I woke in the middle of the night sweating from a really rather dull nightmare about work. I'd screwed up a routine application of the kind I do several times a month and was desparately searching through a file to find something. You'd think Recent Events would at least leave me with a better class of nightmare. Then I couldn't fall asleep again because one of the neighbours was taking the "live for today" mantra slightly too far and still partying at 3AM on a Monday morning. To be fair, not heavy partying, but talking loudly on their patio, and sound carries a long way through the gardens of north London if your window's open, as mine always is.
I'm tired and grumpy as a result, and not inclined to draw conclusions and things. But I see from yesterday's Snowmail, and from the BBC, that at least 35 people died in bombs in Iraq on Sunday, 20 of them queuing at an army recruitment base in Baghdad. Then there's all those lives lost Thursday, and Friday, and Saturday, and Sunday, from poverty and disease, you know, the ones we were supposed to be concentrating on last week. And, incidentally, today is the tenth anniversary of the massacre of some 8000 at Srebrenica.
There are various things one can say about that, about relative values or the relative newsworthiness of human life. In response, one can quite fairly argue that human nature is inherently solipsistic, that death nearby, or the feeling "it could have been me", or hearing that the friend of a good friend is still among the missing, as I did this morning, is inevitably going to provoke more of an emotional response, even for those of us who have not personally lost anyone close, or who aren't still desparately waiting to hear from the missing. And the unusual and unexpected, which, grimly, none of the things I list above are, inevitably has a higher newsvalue.
I don't see that Iraq can be said to be causative of Thursday, we've been expecting this since 11th September 2001 after all: assuming it is fundamentalist terrorism they hated us enough already anyway. But it's hardly helping. As the Medium Lobster writes: Faster Flypaper! Kill! Kill! Kill!:
"If last week's tragic bombings of the London tube system demonstrate anything, it's that the war on terror has been a staggering triumph. The righteous onslaught of new-painted schools and fresh-pressed police uniforms in Iraq has clearly driven the jihadists fleeing from the central front in the war on terror, scattering from the Middle East all the way to England, where they, in desperation, have resorted to attacking our allies at home."
Which makes George Bush's repeated observation the other day that "We will stay on the offense, fighting the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them at home," just a tad odd: as Hilzoy (quoting others) asks on Obsidian Wings
"But besides all that [ie the morality of the Flypaper Strategy as such], I have to ask: isn't London "home", in the relevant sense? If it comes to that, isn't Madrid?"