Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Solidarity Can Fight Terror, Secrecy Can't

To Our Readers

Has something you've read here startled you? Are you angry, excited, puzzled or pleased? Do you have ideas to improve our coverage?
Then please write to us.
All we ask is that you include your full name, the name of the city from which you are writing and a contact telephone number in case we need to get in touch.
We look forward to hearing from you.

Email the Opinion Page Editor

In his response to the London bombings, President Vladimir Putin strongly urged G8 leaders "not to allow terrorists to creep through the crevices between us and breach our common struggle."

A common struggle against terrorism, however, implies more than unity between leaders; it means that governments must work together with the ordinary citizens that most often bear the brunt of such attacks.

The British authorities have appeared to understand this well.

Prime Minister Tony Blair broke off immediately from his G8 talks to share his honest, emotional reaction to the bombings and flew back to London to show his support.

The London police and emergency services worked with courage, openness and sensitivity to rescue the injured and start the painstaking forensic and detective work to catch those responsible. What they learned, they told the public. What they didn't know, they didn't speculate on.

London's mayor, Ken Livingstone, who the day before had been celebrating the city's successful 2012 Olympics bid that had stressed the city's ethnic and cultural diversity, eloquently summed up feelings of solidarity felt by Londoners.

"This was not an attack against the mighty or the powerful," he said. "It is not aimed at presidents or prime ministers; it was aimed at ordinary, working-class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Jew, young and old. It was an indiscriminate attempt to slaughter, irrespective of any considerations for age, for class, for religion."

Blair also made a point of stressing that Islam was not to blame.

And the reaction of ordinary Londoners, like the reaction of New Yorkers immediately after 9/11, was also one of solidarity and tolerance.

Russia's approach to terrorist attacks may be different because of the intensity of the conflict in the North Caucasus over the past decade. But that doesn't fully explain the Russian authorities' lack of openness in response to terrorist attacks, when few facts are shared with an alarmed public, or even in some cases with elected officials.

Since the Beslan attack, for example, the quest of relatives for the truth has been so difficult that during the ongoing trial of Nur-Pashi Kulayev, accused of participating in the attack, desperate relatives have begged him to reveal what really happened, doubting the state's version of events.

This kind of distrust and division aids the terrorists' cause far more than any international disunity.

While Londoners may be divided about Blair's policy of fighting alongside U.S. troops in Iraq, they have showed their unity with him in his determination not to let terrorists sow divisions in society. It is an example much to be admired.