Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist
9 July 2005

A friend I hadn’t heard from for a while popped up on my blog and posted about her concern at “the way these ‘murders’ are somehow seen as worse than the many other ‘murders’ we know of, from rapes and muggings through hit-and-run driving deaths to deaths from starvation.” Well, I certainly wouldn’t go as far as she does on that point – after all there is, I believe, a moral difference between deliberately killing people and neglecting to save their lives when this is possible. But it’s certainly worth thinking about.

world malnutrition

Above is a UN map of the proportion of the world’s population that is malnourished (more details statistics are available from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization). While the global media’s attention focuses on an attack which likely killed 50 people, it swivels away from the G8’s inadequate response to the ongoing disastrous situation much of the world where 24,000 people die of starvation every day – a situation that global climate change may only make worse.

As for the attack itself, it seems to indicate to me that the so-called ‘war on terror’ continues to be fought in the wrong ways. No amount of surveillance (and London may be the surveillance capital of the world) can keep determined terrorists from striking. The only way to deal with terrorism is at its source – in other words a ‘hearts and minds’ campaign.

Obviously, the West can’t (and shouldn’t) attempt to meet the terrorists’ ‘demands’ (insofar as they are articulated). But we should, where possible, attempt to deal with some of the Arab world’s legitimate grievances over our behaviour. We should, for example, be leaning on Sharon that if he is going to impose a peace settlement it should at least be a just one which leaves Palestine in a form capable of taking care of itself. We should also be talking a little more about how to reduce civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s outrageous that the coalition doesn’t even publish figures on this issue leaving the counting to volunteers like Iraq Body Count – giving the erroneous impression that the coalition authorities there aren’t concerned with the problem and handing terrorists potent propaganda.


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