Sunday, December 28, 2003

Aaro vs Riddell

Over 8 rounds, protective gear to be worn, our hero and Mary ('Some of my best friends are Americans but ..') Riddell battle over Iraq. Well worth a read - I'll just pick up on one point, because it was on my mind when blogging about potential attacks on churches.

"On the war against terror I fear a descent into arbitrary government, and I also fear the popular consequences were a large-scale terrorist outrage to happen here in Britain. Do you remember how the David Copeland bombs a few years back provoked Ken Livingstone to call for the banning of far-right political parties? Can you imagine what a lorry-load of explosives in a London cinema, driven there by a Muslim from Derby, would lead to?

This means that I am torn on the question of how far civil liberties may be compromised in the battle against terror."

Aaro, like all right-minded middle class people, is worried about the BNP. I think what he's getting at here is that it might only take one outrage to give them a boost which would be reflected in next year's council and Euro elections. And that therefore it is in the interests of decent people to ensure this does not happen, even at the risk of compromising some people's civil liberty. (I also like to think he'd be against terror even if it didn't help the BNP, but feel that's probably top of his agenda.)

Some people on the liberal left, like Rasputin, just don't get this point. The Telegraph gives the Mad Monk a richly deserved shoeing.

"On Christmas Day the Pope appealed to God to rid the world of the scourge of terrorism. The Archbishop of Canterbury, on the other hand, reserved his clearest condemnation for the West's counter-terrorism campaign. Imprisoning terrorist suspects in Guantanamo Bay and Belmarsh prison, he complained, "sends out the wrong message" to Muslim societies. Those of the Christian faith, he said, should show themselves to be "on the side of humanity" by "making sacrifices for the sake of justice".

The "sacrifices" to which Dr Williams refers presumably involve risking another terrorist attack on the scale of September 11. So far, the counter-terrorist campaign has been remarkably successful in preventing al-Qaeda attacks in Europe and America, in spite of that organisation's strikes elsewhere in the world. Moreover, this has been achieved without any curtailment of the rights of ordinary Muslims in Britain and America, who are free to practise their faith with a degree of freedom of which Christians in many parts of the Islamic world can only dream."

Whether or not all of Blunkett's arrests and detentions have been justified, they have been successful thus far. There's no doubt that some bad people would like to commit terrorist acts, and that some of those people in the past have been British. We have had no atrocities as yet. That is not victory over world terror, but it's a good start.