Friday, March 12, 2004

Preferable Villains

Diane admits that she would prefer ETA to be responsible for yesterday's Madrid atrocity. It would reduce all that horror to strictly internal European thing that doesn't affect anyone outside Old Continent, especially not USA, separated by oceans and spared from centuries-old tribal feuds between European tribes. On the other hand, al Qaeda's participation in the attack would only make the world uglier, showing that nobody in this world is beyond their reach.

For us who live on this side of Big Pond, it is the other way around. At least I would prefer al Qaeda to be behind this, and for a very simple reason. This tragedy, if it is result of al Qaeda's actions, makes some perverse sense. If al Qaeda did this, they did it for what seems to be specific political reason and with rational aim – to punish Spanish government for its participation in Iraq occupation. This atrocity being part of some cold calculated master plan makes world a little bit simpler and less uncertain and because of that us Europeans can have at least broad idea how to deal with it.

But I don't think we are that lucky. Idea of ETA being responsible (and most of that organisation's history and forensic evidence still points towards that direction) is deeply disturbing to most Europeans. It shows not only that "centuries-old feuds" are still there to undermine the "enlightened, kind and gentle" Western Europe; it shows that politics can still be led by pure irrationality and that within the Europe itself there are murderous lunatics with abilities to match their evil desires. Murderous lunatics who aren't easily identifiable by their clothes, strange names or certain anatomical details – murderous lunatics who look exactly like "normal" Europeans and are supposed to belong to European mainstream.

Accepting that some seemingly rational, "organised" people act based on purely irrational basis is hard, sometimes even impossible. The path that led to WW2 and many events during it is covered with wrong presumptions of other man's rationality and common sense. Even in more recent times and in this part of world we had actions that went beyond any, even the most sinister "master plan" or common sense. For example, what Bosnian Serbs had to gain by butchering few thousand people in the very moment every Western government was seeking convenient excuse to bomb them?

Listening to "experts" pointing fingers towards al Qaeda based on some flimsy evidence (van, detonators and Koran audio-tape purchased in store) or based on the mere scale of the attack or casualties is depressing. Those "experts", just like most ordinary Europeans, want to reduce this chaotic horror to some sort of order.

And forget some lessons from the past. Just because the attack was so deadly, it doesn't mean it was "well-planned" or "sophisticated". Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka don't have anything to do with Islam and they were doing same stuff for decades. And pair of "white trash" losers didn't need much organisation and sophistication for Oklahoma City bombing. I also don't remember that there were many al Qaeda operatives in Bologna 1980.


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