Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Failed Attacks in Germany

The unsuccessful train attacks in Germany have almost entirely disappeared from the news, and certainly they have had no impact at all on politics. It's remarkable that only a small technical error by the terrorists makes the difference between a failed attack and an attack that causes a crisis that lasts for weeks, not only for the country but a whole continent. In both cases, however, the intent of the terrorists is exactly the same. The failure of the terrorists has been very convenient for one side of the political spectrum though.

These last days, the anti-American propaganda machine has been very active again in Europe. Many comments on the events related to the commemoration of 9/11 carry a certain undertone stating that after all, the imperialistic US got what it deserved in 2001. And if they didn't already deserve it before the attacks of 11 September 2001, then they certainly did afterwards because of the intervention in Iraq.

The explanations for the reasons behind the attacks in Madrid and London come cheap too. The attacks in Madrid were caused by the José María Aznar's foreign policy, too much in line with the US. He had even sent Spanish troops to Iraq. And the attacks in London were Tony Blair's fault, because he behaves like George W. Bush's «poodle». The conclusion is therefore simple: states with a policy of appeasement towards Islam and the Arab world are safe, the others not.

There's however a problem to make those failed attacks in Germany fit in this picture. First of all there is the simple fact that the attacks occurred in Germany. Certainly, Angela Merkel's Germany isn't the same as Gerhard Schröder's, but Angela Merkel hasn't sent any troops to Iraq either. Moreover, the social-democratic SPD is still in power, even though it has to share that power with the conservative (and more Atlantic) CDU/CSU instead of the Green Party. But the foreign policy wasn't the reason for the attacks either: the publication of those famous Danish cartoons in German newspapers was the main reason, the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi being the secondary one. So what should Germany have done to prevent the attacks?

The only possible answer to that question seems to be that Germany should have forbidden the publication of the Danish cartoons in German press as soon as the controversy started. In that case, the terrorists wouldn't have had a reason to plot an attack in Germany. Such a policy goes much further than just an appeasement though: it is in fact a submission to the dictates of some imams and their particular interpretation of Islam. A hopeless case, by the way, for as far as it would be desirable at all, there will always be some imam who's more radical and making higher demands than the others. This doesn't even consider the different faction within Islam, since e.g. Sunni's and Shia could drink each other's blood.

But once you start to go down that road, introducing censorship against the Danish cartoons under the cover of showing respect for Islam, the question is how far one can go. The next step could be a ban on drawings about pigs, the introduction of Shari'a courts for Muslims (which are already in place in Canada), the problems around headscarfs and burqas, and before you know it, you're supposed to help destroy Israel. And when you're done with that, there is still Kashmir and Aceh, and Nigeria.

It's clear that the failure of the attacks fits a certain group of people quite well. It would have been very difficult to put some sort of anti-American spin on them without looking like a useful idiot for the islamization of Europe. The possibility to simply ignore the attacks because they didn't succeed is therefore very convenient for some people.