When the London smoke clears .... another chapter of Infinite Injustice? Print E-mail
Read below item #1 for the global rhetoric following the London bombings collected by Alan Ramsey within his "When the smoke clears, the mess". Such indignant bigotry brings to mind the questions asked by Arundhati Roy in her pre-invasion of Afghanistan classic "The Algebra of Infinite Justice": "How many dead Iraqis will it take to make the world a better place? How many dead Afghans for every dead American? How many dead children for every dead man? How many dead mujahedeen for each dead investment banker?"

Almost 4 years later we have some idea of the answers: In excess of 150,000 dead Afghans and Iraqis for the 3,000 chiefly US lives taken at the World Trade Centre. At this rate, 2,500 Iranian deaths, give or take a few more thousand for the Bali and Madrid casualties might be sufficient to avenge 50-odd London deaths on July 7.

Within 48 hours of the London terrorism, the relatively liberal London Independent has set the scene for another appallingly lop-sided equation with headlines spouting "Psychological trauma may last for years" [see item #2], and "Burns, fractures and head injuries that will cause lifelong disabilities" [sse item #3]. While there is no dispute about the truth of such predictions, the psychological and physical injuries resulting from a handful of bombs in London pales to insignificance compared with those suffered by tens of thousands, probably millions, of Afghans and Iraqis at the hands of the Bush Jnr-led military armed with the most sophisticated weapons ever developed, and in the virtual absence of London's state-of-the-art medical infrastructure!

What next? An encore of the post September 11 moral diet  to legitimize another chapter of "Infinite Injustice"?

Goddess help us! - Lynette
#1 The Sydney Morning Herald --  Saturday July 9 2005

When the smoke clears, the mess

By Alan Ramsey

Civilian casualties of war. Bali in October three years ago (202 deaths). Madrid in March last year (191 deaths). London two nights ago (at least 52 deaths). Baghdad for the past 27 months (18,000 to 40,000 deaths minimum). Thursday night the rhetoric was instant. The handwringing, too. John Howard did three phoned radio interviews by 10pm. Kim Beazley issued a general statement at 10.22pm. Alexander Downer was on national television before 9pm. Labor's Kevin Rudd was on early morning television from London. The Liberals' Joe Hockey went on TV from Sydney. Ex-cabinet minister Richard Alston, now High Commissioner to London, was interviewed overnight from the other side of the world. Howard and Beazley were both back before the cameras yesterday.

Even the Governor-General, Michael Jeffery, felt the need to call the press to the front gates of Sydney's Admiralty House. And up in Brisbane, Labor Premier Peter Beattie, the greatest Australian political tart of all, was shameless in announcing Queensland police had been put on "heightened alert". Everyone, it seemed, frothed and jostled to be heard.

John Howard: "The attacks [on London] will resonate with millions of Australians. There is no city outside our own cities better known to generations of Australians. This brutal, indiscriminate, unforgivable attack on innocent people going about their daily lives is a mark of the depraved character of the people who carried it out, a mark of their utter alienation from the mainstream of any noble thoughts and religious convictions to be found anywhere in the world."

Kim Beazley: "This is like an attack on the family. These terrorists are like sub-human filth who must be captured and eliminated, and we condemn them and their evil. The evil that they stand for must be confronted, and they need to know that nothing they do changes our values and nothing they do eliminates our resolve to deal with them."

Alexander Downer: "The Australian Government and, I'm sure, the Australian people, are completely behind the British Government and the British people at this time, not only with our sympathies but in our support of the British Government's determination not to be cowered or bullied or pushed around by terrorist acts of this kind."

Kevin Rudd, visiting Britain: "I've got to say what I've found really impressive as I've walked around London today is the British bulldog spirit is alive and well. At the end of the day you've had droves of Londoners walking home because the Tube is not functional. And by walking I mean five, 10, 12 kilometres. And, on top of all that, still finding time to stop off at the local pub to have a pint and talk about the events of the day. I don't see any evidence that terrorists have won the day in terms of breaking this country's moral spirit."

