Inevitable Payback 140


In this globalised world, if we launch weapons of great destructive power into communities abroad, incinerating and shredding women and children, we cannot avoid the fact that those who identify with those communities – ethnically, culturally and religiously – will take revenge on people here. If we are lucky it will be revenge on combatants. If we are unlucky it will be on our innocents. But either way, the truth is this. We caused it.

We caused it by our invasions, occupations and bombings of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, none of which had ever attacked the UK. We caused it by all the dead women and children that British bombs, missiles or bullets killed accidentally. We caused it by the terrible deaths of the people we killed deliberately, who were only defending their country from foreign invaders, just as most of us would do. We caused it by the detainees killed or tortured. As a country, the United Kingdom caused it.

This is not the 19th century. Imperialist aggression now brings a danger of retaliation from empathetic communities embedded in western societies. This is so obvious as not to need stating. The danger of terrorism from Islamic sources would be much reduced if we just minded our own business on the international scene.

All that is very obvious. It does not, however, seem to have occurred to John Sawers, immediate past head of MI6, who has no sensible thoughts at all of the causes of terrorism. The right wing like to think that anyone opposed to the West is, by definition, spontaneously evil. If only they could look in the mirror sometimes and ask why people hate us, that would be a major psychological breakthrough. I have known John Sawers a great many years, and he is somebody who looks in the mirror very often. Sadly, not for that purpose.

At least he has the intellectual honesty to admit an open advocacy of the extreme big brother society. Abandoning the notion of smart intelligence, he has come out with a justification of the mass surveillance society which Snowden revealed. We cannot prevent terrorism without spying on innocent people, he declares.

In a sense, that is a truism. I have very often argued that it is impossible to prevent all evil and daft to try. You have a far, far higher chance of being murdered by a member of your own family than you have by a terrorist. Over the last 10 years terrorists have been responsible for almost exactly 1% of all murders in the UK. Let me type that again. In the last ten years terrorists have been responsible for almost exactly 1% of all murders in the UK. And about 0.007% of woundings. It remains true that the most likely person to kill you is in your own family. It is worth remembering that the number of people who died in the Charlie Hebdo atrocity was the same number murdered in France on average every week.

Now assuming the aim is to prevent murder rather than make propaganda, let us concentrate for a moment on – don’t worry, you will never in your life be asked to do this again, unless by me – let us concentrate on the 99% of murders which are not by terrorists. To take the John Sawers system, if we had permanent CCTV monitoring of every kitchen in the UK, we could probably prevent quite a few of those murders and a vast amount of non-fatal violence. It would take an enormous police and security service, of course, but we are getting there anyway. Sawers’ point is completely correct in logic – you cannot prevent all murders without massive surveillance of the innocent. It would have been even more correct if you just stopped the sentence at you cannot prevent all murders. Precisely the same is true of the tiny risk to individuals that is murder by terrorism.

The surest way to reduce the terrorist threat in the UK is to stop bombing or invading other countries. That simple fact needs to be screamed from the rooftops. The next thing you can do is solid old fashioned evidence-based police and intelligence work. The least effective thing you can do is simply trawl the email and online chat of millions of people. That clogs up the intelligence system with a vast mound of undigestable information, and results in the conviction of fantasists and boastful men who, while unpleasant, are guilty of nothing but thought crime. It is exactly the same result as if you tackled murder by arresting everyone who in an email or chat wished harm to their husband or wife. It is wrong to express that, but the percentage who would have really gone on to murder would be vanishingly small.

The great worry is the presumption which is sneaking in to the mainstream media narrative that it is the responsibility of the state to prevent all crime before it happens. It is not, and that is not an achievable goal. The restrictions on liberty it would entail would do more damage to society than crime itself, which mankind has managed to live with since civilisation began. The entire debate around terrorism needs to be recalibrated. The answer is not the ultimate Big Brother surveillance state. The answer is to stop our hideous violence towards communities abroad.


