What would the reaction have been had the London bombings happened in the US?

Would such an attack dramatically change public opinion on any specific issue? How would the government react? Would the reaction be dependent on what city was attacked? Would we react differently if a city like Seattle, Las Vegas, Miami, Houston, or Detroit were attacked, instead of the obvious targets?

Feel free to address the question from any angle you’d like.

After the initial shock, we would find some other place to blow up, and the current administration’s approval rating would soar. And all the current questioning, dissent and scandals would conveniently disappear.

And whether or not that other place the US blew up had anything to do with the bombings wouldn’t be important.

I, for one, would still be against it.

One thing I noticed (I happened to be in London on the day of the bombings), was a radical difference in the attitude of the general population between the UK and the US. Now, the World Trade Center attacks were a couple of magnitudes bigger in terms of body count, and all evidence I have is strictly anecdotal, but I still find my observations interesting.

After the attacks in New York the reaction, besides sadness, condolences and so forth, was anger and aggression. Let’s find who did this and kick his ass. Let’s kill ten of them for every one of us they killed. Let’s turn the Middle East into a parking lot.

In England, I saw very little of that (one old Scottish lady I spoke to on a train did say she hoped they’d find out who did it and string them up). The general attitude was one of passive defiance, the same attitude that you saw during the Blitz. The Churchill quote “You do your worst and we’ll do our best” was re-used. It was all about standing up in the face of adversity, not primarily about striking back.

Somehow, I can’t imagine that “DEFIANCE” was the headline of New York papers on September 12th, 2001. “VENGEANCE”, possibly.

One comment I loved went along the lines of “You did your worst, and you managed to disrupt our public transportation system and get a death toll in double figures. That happens all the time anyway. Was that really the best you could do?”. Another was something like “We lived through Danes, Scots, Normans, the Black Plague, the Great Fire, the Thirty-Years War, the Hundred-Years War, and the Nazis. You guys are amateurs.”

I think it comes down, at least in part, to having lived through a war on your own soil. Americans haven’t had a war in their own country since the Civil War, but the Blitz is still a living memory in London. Londoners were there, or have parents who were there, or at least grandparents who were there. London has been attacked before. Many, many times before, many times worse than this.

On 12 September, the L.A. Daily News headline was “HORROR”. On the 14th it was “WAR ON TERROR”. On the 18th it was “Bush Says He Wants Bin Laden DEAD OR ALIVE”. We’re still waiting aren’t we. Now the buzz is Bin Laden is in Pakistan, not Afghanistan, and may have been in Pakistan for quite some time. So then, why are we SUPPOSEDLY looking for him in Afghanistan and Iraq?

London is a dis-jointed city of strangers - that’s why you’ve not seen much outpouring of communal grief, there’s not much community spirit there to start with.

Ignore all this “stiff-upper lip” stuff - we like to portray it like that, but in truth we just don’t know how to react with any passion.

As a generalisation (with exceptions, naturally) people in London don’t feel they “belong” to the city in the same way that New Yorkers do.

London is seen as a place to come and work to earn a living, but there’s far less attachment to the soul of the place than people think.

If the attacks had been in Liverpool or Newcastle (esp. in Liverpool) you would have had 1000s out on the street - there’s more community feeling there, and the cities tend to react as one.

London is pretty much made up of 7 million individuals who happen to share the same streets.

Priceguy, columnist Andrew Sullivan also noticed the difference in attitude between the US and London following their respective terrorist attacks.

He also noted the irony in the fact that since plenty of Londoners opted to stay downtown at pubs until traffic permitted, the religious fanatics so opposed to alcohol ended up providing a boost in sales.

(Sullivan did respectfully acknowledge the difference in magnitude of the attacks).

Speeches would have been given. Speeches with great passion and tough talk. That’s it.

I doubt both of these assertions. What other place would we blow up? Unless you could directly link these attackers to, say, Syria, its just AQ being AQ. We are ALREADY engaged with AQ about as far as we can be (as well as having gone off on a tangent into Iraq for gods know what reason). The days of us lashing out are pretty much over now…again, unless you could directly tie these attacks to a nation state, something I doubt is going to happen.

As to Bush’s approval rating soaring, you are dreaming. It would go down even further. He’s based a lot of his political house of cards on keeping the US safe from such attacks. Its all bluff and luck though…if terrorists REALLY want to attack the US and are willing to try and fail 99 times in order to get that one big one in, then we WILL be attacked again.

Finally, I’m not seeing all the ‘current questioning, dissent and scandals’ ‘conveniently disappearing either’. If anything I’m seeing a BIGGER stink if we get attacked again on Bush’s watch.

You mean like Afghnistan? IIRC thats where we attacked in direct response to the 9/11 attacks. You saying it had nothing to do with the bombings?? If we were attacked again and you had such links back to a nation state then sure…I could see the US happily pounding said nation into dust (or at least trying too). However, after Afghanistan I seriously doubt ANY nation state is going to openly support AQ again for fear of just such a pounding.

