Thursday, July 07, 2005



Edward said...

Anonymous said...

firstly, I'd like to say that your message of solidarity is much appreciated.

Beyond that, whilst today's attack is extremely tragic for all those directly involved, I honestly expect the vast majority of Britons to shrug this off. I fully expect that everybody will make a point of getting back to normal and getting back to work just as soon as the public transport in London is back up and running (and probably before - Londoners will fight to get to work and go about their business no matter what the disruption).

Something in the published claim of responsibility this morning in particular caught my eye:

Britain is now burning with fear, terror and panic in its northern, southern, eastern, and western quarters.

That actually made me laugh. I can almost hear everybody in Britain shouting out in unison "Oh no we're not!". Really. It will take much more than that to scare Brits into submission. We've suffered much worse.

Although I no longer live in the UK, I grew up in the middle of PIRA bombing campaigns. As an aside, although the news networks here are frequently stating that this is "the most deadly attack since WWII" I think they're rather missing the point. Whilst it may be strictly true (as long as you count all four bombs as constituting a single "attack", otherwise the statement is false, IIRC), you have to remember that at its peak, PIRA was mounting "campaigns", in which there would be a bomb somewhere or other every few days at times, sometimes for sustained periods. Not just in London, either; attacks were mounted in more or less random places all over the country in an attempt to ensure that nobody felt safe anywhere. Virtually all of my immediate family and close friends (aside from myself, as it happens) have been uncomfortably close at least once (by that I mean "within earshot of the explosion").

Nonetheless, we came through it, and I think even Americans will be surprised at the hardened attitudes that Brits have acquired to this sort of attack.

So, to all my friends and relatives still living and working in the UK, I can only say "hang in there". You know what to do.

To the perpetrators of this attack, I say "you have no idea what you're up against". When Tony Blair said this morning "they will not prevail" he was not merely offering some cliched platitude. He actually meant it. And he knows what he's talking about. Really. Just watch.

Best Regards

Darren said...

I have no doubt, Krill. My grandmother used to tell me about her experiences the night the nazis bombed Coventry.

The Brits are a tough people, fortunately!

Anonymous said...

Hey Mr Miller
Well let me tell you when you're sitting down for breakfast about 20 miles outside of london and your aunt calls to say bombs are going off in London, well you pray you heard her wrong. I'm having great problems with this as while i am, as you know, a pacifist, i can't decide what to feel about this. I am angry, very angry that people would do somthing like this. Especially in one of my favorite places in the world. In tube stations that i have visited all my life. And yet i wonder what drives such extremist feeling and hatred. What have we dont wrong to deserve this. Alas maybe i should just give up on humanity like my grandmother who lived through the bombing in London during WWII and my father who was in the heart of the IRA bombing while he was at university. To them, they have seen it all before. But i am shocked at the brutal things people can do to each other. Living in the middle of nowhere in neutral Switzerland is starting to sound alot more appealing. Hope you are having a nice summer.

Darren said...

Katherine, good to hear from you--and to hear that you're apparently having an interesting summer!

You fall victim to a logical fallacy, though, that of wondering "what have we done wrong to deserve this." Let me give you a parallel situation. A police officer pulls you over for a speeding ticket. Later, because you're angry about getting the ticket, you hunt him down and shoot him in cold blood. Or maybe, you don't even shoot him, but his family. Should he wonder what he did to deserve it? Or are you just *wrong*, and nothing justifies your action?

You see my point, I'm sure.

Your reaction, especially about living in Switzerland, reminds me of a comparison I once heard between Europe and America. Granted, I myself would love to live in Switzerland, but not for the reason you gave!!! Anyway, Europe is like a camper in the forest, armed only with a knife. If he learns there's a bear in the forest, he knows there's nothing he can do to defend himself--so he tries to keep a low profile, and hopes the bear goes elsehwere and bothers someone else.

Americans, however, are like the camper armed with a rifle or shotgun. Upon learning there's a bear in the forest, he figures that if he stands up against the bear only once, and he has a reasonable chance of victory with his firepower, he won't have to constantly live in fear.

