I haven’t been reading the news all that much recently, but a recent email referenced something about a reluctance to fly on planes. So I started reading about these chilling yet ingenious attacks that were planned on trans-Atlantic flights from the UK to the US, reportedly aiming to detonate around 10 planes in the air, virtually simultaneously.
Hunting around the Internet for news articles, I found a plethora of opinions, and many of the same ‘facts’ repeated. The thing that immediately caught my attention was George Bush’s response to the threat:
The recent arrests that our fellow citizens are now learning about are a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation.
-George W. Bush
This statement worries me somewhat. I have always been critical to some extent of George W. Bush’s “War on Terrorism” tag line, the way the public react to wars has severely changed ever since the Vietnam War, but I still don’t think a conflict of interests counts as a war unless staged on some common or disputed ground. The problem here is that the disputed ground is purely moralistic, and it is widely known that neither side is going to ‘give in’ any time soon. Isn’t more like a tug-o-war, or a stalemate than a ‘real’ war?
Semantics aside, the bias against people of Islamic origin goes deeper. I found a prestigious news provider saying that the people whose accounts had been frozen by the Bank of England “appeared to be of Muslim origin…”. There is already enough bias against Muslims without saying that people “appear” to be Muslim, just by their photos and names. And what if they are Muslim? That doesn’t automatically mean that they belong to Al-Qaeda. I know this is all old material, but I figure it needs to be brought up every now and then. Because what happens when we don’t notice people being pigeon-holed? That’s more worrying in my opinion.
The reactions of the people that I have had chance to talk with have been vaired and interesting. The primary reaction is that of the chilling reality of these planned bombings. They were only “days away” from a “dry run”,and would have resulted in the deaths of at least a thousand people. Accounts differ as to how many planes they planned to detonate, and when they planned to do it, but it has apparently surfaced that leads from the bombing in London’s Underground helped MI5 unearth the plan. Did the underground bombers think that far ahead?
The next reaction is one of curiosity as to the ingenuity of creating a bomb from such ordinary items as a drink bottle and a disposable flash camera. While some people may think it abhorrent to be fascinated by this, I do think that ‘terrorists’ are becoming more resourceful as the authorities of various nations struggle to keep up. I don’t mean to be demeaning, I realise that governments have many things to think about and action at any one time, and even though several nations have apparently known about the use of liquid explosives for some time, it takes time to design, build and test machines that can detect them.
Then comes the sympathy for those whose flights were delayed/cancelled, and who are just too scared to continue. Having just travelled overseas, I wouldn’t wish extra delays on anyone. With people being asked to be at their check-in desks 3 or more hours before their planes leave, and many flights only allowing passengers essential items on the planes with them, airports must be hell at the moment. There are further ramifications also, with airlines forcing people’s carry-on baggage into the hold, surely that reduces their freight carrying ability also.
I would never proclaim to know the answer. But I do tend to be skeptical from time to time (and in fact I just found a reporter whose opinion is very similar to mine, scary). I can’t help but wonder why the US and the UK have put their alert levels up if they have “busted” this ring, and “captured the main players”. If they knew what was going to happen, and they have now foiled it, then surely there is – if anything – less of a threat now than before.
So why all the totalitarian measures? To ensure that the public realises what sort of “grave danger” it is in, and to foster belief and faith in our governments? It is all very convenient to constantly be at “war” with someone, it helps the government control The People better you see. George Orwell wrote a tale about that once I seem to recall.