October 3, 2007 | Executive Summary on Europe
Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom
Through immigration and demographic changes, Europe's Muslim population has grown exponentially in recent years. Because of this, several experts and commentators have predicted doomsday scenarios for Europe, forecasting majority Muslim populations in major European cities within a decade. Mark Steyn, author of America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It, envisages the Islamization of Europe by the end of the 21st century.
The disaffection of significant segments of the Muslim population in Europe has coincided with a growth in terrorist activity. In a November 2006 speech, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, former Director General of the Security Service (MI5), announced that British security services had identified over 1,600 individuals actively engaged in plotting or facilitating terrorist acts at home and abroad involving some 200 British-based terrorist networks. The foiled attacks by Islamic terrorist cells in Germany and Denmark stand as ominous signs of the level of threat facing Europe.
However, this is not just a European problem. Knowing that Europe is a logistical and fundraising base for both domestic and international terrorist plots, including the September 11 attacks, both the United States and Europe need to confront al-Qaeda and other extremist groups head-on. The atrocities committed by Islamic terrorists in Washington, New York, Madrid, and London were attacks on the principles of freedom and liberty that define Western civilization. Al-Qaeda and its allies have targeted innocent civilians in Europe, America, Africa, the Middle East, the Far East, and Central Asia and will continue to advance their borderless war on Western values and attempt to break the West's will to fight an asymmetric "long war."
A united transatlantic response and commitment to what is currently an indeterminable timetable for victory is not only necessary, but essential if Europe and America are to confront the domestic and global network of extremists intent on annihilating the West and its allies.
What the U.S. and Europe Should Do. The United States and its European allies should take a number of steps to confront Islamic extremism. Specifically:
Conclusion. Peter Wehner, former director of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives, recently commented that it has fallen to the West, particularly the United States, to deal with Islamic extremism. European directives, regulations, and communiqués will not win the war on terrorism. The EU has a specific role in coordinating intergovernmental action and even cooperating on a multilateral basis with third parties, but it should not be seen as a replacement for the valuable relationships and bilateral alliances that the United States has carefully crafted over decades.
When Irish republican terrorists attempted to assassinate British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher with a bomb at the Conservative Party Conference in 1984, she famously held her ground and declared that terrorism would never destroy democracy. On 9/11, Islamic terrorists killed nearly 3,000 people, including 67 British citizens, and America and Britain were called upon to react with equal resolve and vigor. Just as Prime Minister Thatcher stood firm in 1984, and just as she and President Ronald Reagan faced down the Soviet Union and won the Cold War, American and British leadership will once again be required to stand up to a hostile and motivated enemy and defeat the enemies of freedom and liberty.
Sally McNamara is Senior Policy Analyst in European Affairs in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation. The author is grateful to James Dean, Deputy Director of Government Relations, Foreign and Defense Policy, at the Heritage Foundation for his advice on reform of the Visa Waiver Program. Erin Magee, an intern in the Davis Institute, and Maria Verbanac, Administrative Assistant in the Thatcher Center, assisted in preparing this paper.