But then I read this article from The Register, which managed to put into words exactly what I'd been thinking all along.
We're giving these guys too much credit.
Frankly, if this kind of thing is the only backlash the West experiences for Iraq, we've got off pretty much scot-free: we should indulge in a spot of military adventurism any time we feel like it.There's a lot more on the site, and it's worthwhile to read it all, even if it's just as a counterpoint to all the hysteria bullshit that's even being spread in the US.
Conversely, if this is all al-Qaeda have to offer, we should never have lost a moment's sleep over them - let alone shoved our valuable appendages into the military meat-grinder of Afghanistan (I'm choosing to assume here that al-Qaeda only became a serious presence in Iraq after we invaded the place. Argue among yourselves as to whether Saddam was more or less threatening than Osama).
Getting back to here and now, these have to be some of the most pathetic terror attacks ever - difficult to distinguish from minor accidents. For goodness' sake, a car is full of petrol anyway; and gas cylinders too often enough. People drive cylinders of gas around all the time. Now and again - oh my god! - they probably carry boxes of nails, bolts, tools or whatever in the same vehicle. (Aiee!)
Sometimes these fiends crash their cars, and sometimes the vehicles burn out. It's one of the costs of living in the industrial world; if people couldn't get fuel - portable energy - easily enough to have accidents with it, most of us would still be dirt-poor, illiterate, shovelling muck for a living and dying like flies from disease - rather than dying very rarely in car crashes or gas explosions.
This kind of event happens on the motorways almost every day, at least the petrol fires and often enough with the other hazards added. The roads get closed off as a result, sometimes for hours - just like the Haymarket did on Friday morning. It causes massive inconvenience to lots and lots of people.
But the perimeter is manned by firemen and traffic cops, not bomb teams and terror-feds. And so this weekend a minor news story - one injured in bunt-out car / suicide attempt causes travel chaos - becomes a big international media frenzy, a "test of the new Prime Minister's mettle," if you please.