Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Thursday 30 September 2004

Terrorism cannot, and must not, ever be appeased

The title above is the final line on the memorial tributes I have posted, to mark four major acts of terrorism over the past three years; links under 'Memorial Pages' at right. Of course, it is easy for me to adopt this attitude when neither myself nor anyone close to me is currently in danger, as Ken Bigley is. He is the unfortunate British citizen who is being held hostage in Iraq. Tony Blair undoubtedly wishes he could, somehow, get this man out of Iraq safely, but the truth is that it would be highly counterproductive to entertain any notion of acquiescing in the terrorists' demands for two female Iraqi detainees to be released. There are many other British citizens in Iraq who would likely be placed in greater danger were he to do so.

This is quite apart from the practical reality that these two ladies are being held under the control of the US military in Iraq, albeit technically under the jurisdiction of the interim Iraqi government. Quite apart, also, from the horrific reality that Mr Bigley's two fellow-detainees, both US citizens, have already been cruelly and horrifically murdered by the same group of terrorists, which is hardly an incentive for the US to co-operate in the ladies' release, should the British government have sought this.

Why is all this happening? It seems clear to me that the kinds of terrorist who perpetrate these outrages are very astute politically in that they appear to have an acute awareness of which 'buttons to push' to cause the maximum discomfort to the governments of democracies such as the UK. It is absolutely no coincidence that the series of pitiful videos of Mr Bigley pleading for Tony Blair to help him have been released during the week of the Labour Party conference in Brighton. Just as the terrorist outrage in Madrid earlier this year seemed calculated to affect the result of the Spanish general election and the swift ending of Spanish military involvement in Iraq soon afterward. The terrorists hope somehow to drive a wedge between the UK and the US. There is no way they can be allowed to succeed; a firm stance by Tony Blair and the government is the only way forward, however painful.

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