Today’s news about a foiled plot to blow up flights between the U.K. and the U.S. is very upsetting. Not the plot itself, as despicable as it is, what is really upsetting is the response. No taking liquids on to planes, “sorry maam, we know airlines don’t feed you anymore, but that water bottle is a no-no”. And no more hand luggage – no laptops or iPods or portable DVD players or keys attached to a fob or phones or PDAs (now you’ll be delayed and won’t be able to let anyone know) …
The truth is that the authorities had little choice here. After all, imagine if several months from now terrorists were indeed successful in blowing up a plane using similar plans. Can you imagine the uproar? “You knew this could happen and you allowed it to happen anyway!” would be the accusation. Heads would roll, people would lose their jobs, and knee-jerk decisions would be made so as to appear decisive and responsive. It’s a lose-lose situation.
But, terrorism is intended to frighten, to terrorize, to force people to stop living their normal lives, and instead submit to fear. Well, if that’s the case, mission accomplished. Without actually carrying out a plot, terrorists have succeeded in instilling fear, and have made authorities do their dirty work for them, forcing us to change the way we live.
The terrorists have won.