Bandaging our wounds, mourning our dead and loving our enemies

I’m away from my usu­al haunts on work-related duties but the news sites have plen­ty of arti­cles about the hor­ri­ble bomb­ings in Lon­don; there is no need for yet anoth­er list.
It is always trag­ic to see the cycles of vio­lence, ter­ror­ism and state-sponsored war feed­ing one anoth­er to new acts of vio­lence. Our prayers that the new round of heart­breaks in Lon­don don’t lead into a kind of retal­i­a­tion that will only hard­en hearts else­where. We need to envi­sion a new world, one based on love and mutu­al respect. It’s impos­si­ble to nego­ti­ate with the kind of ter­ror­ists that would bomb a packed bus but we can be a wit­ness that hate can be con­front­ed with love. We must ban­dage our wound­ed, mourn our dead and con­tin­ue to build a world where the occa­sions for all war have been tran­scend­ed.

Betting on Terror

The news sites are all report­ing a Pen­ta­gon plan to bet on future ter­ror­ist activ­i­ty (BBC). It’s report­ed as a stock market-style sys­tem in which sucess­ful pre­dic­tions by investors would win them mon­ey.
Some­one at the Pen­ta­gon has read a lit­tle too many books about the infi­nite wis­dom of the free mar­ket. There are those who have a reli­gious faith in the pow­er of unfet­tered cap­i­tal­ism, who posit it as a kind of all-knowing, self-correcting God. With the input of enough self-interested actors, the truth can be dis­cerned. I’d argue that stock mar­kets are more like blogs (the highly-linked New York Times ver­sion of the arti­cle), with every­one rush­ing to make the same links (Asso­ci­at­ed Press).
The truth of the mat­ter is that recent intel­li­gence laps­es have been the result of polit­i­cal med­dling in the col­lec­tion and ana­lyt­i­cal process­es. When the boss wants a cer­tain result (proof of weapons in Iraq, proof of Al Qae­da links), then the group-think pres­sure to con­form will warp the sift­ing process. A stock market-style sys­tem for pre­dict­ing ter­ror would be about as accu­rate as a poll of CNN and Fox News watch­ers – it will tell you what every­one thinks but it prob­a­bly won’t tell you the truth.