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 Duane Hanson’s “Tourists”
Saatchi Gallery
Chelsea, London

Oh dear, oh dear. After several days of will they, wont they, the US State Department has strained to deliver ……well this anodyne gnat of a non item.

After any number of “leaks” and rather overly loud discussions designed to be heard everywhere, disagreements internally and complaints from abroad, the US State Department has decided that travellers to Europe should “Take care when they are in public spaces”.  Like one doesn’t even when one’s at home yes?

They further urge tourists to “be aware of their surroundings” which I rather thought was the point of tourism.  Further we are told that “terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target official and private interests”  No shit?  I mean really?  And I waited all these years to be told this now?  Wow.

Perhaps they’d better add in the need to watch out for the traffic, or that you can’t be too careful of the water, you should never eat the fruit as it all has worms, and whatever you do, don’t trust British dentistry.

 What is all this rubbish about?

The warning, if such weak and milky pap, as this can be called a warning, comes at a lower level than a “Formal Warning”.  A Formal Warning is a real warning about a real threat. 

And this is where it gets interesting.  Had it been a Formal Warning then anyone looking to travel to the area affected (the whole of Europe!) would have been hard pressed to get insurance.  Any business looking to send staff over would have been without cover.  And at any time there are thousands of businessmen, students, tourists etc wandering all over Europe.  Without specifics like “don’t even think of going to Ruritania “ or the city of say “Stench in eastern Poland” this blanket bans gets real complicated real fast, and lots of people and companies state side come down on the administration quick time.  It would hack off your “allies” too if suddenly because of an unquantified scare they start to lose hotel bookings and tourist dollars.  So, they issue this dumbed down piece of nonsense instead.

Now a number of sites have been speculating for some weeks that Obama would be trying to play the Terrorism card in the weeks running up to the midterms.  Looks like that’s just what he has gone and done.  Its all to do with home and this “warning” is an attempt to deflect attention from his lacklustre performance with the economy, and also partly to buoy himself up as a firm Military leader taking on “the enemy” and protecting poor hapless Americans wandering about Europe.  A rally round the flag job, a now-is-not-the-time-to-be-rocking-the-boat-voting-Republican stance.  Stick with me folks we’ll get through it. 

My advice?  If you are coming over, have a great time.  But if you voted Bush you might choose to not to mention the fact.  And if it all gets too, too scary, just say you’re Canadian.

Copyright David Macadam 2010