Wednesday, August 16, 2006

How much can we trade off for security?

I like this piece (on European Tribune by Helen):

[.../...] No Govt can impose a level of security that can keep air, or indeed any form of travel, safe from those who intend us harm. All they do is provide us with illusions that require occasional updating.

And that's a point worth considering. Life is often nasty, brutal and short and absolutely nobody gets out alive. Many many more people die in the west on our roads than in terrorist incidents, but we shrug our shoulders over that.

Government cannot keep us absolutely safe, it can only make reasonable efforts to do so. Before we authorise our Govts to render our everyday life as we know it unliveable with impositions of security that make ideas of freedom, liberty and self-determination meaningless we need to engage in a debate about our realistic expectations. There are trade-offs, nihilist terrorism is fashionable and must be guarded against, but we cannot keep allowing fools like Blair and Reid to shut the country down because it would be electorally suicidal to admit the true limits of their abilities.

Maybe, if I'm generous, I could admit that is a function of being in charge that they feel a sense of responsibility to us. That they would do anything to ensure that we are kept safe lest their pact be broken. But they cannot keep us utterly safe and the price for maintaining the fiction that they can might be too high to our sense of who we are.

Of course, maybe we'd like our Govts to consider treading more lightly on the world. Causing fewer problems in far away places in the continued assumptions of Western Imperialism that we are immune to meaningful blowback from our interference in the 3rd world. Our believe that our technology and distance keep us safe. Throwing petrol around and then wrapping us in asbestos to protect us from the fire make keep the flames at bay, but also gives us asbestosis.

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