Is Europe finally waking up?

Victor Davis Hanson writes that Europe is finally waking to the fact that Islamic fascism presents a real threat to them.

Over the last four years Americans have played a sort of parlor game wondering when—or if—the Europeans might awake to the danger of Islamic fascism and choose a more muscular role in the war on terrorism.

But after the acrimony over the invasion of Iraq, Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo, pessimists scoffed that the Atlantic alliance was essentially over. Only the postmortem was in dispute: did the bad chemistry between the Texan George Bush and the Green European leadership who came of age in the street theater of 1968 explain the falling out?

Or was the return of the old anti-Americanism natural after the end of the Cold War—once American forces were no longer needed for the security of Europe?

Or again, was Europe’s third way a realistic consideration of its own unassimilated and growing Muslim population, at a time of creeping pacifism, and radically scaled down defense budgets after the fall of the Berlin Wall?

Yet suddenly in 2006, the Europeans seem to have collectively resuscitated. The Madrid bombings, the murder of Theo van Gogh, the London subway attacks, and the French rioting in October and November seem to have prompted at least some Europeans at last to question their once hallowed sense of multiculturalism in which Muslim minorities were not asked to assimilate at home and Islamic terrorists abroad were seen as mere militants or extremists rather than enemies bent on destroying the West.

On January 19, Jacques Chirac warned that his military would use its nuclear forces to target states that sponsored terrorism against France—El Cid braggadocio that made George Bush’s past Wild West lingo like ‘smoke ‘em out’ and ‘dead or alive’ seem Pollyannaish by comparison. Not long after, it was disclosed that the French and the Americans have coordinated their efforts to keep Syria out of Lebanon and to isolate Bashar Assad’s shaky Syrian regime. And in a recent news conference Donald Rumsfeld and the new German defense minister Franz Josef Jung sounded as if they were once more the old allies of the past, fighting shoulder to shoulder against terrorists who would like to do to Berlin what they did to New York.

Hanson explains that Europeans are becoming increasingly tired of liberal immigration policies and massive foreign aid programs that have given billions of dollars to the Palestine Authority that resulted in both rampant corruption and the Hamas takeover.

So is Europe now finally at the front or will they retreat Madrid-like in the face of the inevitable second round of terrorist bombings and threats to come?

Americans are not confident, but we should remember at least one simple fact: Europe is the embryo of the entire Western military tradition. The new European Union encompasses a population greater than the United States and spans a continent larger than our own territory. It has a greater gross domestic product than that of America and could, in theory, field military forces as disciplined and as well equipped as our own.

It is not the capability but the will power of the Europeans that has been missing in this war so far. But while pundits argue over whether the European demographic crisis, lack of faith, stalled economy, or multiculturalism are at the root of the continent’s impotence, we should never forget that if aroused and pushed, a rearmed and powerful Europe could still be at the side of the United States in joint efforts against the jihadists. And should we ever see a true alliance of such Western powers, the war against the fascists of the Middle East would be simply over in short order.

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