Terror and Europe's Reaction

No country can accept these attacks and must strike back. And all our sympathies are with the killed, the other victims and their families and certainly not with the killers. But at the same time we have to look at the root causes of these dreadful deeds in order to prevent further killings.

 

The failures of military interventions

 

We must learn from the disasters of nearly all military interventions undertaken by the "West" - from Afghanistan to Iraq and Libya - and from the lack of a convincing strategy of supporting civil societies in these countries. In addition, the primitive attitude towards the uprising in Syria, not taking into account the special condition, leads to a human disaster. More and more we see the consequences today in the form of millions of refugees and terrorist attacks. It would be counterproductive, if the intellectual foreign and security experts would only speak about bombs, troops on the ground etc. But many do just that and are not ready to go deeper in their analysis.

 

How many innocent people have already been killed by US and some European interventions, how many cities have been destroyed? Nobody is really speaking about that. It is not about justifying what can never be justified by reasonable people. Terrorism against innocent citizens cannot be tolerated. But we must correct a course which at least contributes to these disasters in and for Europe.

 

If we would spend only part of the money spent in wars, on students exchange, training programs for apprentices, opening of our markets for the goods and services of our Mediterranean neighbors we would have created a nucleus of middle classes in the different Mediterranean countries. But stability was seen as old fashioned and we thought we can, we even must bring revolution and democracy to our neighbors by force.

 

Seeing clearer the intentions of our "allies"

 

Too long we have been very tolerant towards the Wahhabi interpretation of Islam coming from Saudi Arabia and some other Gulf countries. Many countries, especially also France, concentrated on Iran and saw in its government and in Assad the biggest enemies. And leading Turkish politicians could speak about ISIS as just "a gang of dissatisfied people "  and compare them to the PKK - without a strong reaction from NATO etc.

 

Yes we need Turkey for many issues - including stopping the slaughtering in Syria - and especially to establish peace. So we also need Saudi Arabia andIran. Only a balance of power can bring peace and not a one-sided support for one or the other regional power. And if we like Russia with Putin as its leader or not,  we have to talk to the Russian leadership and involve President Putin. As we know from history, we cannot always choose our allies in fighting against evil forces. And now we have a chance to reestablish constructive relations with Russia. And consequently we can more easily deal with existing conflicts like the one in Ukraine. But we should certainly not align ourselves to the way Putin is (and was) fighting terrorism in Chechnya. And we should not accept a "Russian" line in domestic security policy.

 

How many lives (also in Europe) we could have saved, if such a more balanced policy would have been implemented. The military reaction to the terrorists now must not prevent us from looking for a comprehensive and more balanced approach of the West. Many criticize President Obama for his reluctance to go into Syria with troops on the ground and his careful policy. But should we push him to another military disaster? We in Europe need a thorough reflection of the past military engagements and prepare a new strategy of civil support for the citizens instead of military engagement when it is too late. This transition is not easy with the old French combination of missionary intentions - expressed by many intellectuals - and the readiness to intervene military. But it is time to change the narrative. Peace in our neighbourhood could bring peace again to our countries.

 

 

Hannes Swoboda