Pearl Harbor, 1941. Hiroshima 1945. Twin Towers 2001. The first shock “will live in infamy”. The second established that the unthinkable was possible. The third was an act not of war but of religious fanaticism which has added a new, permanent threat to our security and survival.
We know that since World War 1, aerial bombing is an integral part of modern warfare. Right now Syrian hospitals are being bombed; to the unthinkable has been added the unspeakable. Wars end, but terrorism knows no limits or distinctions in the choice of targets, physical or human, or the time it will take to win the final Battle of Dabiq and to impose a theocratic caliphate and its charia on the world. 9/11 came as an unprecedented shock. Countless terrorist attacks since then continue to exploit the advantage of surprise. Jihadists have excelled themselves in choosing new and surprising methods of … execution. No one ever dreamt that a 19-tonne truck would massacre 84 victims and injure 400 more, strolling on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. We have come now to expect the unexpected. (Personally I am relieved when at the top of the news there is no announcement of another terrorist attack.) It will be no surprise if, during the six days left, the current Olympic Games in Rio are targeted. But after the murder of an old priest celebrating Mass recently in a sleepy Normandy village, we will not be surprised to hear of lone-wolf attacks either on suburban supermarkets, cinemas and swimming pools – or on our next-door neighbors. I would not be surprised if Daech, right now, is offering its suicide-bombers a financial bonus for their families, if they add a new type of target to the arsenal of its shock-tactics, and come up with innovations in their crimes against humanity.
The well-known Australian empty, omnipresent cliché, “No Worries !”, is now a pipe-dream. Many people around the world, including Australia, are worried to death. We will be less and less shocked by reports of terrorism, to the point that some may feel already that there is “No Hope” and “No Future”. Believers will continue to ask God for protection, while many of the rest of us will refuse to pass the buck or resign ourselves to trusting in our own luck. Politicians must continue their efforts to end military aggression, which fans the flames of terrorism. Measures of security and worldwide efforts to broaden solidarity will be increased but must be accompanied downstream by deradicalization and, above all, upstream by prevention of fanatical religious indoctrination, notably by the “media blitz” I have proposed. There is no other permanent solution.