1) If one were to think of the War on Terror as a game, the recent bomb incidents would have to be scored as 2.5 points for the British, .5 for the terrorists. Of three bombs, two were discovered and disarmed and the third was rather ineffective. Further, the capture of two of the bombs intact and the two would-be bombers in Glasgow set up the British for some serious advantages in rounding up the rest of the bombers.
Unfortunately, it isn’t a game and score isn’t kept in any rational fashion. In the eyes of the media and many other people, only the terrorists’ points count, so the fact that one of their attacks sort of succeeded means that this is considered an overall loss for the British.
2) Once again, the biggest element involved in stopping a horrific terrorist attack hasn’t been the consciences of the terrorists or the actions of the authorities or even good intelligence, but astonishingly good luck by the authorities and incompetence of the terrorists. Much like the Millennium Bombing plot , the first World Trade Center attack, and countless other examples, we’ve been far more lucky than good in the war.
And for the most part, that’s been sufficient. This is the kind of war where we can thwart 999 plots, fail to stop one, and have it perceived as a complete defeat.
3) As far as I can tell, the only identification of the bombers has been descriptions of them as “Asian.” Does anyone seriously think that they might be Hong Kong natives feeling betrayed by the British turning them back over to Communist China? Buddhist monks? Faluun Gong members protesting their treatment by the Communist Chinese? Burned-out Japanese salarymen? Angered descendants of Korean “comfort women?” Taiwanese seeking recognition as an independent nation? Cambodians seeking the return of the Khmer Rouge?
Nah. In Great Britain, “Asian” includes Pakistanis — one of the largest ethnic groups there. And it has become, by extension, inclusive of most people from Muslim nations.
4) Let’s be utterly honest here. When the news of the two captured bombs first broke, who among us did NOT immediately associate it — with absolutely no other evidence at hand besides “big car bombs planted in places guaranteed to kill large numbers of civilians” — with Islamists?
Whenever something horrific like this happens — or almost happens — the first thought of nearly everyone is that the perpetrators are likely to say such things as “Inshallah,” “Allahu akbar,” and pray facing Saudi Arabia five times a day. And that reputation is one they have the old-fashioned way — they earned it. The deliberate mass slaughter of civilians has become, for better or worse, intertwined with most people’s perceptions of Islam.
As someone far wiser than I pointed out, it’s gotten to the point when a prominent Muslim announces that they fear a wave of persecution against Muslims, the first thing that most people think is “Jesus Christ, what have they blown up this time?”
5) Those who tie the attack in to the war in Iraq are, tacitly, enabling the terrorists. By granting the linkage that the terrorists claim, they are partially validating the justification of the attacks.
By any reasonable standard, there is absolutely no justification for such things as the bomb plots in London and Glasgow. Only sociopaths think that the slaughter of innocents who have virtually no say in government policy is a legitimate response to the policies of that government. But we have, by and large, become inured to such claims and tend to accept these acts of inhuman barbarity as “predictable” and “understandable,” some even blaming the obscenities on the governments whose policies are used to justify these attacks.
There is an old saying that “you can’t reason someone out of a position that they didn’t arrive at reasonably.” (Or something to that effect.) In this case, the position of the terrorists is that they feel not only justified, but compelled to commit mass murder of the innocent to protest what they perceive as injustices. The first priority should not be to address their perceptions, but to stop the mass murders. Once the innocents are safe, the grievances of the terrorists can — and should — be addressed.
(Hmm… that could be another whole posting later. Better save more development of that thought for its own piece…)
The British were very lucky. As many have noted, the London bombs were thwarted by a bunch of drunks, ambulance attendants, and a tow-truck operator — aided and abetted by a healthy dose of ineptitude of the terrorists. And the Glasgow bombing could have been considerably worse, with the fickle finger of fate helping the Brits and hindering the terrorists.
They say that fortune favors the bold. I sincerely hope that is the case.