11, 2004 (Thursday)
A CHILLY morning, biting wind, sunshine; I take Jessica to school. She thrusts her warm little paw into mine as soon as we step out of the front door. She's looking very pale, however, she does not get enough sunshine. [. . .]
The morning news bulletins bring graphic pictures of a shocking incident a couple of hours ago in Madrid: two hundred commuters have been killed by ten bombs placed in or under commuter trains, including two at Atocha station. Of course I worry briefly as the day wears on about the Madrid part of my family -- two of the five daughters, and their children: but they would have phoned hours ago if anything had happened to one of them. They don't use the trains anyway.
The question of who is behind the outrage is puzzling. Jack Straw appears in front of the cameras in Downing Street, wearing his most "solemn" expression; Tony Blair talks of the British people sending their "deep condolences" (he means profound, but he never was a true master of the English language). Television commentators waffle that this is "Europe's 9/11" -- which rather loses a sense of proportion. Straw suggests Al-Qaeda may be behind the bombings, which would be useful to the Straw/Blair duo and to George Bush. Bush appears later before the television cameres, uttering condolences but more incoherent than ever: his pronunciamientos, even when typed out, are quite unintelligible.
WITHIN minutes the Spanish government firmly insists the culprit is the Spanish terrorist organisation ETA [Euskadi ta Askatasuna, or Basque Homeland and Freedom], which is on balance the more likely, as a pair of ETA terrorists were caught entering the city a week ago with a vanload of the identical explosives used in this blast, and were stated at that time to have been about to bomb trains or railroad stations. Straw splutters, and "defers" to Madrid's view. The King of Spain makes a very statesmanlike television broadcast, speaking lucidly and with real feeling. (He went to the same school as Pilar but seems to have aged rather faster.)
The simultaneity of the blasts, all within one or two minutes of 7:40 a.m., does suggest a higher degree of intelligence behind the planning -- something only the IRA or the NATO air forces have been capable of hitherto.
IT IS a pity that none of the toady-journalists attending the government press conferences thinks of putting it to Mr Sanctimonious Blair or Mr Lugubrious Straw that the bombing of railroad stations and passenger trains is something which the British and American strategic forces have been practising with some expertise in recent wars, all of them equally illegal.
I remember seeing the cruel images provided by a camera placed in the nose cone of an American missile as it streaked towards a passenger train on a bridge in Kosovo -- the final two images being close-ups of terrified faces looking out of the train windows. That was before no less terrified faces looked out of the upper windows of the Twin Towers, of course.
The brave pilot of the NATO plane which launched that missile came round as the train lay stalled and crippled on the bridge, and punched a second missile through its rear and along its length, ensuring total destruction and death to, one suspects, rather more than two hundred civilian passengers.
Last April  I already posted a link on the website to a shocking thirty-minute video image of a US gun-ship attack on a mosque in Afghanistan; I can still hear the laconic drawl of the American gunners as they mercilessly hunt down and kill each shadowy figure trying to flee through the surrounding countryside.
Was not the Secretary-General at the time of these NATO outrages against the people of former Yugoslavia a mousy little Spaniard, Dr Javier Solana (right), trying to mask his physical insignificance behind a dagoe's goatee beard? Did he not rejoice in front of the television cameras over each successful bombing raid?
And wasn't the former Labour politician, who followed him, Lord Robertson, that rotund little Scottish redhead (left), equally repulsive in his sniveling justifications of these and other acts of mass murder?
It is the hypocrisy of these politicians that gets me down, after a while. They rely on the short memories of their voters. It is our duty, out here in the real world, to remind, even if we cannot hope to see these criminals called to account.