140 thoughts on “Inevitable Payback

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  • craig Post author

    Becky

    I find it quite amusing that people think I am posh. I did not go to a “posh school”. I did go to a grammar school, which was the education the state gave me, not a choice on my part. I do plead guilty to being male, but do not think that makes me responsible for wars. Actually I think that people who believe all males are responsible for wars are nuts – and I don’t believe the nuttiness is an attribute of gender, either.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    Craig,

    If you wanted to meet posh..yer know..You should have met my Mum…#

    You probably don’t quite know Edinburgh Posh

    The King’s English.. Even Better Than the Queen’s

    Well of course neither could my Dad nor my wife and me talk like that or do the etiquette

    We are all Working Class Northern English…

    But Craig you ain’t doing so bad for a Norfolk Lad.

    Keep Batting mate.

    Tony

  • Resident Dissident

    “If we are lucky it will be revenge on combatants. If we are unlucky it will be on our innocents. But either way, the truth is this. We caused it.”

    “I have very often argued that it is impossible to prevent all evil and daft to try.”

    The second sentence would seem to logically imply that we are not the source of all evil – so the truth is not that we caused it all but others have responsibility as well – and that all something has to be done to address all sources of evil.

  • Fedup

    Stating the truth itself these days is considered to be a revolutionary act, lest it would be interpreted as an act of sympathy with the “terrorists”, as per the aiding, and abetting the preparation of an act ………

    The extent of suppression of the truth in the way of mass perception management has brought about an Alice in wonderland zeitgeist whereupon up is down and down is up. The Machiavellian neocons and their lackeys fully aware of the falsehoods they utter maintain these falsehoods to be the truth and nothing but the truth.

    To own a man it is imperative to own his/her mind, and corral these owned minds within the prescribed pens before subjecting these limited minds to oppressive regiments which are in diametric opposition to their (we the people, the great unwashed, the plebs, the masses,….) natural instincts and aspirations.

    Turning Mid east to another Africa as a solution, absurd as it may sound is the current course of conduct of the lunatics bent on maintaining their tenuous hold on levers of power.

    What will future generation think of, when they get to know the facts, albeit the whitewashed and chilcoted facts?

  • Airdrieonian

    If, as various politicians and security commentators have stated, rogue Islamic terrorists are targeting the UK “because they want to attack our easy of life”, why don’t they also attack other similar countries? Or is it the politicians’ way of life that is causing this? Who’s responsible for this, and who pays?

  • OldMark

    I did go to a grammar school, which was the education the state gave me, not a choice on my part.

    Also Becky, in the late 60s, when Craig and this commenter both started at grammar school, ‘toffs’ were very much a minor element of the intake in most schools of that ilk. Social mobility actually existed, whereas today it has become much more of a rarity.

  • glenn

    @MJ : “The fellow obviously existed, we can see him hamming it up on a Paris pavement. He didn’t die during the filmed sequence because no bullets hit him but I can’t comment on what’s happened subsequently. Just watch the video and make your own mind up. Is that a real shooting or isn’t it?

    So The Authorities must have executed him afterwards, even though the policeman thought he only was supposed to be acting at the time. Uh huh. What about the Charlie Hebdo staff – were your “fake” bullets used on them too?

    Unlike yourself, I’m not an expert at examining crime video. However, even if he did miss, it would have made sense for the policeman to act in a way to encourage no more shots. He was already struck down by gunfire, and may simply have died from existing wounds. There are many possibilities to consider, even if we all knew for a fact that the one bullet didn’t hit the policeman’s head.

    To pronounce the entire thing suspect/ hoax/ “false-flag” and so on on the basis of this alone, would appear premature, not to say rather insensitive and disrespectful.

  • Abe Rene

    Thy French pulled out of Algeria 50 years ago, and declined to get involved in Iraq. Therefore the murders in Paris were more akin to the furore surrounding the publication of Salman Rushdie’s “The satanic verses” a generation ago.

