Philips O’Brien, Professor of Strategic Studies for the School of International Relations at the University of St Andrews, has issued a statement following last night’s suicide attack in Manchester.
Professor O’Brien is an expert on US foreign policy in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Last night, a lone male suicide attacker set off a homemade bomb in the foyer of the Manchester Arena at 22:33 BST on Monday at the end of a concert by US singer Ariana Grande.
It is the worst terrorist attack in the UK since the 7 July bombings in 2005 in which 52 people were killed.
Professor O’Brien stated, “The tragic attack in Manchester is not the first and it will not be the last.
“If, as it seems likely, the deadly explosion at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester last night turns out to be the work of a suicide bomber, we should mourn the dead, help the injured, counsel the grieved and not do anything stupid”.
“The tragic attack in Manchester is not the first and it will not be the last.”
He continued, “What the last decade and a half have shown is that these events are now part of life, not just in major western cities such as Paris, Berlin, Boston or London, but throughout the world in Mumbai, Lagos or Hotan.
“What they are not, are incidents whose likelihood (or not) is related to some instant response or lashing out”.
An emergency number, 0161 856 9400, has been set up to help victims as well as families and friends following the attack.
Continuing with his urge against retaliation, Prof O’Brien stated, “What can be argued, however, is that instant military response or immediate escalation of violence in reaction to these attacks has achieved little or nothing, and might even be counterproductive.
“Over the last 15 years, the United States, the United Kingdom and their allies have waged an ongoing war, with moments of escalation and extreme force, and yet the ‘enemy’ adapts, changes shape and continues to attack.”
“So mourn, yes. Condemn, yes. But let’s not start dropping bombs because it makes us feel we must do something.”
Prof O’Brien further asserted, “what we must always keep in mind is that we in the west live lives of extraordinary safety in relative and historical terms.
“These incidents are terrible, and they happen with what seems to be a drip-drip regularity. However, they lead to a very small number of deaths compared to the most mundane of activities.
“In the United States it was recently calculated that over the last 20 years (including the attacks on 9/11) Americans were more likely to be killed by lightning, or indeed by their own clothes melting or igniting, than by a terrorist attack launched by a non-US citizen.”
Concluding his analysis, Prof O’Brien stated, “So mourn, yes. Condemn, yes. But let’s not start dropping bombs because it makes us feel we must do something.”
In a statement in Downing Street, the prime minister, Theresa May, said it was “now beyond doubt that the people of Manchester and of this country have fallen victim to a callous terrorist attack” that targeted “defenceless young people.”
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