politics, history and the war on terror
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Europe's Excuses 

In today’s New York Post, Amir Taheri explains why European nations are reluctant to seriously fight terrorism. Mr. Taheri offers three obvious reasons as to why fighting terror is not high on Europe’s agenda:

1) Many Western leaders can't free themselves from the philosophy of "One man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter."

2) Many nations are tempted to obtain an opt-out from the terrorist threat.

3) Many of the Western elite believe that terrorists can be weaned away from their evil ways through negotiations.

These are excellent points, but Mr. Taheri is too kind. There are three other main reasons Europe is reluctant to fight terrorism:

4) Europe does not possess the capabilities to project power outside of its borders to fight terrorism. Despite the fact that the combined nations of Europe have a greater population and GDP compared to the United States, their combined expenditures on defense is less than half of the United States Due to the massive cost of their expansive welfare states, Europe cannot afford to invest in its defense. Because of this, Europe is dependent on the US to fight outside its region. This is something Europe loathes to do.

5) Europe does not have the will to fight. Sixty years of living under the umbrella of American protection against the Soviet threat has made Europe soft. They are dependent on negotiations and dialog to resolve problems, as this is the way problems are solved within the European community. The active use of force is viewed as something practiced by uncivilized nations. Europe had to be prodded by the US to get involved in the unrest in Bosnia and Kosovo, and even then the commitment is weak at best.

6) Europe does not wish to offend its large Muslim population. Due to low birth rates among native Europeans, there has been a massive influx of Muslim migrants from Africa and the Middle East to fill the low wage jobs Europeans are unwilling to work. The populations tend to remain within their own communities and do not assimilate within the established European culture. The communities tend to be very vocal and practice radical forms of Islam. The outcry over the ban of headscarves in public schools in France is one example of how these communities influence the policies of their host nations.

This is not to say that all European countries are unwilling to fight terrorism. The United Kingdom, Poland and many of the former Soviet Block states have been strong allies in the War on Terror. They have done this in the face of strong domestic opposition, however, as majorities in these nations oppose cooperating with the US to fight the WoT. As the events in Spain have demonstrated, these governments are but one election away from giving up the fight.

Posted by bill roggio @ 1:33 PM