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Europe’s Shattered Peace, Europe’s Struggling Values - by Judy Dempsey

The terrorist attacks that have killed at least 31 people in Brussels and injured some 270 others on March 22 have changed Europe’s perception about itself. Until now, despite so many calculated murders of many innocent civilians in Madrid, London, Copenhagen, and Paris— among other cities across Europe—since 2004,

 European leaders have adopted ad hoc measures to counter this new challenge. What makes Brussels different is that there’s now an acceptance by EU leaders that these attacks will continue.

All the measures taken so far have fallen way short of confronting the threat. European leaders didn’t want to admit that the peace that reigned across Europe since the end of World War II had been shattered. As Elmar Brok, the German chairman of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee said after the Brussels bombings, “This is a new form of war that Europe has to deal with.”

This is the new and uncomfortable reality that European leaders now have to accept and respond to. It is a reality that is not going to go away as long as the so-called Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, and their battalions of supporters inside and outside Europe continue their mission to attack everything that Europe stands for. It is Europe’s liberal values and open society that the perpetrators of these attacks, many of them born in Europe, are taking advantage of. Those values are now at stake.

Proclaiming that Europe stands by its values in the wake of the terrorist attacks is all very well. But the rhetoric will not make Europe’s citizens feel any safer nor will it deter more bombers. European leaders face the uncomfortable but necessary task of dealing with a war that wants to destroy what Europe stands for.

Europe’s Shattered Peace, Europe’s Struggling Values - Carnegie Europe - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

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