I'm posting this in the day log after because it's time for us to look to the future.
I'm from a northern town and I've only been to London twice in my life. I don't have any family there either, although I do have plenty of friends. They're all okay. So today's attacks have only struck me deeply as a British citizen and a human being.
I'm starting to get through my first phase of reaction, which was more melancholic than shock. It's something of a cliche to say "we knew it was coming", but only because people rarely actually listen to what their government officials say as opposed to what it's boiled down to in the media. I was saddened and felt wounded in a way that I didn't on 9/11, partly because I was too young then and partly because I'm British and not American. That distinction is clearer in my head now than ever before.
I identify with and believe in America because I believe in justice. My feelings towards Israel stem from the same place. It was unjust to place the Soviet Union and America on the same moral level, and it is unjust to excoriate America for fighting a war against Islamofascism. It is unjust to place Israel on the same moral level as Hamas. Anyone who acknowledges the existence of the evil that gave birth to 9/11, what happened today in London, and above all the Beslan massacre must recognize this. Evil exists, and it must be conquered. The evidence is starting to pile high.
This war started before 9/11, but it was that incident that burnt a hole in the public consciousness. Then two hundred people were killed in Bali, then twenty eight in Morocco, then the U.N. was attacked in Iraq, then there were a spate of bombings against Western and Jewish targets in Istanbul, then the Madrid bombings, then the horrific Beslan massacre, and finally this. Who now will claim the enemy is not real, does not want to hurt us?
And yet the fact they hurt us, we British, is giving pause for thought. Up until now, the war on terror was a mainly American affair. Part of me has always been American. To be American is not necessarily a matter of citizenship, it's a state of mind. To me, America is an idea; this means those actual "Americans" who don't believe in the same vision of America as I do are, to me, not really Americans. They're in the same camp as many Western Europeans, and it's not my camp. I'd never advocate this way of thinking as the policy of the American government (as it would then cease to embody my idea), but it works fine for me.
All this sounds like I'm saying that in fact the distinction between the Brit in me and the American in me has been dissolved, not made clearer. This is not so. The distinction is all the clearer because now the war on terror is not just something that engages the American side of me, but now my whole being. Before I knew that there were those who would kill me just for who I am and my belief in freedom, but this was a theoretical belief. As sure as I was of its veracity, it was never demonstrated in practice. Now it has been demonstrated with the blood of my countrymen and my European friends. Britain's stake in the global war on terror has never been clearer. Now as a Brit I vow to myself once again to make it my life's work to combat this vile extremism.
As Brits we all now have a responsibility, as grave as that handed to Americans on 9/11. We must destroy Islamofascism and ensure that our children live in a world as safe as is humanly possible from its reach. We must not allow ourselves to get to the point where the news of a train bomb in London not only does not shock, but is routine. We must redouble our support of the Americans, and not listen to the tempting voices that tell us we can have it easy by capitulating and agreeing to the demands of the fascists of al-Qaeda. Because believe me, the demands will never stop until we are destroyed.
Above all we must redouble our commitment to Iraq. You may have disagreed with this war to begin with. But now this viper's nest must be cleared out. An ideology such as Islamofascism can only be destroyed by discrediting it, as Communism was discredited in the second half of the last century. The road to building a stable and prosperous Iraq will be long and hard, and yet it is vital to our survival. If you did not agree with how we got to these crossroads, please recognize that now we are at them. In January of this year the Iraqi people gave an example of courage to the world that is scarcely seen; they must go on. Their victory will be the defeat of those that seek to destroy our values. Either we forge on or we doom ourselves and our children to fear and shame.