    Given that the invasion of Iraq was a screwup in more ways than one, it is still necessary for someone to prevent IS taking over the region. The Yezidis and other minorities will be grateful for Western intervention.

    The degree of the breach of privacy in the cause of national security is a matter of degree. Given a legal warrant, houses can be searched, and before the internet letters could be opened. I would be against the indiscriminate examination of everyone’s email, but I see the case for allowing it with proper safeguards.

  • nevermind

    @ becky. Have a look at this crude attempt to coalition building, the New Labour Lib Dem way. Ms. Asato of Lansley fame, who is a key architect to the vested interest privatisation games these 206 Parliamentarians play has received money from a Lib Dem Peer.

    Now what can the SNP offer in return to curry its favours with New Labour?

    The insidiousness of party politics stinks to high heaven

    http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/politics/ex_lib_dem_peer_donates_to_norfolk_labour_candidates_but_not_sitting_lib_dem_mps_1_3926027

  • Clark

    Abe Rene, you should oppose such surveillance for its poor cost-effectiveness, if nothing else:

    William Binney is one of the highest-level whistleblowers to ever emerge from the NSA. He was a leading code-breaker against the Soviet Union during the Cold War…

    “At least 80% of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the US. […]The NSA is mass-collecting on everyone”, Binney said, “and it’s said to be about terrorism but inside the US it has stopped zero attacks.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/11/the-ultimate-goal-of-the-nsa-is-total-population-control

  • Mary

    The fifth in line will be brazening it out in Davos today.

    Prince Andrew ‘will open Davos speech by addressing sex abuse allegations’
    Duke of York is expected to begin his keynote speech by making reference to Virginia Roberts’ teenage sex claims as her lawyers demand he is interviewed under oath http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/theroyalfamily/11360650/Prince-Andrew-will-open-Davos-speech-by-addressing-sex-abuse-allegations.html

    Her Maj’s favourite son apparently. ‘How dare they! Off with their heads’.

    ~~

    Switzerland is one of his favourite hangouts.

    10 January
    Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson buy luxury chalet
    The Helora chalet in Verbier, Switzerland bought by Prince Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson
    Prince Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson have bought a luxury chalet, thought to be worth up to £13m, in the Swiss resort of Verbier. The chalet was bought by the divorced couple on a joint mortgage
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-30759303

    and Ms Middleton’s sister gives the ratings.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2901064/Pippa-Middleton-ranks-world-s-best-ski-resorts-latest-Vanity-Fair-column-actually-visited-ALL.html

    What a crowd of wasters/hangers on.

    The chalet was bought by the divorced couple on a joint mortgage

  • MJ

    “To pronounce the entire thing suspect/ hoax/ “false-flag” and so on on the basis of this alone, would appear premature”

    It’s called hard evidence and is surely the best place to start. No special expertise required, only a willingness to look at it and be informed by it. Some people see the incident as an attack on Western values and freedom of speech. I wonder if that’s being a little premature. Perhaps someone could direct me to the evidence.

  • fred

    “Just watch the video and make your own mind up. Is that a real shooting or isn’t it?”

    I watched the video, I downloaded the video and examined it frame by frame. It’s difficult to say exactly, the angles are deceptive but I would say the bullet entered the base of the skull just above the first vertebrae and exited just below the chin.

  • Clark

    MJ, do you know much about weapons and the injuries they can cause? I know very little. That video looks like a man was shot somewhere around his head and died instantly. The only bit that doesn’t fit is that his head wasn’t blown apart with lots of blood. That nearly always happens in fictional films, but I have no idea if it necessarily happens in real death.

    But you then contrast it with this:

    “Some people see the incident as an attack on Western values and freedom of speech”

    Such impressions and opinions most certainly are shaped by the media – indeed, that is one of media’s prime objectives.

    I think there’s a big gap in the middle of your reasoning that needs to be worked upon.

