A sense of proportion is something we can all bring to the struggle against terrorism
We cannot rely forever on the incompetence of our enemies but we should enjoy it while it lasts. The bucket bomb on a London tube this morning was undoubtedly intended to kill and maim as many people as possible. That it failed does not diminish the malevolence of its makers. It was no more discriminating than the lorries and cars driven into crowds around Europe this past year have been; in a horrible way it was even more nihilistic than the abominable Manchester bombing, which targeted music lovers, whom some perversions of Islam would see as sinners. But it failed. Shocking and frightening though the experience of the tube passengers must have been, it could have been very much worse.
By now, the responses to these attempted atrocities is well practised. The politicians express shock and disapproval, the police get on with their work, the commenters of all shades of opinion prepare the pieces explaining why this has proved them right all along and – in this year’s development – President Trump says something crass and unhelpful. As is always the case with his tweets, there is no way of knowing whether what he claimed is actually true: did Scotland Yard have the perpetrator under surveillance? If it had been true, he would have once more been guilty of tweeting out classified intelligence just as he did after the Manchester bombings. But it seems to be just another example of his capacity for quick-witted confabulation. It’s notable, though, that Mr Trump’s tweets drew a public rebuke from the prime minister and from the Metropolitan police, who both called his remarks “unhelpful”. It’s another example of the growing lack of trust in his judgment. That is not a result of any terrorist campaign, effective or otherwise.