Thursday, August 04, 2005

Red Ken/Blue States

Mayor Livingstone (London, England) makes a lot of sense:

Protecting London from terrorists requires the best possible policing - which, in turn, needs the greatest possible flow of information from all communities. It also demands that we shrink the pool of the alienated that bombers draw on by treating all communities as equal parts of British society - not only theoretically, but in reality. And it means withdrawing from Iraq. All are interrelated...

The reason the US is not able to stabilise Iraq is related to the same critical issue that affects policing in Britain: information. Which is simply another way of saying the attitude of the population.

US forces are ineffective because the great bulk of the population will not give them intelligence voluntarily. Therefore elements within the US military are led to resort to ritual humiliation and torture. This does not yield remotely sufficient information. Therefore US forces are led to relatively blind strikes against those opposing them - inevitably killing innocent civilians. This, of course, has the effect of alienating the population further...

Nevertheless, I want to make the point to some opponents of the war. It is not a policy simply to explain to people: "You are dying because Britain is in Iraq." The bombers came to kill indiscriminately. As one Londoner put it to me: "I am a Muslim and scared - and my first fear is being blown up." I supported action against the Iraq war and I support measures to stop Londoners being bombed.

Right now, only the police can stop bombers. Anyone who tries to avoid this is not dealing with what are literally life and death matters. But the police can only be effective if they get community cooperation. Opponents of the war should continue to oppose it. But they also have to say to London's communities: "Cooperate with the police to catch terrorists" - and explain that the quality of information the police get will be decisively affected by the degree to which communities are treated with respect.

Read the whole thing, which goes on to make connections with broader issues--without "apologizing" for terrorism, or any like nonsense accusations made by wingnuts when someone tells them to stop stamping their collective feet and bellowing for indiscriminate bombing (just like the terrorists, I might add).

Compare and contrast--Livingstone demonstrates the capacity for complex thought, an essential component in countering terrorism without turning the free world into a self-imposed prison. Bush, on the other hand, offers nothing more than two bit bluster. All but the biggest Kool Aid drinkers can see it's nothing more than piss in a bottle, even as the shyster-in-chief insists it's nectar from the gods (excuse me--the one, true, male god).

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