The revelations Thursday about the British and Pakistani intel services having uncovered and “taken down” a plot to blow many western airliners up over the highseas came as Bill and I were flying to California. We heard nothing of the plot before boarding the small plane in Charlottesville. But when we boarded the big transcontinental flight from Dulles to LA, passengers coming into Dulles were already having to go through extensive security checks.
As someone who flies quite frequently and whose loved ones and friends also fly frequently, I am extremely happy that all necessary and sensible steps are taken to safeguard the security of the air travel system around the world. None of us has yet had the opportunity to examine in full the evidence the British and Pakistanis had against the alleged authors of those plots, but they sounded very, very scary.
It is notable that it was solid police work that succeeded in preventing those murderous acts from being committed.
What a contrast with the situations in Iraq and Lebanon, where the UK, US, their allies, and Israel have all tried to use massive military force against opponents while claiming that these opponents either were terrorists or gave support to terrorists… And far from bringing an end to violence and threats of violence, those military acts had these features:
- (1) They were themselves acts of massive, and wildly indiscriminate violence that murdered hundreds of civilians(in Lebanon) and many thousands (in Iraq),
(2) They significantly distracted the attention and resources of decisionmakers away from pursuing the very necessary tasks of stabilizing post-Taliban Afghanistan and its quite unctrolled border area with Pakistan, and
(3) They also sowed the seeds for radically increased anti-western hatred among the very community– the worldwide Muslim community– where, as western leaders must surely understand, an important battle of ideas against the proponents of Al-Qaeda violence must be fought and won.
The US, UK, their allies, and Israel have all seemed addicted to the use of militaristic violence. In the UK, there are also those who pursue the smarter path using solid police work to investigate reports of terrorist planning… But how much less inclination to join those plots would there have been if the Blair government had not also joined the US in its military adventure in Iraq, and had not supported the Israeli government in so many of its oppressive and violent acts in palestine and Lebanon– but if instead, he had coolly pursued a policy stressing nonviolent resolution of conflicts and human equality?
Well, recourse to military force to “solve” outstanding problems should surely have gotten a bad reputation by now, after all we have witnessed in Iraq and Lebanon. I believe it’s time to stress that point as hard and as fast as we can…
(I’ll be flying home on Sunday night. Let’s hope the air travel system stays safe.)