Counter-Terrorism: July 25, 2005

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The recent Islamic terrorist bombings in Britain have brought to the surface an ugly European tradition, appeasement, that many Europeans would rather not confront. The idea of, somehow, making a deal with Islamic radicals like al Qaeda has been very popular in Europe. Nations there have made deals with terrorists before, and many European nations (including Britain) currently offer asylum to hundreds of terrorists and their families. 

When London was getting bombed by German aircraft in 1940, Britons were very much aware that, only two years earlier, their government had tried to accommodate (appeases) their fascist foes in Germany and Italy. Appeasement didnt work, as the fascists kept coming. Its not that appeasement never works, sometimes it does. Over the last few century, Europe has witnessed dozens of instances of successful appeasement. Others might just describe all this as adroit diplomacy, but were really talking about bullies being bought off by potential victims. 

Al Qaeda turned out to be one of those foes, like the fascists, who werent looking for a deal, they wanted it all. Its always a good idea to check out bullies first, to find out if they are into this conquer the world thing. For if they are, appeasement is not likely to work, especially in the long run. Many Europeans got their personal politics (irritation over Democrats losing power to Republicans) mixed up with their counter-terrorism efforts in the last five years. While the September 11, 2001 attacks was shocking to Europeans, they also felt that they were immune. After all, Europe provided asylum, and generous social benefits, to Islamic terrorists on the run from prosecution in their home countries. This was a delusion, as Islamic radicals openly mocked the smugness of Europeans, while also calling for the establishment of Islamic rule in Europe. Many European intelligence agencies saw what was coming, but the media and politicians were setting the agenda, an agenda that was more concerned with scoring points against American efforts, than paying attention to what was going on in their midst. The net result was that, while America was at war with Islamic terrorists, Europe was still trying to negotiate. 

Sometimes appeasement works, but not this time. 

 


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