Has ‘Old Europe’ Lost Its Will

Gail tipped me off to this article. I think that there is some food for thought in it. As customary here are a few selections and comments on Shoring Up the Western Front:

“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.

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4 Comments

  1. Jack's Shack July 26, 2005 at 9:17 pm

    I find the expression “Old Europe” offensive. It’s intended to belittle and dismiss people who disagree with the USA.

    Hi Q,

    You are correct. It is intended to do those things. It really isn’t the smartest way of arguing, but for me it comes from a place of frustration. As I said earlier Europe has a long and dirty history not to mention a short memory of their actions.

    It’s a tactical error to dismiss opposing points of view without giving them due consideration. If the Americans had listened to their European cousins instead of invading Iraq, the geopolitical reality would be much different than it is today.

    Q,

    I agree that it makes sense to give time to really consider opposing points of view, but I am not totally on board regarding your points about the Europeans. There are a lot of dirty hands here. Many of the members of the UNSEC were involved with Saddam/Iraq in ways that were questionable. The entire issue regarding the corruption of the UN Oil for Food program makes me wonder about whether it would make sense to listen to them.
    Were any of them really going to say anything that would hurt their cash cow.

    You know my views on Iraq; I think it was a huge setback for the war against terrorism. Remember that the USA had the sympathy of the world after 9/11, and squandered much of it by taking the decision to go into Iraq.

    You and I disagree about this and that is ok. I don’t think that it is appropriate to measure the success of the war on terror based upon the opinions of the world regarding the US. I don’t have a lot of faith in the general humanity in that we have seen countries (my own included) watch genocidal maniacs slaughter others without any interference.

    Popularity is good for getting elected but not as good for getting things done.


    I particularly object to this statement: Without the United States, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq would be terrorist-controlled nations.

    Ok, I can accept that. No argument needed.


    There was no cooperation between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden or al-Qaeda. The USA did not deliver us from a terrorist government in Iraq. Iraq may become a terrorist state if the USA can’t complete the job adequately. But it wasn’t a terrorist state before the USA invaded it.

    Ok, here is where engage a question of philosophy. T For the sake of this discussion I’ll elminate any conjecture about whether there was an existing relationship band and focus on something else. There is evidentiary support that suggests that Saddam and Osama might have worked together. There is universal consensus that OBL and AQ are ready and willing to utilize whatever weapons they may acquire.

    So one could make an argument that it is important to prevent that from happening, hence it is time for Saddam to go. Clearly you can respond with arguments about this not being the spoken reason why we went into Iraq. I am not arguing that. I also agree that it is critical that the USA and allies finish the job to prevent more chaos in Iraq.

    Tony Blair did a good job of outlining much of this today. http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/europe/07/26/london.politicians/index.html\

    As long as the USA continues to rehearse arguments that have been exposed as false, they will continue to alienate potential supporters in other countries.

    And Kuwait? The rest of the world is supposed to thank the USA for delivering us from a terrorist state in Kuwait? What errant nonsense!

    No reason to spend much time on these points, so let me focus on this. I’d like to see Bush work on his diplomacy, but I would also like to see people not react so strongly to simple comments. There is a lot of hysteria and it doesn’t serve any of us well.

    P.S. Not that it matters, but as someone who is not a fan of Bush it irks me to have to defend him.

  2. Stephen (aka Q) July 26, 2005 at 5:48 pm

    I find the expression “Old Europe” offensive. It’s intended to belittle and dismiss people who disagree with the USA.

    It’s a tactical error to dismiss opposing points of view without giving them due consideration. If the Americans had listened to their European cousins instead of invading Iraq, the geopolitical reality would be much different than it is today.

    You know my views on Iraq; I think it was a huge setback for the war against terrorism. Remember that the USA had the sympathy of the world after 9/11, and squandered much of it by taking the decision to go into Iraq.

    I particularly object to this statement: Without the United States, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq would be terrorist-controlled nations.

    Iraq was a terrorist-controlled nation prior to the US invasion? Not at all! It was under a despicable despot, sure — so are lots of countries that the USA has no intention of invading.

    There was no cooperation between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden or al-Qaeda. The USA did not deliver us from a terrorist government in Iraq. Iraq may become a terrorist state if the USA can’t complete the job adequately. But it wasn’t a terrorist state before the USA invaded it.

    As long as the USA continues to rehearse arguments that have been exposed as false, they will continue to alienate potential supporters in other countries.

    And Kuwait? The rest of the world is supposed to thank the USA for delivering us from a terrorist state in Kuwait? What errant nonsense!

    However, I must apologize for concentrating on the worst aspect of the article you quoted. There are other points at which I agree.

    I have no sympathy with the extreme left-wing, anti-Israel, pro-appeasement position of France. I don’t know what it will take to shake that nation out of its stupor. In the meantime, they are utterly useless as an ally in this very real war.

    And the stats on the views of British Muslims are apalling.
    Q

  3. Jack's Shack July 26, 2005 at 3:58 pm

    Hi Ubermilf.

    I disagree with you about a few things. For the most part Europe has ignored the attacks perpetrated by Muslim terrorists. They have written them off as having been committed by people who have some kind of legitmate grievance.

    That longer memory you speak of reeks of bloodshed. Two world wars, crusades, the Inquisition, colonialism, slavery and a host of other niceties show me that they should have learned but for the most part did not.

    I am tired of them tut tutting and poo poohing our policies because they think that they are morally superior. They are not.

    I agree with you that they need to employ a careful strategy and understand the distances. I have flown from London to Israel and it is a short trip.

    All that being said I think that it is dangerous to let them play ‘Chamberlain.’

    I hope that you are right that there is more going on beneath the surface.

  4. Ãœbermilf July 26, 2005 at 3:44 pm

    I don’t think we can accuratly guage Europe’s real feelings by their outward actions or public announcements.

    I have two thoughts to consider:
    1. Europe has dealt with Muslim attacks before, and she has a much longer memory than America. These muslim nations are also much closer geographically to Europe than we realize; I read that Bagdad was as close to Paris as Chicago is to Seattle. They must employ careful strategy, I think.
    2. We Americans wear our hearts on our sleeves and announce our true thoughts, feelings and intentions. Europe has traditionally held its cards closer to its vest. Who knows for sure what they’re thinking/planning?

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