Bombs explode in London, Copenhagen gets the jitters...

My apologies in advance for this one, I am trying too avoid bothering with too many purely political issues on this blog, as I think there are a lot more meaningful and productive ways to spend ones time and (mental) energy. But sometimes certain things just need to be said for the sake of one's own sanity!

As soon as the news came out that several explosions had rocked London, one could sense a palpable level rising tension in Copenhagen. For example, the day after the London attacks, a reported bomb threat (which proved to be false) shut down the Copenhagen metro as the bomb squad moved in to remove a suspicious looking package. Thankfully, there was no bomb. Since then, the police have been a frequent presense all over the metro, highly visible above and below ground at the various stations.

(Okay, this is not a great picture, but that is a police van to the right of the Christianshavn metro entrance in Copenhagen, with two police officers standing by).

It's not really surprising a lot of Danish voters are finding themselves a little anxious. After all, Denmark is a part of the Bush's coalition of the willing, and what's more, enough Danes recently thought it was a good idea to re-elect Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the guy who made the decision to put Danish troops there in the first place.

Although Rasmussen is a guy who steadfastly refuses to offer any constructive critisism of certain American military activities in the middle-east region or regarding American military conduct during the open-ended and undefinable 'war on terror' such as Guantanamo Bay, he is not a guy afraid to participate in a good, pandering suck-up or related photo op when the opportunity strikes.

Where's Waldo...I mean Anders? Oh, there he is!

Unfortunately, with bombs exploding in London, many Danes are increasingly wondering if Copenhagen might not become a terrorist target, sooner or later, given the Danish presense in Iraq.

Actually, why is Denmark in Iraq anyway? Though the decision to support the Iraqi war was one seemingly incoherent with values of socialist Denmark, some have quietly whispered about how it did coincide with the interests of Denmark's biggest company, Mærsk, a company that has profited greatly from the war - much more so than any other Danish company (see my previous article Courting controversy, Danish army style). Unfortunately, the mainstream Danish media doesn't really like to discuss this issue, and many Danes are in flat out denial that there might be such a connection.

Fortunately, it is not really necessary to rely on the mainstream media to figure out the links. See, Mærsk is not only a pretty big company, they also tend to make their activities fairly obvious. For example, when they do business somewhere, they often use little ships like these:

If one wonders whether Mærsk is making profits in Iraq, a quick internet turns up various press releases and so forth regarding Mærsk contracts in Iraq (many signed before the decision to send Danish troops to Iraq was made). In summary: it is very easy to see where the company is operating (look for the ships), and why there are there (look for the press releases). Thus, even when the Danish mainstream media prefers to avoid connecting the various issues together, it is very easy to figure out these things anyway.

So let me spell it out: Maersk is worth a lot of money to Denmark, in terms of taxes, employment and in terms of the an overall influence on society and politics. This is a huge elephant of a company in a very small petting zoo of a country. Too many uncomfortable questions were bound to be asked of Maersk doing business with the U.S. army and in Iraq if the Danish government didn't throw it's support behind the Americans.

Now, a little suggestion for those who think the bombing in London was bad (and it most certainly was), and who also may be thinking about how devasting inexplicable bombings in general can be: what about those
innocent civilians residing in Baghdad, who were subject to night after night of bomb attacks and destruction during the war along with countless civilian casualities ('collerateral damage') as a result (not to mention roving military patrols ever since)? It makes a one-time incident such as that in London - as horrendous, physically destructive and psychologically tormententing as it has surely been - pale in comparison.

Hmmm, what to do, what to do?

Well, imagine you are a Danish voter. Are the decisions made by the current government the best ones?

There are many ways to fight terror, unfortunately, dropping (more) bombs in hopes of eliminating it tends to rather increase it instead, since it makes a lot of those who are already angry even angrier, and worse, it tends to make a lot of (innocent) people who were not angry at all before suddenly very angry as well, since now their lives are also being affected.

So what is there a better way to react to these London terror attacks, and the perpetual threat of more to come elsewhere?

Personally, I found perhaps the most thoughtful and reasoned reaction in a column published in the UK newspaper, The Guardian, written by (Ed. note: now deceased) Robin Cook (who you may recall resigned from Tony Blair's cabinet in the lead-up to the Iraq war, owing to his disagreement with Blair's Iraq strategy of unconditional support for Bush's war). Cook has since become a loud critic of Blair's approach as a labour backbencher.

To link to the article: The struggle against terrorism cannot be won by military means

I have taken the liberty of reprinting it, in part, below:

"The struggle against terrorism cannot be won by military means. The G8 must seize the opportunity to address the wider issues at the root of such atrocities.

The danger now is that the west's current response to the terrorist threat compounds that original error. So long as the struggle against terrorism is conceived as a war that can be won by military means, it is doomed to fail. The more the west emphasises confrontation, the more it silences moderate voices in the Muslim world who want to speak up for cooperation. Success will only come from isolating the terrorists and denying them support, funds and recruits, which means focusing more on our common ground with the Muslim world than on what divides us.

The G8 summit is not the best-designed forum in which to launch such a dialogue with Muslim countries, as none of them is included in the core membership. Nor do any of them make up the outer circle of select emerging economies, such as China, Brazil and India, which are also invited to Gleneagles. We are not going to address the sense of marginalisation among Muslim countries if we do not make more of an effort to be inclusive of them in the architecture of global governance.

But the G8 does have the opportunity in its communique today to give a forceful response to the latest terrorist attack. That should include a statement of their joint resolve to hunt down those who bear responsibility for yesterday's crimes. But it must seize the opportunity to address the wider issues at the root of terrorism.

In particular, it would be perverse if the focus of the G8 on making poverty history was now obscured by yesterday's bombings. The breeding grounds of terrorism are to be found in the poverty of back streets, where fundamentalism offers a false, easy sense of pride and identity to young men who feel denied of any hope or any economic opportunity for themselves. A war on world poverty may well do more for the security of the west than a war on terror.

And in the privacy of their extensive suites, yesterday's atrocities should prompt heart-searching among some of those present. President Bush is given to justifying the invasion of Iraq on the grounds that by fighting terrorism abroad, it protects the west from having to fight terrorists at home. Whatever else can be said in defence of the war in Iraq today, it cannot be claimed that it has protected us from terrorism on our soil."

1 Response to "Bombs explode in London, Copenhagen gets the jitters..."

  1. VKL says:

    About Danish voters - it sounds as they all voted for Anders Fogh Rasmussen and his foreign policies again because they are blod-thirsty and greedy. Maybe they just voted for him because they were more concerned about the internal issues he promised to tackle and others did not. And knowing the famous interest of Danish TV news for foreign affairs, I would be likely to believe the domestic policies interests were prevalent.

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