The West Gets Another Wake Up Call
Will the brutal attacks in Paris finally get the White House to change its approach to the Islamic State?
One day before the latest Islamic State outrage — this time coordinated attacks in Paris that have already resulted in 350 wounded and a death toll of 129 and rising — U.S. President Barack Obama confidently announced on the Good Morning America show that "we have contained" that terrorist entity. The citizens of Paris, indeed all of France, would beg to differ. Instead of being contained, the Islamic State has now extended its war with civilization to the heart of Europe, claiming that it launched the Saturday attacks in retaliation for French operations against the self-proclaimed caliphate. And French President Francois Hollande agrees; he has stated that France is now at war and has closed its borders to refugees from the Middle East.
One day before the latest Islamic State outrage — this time coordinated attacks in Paris that have already resulted in 350 wounded and a death toll of 129 and rising — U.S. President Barack Obama confidently announced on the Good Morning America show that “we have contained” that terrorist entity. The citizens of Paris, indeed all of France, would beg to differ. Instead of being contained, the Islamic State has now extended its war with civilization to the heart of Europe, claiming that it launched the Saturday attacks in retaliation for French operations against the self-proclaimed caliphate. And French President Francois Hollande agrees; he has stated that France is now at war and has closed its borders to refugees from the Middle East.
Hollande’s reaction stands in stark contrast to that of President Obama, who continues to refer to Islamic terrorists as “violent extremists.” He has proposed that the United States admit tens of thousands of Syrian refugees, although at least one of the Paris terrorists carried a Syrian passport, and over 50 percent of so-called Syrians entering Europe are not Syrian at all but actually come from other Middle Eastern states and Afghanistan.
Obama is not alone in refusing to see Islamic terrorism for what it is, however. For decades, Europeans have pursued a policy they have called “multiculturalism,” accepting hundreds of thousands of Middle Eastern migrants without making any serious effort to have them assimilate the values and mores of the societies that have welcomed them. Compounding the folly of multiculturalism has been the European Union’s policy of the free movement of persons throughout its territory, enabling Islamist cells in one or more EU states to launch attacks in others. The Paris tragedy, coming on the heels of the Charlie Hebdo attacks earlier this year, perhaps will finally put paid to the European Union’s chimera of a federal Europe.
Indeed, the entire European enterprise may well be in jeopardy. Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front party, has reacted to the Islamic State attacks by telling her fellow citizens I told you so. She has called for France to close its borders to the migrants, which would violate EU guidelines; to close mosques; and to rearm, which would call for a significant increase to the French defense budget. She stands a significant chance of moving into the Elysee Palace after the next French presidential elections. And she wants France out of the EU.
Prime Minister David Cameron has already demanded that Britain not be subject to the “ever closer union” objective enshrined in the 1957 Treaty of Rome, the founding document of what was then called the European Economic Community. His government will be holding a referendum in 2017 over continued British membership in the EU. Sentiment in Britain is increasingly opposed to staying in Europe, and the referendum could well result in what has been called “Brexit.”
Several East European EU member states have refused to take in Middle Eastern migrants. Others are imposing increasingly stricter controls over those they do permit to enter their territory. Even Sweden, long a haven for immigrants, has imposed border controls because Middle Eastern refugees have been flooding its territory at a projected rate of nearly 200,000 annually.
Thus far, the western world has responded to the Paris attacks with sympathetic words, memorial candles and flags at half-mast. It remains to be seen whether Europe will act upon the high flown speeches of its leaders by vetting migrants with far greater care than ever before, insisting that those who enter their lands must fully assimilate the values of the states they now call home, and expelling those that do not. Europe must also not only rearm, but no longer hold back in fighting the Islamic State not only at home, but in Syria and Iraq as well. Should it fail to do so, the EU simply will not survive, while the extreme right will once again take hold on the European continent.
America must not sit on its hands either. The White House should finally come to grips with this latest of wake-up calls and recognize Islamic extremism for what is. It should abandon the policy of puny incrementalism that has characterized its campaign against the Islamic State, significantly ramp up both the pace and number of its air sorties, and increase its presence on the ground in both Syria and Iraq. It should abandon any plans to withdraw from Afghanistan by 2017. And it should not proclaim success unless it has ample evidence to support its claim. Otherwise, “we have contained ISIS” will go down in history as no more grounded in reality than President George W. Bush’s “mission accomplished,” with far more dire consequences than those that followed that unfortunate phrase when it was proclaimed just over a decade ago.
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
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