  • Clark

    I do know that there’s quite a lot of air space in a human head (no irony intended – I’m referring to mouth space, nasal cavities etc), and I know that different types of ammunition can have very different effects. So I know that I can’t reason from simple observation to an assessment of the authenticity of the video.

  • Clark

    Aren’t some types of ammunition specifically designed such that, instead of exiting the skull, they ricochet around inside destroying as much brain tissue as possible? I thought I’d read that “hollow point rounds” were designed to do that.

    No downward-facing exit hole, so no blood, maybe? But as I said, this is about what I don’t know.

  • fred

    “Aren’t some types of ammunition specifically designed such that, instead of exiting the skull, they ricochet around inside destroying as much brain tissue as possible? I thought I’d read that “hollow point rounds” were designed to do that.”

    Hollow nose, they’re illegal in war but used by the police to protect bystanders.

    I have some experience of animals being shot in the head at close range with ammunition of the same calibre, though not as high velocity, as an AK47. Never seen a head explode yet.

  • MJ

    “I would say the bullet entered the base of the skull just above the first vertebrae and exited just below the chin”

    Fred, thanks for taking the trouble to look at the video. Given that this was supposed to be an AK47 with live ammo and was a headshot fired from near point-blank range, could you please tell which frames show the man in the policeman’s uniform recoiling violently from the impact and the blood and gore produced by the scenario you describe?

  • Clark

    MJ, are you saying it’s completely impossible that the video records an actual killing? If not, could you please state your estimate of the probability? Either way, please state your experience and qualifications behind your assessment.

  • Clark

    MJ, I too have been viewing the video closely, repeatedly, over several days, with repeated stops, though not frame-by-frame for which I had no facility.

  • fred

    “Fred, thanks for taking the trouble to look at the video. Given that this was supposed to be an AK47 with live ammo and was a headshot fired from near point-blank range, could you please tell which frames show the man in the policeman’s uniform recoiling violently from the impact and the blood and gore produced by the scenario you describe?”

    I wouldn’t expect a violent recoil or any blood and gore.

  • MJ

    “I wouldn’t expect a violent recoil or any blood and gore”

    How about with a live bullet, fired from close-range and actually hitting someone in the head?

  • fred

    “How about with a live bullet, fired from close-range and actually hitting someone in the head?”

    I wouldn’t expect any blood and gore. I have experience of shooting animals from behind the ear with a .22 rifle and in the forehead with a captive bolt gun and in both cases there has not been much in the way of blood and gore.

  • MJ

    Fred, call me mad but if the video had shown the chap’s head jolting from the impact and even some blood splattering the pavement I’d have concluded it was authentic! I guess you’d be calling fake.

    My understanding is that a bolt gun is a stun gun that fires no bullets and is therefore less likely to produce blood etc. I believe also that the human skull contains rather more blood and soft tissue than the average animal’s on account of the size of the human brain and that the AK47 uses bullets of much higher calibre than a .22. I’m sure that in the old days headshots used to produce both a physical jolt and a mist or splatter of blood, like in the footage of the Kennedy assassination.

    One thing I did was magnify the scene so much that I could only see the chap’s body, not even the gun. Doing this I couldn’t even tell when the shot was fired.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    That’s a 22, Fred. Low velocity round unless you were using a Hornet. Anything to the base of the skull would likely stop the heart, so blood flow would be minimal. I’d expect a Kalashnikov to make a good mess if it hit bone, with a big exit wound – soft tissue, military round, maybe straight through. A hollowpoint would be a different matter. Even a hollowpoint .22 LR will disembowel a rabbit. Futile to speculate as it is unlikely that the French will release details of the ammo, or that half the people here would believe them if they did.

  • Keith Crosby

    If we launch weapons of great destructive power into communities abroad, incinerating and shredding women and children, we cannot avoid the fact that those who identify with those communities – ethnically, culturally and religiously – will take revenge on people here.

    No, try this

    If they launch weapons of great destructive power into communities abroad, incinerating and shredding women and children, we cannot avoid the fact that ordinary decent people here will take revenge.

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