It’s practically common sense – outside neo-conservative circles anyway – that jihadist terrorism cannot and should not be regarded as a traditional security threat. There is, on the other hand, little agreement over what is the correct way to portray, and deal with, this phenomenon. While I suggest a few insights to the former, I do not claim to have answer to the latter. In fact, my point is quite the opposite. Underlying my main argument here is the belief that there is no single cocktail of sound policies applicable to all countries troubled by terrorism. What I do claim, however, is that most measures currently being proposed and employed by European authorities are dead wrong, for they ignore a crucial aspect of the nature of the threat they face: the proliferation and “target selection” of jihadists is like the spreading of a venereal disease, that is to say, social in nature.
EU-US relations today are a source of building tension and complication. Fruitful and longstanding economic, military and political partnerships notwithstanding, the old continent watches carefully – though not carefully enough – as the unchained Gulliver rampages on, in its battle against terror. Unable to constrain it, most european countries have chosen to either remain neutral or bandwagon and assist, each its own way, the rampant giant. Said assistance is looser than tradicional millitary alliances in time of war. It is also intermittent, going back and forth, back and forth, repeatedly, just like… well, you’ve got the picture. This trend is not all that recent and can be traced back all the way to the early years of the Cold War. In many ways, this recent drift closely resembles the one in the late 50’s/early 60’s. This oscilatory solidarity, as it has been wittingly called by some, can be seen clearly in the EU’s September 14th joint communiquè in respect to the victims of the 9/11 attacks, followed by the invoking of Article 5 of the NATO Charter and limited participation in the war in Afghanistan, as well as, later on, in the refusal of most european countries, with important exceptions, to engage in military action in Iraq.
Two of the above referred exceptions, Great Britain and Spain, have been targeted by terrorist cells linked to Al Qaeda and/or inspired by Al Qaeda’s particular brand of jihadism. Though the connection seems obvious enough, european counter-terrorist efforts consist not of disengaging from the US, and run in the precise opposite direction, that is, of intensifying transatlantic relations. As Gijs de Vries, European co-ordinator for counter-terrorism, stated: “Terrorism is a common and urgent threat for both Europe and America. We are in it together.[…] It will be a long and painful struggle for all of us. All the more reason to work closely together.” So much for prophylactics… As long as this line of reasoning is followed, Europol and Justice and Home Affairs measures – many of which are also quite destructive, yet more effective – will be canceled out by the continued transatlantic intercourse.
As said before, no single batch of measures will do when it comes to fending off terrorism, but by acknowledging it’s true nature, one general directive can be derived; one that european leaders would do well to abide by:
* Postado originalmente por Dani Nedal na versão (local) anterior deste blog, no dia 24/11/2007.