To answer the OP, I doubt we’d do much of anything except pick up the pieces. Oh, I’m sure the rhetoric would fly on both sides of the political isle. Both sides would be condemming these terrorists and vowing revenge, Bush would be on to tell us how we need to stay the course, blah blah blah, and after a few weeks the Dems would be sniping at the Pubs for failing in the WoT, etc etc. Substantially though we’d still be in Iraq and Afghanistan and we’d still be hunting AQ covertly, we’d still be covertly targetting their money supply. There really isn’t a whole lot more we CAN do at this point and we kind of have our hands full at the moment anyway.


Let’s check the differences ?

  • Duct Tape ? No

  • Call for War ? No

  • Excessive Flag waving ? Not much

  • We’ll let Blair do anything he wants now ? No

  • Profiling all Muslims without a warrant ? Not yet

  • Stop Bus Traffic for several days (as opposed to Air traffic) ? Nope

  • Calling the other party a wuss ? No

    Some differences :smiley:

The British were already fighting in Afghanistan, so invading Afghanistan is already done.

We invaded Afghanistan in response to the refusal of the then-current Afghan government to turn over Al-Qaida people who were operating openly in Afghanistan. There is currently no country in the world where Al-Qaida can operate openly. Yes, Al-Qaida operates in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, etc, but nowhere does it operate with the permission of the government.

I don’t understand this revisionist history that Afghanistan had nothing to do with 9/11. OK, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. We didn’t invade Iraq in revenge for 9/11, we invaded Afghanistan.

Was the Afghanistan invasion unjustified? Was it unrelated to 9/11? If it was, say so up front.

This thread was a really stupid idea.

That’s absolutely beautiful. Go Londoners!

Yes, history has a lot to do with it. The British Isles have been through a lot, and recently too. And Britain has always been in close proximity to major wars, whereas the US has two great yawning oceans flanking it. The US gets much more nervous when attacked behind its well protected moats, and as a younger nation, responds more passionately, since such attacks don’t litter its past.

However, I think surprise and shock was a much greater factor in the 9/11 bombings. The scale, for one; it was unreal, and huge. The fact that London has been a terrorist target for decades, that Madrid and New York preceded it in terms of Al-Qaeda attacks, and that any London policeman would’ve told you the likelihood of a terrorist attack by Islamist extremists was 100%, all probably prepared Londoners to some extent.

I expect an attack on New York would have the same effect as in London so far.

Sorry but 90% of this post is just plain wrong - the 10% being the “Liverpool or Newcastle” part - i do agree that there is probably more of a community feel there than there is in London these days.

I’m genuinely interested to know exactly where you lived in London to come to this opinion, since its the complete opposite of my experiences. I’ve always found that London has an incredibly strong sense of community - it just asks you to put a bit of effort in before it starts giving back.

Also, speaking now from New York, i can say that so far my experience of this city has been that it is incredibly similar in how it “behaves” to London - just with an American turn to its culture rather than British.

While AQ may not have the open permission to operate in many of these countries, some of them are not really putting a lot of effort into stopping them. The result is the same.

The current administration has tried to tie Iraq to 9/11 in more ways than one. While the Iraq invasion may not have been “revenge”, it was the events of 9/11 that enabled the war to occur.

Then why did you post if you think it’s a stupid thread?

If a terrorist attack in the United States were shown to be the work of a bunch of homegrown activists or loons, as seems to be the case with the London bombings, the United States would, like most countries, use domestic law enforcement to take care of the problem.

Only if the attacks were shown to be supported by another state or a transnational actor like al-Qaida would a military response be contemplated.

Proof of this is in the Oklahoma City bombings a few years ago. This didn’t create any kind of military action, and a mere change in administrations wouldn’t be enough to change this simple fact.

I think Mr. Moto has it down. The Oklahoma episode is an excellent example.

Let’s assume an attack equivalent to London, about 50 dead. If not alQaeda, then prosecute like any other crime. If alQaeda, what we gonna do, declare war on them again? For a moment assume it was an unfriendly government such as Iran that was behind it. There it gets dicey. Probable reaction would be retaliatory bombing. Right now even Bush must realize the US is in no position to invade anything more than a very small nationn.

Why did I think it was a stupid idea? Because either people would respond like Mr. Moto and BobLibDem, that it would pretty much be exactly the same, or it would be strawman US bashing like SteveG1, complaining about how they imagine the US would invade some random country.

The US, threat or menace? We report, you decide. Pointless. If you are upset about the US response to 9/11, if you are upset about the invasion of Iraq, please start threads about those subjects, and quit speculating about how awful an American response to a hypothetical terrorist attack would be compared to the response of the British.

Actually, I think the OP is an interesting intellectual exercise. Are we assuming the London bombings have taken place and this hypothetical attack follows or are we substituting an american city for London?

Regardless, the response would depend on the ideological camp of the responder. Each would use the tragedy to try and score points.

From the left: “See? We told you! Bush can’t protect us. He is wasting money in Iraq when he should be spending it on security here at home. We need an investigation to see who should have seen this coming and couldn’t stop it.”

From the right: “See? We told you! The world is a dangerous place. You liberals need to shut up and let us do the hard job of protecting this country without having to worry about you stabbing us in the back every chance you get.”

If the investigation shows total domestic involvement, then it becomes a law enforcement issue. If another country is found to be involved, bombs would fly.