Pointless terror alert

Here  we go again. I’m not generally a conspiracy theorist, but the way that governments around the world deal with terrorist threat certainly suggest there is an Orwellian type conspiracy to ensure that we are all kept frightened enough not to worry about loss of our civil liberties. The latest ‘alert’ certainly seeems to be in that category.

The American government is telling its citizens to be vigilant in places where there are lots of people. But that is such patent nonsense. What is vigilance? In any case, vigilance won’t help if you happen to be in, say, the Louvre and some suicidal terrorist charges in with a machine gun. Two minutes before, he have been wandering around looking like a tourist, camera round his neck and peaked cap to keep the sun out. It is difficult not to think that this is all about keeping us worried about the terrorist threat in order to ensure that the secret services budgets are kept high.

Then William Hague pitches in saying that the terrorist threat is real,but then oddly does not upgrade the ridiculous threat warnings. Nor has he said don’t travel. So it can’t be that bad then.

OK, perhaps the purpose is to tell Al-Qaida publicly that ‘we know what you are up to’. But clearly, they don’t. If they knew where the attack was going to take place, then they could stop it. Just saying an attack is likely somewhere winds up the general public but does nothing to deter the bombers.

I remember that after the London Underground bombings, Sir Ian Blair said that another attack was inevitable. Well, its been five years since the attacks – and while some may have been thwarted, how long will is it before we can decide that Blair was wrong?

But overall what I don’t understand is this. Every time we change our lives to fit in with fears about terrorists, they have won.I lived through the IRA bombings of the seventies, and we just went about our normal business. We did not let them stop London or in fact change our life styles. Yes, the present lot are more violent and even nastier, but the chances of getting killed in a terrorist outrage are far less than of getting run over. It is a risk, but stepping outside one’s front door is a risk. Why aren’t any politicians brave enough to say – look, there is a risk, but we are not going to change our lives or damage our freedoms in order to eliminate it – which is impossible anyway.

  • RapidAssistant

    Ditto all the pointless restrictions that now exist outside airports – since the Glasgow Airport attack in 2007 you now can’t drive anywhere near a terminal building and some airports are even charging people for the priviledge these days.

    I travelled to the USA four months later from Glasgow Airport after the attack and there were these intimidating heavies in suits standing at the end of the check-in queue questioning each and every passenger before they joined the queue – only to ask the exact same three standard questions that the check-in agent asks you anyway. And someone could easily circumvent this pointless additional interrogation by checking in online, printing your boarding pass out at home and walking straight through security. I’m sure that the security services (or whoever employed them…) made sure they were well remunerated for their time…..symptomatic of the silly, knee-jerk, and poorly thought out reactions that central government has when these tragic events occur.

    But the real kick in the teeth for me was that once I was actually IN the USA – I should add that I was transiting through Newark, New Jersey – one of the 9/11 airports remember – security wasn’t any more stricter than it has been this last 9 years……

  • Dan

    “Why aren’t any politicians brave enough to say – look, there is a risk, but we are not going to change our lives or damage our freedoms in order to eliminate it – which is impossible anyway”

    Yes, good point – maybe when they KNOW large numbers of people are going to die the narrative they spin is the whole ‘blitz spirit’ stuff about how we will never be defeated etc etc and ‘London can take it’ and all the other stuff they love to feed us when it suits them.

  • exile

    Spain has a rather schizoid attitude to security – you have to pass through airline-style security to get on the train – but only for High Speed services such as the AVE. Ordinary trains are just a case of walking on.