From our editorial that day:
Britain is not “burning with fear and terror,” as the group claiming to have murdered these innocent people alleges on an Islamist website. That allegation represents what the terrorists hope and calculate will be the response of its victims. The victory of the Spanish socialists in last year’s general election, two days after the Madrid bombing, at least seemed to validate that calculation. Spain withdrew its troops from Iraq shortly afterward in what the terrorists inevitably concluded was a concession suing for peace. Nothing like that has happened in Britain. In addition to the self-disciplined response of Londoners on the spot, the remarks of Prime Minister Blair, opposition Tory leaders, and other public figures have all struck a note of determined defiance.
No doubt, politics as usual will return after a time and those opposed to the Iraq war will cite today’s events as a consequence of the Anglo-American invasion. Democracy is about fierce and unrestricted debates over even the most sensitive topics. But the sensible center of British politics—not the Liberal Democrats but the right of the Labour party and the mainstream of the Tories—is likely to hold firm in the face of these arguments and to demand even firmer prosecution of the war against terrorism. Merely holding firm, however, is not enough.
What Britain and America need are some clear and visible victories in this war—terrorist groups broken up, would-be assassins captured and incarcerated, terrorist leaders tried and either imprisoned indefinitely or executed. Wars are not won by responding bravely to attacks from the other side, but by inflicting defeats on them.
Today the terrorists scored a typically vile success, but they were denied a victory by the courage of our allies. Now we know—indeed, we never doubted—that Britain can take it. But Britain and America have to show that we can also dish it out.