It would appear that Europe is becoming “terrorism central” according to this entry at Strategypage.com. (Post dated February 4, 2005.)
Most people consider the Middle East to be the place where terrorist organizations find sanctuary and support. But SP points out that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for terrorists to operate there, not least because of anti-terrorism efforts by the governments in the region.
(As an aside, why are regimes in the ME cracking down on terrorists? The reasons are legion, but one that’s not getting enough attention is that they’re afraid to get on the bad side of the US. Another benefit of Pres. Bush’ policy of considering those who support terrorism as being enemies in the War on Terror.)
One place that’s becoming a major sanctuary for terrorists is Europe.
The reasons aren’t surprising to those who read the blogs. Europe has a large (and growing) Islamic immigrant population. Anti-Americanism is rampant in European media, and it’s a useful political tool for any party trying to get some votes. The generous Socialist welfare programs that the Europeans are so proud of have the result of supporting a population of young disaffected men who are sympathetic to terrorist recruiters.
But I think the most significant reason that Europe is becoming the new breeding ground for terrorists and their organizations is that most European cultures actively discourage assimilation.
This is definitely a problem, and one to which the Europeans should pay more attention. So far the American news media has focused on efforts which were clearly asinine, such as the French law which bans the wearing of headscarves or other items of dress with religious meaning. But more promising programs have been missed.
The main reason why they’re interested in doing this is due to the fact that Germany has a sizable immigrant population from Turkey. Germany is Turkey’s biggest ally in their efforts to join the European Union, and the German media has been working very hard to encourage native Germans to accept Turkish immigrants.
But there are still problems. One of the most controversial measures is a new law which will force immigrants to learn the German language. Those which oppose the law say that it’s racist to force people to accept elements of a culture if they don’t want to, and that it’s an attempt to destroy cultural identity.
I live in America, which is a land mostly comprised of immigrants. Here we’re exposed to elements from more cultures than anyplace else on Earth, and I’m convinced that every society has something positive to contribute. Even so, I don’t think that requiring someone to learn the language of a new home country is a bad idea. In fact, I think it’s a great first step, and it’s a darn sight better than banning head scarves.
The main question is: Will efforts like these aid or hinder terrorist efforts to find recruits and support? The answer is that it probably will be the most significant factor in eroding support for the terrorists, but it will take a very long time to see any results. Decades, at least. And progress will be so incremental that it will be difficult to measure. But that’s the nature of the war that’s been thrust upon us, and we just have to try our best.