Friday, July 06, 2007

Bush Praises UK Terror Response

President Bush praised the UK's strong response to the recent failed car bomb attempts saying, "It just goes to show the war on these extremists goes on. You never know where they might strike." In addition to the UK's security measures, the US response is an increased level of security over the holiday period, specifically in airports and other transportation hubs. (CNN: Bush appreciates 'strong' British response; U.S. adds air marshals.)

The UK government response is not the portion that should impress the President or the people. There's a great deal we can learn from the British citizens' response to terror, however. Despite the failed attempts in London and Glasgow, a major concert at Wembley Stadium hosted by Princes Harry and William that would have been a prime target went on as scheduled. I've little doubt that we would have cancelled that concert had it been scheduled here.

We seem to have forgotten that terror attacks are nothing new to the people in the UK. Long before any of us had ever heard of al Qaeda, the British were enduring terror bombings by the IRA, also targeting crowded areas populated by innocent civilians. Even that, however, pales in comparison to what the British endured on a nightly basis throughout the Second World War. Night after night, the British endured the bombings of civilian populations with London being the centerpiece of Nazi attacks.

What continues to impress was the British response in the wake of every terror attack from the Blitz right through to the present day. The response was, and continues to be, to go about their daily business as usual. The attacks do not cause the nation to shut down for a week. They don't cause the British people to alter their plans, avoid stadiums, avoid shopping malls, or avoid subway stations. They thumbed their noses at Hitler during World War II, they thumbed their noses at the IRA in the '70s and '80s, and they continue to thumb their noses at al Qaeda. They learned long ago the lesson that we need to learn. The only way for the terrorists to succeed is if they can get us to alter our lifestyle. Great Britain refused to do that in the Second World War, and they refuse to do it today. That is the response that President Bush should praise.

The worst thing we can do in the face of terror attacks is change our lifestyle. Terrorist tactics are used by groups that are fighting a far superior force. To succeed, those tactics depend on the gradual weakening of the public's resolve. They depend on public pressure to accede to the terrorist group's demands in the hopes that the attacks will subside. Without that public response, the terror attacks are ineffective. The best way for the average citizen to fight a war against any group that uses terror as a tactic is for the average citizen to go about business as usual. Don't alter plans because of terror threats. Don't cancel your flights, your travel plans, your vacations, out of fear of potential attacks. Take a lesson from the people of London. The best response the average citizen can have in the face of a terror threat is defiance. There are lessons to be learned from history if we would only choose to listen.

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1 comment :

Silas Scarborough said...

There was a radio announcer in London during the Blitz and he went on every night at 8:00 p.m. His show started the same way every night, even when there was a bombing going on as he spoke. Before anything else, he would say, "You've got to laugh!"

That kind of attitude can never be broken.