The End of Europe’s Dangerous Delusion

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Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in Brussels, for which the Islamic State claimed responsibility, ought to serve as a wakeup call, as if another were needed, that the continent can no longer shelter itself under America’s security blanket.

During the Cold War, Europeans were able to entertain silly ideas like unilateral nuclear disarmament because they ultimately knew, whether they acknowledged it or not, that it was American force of arms protecting them from Russian aggression. Likewise, when the Soviet Union collapsed and genocide in the Balkans threatened to imperil Europe’s harmonious convergence, it was America that led the charge in stopping the killing.

And after Islamic terrorists struck New York and Washington on 9/11, many Europeans were comforted by (what they thought to be) the logic of the attackers, believing that American “arrogance” was at fault. Europe, they naively presumed, would be spared such carnage, having long ago dispensed with colonialism.

Of course, as events in the capital of the European Union demonstrate, the scourge of radical Islamist terror spares no nation. These are but the latest in a series of spectacular, mass-casualty Islamist killings in Europe that began with the 2004 Madrid bombings, followed by attacks the following summer in the London Underground, and continued with two attacks in Paris last year.

By the time you read this, I’m sure some self-flagellating columnist or left-wing talking head will have dredged up the most horrific stories from Belgium’s bloody imperial history as means of explaining “the root causes” of Tuesday’s massacre. But as the frequency of these malicious assaults increases, I get the feeling that most Europeans will come to understand what Americans and Israelis have long known: When it comes to radical Islam, it really isn’t about what we do (or have done), but who we are.

And while dwelling on King Leopold II’s century-old atrocities against the Congolese may be useless in making sense of Tuesday’s mass murder, the type of thinking that rushes to find excuses for each and every act of Islamist terror subtly informs present-day policymaking by inflicting a sort of paralysis.

For the fact is that ISIS has been growing right beneath Europe’s — and America’s — noses for years. And rather than do what is necessary to end this cancer, we employ a set of half measures and tell ourselves that terrorism is just an inevitable feature of living in a 21st century, liberal, Western society.

Contrast that weary resignation with Russia’s approach. Last fall, Vladimir Putin had a problem. His Syrian client Bashar Assad was losing ground to rebels in a civil war. Moscow has been a reliable ally of the Syrian regime since the Cold War, when the Soviets aided Bashar’s father in putting down a popular rebellion. And so when the younger Assad called upon Putin to help save him, Putin obliged.

After a five-month air campaign, Russia announced that it had “completely fulfilled” its mission of eliminating ISIS. This was a lie: ISIS is still standing strong, and defeating ISIS was never Russia’s priority. Saving Assad was its goal — and doing so has yielded an unexpected benefit. Putin wishes nothing more than to to see the West collapse. Since it is Assad’s barrel bombs and gunships that are responsible for creating the massive refugee crisis threatening to destabilize the continent, Putin’s intervention not only helped out a friend, it has weakened an enemy.

By contrast, the West has had multiple opportunities to use its considerable military and diplomatic might to shape events in Syria. But Europe is fearful of its shadow, and America, under President Obama, takes pride in doing next to nothing. It was fitting, then, that Obama would first address the terrorist attacks in Brussels while enjoying a baseball game with Cuban dictator Raul Castro. Enemies are so 20th century.

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