Opinion: Europe in the Terror Trap | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 16.07.2005
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Opinion: Europe in the Terror Trap

Last week's London bombings have sent politicians scrambling to step up security. But, the only way Europe can defend itself against terrorism is by being honest and adopting a smarter foreign policy.


What can Europe do to prevent this?

EU politicians meeting in Brussels this week once again had a taste of their own powerlessness -- it seems there is no protection from fanatic suicide bombers.

It doesn't matter how many surveillance cameras and phone taps later supply crucial data that can help to track down the perpetrators -- unfortunately they don't help to prevent attacks by self-appointed jehadis.

What can the EU do? What can we do?

Integration has failed

Western societies can be honest to themselves and admit that their approach to integration until now has failed. That's because the London bombers were British citizens and from all we know so far, integrated into British society. Yet, they wanted to destroy that very same society.

The Muslim environment that the young men grew up in either didn't recognize the warning signs of an increasing radicalization or they didn't alert the authorities to it.

The only thing that remains to be done is step up surveillance. Should spies and undercover agents infiltrate Muslim minorities as demanded by Günther Beckstein, Bavarian interior minister?

After all, it seems that tolerance towards extreme Islamic views wasn't a good idea: Great Britain and even Spain were for decades breeding grounds for hate-preachers who could, under the cloak of liberal freedom of expression, incite people to wage war against the non-believers.

Caving in to terrorist demands?

Representatives of the Muslim community in Britain believe the deeper reasons behind the terror lie in the ongoing Palestinian conflict, the war against the Taliban and the conflict in Iraq.

If one were to give in to that argument, then Europe would have to more clearly side with the Palestinians, withdraw its troops from Afghanistan and Iraq and condemn US policy in the Middle East to protect itself from terrorist attacks in the long term.

That may help but it is politically unrealistic.

It would be a victory for the terrorists, who unfortunately have already achieved much through their tactics. Their attacks haven't just claimed 54 lives in London so far, but they're also forcing Europe and the US to invest unbelievable amounts of personnel, political energy and money in the fight against terror.

A smarter foreign policy

Europe can't seal itself off from immigrants, it can't isolate Muslim minorities and it also can't protect itself against radical suicide bombers with walls, the way Israel is attempting to.

What remains is a long, arduous and risk-riddled way: We need a smarter foreign policy that would lead to an end to the Middle East conflict.

Moderate, Muslim nations have to be supported in building their economies in order to offer a perspective to the rapidly swelling number of unemployed youth.

The US and Europeans who invaded Iraq must be honest about the fact that the country has become a recruiting bazaar for future terrorist generations. That has to be stopped. Preventive wars, that only make everything worse, should not be waged anymore.

On the other hand, there's a need for immense efforts to find the masterminds of terror in Afghanistan and Iraq, the bin Ladens and Zarkawis, and to dispose them.

Many people in Europe are at a loss as to how to go on and how to balance freedom and the right to defend oneself. We've fallen into the terror trap.

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