Much ado about nothing

Aftenposten melder:

Britiske myndigheter mener et nytt terrorangrep mot landet er økende og kan være nær forestående.

Faren for at ekstremister får tak i kjemiske, biologiske og kjernefysiske våpen blir stadig større i takt med den teknologiske utviklingen, mener britiske myndigheter.

Tirsdag presenterte de en ny strategi i kampen mot terrortrusselen, og i denne forbindelsen gikk innenriksminister Jacqui Smith ut med en advarsel mot nye, store terrorangrep mot landet, melder CNN.

Men hvor stor er egentlig denne trusselen? Realistisk sett er den minimal. Kjemiske og biologiske våpen har vært kjent i hundre år uten noensinne å ha vært brukt på noe effektivt vis. Det krever så store mengder og så kompliserte «spredningsmekanismer» for at disse metodene skal ha en reell effekt med mange ofre, at det er særdeles lite sannsynlig at en terrorgruppe vil kunne gjennomføre dette på noe effektivt vis. I land med mye terror og sterke interessegrupper, eksempelvis Israel, har slike våpen aldri vært brukt. Er det da sannsynlig at de vil bli brukt i andre sammenhenger?

Jeg vil igjen henvise til artikkelen «A False Sense of Insecurity» som jeg har blogget om tidligere. Her er et utdrag:

For their part, biological and chemical weapons have not proven to be great killers. Although the basic science about them has been well known for a century at least, both kinds of weapons are notoriously difficult to create, control, and focus (and even more so for nuclear weapons).

To this point in history, biological weapons have killed almost no one. And the notion that large numbers of people would perish if a small number of chemical weapons were to be set off is highly questionable. Although they can be hugely lethal when released in gas chambers, their effectiveness as weapons has been unimpressive. In World War I, for example, chemical weapons caused less than one percent of the total combat deaths; on average, it took a ton of gas to produce one fatality. In the conclusion to the official British history of the war, chemical weapons are relegated to a footnote that asserts that gas “made war uncomfortable…to no purpose.” A 1993 analysis by the Office of Technology Assessment finds that a terrorist would have to deliver a full ton of Sarin nerve gas perfectly and under absolutely ideal conditions over a heavily populated area to cause between 3,000 and 8,000 deaths — something that would require the near-simultaneous detonation of dozens, even hundreds, of weapons. Under slightly less ideal circumstances — if there were a moderate wind or if the sun were out, for example — the death rate would be only one-tenth as great. The 1995 chemical attack launched in Tokyo by the well-funded Aum Shinrikyo (attempted only after several efforts to use biological weaponry had failed completely) managed to kill only 12 people.

Hva så med «dirty bombs»?

While a “dirty bomb” might raise radiation 25 percent over background levels in an area and therefore into a range the Environmental Protection Agency considers undesirable, there ought to be some discussion about whether that really constitutes “contamination” or much of a danger at all, given the somewhat arbitrary and exceedingly cautious levels declared to be acceptable by the epa. The potential use of such bombs apparently formed the main concern during the Orange Alert at the end of 2003. Because the bombs simply raise radiation levels somewhat above normal background levels in a small area, a common recommendation from nuclear scientists and engineers is that those exposed should calmly walk away. But this bit of advice has not been advanced prominently by those in charge. Effectively, therefore, they encourage panic. As one nuclear engineer points out, “If you keep telling them you expect them to panic, they will oblige you. And that’s what we’re doing.

Det eneste myndighetene oppnår ved å hele tiden fokusere på terrortrusselen, er at terroristene vinner indirekte gjennom å opprettholde en konstant frykt i befolkningen. Helt uten å gjøre noe som helst. Myndighetene gjør den jobben terroristene egentlig prøver å gjøre.

Men det er likevel positive tegn å spore i britenes nye taktikk:

As part of its strategy to prevent terrorism, the government will openly challenge views that could encourage violence, may «undermine our shared values» and «jeopardize community cohesion,» the government said.

«We have no intention of outlawing these views or criminalizing those who hold them,» the report says. «Freedom of thought and speech are rights which are fundamental to our society. But we will not hear these views in silence. We should all stand up for our shared values and not concede the floor to those who dismiss them.«

The report says everyone — government, citizens, and communities — must challenge those who «dismiss our shared values.«

Riktig. Løsningen er ikke sensur, men å aktivt tale i mot de holdninger som danner grunnlaget for terrorhandlinger. Her bør myndighetene være forbilder og vise at enkelte holdninger ikke tolereres i samfunnet, samtidig som de verner om retten til å uttrykke slike holdninger.

Og britene går enda lenger:

British government officials plan to work alongside Muslim scholars, faith groups and influential people to challenge the ideologies that support extremism, the report said.

The government even plans to sponsor the wider teaching of Islam and religious education, and develop citizenship education in mosque schools.

Those who are vulnerable to radicalism are also a target of the government’s plan. There will be programs for mentoring, diversionary activities and leadership training as well as more intensive intervention for those who have already been drawn into violent extremist networks, the government said.

Dette synes jeg høres veldig positivt ut. Heller enn å fokusere utelukkende på hvordan man skal hindre terrorister i å planlegge og utføre terrorhandlinger, en kamp man aldri vil kunne vinne, fokuserer man på å forebygge farlige holdninger og strømninger gjennom dialog og informasjon. Det er den eneste måten vi kan vinne kampen mot terror.