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The threat from the skies, the threat from within?

Quick analysis of the current situation in light of the terrorist plot in London

, by Jon Worth

The UK woke once more on Thursday 10th August to terrorist threats dominating the everyday news, this time a supposed plot to use liquid explosives in hand luggage to blow up planes en route between London and destinations in the USA. With the 7th July 2005 bombings still fresh in every London inhabitant’s mind, this was the last news anyone can have wanted to hear.

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Yet we must once again remind ourselves of what sort of reaction is needed to these sorts of threats, and the implications for the whole of Europe.

Bearing in mind that as I write during the evening of 10th August, it looks quite sure that the majority of the suspects arrested are UK-born Muslims. This looks once more like a threat from within.

First, the geopolitical approach of the UK is at odds to that of the rest of Europe. The UK’s ongoing military engagement in Iraq, plus Tony Blair’s recent reluctance to call for a cease-fire in the Middle East means Britain is seen as being far too close to the Bush regime. This stands in stark contrast to the more measured approach of France, Germany and other European countries concerning Iraq and the Middle East.

Secondly, it is vital that the UK, and to a lesser extent, the rest of Europe, look at the way that ethnic minorities are integrated into society. The bomb threats were made public - by coincidence - on the same day that Timothy Garton Ash wrote a damning column [1] in The Guardian examining the negative attitude of young, ethnic minority Britons towards the state in which they live.

The European Union’s strength towards countries beyond its borders has been one of soft power, of stabilisation through economic development.

The danger is that the UK government reacts with even more draconian security checks at airports and elsewhere, in the ultimately futile pursuit of securing our transport network from any possible threat. Instead, the UK should be encouraged to cooperate with the rest of Europe to deal with the threat of terrorism - the challenges of integration of minorities, the ‘ghetto-isation’ of Europe’s large cities, and the need to deal with extreme religious beliefs.

The European Union’s strength towards countries beyond its borders has been one of soft power, of stabilisation through economic development. It’s time to stay true to those values within our borders, avoid labelling the UK as a pariah due to Blair’s relations with Bush, and help British citizens to find European solutions to a European problem.

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Image:

- Heathrow airport: August 10. Terror plot chaos. Source:Flickr

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