Friday, July 22, 2005

In praise of cock-ups

When I lived overseas, mosquitoes were a pain. One trick I was told of to pass an idle evening was to allow one to alight on your arm, and as it started to feed pinch the flesh either side of their probo-syringe-thingy. By all accounts this traps them in full suck mode and they can't stop, eventually blowing themselves up. This got me thinking of recent events closer to home.

The 'bad' guys nearly always seem to enjoy almost flawless precision and the seamless cooperation of mechanical and sometimes human components to their nefarious plans. They are only brought to book in a protracted period subsequent to their actions. So yesterday's attempted, and failed, rehash-up in London allows me not only to share in the collective sigh of relief we all feel, but to rejoice that even the forces of evil have to contend with the odd cock-up.

But here's the thing. These guys are not so well equipped to deal with them. And this should be capitalised upon. I do not wish to in any way ignore the deadly seriousness of all this (by all accounts one 'warrior' decided to show his 'courage' by selecting a mother and child as the best place in the carriage to stage his attack) but there seems to be an opportunity here. And I do not think it is working to have solemn pols trot out the usual crafted responses, and the media creating self-fulfilling headlines by telling us how we all feel, or reading out the most extreme opinions of selected individuals live on TV to boost their ratings.

These bombers are losers. And now they are plonkers. Yesterday they failed. And now they are on the run. It is unlikely this was part of the plan. So we have a unique opportunity to shape how they are viewed as they are pursued and, hopefully, brought to justice. They are not now 'fighting' innocent civilians. They are being hunted down by our professional defence services. Is this how they imagined it? Is this the glory they sought? Will this be the way they get celebrated by their supporters? Best yet, what if there's a bit of dissent in the ranks. A mole perhaps, who isn't so sure what they are doing is not serving anyone other than some bitter and twisted old men who somehow don't seem to feel the need for self-termination applies to them in the same way it does the youngsters they dispatch? Or maybe those merry pranksters at MI5 have been busy crimping their style, along with their fuses? Nothing better to make for a jumpy jihadi than not being awfully sure if you're going to be a damp squib with no more than a Roman Candle fizzing in you rucksack and the only thing you're going to die of is embarrassment.

We are supposed to have a skilled set of spin-meisters out there. I'd like to think they could manage things to take advantage of our national character and work with all involved to ensure that this and any future such events - and their perpetrators - get treated in a manner that starves them of the motivation to try again. Treat their actions seriously, but their intent with the distain it deserves and them as the poor, sad, bad jokes that they are.