Thursday, August 10, 2006

War on Terror?

Watching American television today makes you realize how powerful America’s media machine is and how efficient it is at making afraid. The breaking news banners come with all sorts of news speculation, news debating, news discussions, news theories which are basically not newsworthy. It is just a flow of emotional response to British officials announcing that they had broken up an alleged terrorist plot. The air travel disruption is certainly real.

But I read a lot of comments on the Internet of people having doubts about the extent of the whole thing. The fact that the government and the police have cried wolf before (think of the Ricin plot for instance) allows for some skepticism.

However, I suspect this may be real. While it is clear that bush is trying to capitalize on the whole event, I don’t think Blair has much to gain from it. He is likely to take more heat for making this world a jihadist recruiter's dream with the war in Iraq and the support of Israel in its war against Hezbollah.

Besides, British intelligence has a much better reputation for being less politicized and stronger than American intelligence when it comes to anti-terrorism.

What is somewhat disturbing however is the massive disruption caused by the announcement? If, as NYC mayor Bloomberg said on the air, the local police knew about the plot for months and had been co-operating with UK authorities, then why so much panic in UK and US airports? It also seems that the Forest Gate raid has also been given a lot of publicity which does not seem quite up to police standards with regard to counter-terrorism actions.

In any case, this latest event is likely to polarize even more political opinion no only across the globe but also within the UK and the US. Those who support the “war on terror” will certainly use this as evidence to support their current strategy while critics will undeniably see it as evidence that British and American foreign policy has increased rather than tamed the terror threat.

From the little we know, it seems that this “victory” is not the result of a war strategy or military offensive as Bush would have it, but of police and intelligence work. Besides, it appears that the plotters were all British citizens. So really, there is not much to brag for the Bush administration.


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