Friday, July 7, 2006

One year after 7/7

It's been one year since the bombings in London. And on the eve of the ominous anniversary, a new videotape was revealed from one of the suicide bombers, indicating that al-Qaeda had a hand in 7/7 after all; and then we learned this morning that the group was planning to shut down New York City by taking out the city's tunnels.

While there is no proven connection to AQ in the foiled Toronto plot as of yet, I would not be the least bit surprised if there turns out to be one there too. People gather around the queen bee -- and the "Queen" here is OBL. But even if there is a complete disconnect, the fact remains that Public Enemy #1 is an inspiration to many, and will continue to be when he is finally taken out.

We're still not "used" to terrorism here on Turtle Island, far less so than our brothers and sisters in Europe who have had to put up with rogue elements for years. The difference is that they don't freak out as much -- understanding a hit can happen any time, they've put in the kinds of measures that both try to deter such events from happening in the first place; and if they do, ensuring the civil liberties of the law-abiding majority are not trampled on. There's an old saying the Chinese word for "crisis" and "opportunity" are the same -- and rather than putting Europe in a state of virtual martial law, Europeans are fighting back with what works.

Consider that we tend to see closed-circuit television (CCTV) as Big Brother; Europeans see it as a helping hand to deter petty crime and find those who commit the major offences.. We see open borders as an invitation to terrorists; Europeans see them as a way to better fortify the outer frontiers while permitting the free flow of good and services within the zone. We see such tools as "anti-social behaviour orders" (ASBOs) as a threat to civil liberties, but people in the EU see the American approach -- indefinite detention in a Gulag -- as letting the terrorists win.

The track that should be taken, at all times, to deal with terrorism is to both be firm on those who would commit such acts, while creating the conditions to ensure people aren't frustrated with The System. In other words, getting tough on crime as well as on its causes. We can learn a few lessons from Europe. The least of these is their steely resolve and their determination to move on. Maybe it's me, but it seemed like it took New York a week to start up their markets again. In London and Mandrid, they got right back into it.

We do not forget what happened, but we honour their memory by taking care of business and not letting it grind to a halt.

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