The attack on London
The long-felt sense of dread that London would be next to suffer the fate of Madrid was borne out at last today. One senses an odd relief that the other shoe has dropped, breaking the tension and bringing the global security situation into focus once again. Though the loss of life was heavy, it apparently was not as bad as it could have been. The fact that only four bombs went off, rather than six or seven as earlier reported, shows how confusing terrorist attacks are, which is of course precisely the point of terror. For a quick summary of exactly what happened, see the BBC. Here are some quick reflections:
- The timing of the attack to coincide with the G-8 summit suggests a sophisticated command structure and discipline within the terrorist ranks.
- Tolerance for Islamic extremists among the burgeoning immigration population of Britain will have to end. Likewise for the United States and other Western nations.
- The political strategy behind the London attack -- to divide and conquer the West -- is so transparent that one wonders if Al Qaeda (or some similar affiliated group) is either unaware that it might elicit a renewed solidarity among Western nations, or is so confident of its ultimate success that it doesn't care.
- The British people will either grasp the broader meaning of the attacks and stand decisively behind Prime Minister Tony Blair, or else blame him for it and drop him like a hot potato. From what we know of Great Britain, the former course is much more likely. There's no room for hedging or fence-straddling.
- Likewise for the Italians and Danes, who have supposedly been threatened with similar attacks if they don't pull their forces out of Iraq.
- One may presume that Spain will remain safe as long as there remains a firm bloc of anti-terrorist nations in Europe. If that bloc crumbles, however, all of Europe would become a target for the fanatical Muslim jihad -- and in Spain's case, reconquest.
- For the foreseeable future, Al Qaeda and its affiliates will retain some destructive capacity no matter what successes are achieved by counter-terrorism agents or Coalition military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- The long-term scope of this conflict, and its enormous stakes, will continue to baffle many Western observers and critics of the war effort.
- At moments like this, it is imperative to avoid making honest differences of opinion in this country over the nature of the terrorist threat become the occasion for partisan sniping.