I’ve been reading about the security system which has been thrown up around Athens during the Olympic Games. Whether the whole thing is overkill or not I couldn’t say because, like the vast majority of us, I have no idea just how great the threat is.
We’ve seen this sort of thing before in more localised settings. The British government used to spend millions of pounds trying to avert actions by the IRA. Eventually the IRA got clever enough that it became too expensive for the government and too expensive for the IRA. They had to start talking to each other publically. Presumably they’d been talking privately for some time. One would hope so anyway. Talking meant that both sides had to publicly admit that the other side might actually be capable of civilised behaviour.
At the moment the international community and whoever it is they perceive as the threat to the Games seem to be still at the stage of presenting their opponents to their audiences as devils or crazy men with big guns. The Greek government has thrown $1.2 billion into security. The BBC piece doesn’t say how much the international community is contributing. This is madness. We can only hope that eventually both sides will find someone to knock their heads together and make them sit down and talk. Who knows, in the end we might all start concentrating on the things which really matter in the longer term such as global warming, the recurrent floods in places such as Bangladesh and all the general unfairness in the world.
Posted 10 August 2004, 17:27 BST