on a more painful topic today. I have seen several articles from major outlets, just like the one from The Telegraph, trying to put the attacks of recent days and weeks into some kind of a perspective. I am sure they mean well. By showing us how horrible our past is we should feel better about ourselves. That’s surely what they were telling themselves in the 70s, you know, compared to the WWII.
To me, however, the comparison to 1970s doesn’t make any sense. Yes, Europe has gone through so many terrorist attacks from 1970s to early 1990s that at some point it amounted to as many as 3 attacks per day. Compared to that the few attack in the recent time feel minuscule, but I would say that the current threat is even greater than it was then, because the nature of terror has changed.
In the past it was usually Europeans fighting other Europeans. There were exceptions like Lockerbie or Munich, but generally it was always some kind of European minority fighting for its alleged rights against other Europeans. In Spain it was the Basques who used violence in order to gain independence from Spain. In UK it was Northern Ireland with all of its religious complexity and even the 1980 Bologna massacre was a result of European political feud. The truth is that Europeans have massacred themselves for many centuries because of any convenient goals and by any available means. It is of no importance whether we used war or terror.
The Telegraph is right in saying that terrorism is often misinterpreted as a tool used only by religious fanatics and it is also right in saying that state-sponsored terrorism is one of the worst forms, but it is certainly a mistake to call the current situation “a return to the norm”. The nature of terrorism in Europe has changed. It is no longer a family feud. When London was attacked in 2007 or Paris in 2015 these attacks were attacks against the sovereignty of the UK or France. It was time for other Europeans to unite behind victims and lend a helping hand. The explosions in Brussels were attacks on the sovereignty of Europe itself. As much as Belgians would not like to hear it, Brussels would be a fairly unimportant city in Europe was it not for the EU and other international institutions that have their centres there. In this case the whole of Europe has been attacked and ridiculed. It is no longer a fight between minorities and majorities. It is no longer a fight of one country against radicals. Whether we want it or not, we are in it now and more then ever before. That is why the brutality of the past should not be any consolation to us.
The only question that we should ask ourselves after Brussels should be what will be our response. Will Europe stand together, move to ever-closer union or crumble and fade away ?
The Telegraph article -> http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/12203697/West-Europe-is-safer-now-than-in-the-1970s.-And-safer-than-almost-any-other-region-in-the-world.html