Robin Cook, in today's Guardian, has this to say in response to yesterday:

...The danger now is that the west's current response to the terrorist threat compounds that original error (by which he means the mistake of arming bin Laden for the war in Afghanistan against Russia, and not seeing the long term effects -blowback, indeed). So long as the struggle against terrorism is conceived as a war that can be won by military means, it is doomed to fail. The more the west emphasises confrontation, the more it silences moderate voices in the Muslim world who want to speak up for cooperation. Success will only come from isolating the terrorists and denying them support, funds and recruits, which means focusing more on our common ground with the Muslim world than on what divides us....
the death toll continues to rise, and the horrific pictures of the injured, the dead, and the mangled remains of Tube trains continue to pile up on newspaper front pages and websites all over the world. even my beloved Pete and Geoff Breakfast Show on Virgin Radio is subdued this morning, trying their best to provide information and help people get on with their lives instead of their usual irreverent taking-the-piss morning radio.

i find it more and more impossible to get into the heads of people who believe that terrorism will accomplish their ends. who believe it is possible to frighten people -whole societies of people- into doing what they want with random acts of violence. who believe that killing people is not only permissible but desirable -for why else would the bombs go off in the tunnel, at rush hour, in a city as densely packed as london?- as a means to an end.

i don't know what to say, so i'll let Ian McEwan speak for me, also in today's Guardian:

In Auden's famous poem, Musee des Beaux Arts, the tragedy of Icarus falling from the sky is accompanied by life simply refusing to be disrupted. A ploughman goes about his work, a ship "sailed calmly on", dogs keep on with "their doggy business". In London yesterday, where crowds fumbling with mobile phones tried to find unimpeded ways across the city, there was much evidence of the truth of Auden's insight. While rescue workers searched for survivors and the dead in the smoke-filled blackness below, at pavement level men were loading lorries, a woman sold umbrellas in her usual patch, the lunchtime sandwich makers were hard at work.

It is unlikely that London will claim to have been transformed in an instant, to have lost its innocence in the course of a morning. It is hard to knock a huge city like this off its course. It has survived many attacks in the past. But once we have counted up our dead, and the numbness turns to anger and grief, we will see that our lives here will be difficult. We have been savagely woken from a pleasant dream. The city will not recover Wednesday's confidence and joy in a very long time. Who will want to travel on the tube, once it has been cleared? How will we sit at our ease in a restaurant, cinema or theatre? And we will face again that deal we must constantly make and remake with the state - how much power must we grant Leviathan, how much freedom will we be asked to trade for our security?


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