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Is Old Europe finally learning?

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Well-known member
Feb 14, 2005
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Southern SD
Shoring Up the Western Front
Is Old Europe finally learning that it must join the global war on terror?

Monday, July 25, 2005 12:01 a.m.

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.

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.

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."

The terrorist strategy may have changed, but the objective remains the same. Al Qaeda understands that in the end the United States is what matters. The United Nations is irresolute and corrupt, and important European nations are indecisive and vulnerable. So drive the United States from the Middle East, establish control of all its nations, and then force the Western European nations to appease and accept an Islamic, theocratic global society.

Combating terrorism is thus the modern version of war--no huge armies, but nevertheless a real war--and winning this war is no less important to global freedom than winning the World War II and the Cold War.

America can win the war against terrorism, but it will take time and resources and a considerable intellectual effort. The Bush administration will continue to provide military and intelligence resources, but it must also continue the intellectual debate.

Like Old Europe, liberal America is bothered by principled international positions. "The Right Nation," by Adrian Wooldridge and John Micklethwait, points out that liberals were "nervous about moral absolutes, preferring to see the world in shades of grey. After Sept. 11, liberal academics looked for reasons to explain al Qaeda: Was it the product of racism? Of economic injustice? Of American policies in the Middle East?" In his presidential campaign Howard Dean, now national Democratic Party chairman, said our "pre-emptive war is wrong for America"; and liberal leader Sen. Ted Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, said that "the U.S. presence [in Iraq] is part of the problem, not part of the solution."

President Bush better understands the reality, for as he said at West Point in 2002, "the war on terror will not be won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy . . . the only path to safety is the path of action. And this nation will act." He must continue to make the case, for to appease rather than oppose the enemy will lose the war against terrorism.

The good news is we will likely have more international allies in the future. British Prime Minister Tony Blair said after the July 7th London terrorist attack that "What we are confronting here is an evil ideology . . . a battle not just about their terrorist methods, but their views. Not just about their barbaric acts, but their barbaric ideas." After the attack that came the following week, England will be making the case more aggressively.
Old Europe may currently be opposed to both democratic capitalism and a war against terrorism, but that could now change as people begin to see that controlled economies and socialist policies actually make it more difficult to fight off the terrorists who are attacking not just the United States, but them as well. Thus Angela Merkel, a free market Thatcherite and potential American anti-terrorism ally, may well defeat Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democratic Party in Germany's September elections. It is too soon to say that continental Europe has abandoned its pro-Saddam/anti-American foreign policies and socialist economic policies, but there is movement in that direction.

And that will help the world fight the global war against Islamic terrorism. The war will be long--a 50 year religious war says the father of Mohamed Atta, the terrorist who flew the first plane into the World Trade Center--and for some time America may have to fight on nearly alone. But terrorism is slowly changing European thinking, and that will help Americans and the people of the world win an essential victory in advancing the freedom that will insure a better future for people of every nation.
Mr. du Pont, a former governor of Delaware, is chairman of the Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis. His column appears once a month.

Copyright © 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
"But terrorism is slowly changing European thinking".

An excellent article and surely hope Pete DuPont's quote above proves true though the fact that their thinking is changing so slowly is incomprehensible.

I find it hard to believe "the BBC forbids the use of the term terrorist when covering the London attacks" and will have to listen more closely to their broadcasts.