Lamps are going out all over Europe

Svjetla se gase u Evropi, originally published in Novosti. Author is Tomislav Jakić, a journalist covering international affairs for Croatian Television for decades. Unautorised translation by Yours Truly with some advice and corrections by Ben Peake.

On the night between Friday and Saturday, 13th to 14th November 2015, the lamps started going out all over Europe (it is no coincidence that I use the phrase the head of British diplomacy used at the beginning of the First World War). According to the information available at the time of writing this article, seven locations in Paris, the capital of the second most important country of the European Union, were attacked by terrorists, members of the so-called Islamic State. Incomplete reports of these terrorist attacks describe an unprecedented magnitude: more than 140 dead and many wounded. The immediate consequence: a state of emergency declared in France, the closure of French borders, the closure of the French capital’s subway and airport, flights from the US to France suspended and almost fifteen hundred soldiers with machine guns on the streets of Paris. In addition: enhanced security measures at the Belgian-French border.

The first reactions of the West were expected: shock, condemnation and the message ‘We will not be terrorized, nor will we give in’. Sounds good, if only if it were true. Because the harsh truth – as opposed to boastful phrases – is that the jihadists are already very much terrorizing not only France, but also spreading fear and uncertainty to the whole of Europe and the world. And another thing: this world has already bowed to the threat with which it is not able to cope, declaring a state of emergency in France, putting the army into the streets, breaking the vital transport links. It has buckled – all within the democratic procedure – by accepting the strengthening of extreme xenophobic right wing whose primary desire is the abolition of democracy under the guise of fighting to protect it (from everything other and different). However what the world hasn’t done, and probably won’t, is to stop treating the symptoms and turn toward the real causes of international terrorism, of which the Islamic state is the most dangerous variant so far.

The West must acknowledge that it has created the monster now turning against it under the cloak of religious fundamentalism. The West must acknowledge that it has both indirectly destabilised as well as actively toppled regimes unable to satisfy the insatiable appetite for resources of supranational structures, not only through the support of domestic malcontents, but also through the use of foreign adventurers and mercenaries. It is true that those regimes were not democratic by Western standards, but were nevertheless stable. The West must acknowledge that its “war against international terrorism” has been fighting for its economic and financial interests all along, only pretending to fight for democracy against autocratic regimes. And the West has to acknowledge that it had done nothing to prevent the creation of a global danger represented by the Islamic State. On the contrary, it must acknowledge that this danger is largely its own product because of the indiscriminate arming of anyone who agreed to fight Syrian President Assad, a man who jealously guards the oil and gas resources in his country from the global energy companies. After all, the West still isn’t doing anything to disrupt oil trade, the main source of income of the Islamic State, and is also supplying arms to “moderate” rebels in Syria who, as a rule, cross over to the jihadists along with their newly acquired modern weapons.

Will the West acknowledge all of it? Almost certainly not.

Will the West accept an alliance with Russia, perhaps even its leadership in the fight against international terrorism, after Russian strikes on ISIL targets in Syria achieved more in a month than the ones that the United States and its allies have been conducting for a year? Will the West pressure Turkey, on its responsibility for for both the expansion of the armed rebellion in Syria, and the tide of refugees that has been flooding Europe for months? Almost certainly not!

And what will happen then? What happens with a seriously ill patient whose doctors persistently treat the symptoms, not recognizing or wanting to identify the real causes of the disease? It’s simple: the patient dies. What will happen with the project of a united Europe and the fight against international terrorism directed by (only) the West? Again, it’s simple: United Europe is on its way to fortify its internal borders (even if it doesn’t close them completely) as it does its outer borders, transforming itself into ‘fortress Europe’. At the same time the fight against international terrorism, limited to suppression of mere acts, but not dealing with its causes, will remain ultimately unsuccessful. Which, in other words, means that terrorists will grow stronger and will more and more carry their field of operations to Europe and beyond. In short: it means that they will win.

Is there a statesman in the West who can find the courage to accept these simple and irrefutable truths? No! A few years ago, recently deceased and extremely popular (West) German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt openly stated (in conversation with Russian President Putin) that today’s Europe has no proficient statesman. Perfectly true. Europe’s ‘Small’ statesmen, (actually political charges d’affaires) are nothing more than clerks freely manipulated by big business and financial centers, not to mention the military-industrial complex, which US General-President Dwight Eisenhower warned us of, in vain, so long ago.

In addition to the project of a united Europe, open borders and Democracy (which will inevitably give way in front of the onslaught by the right-wingers, nationalists and chauvinists) who else will be the biggest victim of the terrorism for which “the lamps are going out all over Europe” (there is talk about expecting further attacks in London)? It will be precisely those who are fleeing terrorists in thousands and hundreds of thousands, seeking refuge from them in the same West that actually created those from whom they are fleeing. On the night after the attack in Paris the refugee camp in the French coastal city of Calais exploded, and according to unconfirmed news, the fire was set in retaliation. Raising of a new “Iron Curtain” with walls and barbed wires at the borders is becoming more fashionable and gaining more support (even with our neighbors, the Slovenians). All these things will serve “confirmation” for the xenophobic policies of all “Orbanists”.

It will be a tailwind to all those who are, to use the mildest possible expression, skeptical to all people of another nation, race, religion or belief. Refugees who are saving their lives will begin to be treated as potential terrorists, stricter asylum policy is going to be implemented, together with the process of forced return to the countries they fled from (even into the hands and knives of ISIL butchers). Europe will sink deeper into a new darkness, believing that it is actually saving the light of democracy. Unfortunately, the lamps will be extinguished by those who turned them on after the end of World War II, wanting to lay the foundations of a new, different and better Europe. It seems that we are further away from the goal of achieving such Europe than at any moment since the foundation of the European Coal and Steel Community, the predecessor of the European Union and its ideas and practices. Instead, it seems that we are now turning into its opposite.

Fear will dominate Europe. Uncertainty will prevail in the world. The diversity that could have enriched us will turn into insurmountable obstacles in the relations of peoples and nations. Doomsday scenario? Not necessarily, if the West faces the truth about itself and its failed policies. The chances for this are very small, but they can not be excluded yet. At least let’s hope so. Let us believe that some lamps in Europe stay lit.

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