My apologies for the long silence while I was in Spain. Without a home computer (see earlier note on getting robbed in the Atocha train station on April 30) it just seemed too complicated to try to digitalize and post my thoughts, so I returned to my more ancient system, notebook and pen. If any of those handwritten notes from the past two months seem still worth sharing, I'll post them. Those that were on current events that are no longer current, I'll spare you.
I boarded the bus from Carboneras to Madrid last Tuesday evening at 8:30, and arrived at the Estación Sur in Madrid (a bus terminal connected to a metro stop) around 6: a.m. on Wednesday. There I got right onto the metro and, with one change of trains, got to the Barajas airport where I checked in and waited for a 3:25p.m. Iberia flight that got me to London Heathrow a little after 6 p.m. London time (7 p.m. Madrid time), and just barely caught the British Airways flight to JFK that got me in about 8:45 p.m., New York time. The next morning I learned about the London bombs on the tube and bus.
The images -- not of the blood, but of the setting -- were very familiar to me, and so were the accents of the people trying to comprehend what had happened. Usually on trips to Spain, we have used the London tube and a long bus ride to connect between Heathrow (for the NYC-London segment) and the smaller airport Stansted, clear across town and beyond, for cheap flights between London & Spain. And when we can, we like to walk around the center of the city itself. Also, over the past year we have made some dear friends among the English retirees and semi-retired living in and around Carboneras, but still strongly connected (through children and grandchildren and other associations) with the homeland. This massive attack thus seemed as close to me, almost, as the attack on the World Trade Center towers in 2001. (See my 5-day personal account, Attack on New York .)
Bravo to the brave Londoners, especially all the emergency medical and other personnel. We don't know precisely what the bombers had in mind (since we don't even know who they were), but it sure looks as though you Londoners are being made to pay a price for Tony Blair's mad-dog aggression in Iraq. Which, truth be told, has caused many times as many fatalities, mostly Iraqis, as the New York, Madrid and London attacks combined.
The New York 9/11 attack occurred long before Bush and Blair's attack on Iraq, proving that some Arab religious nuts had other grievances against our city. Still, I think the recent London bombing must be related to the images of destruction and death in Iraq, much of it caused by Arabs resisting the occupation but much more of it -- the destruction of Falluja, for example -- by the bombs and artillery of the U.S. and its allies. If, as seems almost certain, the London attack was organized in similar fashion to the attack on the Atocha train station in Madrid on 11 March 2004, the operatives were a pick-up team of local boys of Arab or other Muslim origin, knowledgeable of the local terrain and transport system and radicalized largely around the Iraq issue. (On the Madrid attack, see Casimiro García-Abadillo, 11-M. La venganza. Madrid, 2004; see also my op-ed column on the Spanish elections 3 days later, Historic Reversal: Bombs and Ballots in Spain).
Doesn't it seem odd that the people who bombed Baghdad and allowed its ancient treasures to be pillaged now claim to be defenders of civilization? Blair actually used that phrase right after the London attack.