Wednesday, May 5, 2004

If a bomb goes off, and nobody's hurt, does it make a sound?

olympics / overreactions
Get a grip folks... The "terrorist attack" in Athens is small scale, with no one hurt and of unknown origin (no one has taken responsibility for the "attack" yet). It was item number three on the radio this morning, and first thing I see on the BBC site is "Greek capital hit by tripe blast". The same story was front page news all over the world! I was furtively calling people and turning on the radio to see what had happenned. I later realised that this was about the Kallithea police station incident, an area pretty much in the middle of nothing special, and (I hope the nice police officers at the station over there don't mind me bringing this up) home to quite a lot of drug and illegal prostitution related activity... This might be connected to a lot of things, but "international terrorism" it most probably isn't. It might be connected with the "ELA terrorism trial" farse, a trial that will go down in history as the most ridiculous ever (that's another story for another day maybe...) and which will soon earn Greece a serious reprimand from human rights' organizations...

But anyway, just one question: Are the foreign correspondents here on drugs?The story is everywhere! Even over at "a Fistful of Euros"! Next week when (inescapebly) Panathinaikos and Olympiakos football fans clash very violently, not very far from Kallithea, are they going to rush to the phone to report "large scale riots" in Athens? In any case I would like to alert them to the fact that my neighbour parks his bloody car on the sidewalk and maybe if the BBC puts it on its home, bloody, page, someone will do something about it.

The big story in local media is not the bombing itself, but rather the international media reactions to it. The NYT has a refreshingly less shrill story about the Olympic preparations (free reg. req.).

In the history of this country, winning these Olympics will rank among the major national catastrophes of this century... I expect that even my grandchildren will be paying for the idiocies of previous administrations. The rich got richer, the poor worked harder, the preparations weren't completed in time, we've payed a billion Euros for security alone, the environment in the city has been degraded and only half of the transportation benefits materialized at unprecedented cost...

But anyway, you're all welcome to come over: it's gonna be fun I guess (heh! you won't be footing the bill... or live in post-Olympic Athens!) and I'll be watching the games from a TV set by the Aegean or the Ionian sea (not quite decided on that one). Rest assured that no home-grown bomber will be after you, although I'd be mindful of the cab drivers if I were you... OK?

1 comment:

talos said...

old comments

Panayotis:Could someone do the simple maths: How many people have been killed and/or injured by terrorist attacks in the last 5 years in a)New York, b)London, c)Madrid, d)Istambul, e)Moscu, f)Athens?
I'm pretty sure Athens is the last one BY FAR (I can only think of 1 person killed, but I may be missing something…
I whould really like to see a statistic like this one…

Young Fogey: Talos, you might be interested in this report on terror paranoia: http://www.spiked…Skallas: Greetings from the Diaspora,

I just can't see a major terrorist attack happen during the Olympics because 1)It would remove all worldwide sympathy for their cause. 2) Greece isnt involved in Iraq and has been neutral outside of its NATO role. 3) How much are they spending on security? It looks like the place will be locked down.
The only thing i can see happening is another Munich incident, but with Americans this time, and even that is far fetched.
I'll just be happy when i load up the BBC page and wont have to see 2 links a day about how Greece is behind schedule, thats the exact same thing they've been reporting since day one, and guess what? the games will go on and nobody will remember any of this.

Modesty Verve:
It was item number three on the radio this morning, and first thing I see on the BBC site is "Greek capital hit by tripe blast".Yes, but you should realize that in most Western cultures, the blasting of tripe is an extremely rare occurrence, even during Easter festivities. It would therefore be a highly newsworthy event to a reserved society such as the British.

talos:Modesty Verve: I actually spotted that slip and decided to leave it as it is. I'm glad someone noticed.

Skallas: They are spending 3 times what they were planning to originally. That's triple (tripe?) what they spent in Sydney (close to a billion Euros) and ten times what was spent for security in Atlanta. The number of people working for the security of the games will be 40.000 - triple the corresponding number in Sydney.
Frankly the security measures will be so tough that I'm guessing many Athenians will be dissuaded from attending.
It isn't that the games will be 100% safe. There is no such thing in the current geopolitical environment. But, for the reasons you mentioned, what city would pose less of a risk than Athens?Don't forget that Greece has had (and still has) excellent relations with most Arabic countries. and that Greeks benefit from the rather positive stereotype the Arab world has about them.

Young Fogey:
Of course, you need to be casreful about comparing with Atlanta as the security in Atlanta didn't, er, um, well, work.Your other points are fair enough.

Doug Muir:I note with interest that the bombing in Cyprus — which was of exactly the same magnitude, and did just as much (or as little) damage — was almost universally ignored.

"Terrorist" bombings are In. Bombings by dumbass nationalists… I guess that's just too Nineties, or something.
Doug M.