July 8, 2005

Steyn on target again – but maybe a bit too harsh?

Posted in London, UK, War on Terror at 5:43 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]

Mark Steyn pounds pretty hard on British security services:

The difference is that 9/11 hit out of the blue – literally and politically; 7/7 came after four years of Her Majesty’s Government prioritising terrorism and “security” above all else – and the failure rate was still 100 per cent. After the Madrid bombing, I was struck by the spate of comic security breaches in London: two Greenpeace guys shin up St Stephen’s Tower, a Mirror reporter blags his way into a servants’ gig at Buckingham Palace a week before Bush comes to stay; an Osama lookalike gatecrashes Prince William’s party.

(…)

It’s not a question of trying and prodding and testing and finding the weak link in the chain, the one day – on Monday or Wednesday, in January or November, when an immigration official or a luggage checker is a bit absent-minded and distracted and you slip quietly through. Instead, the jihad, via one of its wholly owned but independently operated subsidiaries, scheduled an atrocity for the start of the G8 summit and managed to pull it off – at a time when ports and airports and internal security were all supposed to be on heightened alert. That’s quite a feat.

I’ve always assumed that Britain has remarkably good security agencies, but of course I don’t know a damn thing about that.  But one of the problems is that we only see the failures.  How many times since 9/11 did British anti-terror officials successfully deter attacks?  We don’t know, but it could be many.  And “deter” doesn’t necessarily mean stopping something just before it happens.  It can also mean that would-be terrorists have realized that they have been surveilled so successfully that they give up some attack plans before they really even finalize them.

On the other hand… By pointing out the somewhat comical mishaps such as the Osama look-alike gig, Steyn is fairly persuasive.

He goes on and wonders what I think many of us have wondered: did the need to send security reinforcements up North to the G8 summit leave London more open to attack?  Would it have made a difference if they weren’t dispatched to Gleneagle?

Of course, many resources had been redeployed to Scotland to cope with Bob Geldof’s pathetic call for a million anti-globalist ninnies to descend on the G8 summit. In theory, the anti-glob mob should be furious with al-Qa’eda and its political tin ear for ensuring that their own pitiful narcissist protests – the pâpier-maché Bush and Blair puppets, the ethnic drumming, etc – will be crowded off the news bulletins.

Here’s Steyn at his best, laying out alternatives:

The choice for Britons now is whether they wish to be Australians post-Bali or Spaniards post-Madrid.

I think I know which choice they’ll make.  But I have to admit that Charmaine Yoest’s reports worry me.

Morning after

Posted in London, UK, War on Terror at 10:03 am by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]

Well the London massacre didn’t digest any better after a night of sleep.  Waking up after a sleep that follows a major event is always a bit weird.  Every morning when you wake up you have those few seconds of returning to lucidity: “What day? Friday.  Work today? Yes. Can sleep longer? No.”  But on the mornings after horrible events, this gets tacked on: “What’s this weighing down on me? Oh yeah, yesterday.”

I’ve been perusing blogs, of course, though I should be in the shower.  Alan Adamson sent me an e-mail that he linked to my “Least Favorite Quotes” entry, so I stopped by “Silly Little Country” and was quickly reminded of something I already knew: that Alan was in the UK on holiday after staying for a bit in Austria.  Go read his entries from yesterday because it’s always interesting to read the thoughts of a “foreign observer” who finds himself quite accidentally near the center of a major event.

Alan reports on British pluckiness, but also on the inevitable signs of what I would characterize as at least a mild dhimmitude:

I am disappointed at the morning Times, which has included the compulsory page on how Islam is a religion of peace (when what we are going through is the sorting out of the question whether it can become such a religion), though one finds across the fold a chilling portrayal of some of the dysfunctional edges of London’s generally amazing multiculturalism.

I was thinking this morning of starting a new blog entry that I would update throughout the day.  Its purpose would have been to note at different times during the day whether the Guardian has yet put up the inevitable article or opinion piece that firmly places the root causes of the bombing on British involvement in Iraq.  Tariq Ali saved me the trouble:

And all this happened despite the various Prevention of Terrorism Acts passed by the Commons.

The bombers who targeted London yesterday are anonymous. It is assumed that those who carried out these attacks are linked to al-Qaida. We simply do not know. Al-Qaida is not the only terrorist group in existence. It has rivals within the Muslim diaspora. But it is safe to assume that the cause of these bombs is the unstinting support given by New Labour and its prime minister to the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

One of the arguments deployed by Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London, when he appealed to Tony Blair not to support the war in Iraq was prescient: “An assault on Iraq will inflame world opinion and jeopardise security and peace everywhere. London, as one of the major world cities, has a great deal to lose from war and a lot to gain from peace, international cooperation and global stability.”

Most Londoners (as the rest of the country) were opposed to the Iraq war. Tragically, they have suffered the blow and paid the price for the re-election of Blair and a continuation of the war.

Ever since 9/11, I have been arguing that the “war against terror” is immoral and counterproductive.

et cetera ad infinitum

Time to go to work.

