|Troops patrol an empty city (Photo: newsworldindia.com)|
Brussels is in Day 3 of lockdown. Schools are closed, the metro is not running, armed troops patrol almost deserted streets and people have been advised not to congregate and - preferably - to stay indoors. All this follows "intelligence" that the murderous Isil thugs planned attacks in Brussels similar to those in Paris.
Of course, one can't expect the Belgian government to tell the world exactly what intelligence they have received or how they obtained it, but I remember our government claiming to have intelligence that Saddam Hussain had weapons of mass destruction. I hope this latest intelligence is more accurate that was that!
But doesn't locking down the city play into the hands of the terrorists? Is it not part of their planning to instill fear everywhere? It seems to me that by closing schools and offices and shutting down the metro, the Belgian authorities have been spreading alarm and despondency among the population.
On the other hand, if the authorities had not taken this action but simply put more police and armed troops on the streets, they would have been blamed if there had been terrorist attacks. A clear case of damned if you do, damned if you don't.
It was, perhaps, not on the same scale, but I recall the days, weeks and months when we expected the IRA to plant bombs in London - in addition to the ones they did plant. People went about their daily lives as usual, albeit with a little more care about potential suspect packages and litter bins were taken off the streets.
It's easy for me to say it, safe as I am in Brighton, but I do tend to think that it would have been better for the Belgians to say simply, "Keep calm and carry on".