Saturday, June 30, 2007

What The Brit Papers Say

By Cernig

If people like this, I might try to make it a Saturday night feature - as the Brit Sunday papers get their internet airing, posting links to some of the opinion columns there. It's interesting (to me, at least) to see where opinion across the pond both diverges and dovetails with the accepted wisdom of the U.S. press.

This week, obviously, it's all about terrorism.

Leader, Scotland On Sunday.
Terrorist acts are the work of individuals not communities and the arrival of terror on our soil must not result in racist attacks on ethnic minorities whose only crime is to share the same religion and colour as the bombers.

It is to be hoped that yesterday's attack is an isolated incident, but the reality is that we will have to deal with more in the future. We must not allow terrorists to stop us from going about our lives as we always have - to do so would be to hand a victory to the men of terror.
Simon Jenkins, Sunday Times (one of the grand old men of Brit journalism).
Britain’s war policy is thus caught between the unpalatable and the indefensible, between a swift unilateral withdrawal in defiance of American (or rather White House) opposition, and a bloody dribble of death, retreat and humiliation, while Washington makes up its mind what to do next.
Leader, The Independent On Sunday.
British jihadism may be associated with an extreme form of a psycho-social crisis of identity among second-generation Muslim immigrants, which makes it peculiarly resistant to quick fixes. Impressively, Mr Brown was already doing many of the right things before news of the planned explosions broke. He had appointed Shahid Malik as an international development minister, and Sadiq Khan to the Whips' Office, the first Muslim members of a British Government. They will, we hope, strengthen the voice of the vast majority of Muslims who are dedicated to this country. He had appointed Adam Ingram to review our military response to terrorism around the world. And David Miliband and his team can make a fresh start in seeking to explain the motives of British foreign policy.
The Colonel Blimps at The Telegraph are the odd ones out, as usual.
We have, collectively, been far too willing to allow the fanatics to spread their poison. We have mistaken their vicious determination to make war on our way of life for a harmless, if different, lifestyle choice. It has spread insidiously as a result.

The Islamists' ideology of hate needs to be confronted and defeated, not tolerated or accepted. The Government has been reluctant to recognise that ideology for what it is. But our only hope for a peaceful and tolerant future is to ensure the end of radical Islamism in Britain. Every possible resource, from education to law enforcement, must be mobilised to that end. We cannot rely on luck to protect us, because sooner or later, luck will favour the terrorists.
But The Observer (The Guardian's Sunday edition) editorial leader, seems to have captured the consensus of British opinion.
Terrorists do not pose, as some melodramatically claim, a threat to our way of life. In fact, they show us its strengths. The periods where there has been no terrorist threat to Britons in the past 150 years have been the exception, not the rule, yet we have weathered pretty much everything that has so far been thrown at us. So, it is worth noting, have many of our closest allies. Spain's far younger and far more fragile democracy withstood the Madrid bombings of 2004, as well as the campaigns of ETA. The US survived the shock of 9/11. Our own nation may have been shocked by 7/7 and 21/7, but it has not been significantly weakened.

Some believe that the solution to terrorism is to resolve the myriad grievances the terrorists broadcast so violently. This is a mistake. Many such grievances are imagined - the West does not want to 'dominate the lands of Islam', for example. Many more are simply not Britain's fault; we are not to blame for the parlous economic state of many Islamic countries. Instead, we should remember that it is our way of life, and the attraction it holds, that remains our best weapon.

The truth is that our democratic structures, our economy, our values and the society we have built upon them are much stronger than we often think. They can easily cope with the unpleasant but necessary measures, such as the controversial and currently flawed control orders, that are essential to fight terrorism. In counterterrorist circles, there is much anxious talk about the resilience of modern terrorist networks. There should be some less anxious talk about the resilience of our societies, too.
And that's what the Brit papers say this Sunday.

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