Europe is at war – an opinion piece

In times of danger, what is the role of democracy? What is the future of freedom?


“We are at war” said President François Hollande some days ago. It is quite surprising that France and the rest of Europe have only realised now that we are at war. Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Mali, how many conflicts did we have to witness to come to this obvious realisation? The mistake we made was thinking that Europe would remain untouchable in its crystal sphere. However, a first signal was given by the attacks on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, but no one was expecting such violent attacks like the ones in Paris last week.Now, there is no way of turning a blind eye to the fact that war and violence are everywhere and we are past the point of no return.

ISIS must be faced and defeated, this is clear. However, the way and the methods are still unknown. USA and Russia have two different views on Assad, the president of Syria, and it is hard to find an agreement. Obama believes that Sunnis in primis must fight this war, since most of ISIS members are sunnis. If the Shiites from Iran or other Western countries make war, according to the president of US, they will certainly harm the sunnis, generating more violence. On the other hand, Iran is willing to play a key role, while other Sunni States like Turkey, arguably, do not invest all of their efforts. Turkey is against the curds, a minority fighting the Islamic State. Everyone finds its benefits in the terrorist group. Even Western countries have been accused of selling weapons and having economic relationships with countries that fund ISIS like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar. Moreover, there are some groups like the Iranian pasdarans and the Hezbollah of Lebanon, real enemies of ISIS, that do not receive enough support by our powerful countries. Most of them have often been considered terrorists. Then there are those who support Russia and the strong decisions of its leader Putin. In times of fear and chaos, people don’t want to debate, they want actions. What we can picture now is a fragmented Europe which struggles to create a coalition. Holland, again quite surprisingly, didn’t appeal to Article 5 of NATO, but to Article 42 of the Treaty on European Union, explicitly asking for the help of all European countries. However, it is really hard to believe that EU countries can afford such an expensive war.

Perhaps this appeal by Holland is to bee seen as a symbol of solidarity and unity of Europe against the terrorists. But is this a conceivable reality? The crystal sphere of Europe is not intact anymore, but shattered into many pieces. There is not only a division or different opinions about how to fight ISIS, but there are internal divisions in the values of Europe itself. Our freedom, tolerance and justice are threatened. In times of danger, what is the role of democracy? What is the future of freedom?

Improving national security is important now, but I hope this will not result in a restriction of our freedom. People are afraid and this can lead to close-minded actions, prejudices, violence. The anti-immigrant movements, for example, now have a higher chance of gaining supporters, since refugees are more likely to be on considered as terrorists. Countries might close their borders and innocent muslims might be considered responsible. This must not be the answer.

We are also fighting a cultural war with the Islamic State. They want to create this net division between us and them in order to recruit as many people as possible. This is why they attack Europe and try to overshadow our values. Let’s not fight darkness with darkness. The only way to answer is keeping our minds open.
Collective fear must be tamed. This is the only way we can isolate and defeat them.


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