While Europe slept

It’s sad when an event of an entirely predictable nature causes supposedly serious observers to have to change fundamentally their line. The only thing sadder would be for such observers not to change it. The reaction of Le Monde to the Madrid bombings fits in the first, less sad, category. The great arbiter of all things “world” intones:
“If the trail back to Al-Qaida is confirmed, Europeans should rethink the war against Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, as did the United States after the attacks of September 11, 2001. . . . Will March 11 have in Europe the same effect as September 11 in the US? After having spontaneously expressed their solidarity with the Americans, the Europeans, preoccupied with other forms of terrorism, found that the Americans had become consumed with paranoia. Contrary to the latter in 2001, Europeans today discover not only their own vulnerability, but also that they are confronted with a new phenomenon, mass terrorism. Like the Americans, they may now be forced to admit that a new form of world war has been declared, not against Islam but against totalitarian and violent fundamentalism. That the world’s democracies are confronted with the same menace and should act together, using military means and waging at the same time a war for their ideals.”
Not bad. But why do the consequences Le Monde cites follow only if the “the trail back to Al-Qaida is confirmed.” Does anyone imagine that the Islamic terrorists do not intend to carry out these sorts of attacks in Europe even if it turns out (against the odds) that the 3/11 attacks were solely the work of Basques? And why, for that matter, should Europe’s line on how to fight terrorism be contingent on whether Islamic terrorists are currently targeting Europe?
Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan.

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