A New Europe Forum? Plotting a path to peace in a time of war

Also published in Left Foot Forward http://leftfootforward.org/2016/07/a-new-europe-forum-could-help-tackle-islamist-terrorism/ 

It is plain now that we are in the midst of a civil war in Europe. It has been going on for some time with Europeans butchering fellow Europeans in London, Paris, Brussels and most recently Nice.

Nice-Attack-1

Aftermath of the 14 July 2016 Nice attack

It is difficult for those of us who lack the murderous impulse of the deluded and inadequate perpetrators of such recent horrors to obtain any empathetic understanding of them. But perhaps one obvious but important truth is that those who aspire to mutilate their fellow human beings are alienated from the communities that they live among, and from the values of the societies that they seek to terrorise.

If this is indeed the case then the necessary security measures which the governments of Europe are scrambling to put in place will be inadequate in addressing the underlying causes of this alienation. Furthermore if clumsily managed, security measures can exacerbate the situation, accentuating the sense of alienation of some who come to the attention of the security services and driving them into the ranks of the fratricidists who live amongst us.

image

Not winning hearts and minds: French police force a burkini clad woman to strip

So what is needed, in addition to more police and intelligence operations to thwart aspiring killers, is a political response to the situation. It is difficult for an outsider to say specifically what measures would be necessary to counter the alienation of the communities from which the killers spring. But Europe could take a lesson from Irish history here.

In the dark days of the 1980s when the violence in the North of Ireland was taking on a permanent complexion in the absence of any credible political initiatives, the leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, John Hume, suggested the establishment of the New Ireland Forum as a means by which Irish leaders committed to non-violence could begin to plot a new political path towards a peaceful future. From these modest beginnings a new political process emerged which led, ultimately, to the Good Friday Agreement, and the first durable peace Ireland has seen in hundreds of years – at least until it has come under threat from the delusional aspirations of English nationalists to hack apart the European basis of this peace.

Following this lead the European Parliament should establish an inquiry into the causes of European jihadism and to propose political, economic and social responses to the alienation of the European communities from which this murderous jihadism springs. The inquiry should seek to take evidence not only from fellow politicians and academics, religious and community leaders, but also from ordinary people from all parts of Europe.

The evidence, as well as the analysis and conclusions from this inquiry should be published and European governments should be required to report on how they have responded to the recommendations.

Some measures to blunt the threat may be straightforward: people tend to be less likely to seek to destroy their society if they see plainly that the society is providing them with decent jobs and housing. Some measures may relate to addressing some of the chaos which certain European nations have helped create in the Middle East, such as establishing peace in Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Israel: Geography dictates that Europe simply cannot be at peace when the Middle East is in conflagration. Other initiatives may be more novel and unexpected.

The threat of violence that is posed is not yet an existential one for Europe. But it is a challenge to European values of pluralism, democracy, human rights and rule of law. If we cannot plot a political response to this violence that springs from and honours these values, then the arguments of the ideologues of bloodshed will be made a little stronger.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “A New Europe Forum? Plotting a path to peace in a time of war

  1. I admire your optimism and its important to remember that terror attacks are greatly exaggerated compared to recent European history and indeed recent Irish history.
    The comparison with Northern Ireland is a useful one but the Provisional campaign was sharply informed by Sovereignty whereas religious fanatics are concerned with concepts that are much older and ingrained. The state is using this to expand its reach and powers over citizens, so lines will need to be drawn.

    The conundrum is one of demographics and as Northern Irish Catholics understand, Demographics equal destiny. There are some horror predictions about European demographics and we are in the most crucial hour since WW2 I believe. In 150 years Europeans could be minorities in their own homelands. We see this agenda outlined in UN publications like
    http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/migration/migration.htm
    As Muslim populations increase and indigenous populations decrease the dividing line becomes sharper and people begin aligning along ethno-religious lines.

    Another assumption is (wrongly) made that people from any part of the world are interchangable labour units capable of the same level of work. Its Psycho-Capitalist fantasy pushed by The Economist(who were called out on this by their astute readership). Propping up an advanced economy like Germany with people from the Middle East is completely insane and wouldn’t even be entertained if not for the prevailing consensus around egalitarianism(we are entitled to equal treatment but we are not all equal). German engineering quality didn’t happen in a few generations, it was the result of centuries of hard work. Our reflexive 4 year cycle politics are totally unsuited to answering or solving these problems and in fact creates many more, as the people demand change! We have already seen the ”too much, too soon” effect of mass immigration and the effect on social cohesion.

    Look at the British working class and Brexit, just one small expression of the sense of resentment out there.

    The obvious solution would be to massively incentivise Europeans to breed and have larger families. I forget the exact principle but I think it is in Henry Hazlitts book ”Economics in one lesson”. We’ve been brainwashed to believe large families are a burden on the environment and a drain on resources, meanwhile we’ve created a population boom in Africa. A place that hardly needs it.

    I’m rambling but you see how many issues are coalescing all at the wrong time give me cause for concern.

    You mentioned the challenge to ”European values of pluralism, democracy, human rights and rule of law” and rightly so. Another example of the flawed logic of replacement migration. We assume that somehow these people will forget their roots and assimilate into European society.

    When Trump takes office then the complexion changes again, and a European far right sweep and subsequent break up of the EU is virtually guaranteed. We live in interesting times

  2. I admire your optimism and its important to remember that terror attacks are greatly exaggerated compared to recent European history and indeed recent Irish history.
    The comparison with Northern Ireland is a useful one but the Provisional campaign was sharply informed by Sovereignty whereas religious fanatics are concerned with concepts that are much older and ingrained. The state is using this to expand its reach and powers over citizens, so lines will need to be drawn.

    The conundrum is one of demographics and as Northern Irish Catholics understand, Demographics equal destiny. There are some horror predictions about European demographics and we are in the most crucial hour since WW2 I believe. In 150 years Europeans could be minorities in their own homelands. We see this agenda outlined in UN publications like
    http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/migration/migration.htm
    As Muslim populations increase and indigenous populations decrease the dividing line becomes sharper and people begin aligning along ethno-religious lines.

    Another assumption is (wrongly) made that people from any part of the world are interchangable labour units capable of the same level of work. Its Psycho-Capitalist fantasy pushed by The Economist(who were called out on this by their astute readership). Propping up an advanced economy like Germany with people from the Middle East is completely insane and wouldn’t even be entertained if not for the prevailing consensus around egalitarianism(we are entitled to equal treatment but we are not all equal). German engineering quality didn’t happen in a few generations, it was the result of centuries of hard work. Our reflexive 4 year cycle politics are totally unsuited to answering or solving these problems and in fact creates many more, as the people demand change! We have already seen the ”too much, too soon” effect of mass immigration and the effect on social cohesion.

    Look at the British working class and Brexit, just one small expression of the sense of resentment out there.

    The obvious solution would be to massively incentivise Europeans to breed and have larger families. I forget the exact principle but I think it is in Henry Hazlitts book ”Economics in one lesson”. We’ve been brainwashed to believe large families are a burden on the environment and a drain on resources, meanwhile we’ve created a population boom in Africa. A place that hardly needs it.

    I’m rambling but you see how many issues are coalescing all at the wrong time give me cause for concern.

    You mentioned the challenge to ”European values of pluralism, democracy, human rights and rule of law” and rightly so. Another example of the flawed logic of replacement migration. We assume that somehow these people will forget their roots and assimilate into European society.

    When Trump takes office then the complexion changes again, and a European far right sweep and subsequent break up of the EU is virtually guaranteed. We live in interesting times

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s