I hate to say I was proved right here but I was.
Lets us for a moment assume that screening for those boarding aircraft is 100% perfect and that no bomb ever gets on a plane. Well…
It also occurs to me that security opera is bad for safety. Let’s assume that these vicious measures prevent bombs on planes (which they won’t). They will only do so by making areas around departure gates epically crowded and utterly chaotic. You say “Allahu Akbar!” and set-off your rucksack nail bomb at the checkpoint you will kill plenty.
So the Domodedovo bomb wasn’t at a departure gate but in arrivals but the same principle applies. You don’t need to get on the plane to cause carnage. Essentially the sort of screening we have now is the equivalent to fitting your front door with a tedious collection of bolts and deadlocks whilst leaving the back door wide open. It is that simple and obviously the terrorists have clocked that fact. It was only a matter of time.
Medvedev has of course made all the usual noises about “improved” airport security which I guess means a few more blokes wandering land-side of airports with AK-47s. I say “usual” because if this had happened at Gatwick or Frankfurt then Cameron or Merkel would say and do exactly the same – only this time the blokes would have Heckler & Kochs. I doubt this would act as more than a mild deterrent to “rational” terrorists and would be none whatsoever to suicide ones.
The question has to be asked as to where security resources are allocated. I would be happier if they let us fly in peace rather than go through the unpleasantness of the security opera and instead re-allocated resources to intelligence led operations to disrupt and catch terrorists. From a strategic point of view this is a widening of the defensive perimeter. It will never be a perfect perimeter – no perimeter ever can be – but I suspect it would be at least as effective without putting the rest of us through hell.
Psychologically this would have two linked effects. The first is that surely the only people who enjoy watching the security opera are the Jihadi overlords*? It must warm the cockles of their cold dark hearts to see what their actions have “forced” us to inflict upon ourselves. The measure of the success of a terrorist campaign is by definition not in terms of body bags but in terms of fear. Secondly it is an offensive, proactive move and not a defensive, reactive one and that should make the terrorists afraid. Not least because whilst there might be a certain deranged glory in being thwarted at the target there is no glory in being yanked out of bed at 4am by the rozzers in you underpants. That certainly makes Ahmed look more a pussy cat of Jihad than a lion does it not? Because then it’s not so much a glorious failure as an inglorious almost tried. Ultimately it’s the psychology of offence versus defence. In footballing terms it’s called, “keeping them under the cosh”. Keep the pressure up and keep the ball in their half as much as possible. That is much more dispiriting for a team than sticking most of your players in your own six-yard box.
Essentially it comes down to who feels under attack. That’s a psychological game changer.
*And certain demented control freaks who conduct such operas.