The sadness of terrorism

Here we go again - London's atrocity exemplifies the banality of terrorism and the banality of the responses to terrorism

Anthony Barnett
Anthony Barnett
22 May 2013

Also see Clare Sambrook's piece, John Reid, the security industry's salesman in the House of Lords.

It is intolerable that John Reid, who secretly planned the misconceived British invasion of Helmand with untold slaughter of Afghans as well as some hundreds of British, should callously exploit yesterday's horrible murder in London. But that is what he did by going on the BBC's Newsnight and calling for the total observation of all our data communications. As if he is a guardian of public safety! 

Intolerable but sadly predictable. Much the worse terrorism that is taking place today is Muslim on Muslim in Syria and Iraq, even if the most technologically advanced has morphed into drones now covering the retreat of the West. The images of violence inspire violence in those already disturbed. Their fanaticism feeds the status quo and the security state. The literally bloody idiot with a hatchet gesturing towards the body of the soldier he had just savaged mentioned David Cameron. This will do the Prime Minister's rating a lot of good, indeed it is probably just what he needs - to show that in times like these you don't turn to Farage in the Saloon bar (or Miliband calling for a better capitalism).

The day 9/11 occured we launched a debate in the newly born openDemocracy headlined, 'Is Terror the new Cold War?'. It was all too predictable. Paul Rogers warned that an occupation of Afghanistan would be defeated. Like others of us, he argued that Bin Laden wanted a US invasion of Iraq to boost al-Qaida. It was all too predicatable, yet Bush got re-elected. At least here, we hoped, were the worst to happen the local tradition of criminalising rather than politicising terrorism would calm rather than inflame the game of fundamentalism. But Blair announced, to the fury of some of his terrorism advisors, that with the London attacks of 2005, "The rules of the game have changed". Like Bush he exploited terrorism for his own love of power. John Reid's response is another move in this game.

The so-called English Defence League, some looking like males in burkas, have a go at their form of exploiting terrorism, also allegedly to protect our way of life. The Guardian indulges in Blairite sensationalism with a front page in its first edition blazing untruth from the mouth of a man who was evidently not warning us about the larger danger we face - the influence of John Reid and his friends.

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

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