Friday, August 11, 2006

Prevention works!

LONDON, UK: Once again all eyes seem to be on Britain, concerned emails come from America and Africa and the column inches and TV news fills to the brim with terror plots.

Leaving aside my cynicism for a moment about the media, this episode makes an important point. In NGO circles when conflict prevention is always valued, someone normally points out that governments don't like to invest in prevention because 'you don't get any credit for preventing a war/genocide'. Surely, then, '10/8: foiled' is the exception that spectactularly proves the rule. And again, while I try and put aside my concerns about the arrests of men mainly younger than myself, there's no doubt that if indeed major loss of life has been avoided then the international intelligence services must be applauded for protecting us. It shows the value of intelligence for prevention of violence and the wide value of investing in nonviolent prevention of violent conflict. If the world's media were only so concerned about the thousands of African deaths through armed conflict then perhaps Responsibility to Protect would start getting somewhere.

For me, one of the most intelligent police actions is bringing sniffer dogs into London. After the bombings last year, police with huge guns were bought in to 'reassure' the public, but after the shooting of the Brazilian Menezes it was found that this wasn't very reassuring, especially if you were male, young and dark skinned, but in fact also if you were simply carrying a backpack (as a sidenote, single females are considered as much of a security risk by some security experts since the blowing up of an El Al plane by a young Irish woman who did not know her boyfriend had planted the bombs in her luggage). They also found that a machine gun generally doesn't generally have the heightened sense of smell of a spaniel. The smiling, wagging dogs transform the atmosphere of tension at Euston by being friendly and calming presences as well as reassuring those of us using the trains every day. It's a peaceful, imaginative action.

OK, just one little note of cynicism about the blanket media coverage of these plots. It's August. There is no other news. Well, unless you count the Middle East, those DRC elections, two people blown up in Iraq, peace activists being arrested by the dozen for mischief-making up at Prestwick and, hang on, more than a million people being evacuated and 104 dead in China. Never heard that on the breakfast news while they were listing what you could take on a plane. I could go on, but won't.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

1 comment:

marian said...

Great post Clare. It is really quite strange reading all about "communter town High Wycombe" and Walthamstow in the papers here, and seeing how the Americans are reacting.

Side note: I feel like I am getting a dog-related theme with the conflict prevention stuff I am hearing about this month. Weird.