Anthony Lane focuses on the weapons used in Woolwich:
There is a particular horror associated with low-grade or homemade violence of this kind. The bombs used in the attack on the Boston Marathon were, as has become clear, frighteningly easy to construct; but there remains something hideous about the use of weapons that are, to other people, barely weapons at all, but household or kitchen implements. That was true of the box-cutters used by the hijackers on 9/11, and it is no less true, though of course on a far smaller scale, of the blades employed [yesterday].
Cheap weaponry is also likely to cause concern to the security services; you can track the purchase and handling of explosives, but how on earth do you prevent someone from buying a few steak knives at a hardware store or a supermarket? Why should such a purchase even come to your attention?
The ordinariness and randomness of the act – requiring no gun or bomb – is what makes its terror so powerful. But it also, it seems to me, backfires massively against the perpetrators. The barbarism of hacking a human being’s body to pieces in the middle of the street cannot possibly win any converts to the cause, and will not prompt stoic Brits to see the world from the Pakistani Islamist’s point of view.
It’s nihilism. Which will, in due course, annihilate itself – as it has done even in largely Muslim countries like Iraq and Jordan, which saw al Qaeda up close and rightly recoiled. We should not feel fear of these lunatics. We should feel a form of baffled contempt. This is a form of human behavior that belongs in the dark ages.