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UK Terrorism

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Firstly and very importantly, the happenings in London [1] [2] and Manchester [3] over the last few days are devastating for our entire Country - my thoughts go out to all of those affected. I encourage people to help in any way they can to help these people through this difficult time, if that be good wishes, donations, charities - anything that helps.

As I write this article, the dead bodies from the London attack yesterday are still warm. I don’t particularly want to write this article, but monitoring social media, I see this has struck a nerve with the people in the UK. Now, more than ever, we need to think carefully and rationally about our future actions. I don’t believe I have lost anybody in these attacks, but I hope my thinking will remain the same regardless of that point.


NOTE: I was going to go through and explain the background of this, but the reading material is so depressing I can’t bring myself to do it. I leave you with this to start your own research:

  1. 9/11
  2. Afghanistan + Iraq
  3. ISIS Formed
  4. Attacks by ISIS
  5. Attacks on ISIS by Russia + Rebels (not working together, mind you)
  6. Attacks by ISIS (including UK attacks)

This is of course a simplification, but you’ll see in your research what is meant.

NOTE: Now there’s some words to get yourself on a watch list!

Problem Formalisation

To think about this problem logically, we must first abstract the problem away, so that it can apply to other areas. Below is a diagram I have come up with to describe what I believe to be the abstraction:

State Diagram

I have labelled the diagram “them” and “us”, to capture how most people may think about most situations they are involved in. Important things to note is that the diagram works clockwise and that both sides are mirror reflections of one another. The reason why both sides are mirror reflections is that both sides believe they are acting correctly, therefore having equal reaction.

One example of this could a pub fight:

Now in this diagram, “Political Action” is now a step that can be skipped.

And so on, so fourth. There exists also an even smaller loop, where the anger no longer even comes into effect any more. This tends to be strictly true of heated battles, where both parties have lost their taste for war but cannot give up in fear of what the other person will do in that case.


There are a few solutions to consider, based on what we are willing/want to do:

Strike Back

So the first of the solutions the UK could apply is to strike back, which to most people seems like the most “logical” option for our Country to take. This initial strike has already taken place, moments after the attack [4], with Theresa May calling for higher levels of surveillance on the Country. This is obviously a form of political action, but here we have embers to start physical action. This will likely come in the form of military on the streets of London, as they have been recently in Manchester.

Of course, the consequences of this are that we do not have the power to see this loop through with our current limitations, as evidenced in the Iraq and Afghanistan war. We may have the more advanced weaponry, but with our rules and regulations, coupled with the fact that our enemies are more willing to die for their cause than we are, sees that they are also very capable foes.

With two relatively well matched forces, the likely hood is that we will end up in a long war, such as UK vs Germany in the world wars. As long as we tie one hand back in the name of keeping our current way of life and our enemy fights with both hands, we will have our work cut out for us.

Great Weapon

The next possible solution is that we go all the way and we unleash some great weapon. At first this sounds great, but of course this puts us in an even worse situation, for several reasons:

  • There is now something for the enemy to be truly angry about - you’ve just fuelled the survivors anger even further.
  • Such a show of force is likely to have unwanted casualties, this puts you in a bad place with the locals.
  • Worse still, this puts you in a bad place with the people other than the locals - this ups the stakes the other people must go to in order to show their force. Your show of force has to be feared at least equally as much as your neighbour to hold any power.

This can work successfully, look at the Japan and US. It took two nukes for them to “agree to disagree”, with many, many lives innocent lives taken in the process. We have to consider who we will be after this has all gone through and we have won - did we successfully defend the idealism we thought for?

No Returns

The last is the most important and the hardest to do, which is to do nothing. There are people who will rightfully be angry at the events, but this is the only way forwards that guarantees that tensions will collapse.

A bully will often stop bullying if the victim does nothing, in both the school ground and the office place. Why? One of the reasons for bullying is for the reaction. In terms of terrorism, the entire reason is to provoke this fear and anger driven response, to escalate a situation that nobody previously cared about.

As with the other solutions, there are consequences to these actions. There will be much anger to come, as the enemy slowly lowers the rate of their actions, seeing that there is no response.

Of course, there is also another risk here - the people asked to be attacked and not retaliate will grow angrier without some form of feeling of release. In order for this system to work, they must feel as if they are being heard and more important still, that progress is being made.


We are left with a sad conclusion, where we may have to give up our internet freedom in order to prevent a perpetual war with terrorism. This begs the questions as to whether sacrificing one freedom to save another is really winning at all? The best move was probably not to play the game in the first place.


[1] Source: BBC Link

[2] Source: BBC Link

[3] Source: BBC Link

[4] Source: Boing Boing Link