If the London terrorist bombers thought they would score another Spain-like coup with their attacks, they badly underestimated the mettle of the British people.
And if they timed their attacks to coincide with Thursday's opening of the G8 summit in Scotland hoping to inject fear into the heart of the industrialized nations, they have likely had the opposite effect.
The vicious attacks on Londoners going to work, which at this writing claimed 37 lives and injured hundreds, has the potential of galvanizing the G8 nations in a way that nothing has since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.
The summit, which was to focus on the moral responsibility and the practical aspects of industrialized nations helping poorer nations, turned instead on its opening day to statements of solidarity against terrorists. There is an irony there, since the London attacks have all the earmarks of an Al-Qaida operation and millions of the people who would benefit from G8 programs in Africa are Muslims.
The G8 leaders will not abandon their intentions to help those nations -- they are bigger than that and realize that punishing the impoverished and the sick for the acts of terrorists who happen to share a religion would not be right. But the time and place of these attacks-- and the potential they had for disrupting the G8 summit -- show that these terrorists have no concern for human life, even that of their brethren. It is the same absolute disregard for life that is demonstrated by insurgents in Baghdad who kill Americans, Europeans and Iraqis with equal disdain.
Thursday, the terrorists saw a people who did not cower when German bombs fell from the sky two generations ago, and will not be defeated by bombs in subways or on buses. Indeed, as horrible as the losses were, they were not unexpected. A poll in April for The Times of London newspaper showed that 72 percent of the British population believed an Al-Qaida attack was "inevitable."
Expressions of concern
At the G8 meeting and throughout Europe, leaders immediately recognized and acknowledged that this was not an attack against London alone. In Denmark, for instance, former Foreign Minister Mogens Lykketoft said: "This is the continuation of Sept. 11 and the attacks in Madrid ... No one can feel safe."
Russian President Vladimir Putin said terror attacks demand universal condemnation and unity and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder stressed the need for fighting terrorism "with all the means at our disposal."
The leaders of all nations know that these are cold-blooded killers. The London bombings were well coordinated, murderous and indiscriminately aimed at innocents. The bombs were detonated at the height of London's rush hour when ordinary working people were packed in the targeted trains and bus.
British authorities will get all the help they need from other countries and their police and intelligence services.
Regardless of what that investigation reveals, British Prime Minister Tony Blair made a vow that that every civilized nation must endorse: "We shall prevail and they shall not."