Niall Ferguson imagines a successful British airline plot and makes some pointed observations in the LA Times (thanks to all who sent this in):
“Five passenger aircraft have blown up in midair and crashed into the Atlantic. The planes “” believed to be operated by American Airlines and United Airlines “” left this morning from Heathrow Airport, bound for the United States. There are no reported survivors.”
Such a calamity would at once have been dubbed “8/27.” But the political consequences would have been very different from those that followed 9/11….
An 8/27 would have been diametrically different. From an American vantage point, a successful terrorist plot launched from Heathrow would have been doubly Britain’s fault. Its proximate cause would have been a lapse in British security. Its root cause would have been the infiltration of British society by radical Islamism.
As details emerged about the perpetrators, Americans’ worst suspicions about Britain would have been confirmed. It has been clear for a while that Britain’s Muslim communities are proving fertile recruiting grounds for Islamist extremists, and that it is the disaffected sons and grandsons of Pakistani immigrants who are most susceptible.
Perhaps even more troubling, it has been evident since the arrest of attempted shoe-bomber Richard Reid that ordinary British dropouts can also be lured, via religious conversion, into the terrorist network. Imagine if it had been established that one of the perpetrators of the worst terrorist outrage since 9/11 had been the son of a respected Conservative Party official.
Far from editorializing that “We are all British now,” the American media might well have reacted to 8/27 by saying, “The British are all suspects now.” The Atlantic would have drastically widened.
Read it all.