Obama's axis of evil
As soon as we heard on the radio that the failed Detroit bomber had attempted to detonate himself underneath his blanket, the daughter remarked that that would be the end of blankets on flights to America. She was nearly right.
Working on the (barmy) principle that the next terrorist will try exactly the same tactics as the last one, blankets are now banned in the last hour of flights to the USA. For the same period you are to be confined to your seat, with nothing on your lap (if this is enforced, there will be a good few kids pee-ing in their seats). And, just to make sure you can't target any specific (American) location, the sky map is to be turned off for the duration.
I have to say that, if the most dangerous terrorists rely on the sky map to find out where they are, then I think we can rest fairly easy -- whether it is turned on or off. Cant they look out of the window? Half the time the map doesn't actually work anyway.
As many people have said, this is all bonkers. It is also dangerous. If the average traveller (that is 99.9999% of us) ceases to think that the security measures are appropriate, then we jeapordize the security system that should be protecting us all. For it relies on our support as much as on the high tech scanning.
And where do these silly, PR, ideas come from? The heart of the Obama administration.
We might have guessed it.
When I was teaching at Berkeley during the election campaign, i listened to one of the presidential debates -- in which Obama said that he would go and "take out"/"kill" Bin Laden in his cave.
I remember saying to the graduate students (who were generously trying to get me up to speed on US politics) that I found this a bit distasteful. I thought the future president would have been better to talk of "arresting" Bin Laden, and of taking him to the International Criminal Court...we all knew that the shots in the course of arrest would probably kill him, but all the same it was better to talk of arrest rather than the wild west sheriff going to put a bullet in his head, no trial, no nothing.
The graduates said that I hadn't understood. Obama wasn't going to do all this; he just had to say this stuff to get the votes.
Ok. But now here he is presiding over knee jerk security measures (which one would support if they seemed sensible...even David Blunkett on the Today programme seemed a bit dubious) and making his own axis of evil comment.
He has promised, in the wake of the failed Detroit bomber, "to use every element of our national power to disrupt, to dismantle and defeat the violent extremists who threaten us, whether they are from Afghanistan or Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia, or anywhere where they are plotting attacks against the US homeland". Sounds like a bombing campaign to me.
Fair enough you might say, in response to attacks on the USA. But try adding London or Manchester to the list, where past experience suggest that there do lurk men (and maybe women) trying to defeat western democracy. How do we feel about some "surgical strikes" here? And how do we think this kind of rhetoric sounds to the average citizen in Pakistan?
It's the aircraft security problem writ large. You cant impose security measures if you don't take the majority with you.