It Could Happen to You

Maybe I’m reading something that isn’t there in Peter Müller’s piece in Der Spiegel about how uniquely vulnerable Belgium is to terrorist attack:

Belgium’s society, government and structures spent years, perhaps decades, underestimating the problem posed by violent Islamists. Salah Abdeslam, who was involved in the Paris attacks, was able to hide out here for four months after the attack with friends, family and acquaintances. He was even seen at the barber getting his hair cut and at a shop buying clothes. Apparently nobody thought to notify the police.

Accomplices of those who carried out the Paris attacks were apparently able to spend months planning new horrors, undisturbed by the authorities — attacks that seem to have been hurriedly carried out on Tuesday. That demands an explanation, as does the fact that Belgium, relative to its population, sends more young Islamist radicals into the Syrian civil war than any other European country.

Ever since the attacks in Paris, Belgians have been concerned that they too could be targeted. Now they have been. The people of Brussels have been astonishingly calm in the face of violence. People have taken stranded tourists into their homes and teachers wrote emails to parents on Tuesday evening assuring them they would do all they could to make the last three days before Easter vacation as normal as possible for the children. It shows the people’s courage.

Unfortunately, the brave Belgians don’t have the government they deserve. Since the attacks in Paris, Belgian officials and politicians have seemed unable to cope. That applies not just to the terror investigations; it also applies to the way in which the authorities have communicated with the populace. Last November, the government put Brussels on lockdown and the terror alert was raised to its highest level, as it was after Tuesday’s attacks. Schools and subways remained closed. But it was never communicated where the danger was coming from and how people should act. The result was that schools reopened of their own accord even as the terror alert remained extreme.

but I detect a smug, self-assured complacency in it that is wholly unjustified. Major terrorist Islamist terrorist attacks have now taken place in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, and Belgium, just to name European and North American countries. Preparation for the attacks on 9/11 didn’t take place in feckless, unprepared Belgium. It took place in efficient, competent Germany. All it will take is one major terrorist attack in Germany and that confidence will be swept away. There is no foreseeable amount of preparation and planning that can prevent it.

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  • Gray Shambler Link

    Clinton, who spoke at a rally in Seattle, acknowledged her win in Arizona and said she disagreed with the rhetoric surrounding the attacks in Brussels calling it “dangerous.”

    “The last thing we need now are leaders who incite more fear,” Clinton said. “What Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and others are suggesting is not only wrong, it’s dangerous.”

    Clinton powered through her speech despite a microphone failure that she blamed on the “gremlins,” and seemingly took another shot at Republicans during her speech, calling the 2016 race a “difference of ideas.”

    “This is a contest between fundamentally different views of our country, our values, and our future,” she said.

    So, you see, we have to get used to it.

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