Thursday, July 07, 2005

More Terror! Quick, Crack Down on Us!

The British have bought into the surveillance/security state paradigm even more thoroughly than Americans have. In England, and particularly in London, police surveillance cameras are nearly ubiquitous. (Don't worry, though; America's not far behind, and is closing the gap.) We see in this morning's news one of the problems with trading one's privacy and liberties for state-provided security: the security's an illusion.

From the above-linked news story:

London Mayor Ken Livingstone said the blasts were "mass murder" carried out by terrorists bent on "indiscriminate ... slaughter."

Livingstone, in Singapore where he supported London's successful bid to host the 2012 Olympics, said: "I want to say one thing: This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty or the powerful, it is not aimed at presidents or prime ministers, it was aimed at ordinary working-class Londoners.

Someone needs to calm Mayor Livingstone down, and explain to him that there's always collateral damage in any war. War's a dirty business, you see, and someone always gets hurt or killed, even civilians. It's just that the slaughter of civilians is a lot more agreeable when they're faraway wogs. Sure, London's taken a little collateral damage, but let's have some perspective: it didn't exactly get the Fallujah treatment, now, did it?

As this is written, my news sources weren't reporting whether El Presidente Supremo and Emperor of the Known Universe Jorge Dubya Bush had yet declared that we're fighting the turrsts in London so we won't have to fight them in New Jersey.


Grace said...

the security's an illusion

Think people are finally catching on? The one thing I do find curious is the availability of explosives, or the components for making explosives. Doesn't seem to be a very tightly controlled industry, does it? You'd think it'd be right up there with nuclear materials...oh, wait. Never mind.

Bartleby said...

Grace, I don't think that people are catching on -- not most people, anyway. If we have a "war on terror," and simply get more terror, I think most of my countrymen will simply conclude that we need a bigger-and-better war. If, after flushing some of our liberties in order to be safe, we find ourselves less safe than before, we'll likely decide that we didn't flush enough liberties, and we'd better get serious about it.

About the explosives: even efficient, military-type explosives (C-4, Semtex) are widely available throughout the world. And, if one is willing to work with explosive systems that are bulkier and less convenient, they are home-makable from exceedingly common materials, a la McVeigh's nitrate-fertilizer-and-fuel-oil bomb in Oklahoma City. We can hope that, even given the raw materials, nukes might be decisively harder to do. I think we kind of have to wonder, though, what already-made nuclear weapons might have found their way out of the former Soviet Union.