Britain's Tony Blair: "'The terrorists will not succeed. Today's bombings will not weaken in any way our resolve to uphold the most deeply held principles of our societies and to defeat those who would impose their fanaticism and extremism on all of us. We shall prevail and they shall not. This is a very sad day for the British people. But we will hold true to the British way of life."

Washington's George Bush: "On the one hand you have people [at the Gleneagles talks] working to alleviate poverty and rid the world of the pandemic of AIDS and ways to have a clean environment and, on the other hand, you have people working to kill people. The contrast couldn't be clearer between the intentions and the hearts of those who care deeply about human rights and human liberty, and those who kill, those who've got such evil in their hearts that they will take the lives of innocent folks."

Dr Ahmeer Ali, president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils: "Muslims of Australia condemn the barbaric and indiscriminate attacks. There can be no justification whatsoever. The religion of Islam does not preach such terrorism."

Nobody anywhere said sorry.

Least of all the "coalition of the willing".

Our Prime Minister seemed much more intent on conditioning Australians to understand they could be next. He told questioners at yesterday's press conference: "We do not have any specific intelligence, of any kind, suggesting that because this attack [in London] has taken place, then it is more likely there will be an attack on the Australian homeland. I must nonetheless say this country could be subject to an attack like this. I have never hidden or concealed my view that this country could experience a very serious terrorist attack. These attacks are indiscriminate. They are indifferent to the damage they inflict and to the individual targets of the outrages they perpetrate.

"That means that just as Australia was a terrorist target before the 11th of September [2001], it has continued to be so since and remains so now. And this attack is a reminder that something like this could occur in our country. This is a terrible, gut-wrenching, horrific reminder of the kind of world in which we live, the kind of people we must confront and defeat."

Tens of thousands of Iraqi families no doubt think the same of those troops who invaded and occupied their country 27 months ago.

Kim Beazley, as usual, was far more windy in confronting much the same question at his press conference in Perth.

Q: "Has the Government's actions made us a target by standing so close with America and Britain?"

Beazley: "This is day of sorrow, of condolence, and of determination, not a day for criticising or offering character analysis of one's opponents. Can I say this, though, in relation in the generality of things: we have been a target, and aware that we are a target, since September 11.

"In the perverted ideology of the fundamentalist terrorists, attacking locations like ourselves is part of their strategy for reinforcing their stance within their own society and attempting to attract people to their cause. It is separating us from moderate Islam, separating us from the Islamic states and communities which exist elsewhere in the world, which is part of their objective.

"And we need to understand their objectives and spurn them and act against them. We will be targets irrespective of the many things we may or may not do in this environment, because of the fact we are the sort of society they feel they must hit in order to enhance their status within the societies which ultimately they seek to dominate.

"We are at one as a society with those members of the Islamic community which are the overwhelming majority who fear, rightly, the appalling theologies and practices of the groups affiliated with al-Qaeda. So, what I'm saying, basically, is we've been under attack for a very long period of time now, irrespective of any decisions taken by this Government."

What Beazley meant was: "No."

Howard was only a little more precise in dismissing speculation about a decision on sending Australian troops back to Afghanistan. Would the London bombings influence the Government?

"The attacks will not deter a decision that would otherwise be made," he said. "We have no taken any decision, but if anybody imagines these attacks will intimidate the Australian Government they would be wrong. That does not mean we have decided to make a fresh commitment. We haven't made any decision. Let's not get too complicated. We are going to talk about Afghanistan [next week] and the events of the last 48 hours are not going to influence the decision in any way."

What Howard meant was: "No."

Nobody asked about the failure of the British intelligence agencies yet again. How come the Brits didn't get even a sniff of what was about to happen to cripple London's transport and wreak carnage in the city's subway? Two years ago Blair was fighting for his career in the face of accusations his office had "sexed up" intelligence to justify joining the US invasion of Iraq. Two years later and nobody, it seems, British or American, got an inkling of what was coming.

Behind all that fine Churchillian stoicism on Thursday was a leader who must know his career again faces a political crisis.
#2 London -- Saturday July 9 2005

Psychological trauma may last for years

By Sophie Goodchild

Survivors of yesterday's bomb blasts are likely to experience widespread and long-term psychological trauma.