July 7, 2005

Least favorite quotes of the day

Posted in London, UK, War on Terror at 9:58 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]

I admit that Prime Minister Blair did sound Churchillian today, but this part was sure nonsense:

It is particularly barbaric that this has happened on a day when people are meeting to try to help the problems of poverty in Africa, the long-term problems of climate change and the environment.

You’ve all seen Galloway’s remarks by now:

We urge the government to remove people in this country from harms way, as the Spanish government acted to remove its people from harm, by ending the occupation of Iraq and by turning its full attention to the development of a real solution to the wider conflicts in the Middle East. 

The BBC’s rolling contributions from readers had a lot of interesting messages.  This was not one of them (though the BBC itself thought the message was worthy of a pull-quote):

I just hope that the angry, frightened people don’t turn on all the innocent, law-abiding Muslim families who live peacefully with us in our communities. These attacks affect them too, and they are just as scared and angry as the rest of us, without the added fear of being attacked purely because of their religion. My thoughts are with everyone affected, regardless of race, creed or colour – be strong, every right minded citizen of this planet is behind you.
Tim, London

Der Standard’s “RAU” reminds us that there was never terror in Iraq before the United States arrived, that one should not trust Tony Blair and that George W. Bush can cause physical and emotional pain to those afflicted with Bush-dementia (translations are mine):

We are in a defensive war, albeit with very little trust in our “Command-in-Chief” and his deputies.   In his reactions to the London attacks, Tony Blair offered his famous rhetoric that we have come to learn to distrust.  To see and hear George W. Bush there induced bodily pain and depression.  The man decided to fight the “War against Terror” in Iraq, although there were no terrorists there until the U.S. invasion…

…[T]his war “War Against Terror” is led by the wrong people for the wrong reasons on the wrong front and by the wrong means. [Aber dieser “Krieg gegen den Terror” wird von den falschen Leuten mit der falschen Begründung an der falschen Front und mit den falschen Mitteln geführt.]

This elicited much agreement from RAU’s readers, such as this comment from “vito” (translated):

The democracies of this world, since they have come into existence, have also conducted a merciless struggle for the raw materials of these countries.  No wonder that this political system is not trusted there.

I’m sure I could come across tons of other examples, but it’s too depressing.  Whither Western Civilization?

Thoughts on trying to keep up with the news in a crisis

Posted in London, Media, UK, War on Terror at 8:37 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]
Unlike on 9/11, today I was not in front of the TV while the story of the London mass-murders was developing.  I was at work and therefore tried to make use of the Internet as much as I could.  Some random thoughts on the experience of zooming around the web, looking for updates, etc.:

  • Flickr is a great idea.  And the idea of having a “pool” dedicated to a topic is also a great idea.  It was a bit disappointing that the majority of the contributions were snapshots of television screens.  Anybody can do that.  What we need are people “on the ground” taking photos and getting them to publically-available websites as fast as any “real” news agency can.   Actually it should be faster than MSM agencies since the latter have to receive a photo and then take at least a few moments to fit it in to their pages.  All we really want in this day and age when we don’t trust MSM anymore is the photo itself — we don’t care if it’s framed on a page with all sorts of other articles or editorial content surrounding it, with ads, etc.  I have a cheap mobile phone, so I haven’t really paid attention to how far along we are in the ease-of-use of mobile phones that have both a (relatively) high speed internet connection (UMTS) and a camera and how the two can be used to get a photo quickly from your hand to a publically-available website.
  • Major news sites still can’t keep up with traffic during crises.  Of course it’s gotten better over the years, but I look forward to the day when a traffic surge is no longer so noticeable.  Today’s particular disappointment in this area was the BBC video and audio feeds that are supposed to be available from http://news.bbc.co.uk.  They were completely unusable.  The main news page itself, however, did quite well.
  • It’s also great to see MSM reporters getting their “raw data” to the public much faster (and without editors, I guess!) through vehicles such as BBC’s Reporters’ Log, which included running commentary from reporters throughout the day.  Another good example probably would have been the Guardian blogs, but they were virtually unusable, I assume because of traffic.  Now that several hours have passed, I see that they are once again easy to reach.
  • Another nice feature at BBC was the running commentary provided by eyewitnesses who e-mailed their stories.  One complaint I have with this feature was the lack of a timestamp on each contribution.
  • More about timestamps: it drives me crazy when I can’t find a timestamp.  Flickr users who post photos during a breaking event should include a comment that includes the time the photo was taken.
  • On days like today it suddenly becomes obvious that the ability to locate bloggers geographically is a big plus.  Here, for example, are bloggers who have registered themselves as living near the Liverpool Street Tube station in London.

There is no situation so serious, no horror so great…

Posted in George W. Bush, London, UK, War on Terror at 3:42 pm by billdawson

…that it could divert a committed Bush-hater’s attention from the object of his/her malice.

I’m following Flickr’s “pool” of London-related photos. Note the comments accompanying this photo.

[And then later it got even better.  A very relevant photo for the “pool” committed to the London attacks.]

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]

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