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Thursday, July 07, 2005

Some thoughts on the London Bombings, and vulnerable chemical plants.

I heard about the bombings first thing this morning when I woke up and turned on the radio. At that time no one knew yet, for sure that it was a terrorist attack - but it sure sounded like it to me. I cried a little, because even though they weren't yet talking about fatalities, I knew there must be some. It seems so unfair, that people peacefully going about their business, would have their lives shattered like that.

Then I heard Tony Blair making his statement, and I felt for him, too. You could hear the pain in his voice and yet the strength and determination. For all I have criticized Blair for going along with Bush in the Iraq Debacle, I have seen many reasons to respect him lately, especially with his insistence on focusing the G8 on poverty and global warming, and pressuring Bush to at least acknowledge that global warming is a problem. It is plain to see why, despite Iraq, Blair has never had any real problem getting re-elected.

After arriving at my own job, I checked in with Light Up the Darkness and was gratified to see they had already posted a statement from John Kerry, which I'll post here in its entirety (but do go over to LUTD for the comments, if you haven't already been):

"Every American heart feels for the British people and the families of those killed and injured in today's horrific terrorist bombings in London. As a country which has also experienced tragedy at the hands of cowardly killers and which keeps faith with the special alliance Prime Minister Tony Blair reaffirmed on September 11th, our thoughts and prayers are with you.

"In addition to words of condolence and condemnation, America should offer every assistance to Great Britain in dealing with the aftermath of this tragedy and in hunting down and destroying those responsible. We must reaffirm that cold blooded killers will not for a moment stop the critical work of the G-8 nations in showing the world the strength of our shared values and our commitment to ending poverty around the globe. The terrorists should hear from all of us today: the future belongs not to fear, but to freedom. We must also be vigilant here at home to take every step needed to complete the unfinished work of homeland security, strengthening our port security, rail security, protecting chemical plants, and securing loose nuclear materials abroad. While these attacks remind us that the fight is far from over, they also strengthen our resolve to stand together for the right of free people to live in a peaceful world."

I don't know if I can convey how much it meant to me to see that statement, so sympathetic and gracious, yet strong and firm in the right ways, when I was feeling so down about the news. I understand why leadership in times of trial means so much to people. I remember thinking on the morning of September 11th, "if only we had a real president now, when we really need one." I didn't get my wish that day - I have never been able to trust Bush in that way, or be inspired by him - but at least I got my wish today, sort of. At least to hear the right words from a trusted leader, is some help in a time of despair. Now if only John Kerry had the power of the presidency for real, so that he would have more ability to actually accomplish the work that needs to be done.

The second to the last line of Kerry's statment reminds me of an unfinished post that I was working on last night, about an analysis (pdf) just released by the Congressional Research Service which gives a state by state assessment of the worst-case risks of an attack on a chemical plant. The numbers are pretty scary, and N.J. Senators Corzine and Lautenberg are calling for action, as well as the Massachusetts Congressman who requested the study initially, U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey. I wish I had posted that last night as I intended, it would have been great timing, huh. But really, I wish our federal government would get its act together and put better protections in place. Because I don't hold out much hope for "terrorism" being completely defeated anytime soon, even if I do think that in the end, we will overcome it.

In the meantime, my heart and my prayers go out to all of the victims of terrorism today, especially those in London, but also the many victims throughout the world whose plight is somewhat shadowed today by the spotlight on the London tragedy. May we somehow find a way to start resolving our conflicts peacefully, stop motivating terrorism in the first place, but also learn to protect ourselves from the ravaged souls who will always exist, so that we stop hate and violence in its tracks, rather than allowing it to accomplish its ugly deeds and breed more hate. John Kerry is right in calling for vigilance: it is our responsibility to stop these tragedies from happening. Only then can we begin to stop the cycle of hate and violence.

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