What to do when our intelligence agency, MI5, state the terror threat level is severe?
Iain Dale spoke to a member of the public on his drive show on LBC last week, who articulated why he believed we are looking at a generational fight against this particular breed of terrorist: IS. David Cameron went further and said they pose an 'existential danger.' The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
Though I am not qualified to commentate on the roots of this evil, or how we stop it; I am a British citizen, and feel a fear, compounded by the barbaric loss of British life in Tunisia, the radicalisation of British Muslims and the inevitability of an attack on our shores. This seemingly inexorable fate, which Dale, myself and many others (including the MI5) foresee, is what's so depressing.
A lot of the same fighting rhetoric is being banded about, 'carry on as you were, because if you don't; the terrorists win,' and rightly so; that's a really positive message. Though I wonder how the bereaving families feel about it? It would take an unparalleled amount of bravery on their part to feel so stoic, so British, so stiffen up that upper lip.
Instead, shouldn't we: the public, be sensible about the threat level. Take a look at our security services; today the army and police forces ran the biggest anti-terrorist drill ever seen. Meanwhile, David Cameron has just adjourned a several day meeting of his Cobra assembly. Clearly they are ready for the worst, shouldn't we be?
Here's an analogy; look at California. In many ways a perfect place. In many ways not. It sits precariously above the San Andres fault and is also vulnerable to forrest fires, both of which have taken lives, and will continue to do so. The government runs drills in schools and informs citizens on best practices; all in the name of conserving life.
Now I'm not saying we gear ourselves entirely around impending danger. Though if you've ever been to Israel, you will note the lack of visible police on the streets. Why? The country self-polices a lot of the time. Conscription has created a population that priorities safety for it's fellow man, and the rule of law. Israelis will tell you they have to be this way; that their very existence is threatened on a daily basis. I wonder whether ours is too now? Prime Minister Cameron believes so.
Ten years on from the 7/7 bombings, and not even a week on from Tunisia, terrorism has reached a point where reason is lost in the ether. We must face the threat and adapt. Risk analysts will tell us to exercise caution wherever we go etc... They will in fact tell you a lot more, but for the sake of brevity and not feigning expertise on my part, I will leave it at that.
Though if you take anything from what I'm saying take this: being cautious does not mean 'the terrorists have won.' That kind of binary thinking is dangerous.