.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Friday, November 21, 2003

WHAT TO MAKE OF THE INSTANBUL BOMBS? That Britain was a potential target for such attacks goes without saying really. Martin Woollacott makes some sense of it in the Guardian. My feeling is that in a way the time was ripe for an attack on British targets and they coincided well with Bush's visit in London. As Woollacott reminds us:

there had been no successful attacks in this country or on specifically British targets abroad. Diplomatic missions, synagogues, hotels and places of entertainment have been hit across the world, but it has been Americans, Australians, French, Israelis, north Africans, Jews, Iraqis and, of course, bystanders of many nationalities, but usually of Muslim faith, who have been killed.

I suppose, it was waiting to happen. I hope it is a good sign that the attack happened in Istanbul. It could be a good sign because an attack in Britain is made sufficiently difficult by the security forces. Also the fact that Britain is on the front line of the war on terror may explain why Turkey was hit, because

the trouble about being out of the front line is that this also makes you into a place where the soft targets represented by the assets of more prominent actors are relatively easily accessible.

This again underlines the challenge that international terrorism presents the world with. You can either beef up and join the fight or else remove and isolate your country from all Western, democratic and modernising influences. Most countries have opted to sit somewhere in the middle, hoping they can have protection and investments from the West, without becoming a target for the Islamofascists. In many instances such as Bali this has already turned out to be an impossible position. Clearly most countries and the vast majorities of their populations want to gain access to the benefits of market democracy, so there is going to be no widespread appearance of hermit states like North Korea, which serves as a good illustration of where such an approach leads. In effect, although that's not the way he meant it, this does all suggest that Bush was quite accurate in his "either you're with us or against us" blurb – either you fight terrorism or the terrorists will get you. Ok, so strictly speaking you could also opt to support the terrorists, in which case however the full might of the Arsenal of Democracy would be coming after you, and unlike with a bunch of al Quaeda loonies, there's not even the slightest chance of escaping from that.
Indeed this is mirrored, as Woollacott explains, in significant trends working against the terrorists:

notably the reaction of the security forces and of the local population. As bomb succeeds bomb, the radical groups in many Muslim countries that have taken up what they see as the duty of jihad are losing key members both in the attacks themselves and in the arrests which follow. Their capacity to mount new operations may thus diminish rather than increase. (. . .)
They are also losing, not popular support, which they do not really possess in most places, but the romanticised image which they were able to exploit in the past. Local residents yesterday reported a rocket position that threatened Canadian troops in Kabul. The townsfolk of Ghazni in Afghanistan the other day pursued and apprehended the men who killed a young Frenchwoman working for the UN and would have burned down their homes had they not been stopped. People in Nasiriyah in Iraq were tearful at the loss of the Italian policemen and fearful that the Italians would leave as the result of the recent attack on their base.

These are positive trends clearly showing progress in the war on terror and we should try to keep these in mind when we think of the dire present.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?