We have all been watching in horrified sympathy the ghastly events unfolding in Paris. One wonders what can have been DONE to those people – citizens of Western countries – to motivate them to take part in a shocking and brutal act of merciless mass murder, and then throw their own lives away as well?

My personal reactions are: horror – it was a disgusting event; sympathy for and a desire to support the French; unease – it could be us next time; anger – how dare they and do they think WE are a people who can be bullied and intimidated; determination to preserve our liberties and customs; and finally, absolute incomprehension.

There are many unanswered questions within the issue. One of the most depressing and alarming statements I have heard is that there are large sections of the Muslim population who secretly have sympathy with the aims of the terrorists. Can this be true? What proof is there of this? I can’t personally believe that our fellow citizens, enjoying the rights and privileges of being British alongside ourselves, would condone such wickedness. I believe the vast majority of our Muslim

and indeed other religious residents are decent people and as appalled at these atrocities as we are.

Governments are quick to label as ‘terrorists’ groups whose political aims are in opposition to their own policies, and while we may deplore the violence of the struggle, one can have sympathy in some cases with their cause – a united Ireland, for example, or South Africa free of apartheid and in charge of its own affairs. But there is no stated objective that we could from a judgement of in this case.

I heard George Galloway on this subject on Newsnight, talking sense for once, so you could see his formidable intelligence, his quick thinking, his skill at oratory, his indomitable courage, and you could just glimpse how great he might have been, had he only not succumbed to vanity. Undoubtedly he had much to be vain about, but sadly vanity destroys one’s judgement. He had some interesting insights, but no credible soluion . I find myself (I despise my own foolishness) listening hopefully to Cameron, Putin, Obama, the army, the police, the intelligence officers, seeking some sign that some of these experts will emerge and lead us out of this hazardous war zone we seem to have landed in. I come to the reluctant conclusion that none of them has any idea how to solve the problem.

Bombing? I don’t think bombing ever solves anything. It just lays waste to people’s homes and infrastructure, kills large sections of the civilian population who did not take any action against us; and the British population at large is not comfortable with bombing people in their country when they haven’t bombed us in ours. Over the last quarter century we’ve bombed several countries and none of these campaigns have been regarded as successful. Plus, after Blair’s fiasco, we’d need to get a UN mandate (surely Cameron would not proceed without one?) and that might be problematic.

Boots on the ground. I think Cameron should by now realise that the country is extremely unwilling to put the lives of our own men at risk in a country far from our shores. The enemy would have to be at the gate. Of course in a sense the enemy is already within our gates, but your man in the street, who in spite of being thought of by politicians as the great unwashed and ignorant, exhibits considerable sense and sound judgement, does not believe that sending troops to fight in other countries will enhance our security at home.

A policy of shoot to kill. Obviously if our policemen or soldiers are facing a terrorist on his murderous spree, they do need to shoot to kill, both to preserve the lives of our citizens caught up in the event, and that of themselves and their colleagues. The problem is that the nature of terrorism means that these events rise up out of the blue, so our defendants do not have time to collect their arms and their authority. They must be prepared at all times. But having a carte blanche shoot-to-kill policy can lead to grave miscarriages of justice, and once an innocent person is dead, there is no restitution can be made to him in this world. This is a grave matter, and not a trifling issue which can be sacrificed in a spirit of needs must.

What we can do is demonstrate love, tolerance and support for those affected by this issue. We should show solidarity, not only to the French, but to those of our own citizens who came to us from these countries, for they are not the people who have harmed us; but if we allow our country to be split into factions because of this, then the terrorists will indeed have damaged us. We should send expertise and funds to those countries we have bombed and damaged and help them rebuild their infrastructure. These things are long term and difficult and first of all you have to subdue rebellious insurgents so that you can carry out the necessary work and it will not just be promptly destroyed.

But can we understand it? Indeed we should acknowledge that we are not blameless in this crisis. Over the past century we have meddled where we should not have done, and we have interfered to support our own interests and not those of the local inhabitants. We have blood on our hands. But whereas we could perhaps understand if our attackers were defending their interests intent on adding to their territories, increasing their wealth, making their people healthier, richer, better educated: we might resent them pursuing those things at our expense – but we could see the point of all that. But this does not appear to be their aim at all. Their purpose is simply to destroy us.

What is the answer to this riddle? I’m afraid I don’t know, and what is more I haven’t heard any expert speak that gave me any confidence that he knew either.

About adhocannie
I am a good natured woman with a long memory and a swift tongue. I like loooking at things and thinking about them. Also food, clothes, travel, reading, sewing. I try to see the ridiculous in things, but sobriety of reflection keeps edgting in. I have husband, children, grandchildren, friends... I feel rich in things that matter. I am a happy exile. I like writing. I do not like talking about me (though I do.). You willl be much more interesting.

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