Self-fulfilling prophecy?

Repugnant by any moral or humanitarian standards, yesterday’s terrorist attacks in London demonstrate the political blindness of Islamic fundamentalism. The British capital is not only the seat of the the United States’ most loyal ally in the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq; it has also hosted stirring antiwar rallies over the past two years, voted in a left-wing Labor rebel Ken Livingstone as mayor and picked another rebel, charismatic anti-war figure George Galloway, as an MP. It is the city referred to mockingly as Londonistan in Washington and Paris, because of its exceptional tolerance toward even extreme voices of fundamentalist Islam. In that context, yesterday’s attacks will rally the British nation around Prime Minister Tony Blair, helping to push the «clash of civilizations» into a self-fulfilling prophecy. On the other hand, yesterday’s tragedy demonstrates the impasse of a strategy of dealing with terrorism by military and police means alone. Britain has long experience in this field due to the protracted, bloody action of the IRA. Together with the US, it is the country that voted in the most draconian anti-terrorist laws after September 11, 2001. London is the West’s most heavily policed and patrolled capital. Yet it could not avert a new September 11, and indeed on the very day when vigilance should have been at its peak – during the G8 summit in Scotland. Ironically, it was Blair who signaled a shift from tackling internal terrorism via purely military means with the Good Friday agreement on Ireland. Now, however, he has been dealt a heavy blow for having followed American President George W. Bush into war against a country which had never threatened Britain. But the great dilemma concerns Europe: Either it plays an independent, active role in forging a Middle East peace or that region’s asymmetrical wars will shift to Europe itself.

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