Europe may not have fought any major wars since World War II, except for futile overseas deployments to hang on to way too expensive colonial empires, but that shouldn’t been mistaken for an inability to fight wars if necessary. In the more than forty years between the France-Prussian war and World War I, the European powers, for all their global domination, hadn’t experienced any major wars either. The fighting that did take place was located overseas, and back then as in our immediate past, all about colonial holdings. European, and especially German, militarism might be a striking feature of the early 20th century, but the only troops to enter the Great War with any combat experience worth speaking of was the small professional British army. The big mouthed saber-rattlers had no idea what they were talking about, and neither had Europeans in general, who were, if anything even more ‘soft’ than we are today. And yet these ‘soft’ people started the slaughter of WW I virtually overnight.
Historical experience gives us pause, and makes us reluctant to take up arms, and this reluctance dresses up as multiculturalism and pacifism. The true believers are only a small minority, though, the rest of us merely gives lip service to these concepts. Europeans are chauvinists in every sense of the word, and wouldn’t dream of regarding other cultures as superior, or even equal, to Western civilization. Modern manners dictate to pretend otherwise, but ‘Multiculti’ means to us nothing more than ‘Alright, do your funny dances and rub blue mud into your bellybuttons if you want to, but leave the rest of us alone’. European pacifism doesn’t amount to anything either, during the war on Yugoslavia there were too many in Western Europe who demanded that the crap should be bombed out of the Serbs to claim otherwise.
Our militaries also may seem small and insignificant compared to the American one, but they tower over any potential enemy, foreign or domestic. We do presently lack the capability to project power, but that would change very quickly if necessary. Conscription has seen to it that many millions of European men in fighting age, most of them having gone through military training already, could be called up to arms. Troops aren’t supposed to be deployed in domestic fighting, but if certain minorities start to seriously feel frisky, such constitutional niceties would fall by the wayside.
Keeping all that in mind, I’m not too unhappy with a certain amount of restraint on part of the French authorities. If it takes time to formulate an effective strategy, then, by all means, let them take that time. A massacre can be committed in a very short time, but the consequences would be with us for decades. It would make the Irish ‘Bloody Sunday’ and its aftermath look like a picnic, and make it necessary to crack down ever harder in the future. Right now there still is time to calm things down, and to integrate the vast majority of Muslims into European society, once we finally get around to actually formulating an integration policy, but that window of opportunity would close if the response were too harsh. The problem has built up over decades, and it can only be solved slowly and deliberately. Whatever else may happen, a mass-expulsion of minorities just isn’t in the cards, and we will have to live with them, like it or not. Let’s not make that coexistence, and gradual assimilation of minorities, anymore unpleasant than absolutely necessary.
In the short run the mistake to lump all the inhabitants of the suburbs together with the riots also needs to be avoided – the peaceful majority there is already staging protest marches against the violence.