January 01, 2005


John Micklethwait and Adrian Woolridge think the U.S. and Europe are slowly converging with regards to their views on Islamic terrorism. The evidence:
The murder in November of Theo van Gogh, a provocative Dutch filmmaker, at the hands of an Islamic militant has been called Europe's 9/11. Though the two events are obviously not fully comparable, it is certainly true that American conservatives, such as Francis Fukuyama and Bernard Lewis, have found a wider audience recently for the idea that radical Islam is inimical to European traditions of tolerance.
That may be so, but I'm not sure this translates into actual policy convergence. European states still seem mostly concerned about keeping down illegal immigration from the Middle East, and trying to steer their large Islamic populations onto more moderate paths. None of this will put Europe in a mind to start bombing Syria or Iran anytime soon. Stemming illegal immigration, for example, mostly involves putting more development money into the Arab world, rather than pushing for actual democratic change. (Though you could argue that most of the Arab world economies are so state-dominated that economic reform absolutely requires political change. I don't really know.) So I'm not sure Europeans will interpret Bernard Lewis in the same way that, say, Paul Wolfowitz did.

The other thing is that, when it comes to meddling in the Middle East, Europe tends to be far more risk-averse than the U.S., since countries like France, Spain, Germany, etc., are the ones that will mostly have to deal with any unrest or instability in the region. We tend to forget it, especially after 9/11, but the United States is still relatively "safe" from Islamic militarism, all the way on the other side of the Atlantic.
-- Brad Plumer 8:58 PM || ||