Making sense out of madness
The horrific scenes in central London today, where a confirmed 41 people have lost their lives, and in which hundreds have been injured, a toll which may well rise over the course of the forthcoming hours, are a reminder of the sheer madness which is part of everyday life in 2005.
Terrorism is the most cowardly and mindless form of using force, since it targets innocent people going about their daily lives, irrespective of their age, gender, race or creed. In no religion and in no society can anyone justify the taking of innocent lives in such a random and brutal manner.
If these people (?) are Islamist hardliners, then how do they justify the inclusion of Moslems among their victims? Where in the Quran is the murder of women and children ever justifiable? These are not freedom fighters, nor is their cause worthy of anything but contempt because a hero, a fighter, a militant does not hide behind the deaths of civilians. He who kills women and children is a coward and a traitor to his cause from the outset.
Terrorism however is nothing new. Jewish terrorists fought the British military in Palestine sixty years ago, Irish terrorists, some funded by NORAID, especially popular in New York, blasted people through shop windows on the British mainland during a decade of violence, long before the likes of bin Laden turned the tables and began attacking US interests, after, that is, the USA aided and abetted Islamist fundamentalist terrorism in Afghanistan to use against the Soviets.
Now the dog bites the hand of those who reared it and those who spit into the wind find out that you reap what you sow. Whatever the form of terrorism and wherever it is perpetrated, all of the events cited above are examples of the mindless killing of human beings by human beings, none of these acts being justifiable for one moment.
This is why a substantial part of the world's population was against the illegal attack on Iraq (and indeed, under international law, there was no basis for an attack against Afghanistan, however understandable it was at the time). Why? Because it gave any wannabe terrorist the justification he needed to match an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. After all, how to answer the question: What is the difference between a British or American civilian being murdered in New York or London or an Iraqi civilian being murdered in Baghdad? How to justify the wanton slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis?
Certainly to perpetrate similar acts, such as today, does not right the wrong and all deaths of human beings, whoever they are or wherever they may be, are tragedies. Murder is murder, whether it is called freedom fighting, terrorism or collateral damage.
The fact is that international terrorism is here and here to stay. It can strike as and when it wants, where it wants and today's attack was a message to the G8 leaders: We are here.
Today's attack is another clear sign that the power of the individual to combat a state is real and therefore somewhere down the line, there has to be a process of dialogue opened to set out the game and to establish the rules.
The more sophisticated the authorities become, the more sophisticated the terrorists will get, and so begins a downwards spiral of catch as catch can, so simply combatting terrorism is not the final solution. The final solution is one which cuts off the terrorists' only supply line - operationals willing to take part in such acts of violence, even if it means giving their own lives in the process.
These individuals join because they receive more money than sitting around unemployed and because they believe in the cause. Take a cause away from a terrorist organization and you are left with a bunch of common criminals. Dealing with the social issues behind these issues, finding out what is behind the cause and what trade-offs would relieve the pressure, while a real process of dialogue takes place (probably in secret) seems to be the only way to approach the problem.
The problem is real, it is here, it is something we do not have to live with because it is unacceptable that innocent people cannot go about their daily lives in safety and security. Mankind has striven for too long to lose this basic freedom.
Those who engage in terrorism, be they Islamist fundamentalists or military pilots blasting the limbs off six-year-old children are the ones who attack our freedom and they would do well to redress their differences in the name of Humanity.