Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Fear and Panic #1

Hiding from Shadows

I heard that last week President Bush took refuge in a bomb-proof bunker under the White House , the U.S. Army was put on red alert, air force helicopters were scrambled and Vice President Dick Cheney was whisked away to an "undisclosed location" (best place for him mutter most of my readers)

Yes, our old friend Fear and Panic had returned to Washington to prove that post 9/11 paranoia is alive and well. The cause of the kerfuffle turned out to be a rather small but very dense raincloud.
Clouds are such very commonplace occurrences that one would hope even Military Intelligence personnel might have sufficient common sense to recognise them as non-threatening weather events. Apparently this is not so. The cloud of potential mass destruction in question was "moving at about the speed of a helicopter and kept appearing and disappearing on radar.

A quick call to my friend who is a software developer at British Aerospace confirmed that far from being sinister, such cloud behaviour was entirely typical.

I am not a weather expert but have flown in commercial aircraft many times and like anyone who is used to flying over Northern Europe I have some experience of clouds. I also live in a notoriously cloud-infested part of Britain an so am well aware of the less pleasant aspects of typical cloud behaviour. In fact you might say I have "looked at clouds from both sides now, from up and down and still somehow..." although I try to avoid looking at them from down because raindrops in the eye can be quite uncomfortable. From above however clouds can be stunningly beautiful in a Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds sort of way.

The real crux of this piece is my experience of flying through clouds. The ease with which large jetliners pass through the seemingly solid mass does not leave on with the impression that any cloud would ever be substantial enough to conceal and support a gang of bearded ragheads with miniature thermo-nuclear devices up the holes in their bottoms.
There is an important lesson to be learned from the cloud of no threat whatsoever. We British learned the same lesson from thirty years of living with the very real and present threat of IRA terrorists in our midst. It is this; the terrorists most potent weapon is Fear and Panic. Mr Bush and his cohorts used Fear and Panic to unite the nation behind his administration then Osama Bin Laden turned the tables by using Bush generated Fear and Panic to disrupt the American economy. And now the President has fallen victim to his own propaganda and is running and hiding from shadows (or clouds in this case).

As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said "you have nothing to fear but fear itself.

Copyright © 2005, Ian R. Thorpe