The bomb attack and shootings in Norway today are shocking but a reminder that we are far too quick to assign blame to an external threat. Twitter and some radio broadcasts were abuzz with speculation that there was some sort of Islamic or al-Qaeda involvement, perhaps understandable given recent arrests in the country but speculation that ultimately turned out to be far from the mark. Reuters even compiled a list of likely suspects, although it looks now as if the man responsible was Norwegian with no Islamist ties.

That the country was reportedly unprepared for a terrorist attack is a moot point. This is Norway, a country with one of the highest standards of living in the world and a country that has no real geo-political conflicts despite membership of NATO and some activity in Afghanistan and Libya. It is, many would say, a great place. The point is that someone who wants to cause havoc and death can and will find a way.

World leaders have issued very similar statements, condemning the attacks and expressing disgust (as they should). But statements like that aren’t going to solve anything or prevent similar attacks. The Norwegian prime minister put it best when he said:

Our answer is more democracy, more openness to show that we will not be stopped by this kind of violence. At the same time we shouldn’t be naive, we should understand that violence can attack our society – we’ve seen that today.

We could all learn from that.

For some photos of the aftermath, visit Norway News.

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