What if London got hit, not us?
December 16, 2001 3:50 AM   Subscribe

What if London got hit, not us? Just wondering what would be different if London was the primary target.
posted by sadie01221975 (19 comments total)
What do you mean 'us', paleface?
posted by chrisgregory at 4:27 AM on December 16, 2001

United States *()#*$(#
posted by sadie01221975 at 4:34 AM on December 16, 2001

Had something happened before Sept 11, the IRA probably would have gotten credit for it and it would have taken some doing to get authorities on the right track.
posted by MAYORBOB at 5:10 AM on December 16, 2001

haven't we already "been there, had this hypothetical"?
posted by kv at 6:29 AM on December 16, 2001

tacky british flags?
posted by dagnyscott at 6:51 AM on December 16, 2001

I somehow don't believe that all the media folks would run articles with What Have We Done Wrong emphasis and Why Don't They Like Us emphasis.
posted by Postroad at 7:53 AM on December 16, 2001

Great link, I hadn't heard of this "CNN" site before.
posted by rodii at 9:09 AM on December 16, 2001

Of course, London *has* been hit before, albeit a few decades ago now, and continues to get hit on and off now. One difference I can confidently predict is a markedly different view of role that civil surveillance practices have in preserving our collective security (and I'm quite sure we've been there and had that).

And I agree with Postroad, but possibly for different reasons - (s)he needs to clarify.
posted by RichLyon at 9:44 AM on December 16, 2001

"Great link, I hadn't heard of this "CNN" site before. rodi"
looking at what else has been posted so far i thought maybe we could actually discuss something.

"What do you mean 'us', paleface?
posted by chrisgregory "
what? paleface?

what i was asking is... if England had been the target and had over 3,000 deaths in one morning how active would the United States be in bombing the hell out of Afghanistan? would we be on constant alert? does England have the fire power we are displaying?

jeez people, did someone piss in your coffee this morning? i dont know what all the attitude is for. i was hoping to learn something from your opinions. sorry for posting
posted by sadie01221975 at 10:34 AM on December 16, 2001

The statement kind of presupposes that London's never been bombed before. Of course London was almost completely wiped out in the Blitz, with many major landmarks ripped to shreds, and more recently terrorist actions have damaged major buildings, bridges and killed civilians. I think British people would be less likely to take the solipsistic attitude that our disaster is worse than anyone else's.

But I think that given our relationship with the US there probably would have been some joint military action anyway.
posted by skylar at 1:49 PM on December 16, 2001

Britain is, on paper at least if not in material terms, as much a part of NATO as the US. The city is as much a financial hub as was the WTC. I can't see much scope for any other kind of action than that we have now.
posted by vbfg at 2:16 PM on December 16, 2001

My guess is that the US would be in it just the same with the biggest difference being a 'gotta go save their butts for them again' attitude amoung the common 'merican folk.
posted by HTuttle at 2:22 PM on December 16, 2001

With reference to the Observer story, it describes the potential Al-Queda weapon as a "van bomb". This sounds a lot like the bombs that the IRA was detonating in the financial district of London in the early to mid 1990s (e.g. the one-ton truck-bomb at the Baltic Exchange in 1993; a similar bomb at Bishopsgate in 1994) and elsewhere in London and the rest of the country (Canary Wharf 1996; the ton-and-a-half bomb in central Manchester 1992, to name a couple more). The bombs that were used in Northern Ireland around the same time (e.g. Omagh) tended to be smaller but tragically claimed more lives.

How would we (the British) have reacted to a bomb of this size, or to the deaths of 3000? It's hard to say, but we do have a deeper understanding of working against terrorist organisations than most other countries -- up until 2001-09-11 the IRA was the most 'successful' terrorist organisation ever, in terms of fatalities. On the other hand we also have a Prime Minister who's a little too pleased with himself... and of course we also have the SAS.

How would the US have reacted? Well, how did the US react to the aforementioned IRA bombs, other than a handful of words of sympathy?
posted by Hogshead at 6:47 PM on December 16, 2001

the potential Al-Queda weapon as a "van bomb". This sounds a lot like the bombs that the IRA was detonating

The African Embassy bombings were also carried out with remote-control bombs in vans. Given the al-Qa`ida connection, they provide another important parallel, if one is trying to imagine a London attack based on the tactics outlined in this recent evidence.
posted by Zurishaddai at 6:58 PM on December 16, 2001

Hogshead....there is the United States Senator who was nominated for the Nobel Prize for his work in helping end the Irish conflict, and the work of Clinton to get each side to the mediation table, but I guess that's only "words of sympathy" over in the eyes of some Brits.
posted by Kevs at 8:23 PM on December 16, 2001

sadie01221975, read the guidelines and at-most weekly Metatalk discussions about what constitutes a good front page post, and you'll hopefully understand that no one was attacking you directly, just making (1) a joke about the US-centricity of many MeFites and (2) a comment about the pretty-much understood standard of not linking to sites like cnn.com merely to ask a question of the Metafilter userbase. Then do a search for the ultra-secret cabalistic codeword 'pancakes' for more information.

It looks like you're getting some reasoned responses to your post (appropriate or not, many will differ) anyway, so it's all good (mostly).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:28 PM on December 16, 2001

I wonder whether or not a van bomb would have reached the City. We do have the so-called 'ring of steel' police security cordon here, featuring barriers from which policemen can stop, question and even search vehicles... but I'm not convinced it would ever stop a keen terrorist.
posted by skylar at 12:29 AM on December 17, 2001

I do think that the British public would have reacted a bit differently to the American public. Thanks to the war and the IRA, the British are used to terrorist actions. I think it was far more of a shock for some Americans to discover that their country was also vunerable, and as a result, have been affected by it more deeply than the British would have been. There seems to be a level of pranoia and fear in America that I just don't think we'd have seen in Britain.

Would the Americans have joined in in hunting down Bin Laden? On balance, I have to agree with HTuttle. The USA would have been there for us, and some of the more insular Americans would have remained secure in the knowlege that America itself was safe.

Kevs: For all the good work done by John Mitchell and Bill Clinton, the fact remains that for far too long Sinn Fein and IRA officials were allowed into America freely to raiise funds. Many deaths could have been avoided if America had chosen to take a hard line against the Provisional IRA in the late 60s/early 70s.
posted by salmacis at 1:14 AM on December 17, 2001

I'd disagree with the notion that if it were to UK to have suffered in September I don't believe the US would have rushed to our aid in the same 'no questions asked' manner we have done.
It took an attack on US soil to draw the US into WWII and I don't see it being any different this time round. The only reason this attack had the impact it did was presicely because it was on US soil, and not only on US soil but right in the heart of the financial hub of the country, it shook America and it made Americans question what they took for granted about security. It made the rest of the world take notice too, surely if they can hit the US, they can hit anywhere.
The 'it could so easily have been us' response from the UK government would not I think have been so forthcoming if the roles were reversed, though it might have given GWB more fodder for rushing through the Star Wars programme.
In short, the attack would not have had the same impact on the world had it been London and I don't think there would be the scale of military action in Afghanistan seen currently.
posted by Markb at 6:00 AM on December 17, 2001

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