Femi Oyebode, head of psychiatry at Birmingham University, said there were three stages in a person's response to a trauma such as a bomb blast or a serious accident.

The first stage was an acute stress reaction which anyone could suffer if they were exposed to exceptional stress. The next phase was acute stress disorder where symptoms included feelings of anxiety and palpitations, and the most severe reaction was post-traumatic stress disorder. This caused long-term damage which could last for months or even years.

Professor Oyebode said: "For the vast majority, the feelings of anxiety and lack of control, especially for those people who may have been stuck on a Tube, will subside within a day or two. But there will be a small group who will suffer acute stress and any reminders of what happened will make them burst into tears or feel angry and despairing."

It is expected that the victims will be offered counselling. But some experts warned that counselling was not the solution for everyone and could even aggravate people's problems. Leslie Carrick-Smith, a chartered forensic psychologist and member of the British Psychological Society, said that getting people to talk about the horror of what they saw or experienced could actually do a lot of harm.

He said: "We do not understand yet how fully people may react in these situations. People will be utterly numbed because if you're fighting a war then you're prepared for the worst to happen but in this case people were powerless to do anything and it's happened at such a personal level. In some cases the 'cup of tea approach' and for families to offer comfort to each other will be the best way forward."

James Thompson, a trauma psychologist at University College London, said some people suffering post-traumatic stress took up to five years before they saw a doctor. Dr Thompson said he had been involved in the aftermath of the King's Cross fire in 1987 and patients were turning up with trauma symptoms many years afterwards.

But he said at the moment people would still be coming to terms with what had happened. "Londoners, although we have always been aware that this was a possibility, are now having to process and understand that it has really happened."

Dr Thompson said it was likely people would watch hours of television - probably more than they should - to try to understand what had happened. "In subsequent days you will see major changes in behaviour. People who don't have to go into London probably will not.

"That will probably mean fewer shoppers but the number of commuters will probably stay the same. Anxiety levels will be up and people might want to avoid deeper Tube lines.

"There will also be more concentration on abandoned bags and suspicious behaviour and people will probably be less scared of saying something if they have concerns."
#3  London -- Saturday July 9 2005

Burns, fractures and head injuries that will cause lifelong disabilities

By Jeremy Laurance

The injuries suffered by victims of the attacks were typical of explosions and will in some cases cause lifelong disability, doctors said. They include burns, smoke inhalation, fractures, head injuries and internal injuries caused by the sheer physical force of the blast.

Many of the less seriously injured complained of hearing loss caused by ear drums perforated by the force of the blast.

John Heyworth, a consultant in accident and emergency medicine and former president of the British Association for Emergency Medicine, said: "In the past 15 years, we have developed a very sophisticated system for dealing with the injured patient. All hospitals now operate a standardised approach which saves lives."

The system is based on checking the patient's airway is free, ensuring they are breathing and checking their circulation - the ABC of saving lives. They may be given oxygen, bleeding is stopped and fluids can be given intravenously.

"It is addressed in a very co-ordinated way. You have to have a system in place. Medical teams have been waiting for something like this attack to happen," Dr Heyworth said. Some injuries looked more dramatic than they were. Many people emerging from tube stations yesterday with ash around their mouths and faces turned out not to be so badly hurt once the ash was cleaned away.

But other injuries, such as burns and smoke inhalation, could be more serious. "A lot of people with burns will do well. But I am afraid with these sort of explosions people suffer deep and extensive burns and may have life-long problems with repeated skin grafts," he said.

Most of those with perforated eardrums would take some weeks to heal but in some the injury would cause lasting hearing loss. "It is distressing and may be serious but in the context of the other injuries it is relatively minor," Dr Heyworth said.

One of the most taxing tasks for the mobile medical teams which were dispatched to the site of the attacks was to distinguish those who could be saved from those who were past help, so manpower could be focused on saving the maximum number of lives.

Each team had a medical incident commander appointed to prioritise patients and maintain control of the situation at each location where casualty clearing stations were set up.