August 2016 – BRUSSELS – Whether referring to Russian aggression in the east or to the threat of Islamist terrorism in the West, Europe’s political, media and religious elite are increasingly using the word war to describe the continent’s security challenges. The day after the July 14 attack in Nice, in which a man drove a large truck into a crowd, killing 84, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said France was at war “both abroad and on our soil.”
“For years, we have lived, fundamentally, with a kind of insouciance, as though war could not catch up with us, as though history was not tragic,” Valls said. “But war is here, and it is different from the ones that we knew in the 20th century.” Less than two weeks later, Pope Francis echoed Valls’s remarks when he said the “world is at war. The word we hear a lot is insecurity, but the real word is war,” the pope told reporters while commenting on the murder of a Catholic priest in Normandy by two ISIS terrorists and a string of violent incidents across Germany.
Some claim the myriad security challenges facing Europe indicate the Continent’s seven-decade-old experiment in guaranteeing peace through economic interdependence, collective defense and multiculturalism is faltering. “The current security architecture in Europe, which relied on both the Helsinki Final Act and the Paris Charter, has now collapsed, following Russia’s aggression in Ukraine,” Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said in September 2014 as Russian tanks were blitzing across eastern Ukraine.
Others claim, however, that Europe’s security crises are part of a global return to regional power struggles, as well as an anti-globalization movement, which has rejuvenated nationalism worldwide. “Everything is connected; basically what we are seeing is the collapse of the world order as we have known it since World War II, and we—politicians, intel and security agencies—still struggle to understand it,” the European director of a private intelligence and security firm told The Daily Signal on background.
Admittedly, while sitting in a Parisian café, a Berlin beer garden, or a London pub, it’s somewhat of a stretch to really believe another conflict like World War II ever could happen again in Europe. Some say, however, this confidence in European security is misplaced, reflecting the historically perennial trap of assuming the next war, or the events leading up to it, will be like the last. “There have been large-scale atrocities on the continent in recent years—in Madrid, London and at the Charlie Hebdo [magazine] offices, in Paris, in January of last year—but in the aftermath of this one there is a realization that Europe, its cities and all those institutions predicated on unending peace are now vulnerable to bewilderingly rapid developments,” Henry Porter, the British editor of Vanity Fair, wrote in January, referring to the November terror attacks in Paris.
Terrorism: War on two-fronts
“We are in a war against jihadist terrorism which is threatening the whole world,” French President François Hollande said following the November attacks. “My back cringes when Hollande states that France is at war with ISIS and will do whatever it takes to defeat them in Syria; that is really not where France will defeat anything,” the intelligence contractor told The Daily Signal. “The enemy is in the suburbs and towns of France, and it has little directly to do with ISIS.… ISIS will disappear eventually, but that will do nothing to stop the terror, unfortunately.”
Moscow’s seizure of Crimea and military intervention in Ukraine have countries throughout Eastern Europe preparing for war with Russia. In NATO’s Baltic member countries, the ranks of civilian volunteer militias have swelled since Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine in 2014, reflecting the deadly seriousness with which politicians and populations in Eastern Europe consider the possibility of war with Russia—a sometimes difficult concept for Western Europeans and Americans to understand. –Newsweek
Russia attempting to lure Turkey from NATO: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appears to again be embracing his old friend Russian President Vladimir Putin as he continues to consolidate power after last month’s failed military uprising. Efforts to reset the Turkish-Russian relationship after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane over eight months ago have been underway since before July’s attempted coup. Erdogan reportedly wrote a letter to Putin in late June with the apology Moscow had been demanding since November.
But the stakes of reviving the relationship may now be significantly higher, as anti-American sentiment peaks within Turkey and Erdogan draws condemnation from the West for his decidedly undemocratic crackdown on those suspected of plotting or sympathizing with the coup. Putin, too, has much to gain from strengthening his relationship with Erdogan at such a politically sensitive moment — specifically, the opportunity to undermine the unity of both the European Union and NATO and absorb Turkey into Russia’s sphere of influence.
“Russia may go for a long-term game-changing move and lure Turkey away from the West as part of a broader geopolitical reconfiguration,” Middle East expert Marc Pierini, a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, wrote on Thursday. –Business Insider
China threatens military attack on Australian ships: Australia has been warned it could pay a heavy price for its support of the US and a group of Southeast Asian nations in rejecting China’s sovereignty to the South China Sea. In an aggressive and pointed warning to Australia, the China state-run Global Times called for military strikes on any Australian ships that may undertake “freedom-of-navigation” activities in the area.
The rhetoric-laden editorial is the latest salvo in an escalating regional power play between China and the US and its allies, and coincides with a new strategic report that predicts neither side would win a full-blown war. Entitled ‘Paper cat Australia will learn its lesson’, the Global Times article criticized Australia’s decision to support The Hague’s ruling that rejected China claims to the resource-rich South China Sea. –The New Daily
Japan orders military to shoot down N. Korean missiles: Japan ordered its military on Monday to be ready at any time to shoot down any North Korean missiles that threaten to strike Japan, putting its forces on a state of alert for at least three months, a defense ministry official and media said. Up to now, Japan has issued temporary orders when it had indications of an imminent North Korean missile launch that it has canceled after a projectile had been launched. However, because some test firings are hard to detect, it has decided to put its military on standby for a longer period. The order will be reviewed after three months, state broadcaster NHK said. –Reuters