Two very different perspectives. There *are* bears in our world forest, as those who have forgotten were reminded yesterday. We can cower and hope the bear goes somewhere else, or we can protect ourselves from the bear.

All this is metaphorical, of course, but you get my point.

Now go have an Earl Grey and scone for me!!!

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with you here. I think your analogy is flawed, although it does perhaps illustrate current US administration thinking. I say "US administration" here because I don't think it helpful to talk about how "Americans think", much less how "Europeans think". Both groups have extremely diverse viewpoints amongst themselves; Europe, in particular, is made up of a collection of countries which even at that very broad level have very different cultures and attitudes.

Remember here that European administrations as a whole (and the UK in particular) have actually been dealing with terrorism for decades. Many mistakes have been made in the past, and learned from. It's very disheartening to see the current US administration claiming that it, and it alone, has all the answers and repeating mistakes that European administrations have already learned (very expensively) to avoid.

Here's where I think the first flaw in your analogy is: terrorism isn't like a bear. It would be more accurate to analogize it as being like a hornet's nest. In response to getting stung by a hornet, shooting at the nest probably isn't going to help your situation. In fact, it's probably going to make the problem worse.

Please don't think that I'm in any way attributing blame for the attacks on the US or British administrations; far from it - I'm very clear that blame lies solely with the perpetrators. Rather, I'm saying that we have to examine how best to deal with the problem, judged from the point of view of our own best interests. Shooting the hornet's nest isn't working, and never will.

Here's where I think the second (and most important) flaw in your analogy is: I haven't heard anybody propose ignoring the issue and hoping it goes away (or doesn't affect us personally) as your analogy seems to imply. It's just that not every aggressive strategy will be beneficial to our cause.

In summary, I don't agree that you can characterize the difference in approaches as being to ignore the problem or confront it, as your analogy implies. Rather, there is a difference of opinion in both Europe and the US as to exactly how the terrorists should be confronted.


Darren said...

My analogy only went so far as explain the differences in mentality between European governments and the American government--the bear was generic for "the threat", and how the bear (or hornets) react was immaterial to my analogy.

Then you said this:
Here's where I think the second (and most important) flaw in your analogy is: I haven't heard anybody propose ignoring the issue and hoping it goes away (or doesn't affect us personally) as your analogy seems to imply.

I reply: Madrid, last year.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the Madrid example is exactly on point. There is a difference between a supporting confrontation of terrorism and supporting the war in Iraq. This was what I meant by a difference of opinion in the means by which terrorists need to be confronted, not in whether they need to be confronted at all.

The specific problem that many Europeans have with the Iraq war is specifically that by focusing on it, we took our eye off the ball in Afghanistan (where terrorists most certainly were, and were supported explicitly by the Taliban regime) and we let UBL get away. That is a tradgedy of immense proportion. He's still out there, and that is a specific failure.

Remember also that Spaniards have been battling their own terrorist threats locally (ETA) for a very long time. They know all too well what terrorism is all about, and have hardly shirked the idea of confronting it.


Darren said...

You fall victim to the shortsighted view that the problem was Afghanistan. The problem is Islamic Fundamentalist Terrorism, and all those who support it need to be put on notice.

The Taliban is no longer in power. Saddam Hussein, who supported and harbored terrorists, is no longer in power. Muammar Qaddafi has given up his nuclear weapons program. Syria pulled out of Lebanon within a few weeks.

It strikes me as more than a little odd that psychos like Qaddafi and Assad understand what so many others do not--confront them, and they will back down. Or die. If we don't confront them, rest assured they will *not* go away.

You don't think the Spaniards rolled over for Al Qaeda? You think they've effectively dealt with the Basque separatists?

How do you feel about how the British dealt with the IRA? Dang, I can't find it now, but just today I read an interesting piece that challenged the conventional view that the Brits effectively dealt with the IRA. I'll keep looking. I could only have viewed a few hundred web sites today :)

Darren said...

Dang it, I cannot find it! But while looking I did find this piece, with which I can agree in its entirety.,,1072-1684970,00.html