“Nov. 9, 1989, and Sept. 11, 2001, each changed the modern world. The fall of the Berlin Wall marked the end of 75 years of communism, and the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks the beginning of what may be a similar period of global Islamic terrorism.
But not all of Western civilization wants to fight this not so cold war. Turkey, fearing attacks by Muslim insurgents, ended its anti-terrorism efforts in 2003. Spain followed suit after the 2004 Madrid bombings. Then Hungary and the Netherlands also all but capitulated, even without any dramatic, world-attention grabbing, attacks on their soil. Now Italy says it will withdraw its forces from Iraq by year end.
Old Europe may be falling apart before our eyes. This is suggested by the opposition of Western Europeans to the American military action in Iraq as well as the defeat of the European Union Constitution in France and Holland last spring and the economic decline of European socialist economies. In any case, Old Europe has neither the political will nor the economic strength to combat terrorism. Without the United States, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq would be terrorist-controlled nations. Once again it will be up to America to defeat an assault on Western civilization, just as it was left to the United States to rescue Europe against Nazism and then against the global assualt of communism.”
I can’t say that I disagree with this, but I expect that such rhetoric is going to fall on deaf ears that will respond with accusations of jingoism and xenophobia and an overinflated sense of importance.
“Within the European continent thousands of trained terrorists live and travel freely. Historian Walter Laquer reports that security authorities estimate more than 600–perhaps several thousand–British residents are actual graduates of Osama bin Laden’s training camps. Dr. Hani al-Siba’i, the director of the al-Maqreze Centre for Historical Studies in London was quoted as approving of the subway bombings as a great victory, for it was legitimate to target civilians since “the term ‘civilians’ does not exist in Islamic law . . .” The Islamic fanatic who killed Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh told the court: “I acted purely in the name of my religion,” and that “one day, should I be set free, I would do the same, exactly the same . . .”
But none of this means continental Europeans or the British establishment are prepared to criticize terrorism. Christophe Chaboud, France’s antiterrorism coordinator, said last week that the war against Iraq–evidently not the blowing up of Spanish or British trains–is making Europe dangerous, and the BBC forbids the use of the word “terrorist” in its coverage of the London bombings.
France, Germany and their European allies believe the welfare state economic model–high taxes and welfare benefits, shorter work weeks, strong restrictions on hiring and firing of workers, huge government subsidies for industry and agriculture, and suffocating regulation by a massive bureaucracy in Brussels–is preferable to Anglo-American democratic capitalism and will lead to prosperity. But it hasn’t and it won’t, and without economic strength the military strength needed to fight terrorism becomes impossible to assemble.
Simply put, Old Europe’s thinking today is that of 1930s, when the Oxford Union voted “under no circumstances [to] fight for King and Country,” and British PM Neville Chamberlain believed appeasement should be the policy and “peace in our time” the goal. Winston Churchill had the better understanding: “You ask what is our aim? I can answer that in one word, victory at all costs, victory in spite of terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival.” He was talking of Hitler and Nazi Germany, of course, but without victory there will be no survival against Islamic terrorism either.”
A couple of remarks. First, the idea that there could be thousands of terrorists floating around is quite frightening. One of the questions that has always plagued me is just how many people out there are willing to kill themselves to murder others. Daniel Pipes has an interesting article in which he quotes a British government report that suggests there could be as many as 16,000 “British Muslims actively engaged in terrorist activity.”
He also cites a survey of 526 Muslims in Great Britain from this past month. Now I am not sure if the sample is large enough for my taste, but the results are relatively shocking.
The YouGov survey contains many other statistics that should interest, if not shock, Britons and other Westerners.
- Muslims who see the 7/7 bombing attacks in London as justified on balance: 6 percent.
- Who feel sympathy for the “feelings and motives” of those who carried out the 7/7 attacks: 24 percent.
- Understand “why some people behave in that way”: 56 percent.
- Disagree with Tony Blair’s description of the ideology of the London bombers as “perverted and poisonous”: 26 percent.
- Feel not loyal towards Britain: 16 percent.
- Agree that “Western society is decadent and immoral and that Muslims should seek to bring it to an end”: 32 percent willing to use non-violent means and (as noted above) 1 percent willing to use violence “if necessary.” Just 56 percent of Muslims agree with the statement that “Western society may not be perfect but Muslims should live with it and not seek to bring it to an end.”
- Agree that “British political leaders don’t mean it when they talk about equality. They regard the lives of white British people as more valuable than the lives of British Muslims”: 52 percent.
- Dismiss political party leaders as insincere when saying “they respect Islam and want to co-operate with Britain’s Muslim communities”: 50 percent.
- Doubt that anyone charged with and tried for the 7/7 attacks would receive a fair trial: 44 percent.
- Would not inform on a Muslim religious leader “trying to ‘radicalise’ young Muslims by preaching hatred against the West”: 10 percent.
- Do not think people have a duty to go to the police if they “see something in the community that makes them feel suspicious”: 14 percent.
- Believe other Muslims would be reluctant to go to the police “about anything they see that makes them suspicious”: 41 percent.
- Would inform the police if they believed they knew about the possible planning of a terrorist attack: 73 percent. (In this case, the Daily Telegraph did not make available the negative percentage.)
And now back to the original article:
“Meanwhile, the terrorist network has changed its focus, making the fighting of the war more complex. An al Qaeda planning document found by Norwegian intelligence in 2003 laid out its revised strategy: spectacular attacks like those of 9/11 against the United States need to be supplemented by attacks on European nations so they will withdraw their support of the Afghan and Iraqi military operations in order to increase the burden on the United States.
University of Chicago professor Robert Pape’s excellent New York Times piece of July 9th lays out its specifics: attack Britain, Poland, and Spain as the most vulnerable nations. “It is necessary to make the utmost use of the upcoming general election in Spain . . . we think the Spanish government could not tolerate more than two, maximum three, blows . . . then the victory of the Socialist Party is almost secured and the withdrawal of Spanish forces will be in the electoral program.” They hoped that would put “huge pressure on the British presence that Tony Blair might not be able to withstand, and hence the domino tiles would fall quickly.”
What I see here is another sign that Al Qaeda and company are not stupid people. They are not acting illogically. There is a logic and rationale to every move they make and it is shortsighted and foolish to try and apply our morals to it.
I think that it is important to understand their thought process so that we can more effectively combat them, but I would never want to underestimate their intelligence, patience and or will to fight. This is a long term battle and I really hope that more European nations will begin to see that this is not about building an empire or any other hegemonic dream.