Losing the War on Terror

The front page of today’s Guardian has a picture of what it looks like when you let the terrorists win:

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Armed police used to be almost unknown on British streets. Now they’re becoming alarmingly commonplace. I saw two outside Liverpool Street Station yesterday; armed, like the two above, not just with pistols, but with big, two handed things that most people would call “machine guns.” This increasing militarisation of the police was taken a step further this week when the Maybot ordered actual troops onto the streets. And I read that armoured vehicles were going to be deployed at the FA Cup final.

Armed police on a beach: why? Was there a reasonable expectation of some sort of attack on Scarborough beach? And if there was: would weapons have helped? Armed police would not have stopped the tragedy in Manchester.

The aim of the terrorist is to cause terror. All this escalation does is make ordinary people feel more worried, more scared. Worry and low-grade fear aren’t terror, but they’re on the same axis. Overreacting like this is playing into the terrorists’ hands. As well, of course, as being a cynical political move in the runup to an election whose calling was, itself, a cynical political move.

Meanwhile Jeremy Corbyn gave speech making reasonable, uncontentious points about the links between foreign policy and terrorism. Predictably the right-wing press and Tory politicians went ape.

Losing the War on Terror

Weird Law-Enforcement Things

There were three slightly weird law-enforcement- or intelligence-related stories in the news today:

  • Two jailed in Northern Ireland over police officer’s murder.

    I heard the policeman’s wife on the radio. She spoke calmly about how getting the murderers off the streets was good for the community, and positively about the people who had bravely given evidence (at least one had to be given protection).

    The odd, disturbing, and intelligence-community-related thing is that army intelligence had a tracker device in the car of one of the murderers, and at first they refused to reveal its details to the police undertaking the investigation. The police had to threaten to get a warrant. Then when they did provide the data, it turned out to have sections mysteriously missing. You have to sympathise with the PSNI here: they had both the Continuity IRA bampots and the army working against them.

  • ‘Dark Arts’ involved in MI6 officer’s death.

    So what, this GCHQ codebreaker on secondment locked himself inside a bag using magic? I’m surprised that they’re even considering that it might not be murder here; or at least that someone has covered something up. More importantly, there’s the fact that the DNA evidence got messed up by a typo. Surely there’s got to be a better way?

  • Police officers deleted records of crime gangs

    And then there’s this business about the corruption in the Met. Evidence allegedly deleted on the orders of crime gangs? That’s some scary stuff. I’m pretty sure that when the Serious Organised Crime Agency was set up, it was meant to be anti-organised crime.

No real connection between these, I just heard about them all today.

Weird Law-Enforcement Things

American Flagg episodes 1-30 (and special 1), by Howard Chaykin and others (Books 2008, 15)

I came upon these when I was digging out some old comics for my son. These are _not_ for eleven-year-olds, but I realised I hadn’t read them in years, and I thought I’d see how they had aged (plus, I remembered next to nothing about the story).

The story is not bad, but not that great. In a post-collapse America, corruption and gang violence are rife, and the government (perhaps all the governments of the world) have left Earth, and are still ruling (or trying to) from Mars. On Earth the law – and to some extent, the peace – is kept by the Plexus Rangers. Or rather, as you eventually realise, the PlexUS Rangers, since there are also PlexUSSR Rangers. The Plex is the overall world government. Or something.

Reuben Flagg was a video star (ie TV or movie: there’s a lot about ‘video’ here, but it’s pretty much all broadcast stuff) on Mars. He played the eponymous ‘Mark Thrust, Sexus Ranger’. But new technology has made actors unnecessary, and he has volunteered as a Plexus Ranger and been sent to Earth, to Chicago.

He is the one (relatively) good man in a corrupt environment, and with the help of a clumsy android, a talking cat, and various women in their underwear, he tries to keep things under control.

Oh yes, the underwear thing: Chaykin is unable, it seems to draw women wearing anything other than basques, stockings and suspenders. No matter what they’re doing, pretty much. There’s nothing like wearing your fetishes on your sleeve, I suppose. Or, you know, lower down.

American Flagg episodes 1-30 (and special 1), by Howard Chaykin and others (Books 2008, 15)