It’s almost seven o’clock on the West Coast, and details about the multiple terror attacks in London this morning are still unclear. All we know for certain is that the characteristics of the offensive resemble the bombing in Madrid last year. As in Madrid, the terrorists attacked the commuter transportation system at rush hour – except that this time instead of one bomb on a train there were multiple, simultaneous explosions in the subway and on buses.
A group with alliegance to al Qaida has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Whether this is coincidental with recent statements coming the network’s leadership urging attacks outside of Iraq and Afghanistan is also uncertain.
Another aspect that remains to be seen is the effect the new wave of attacks will have on public opinion. I, for one, have cringed every time the Republicans have repeated their mantra about the war in Iraq that it is better to fight them over there than over here. It seemed to me that terrorists who heard these statements would feel they were being taunted.
There’s also this: The UK has had a lot more experience dealing with terrorist attacks than we have. The hostilities between the British government and the Irish Republican Army and its predecessors and adjuncts went on for decades – even centuries.
In the 1990’s, these hostilities all but vanished – or at least the violence did. I mention this because it is a clear example of how terrorism can be vanquished. How did the British end the reign of terror against them? I think the answer is, they didn’t. Decades of escalating violence and retaliation just prolonged the horror and made it worse.
The major factor in resolving terrorism in the UK was economic development in Ireland. Newfound prosperity helped ease the root causes of the conflict: poverty and its effects on the health and well-being of the society, and the lack of opportunity that caused the poverty.
Maybe there’s a lesson in there somewhere.