I've read this article by Tom McGurk a few times and each time I'm confused. I think the headline is part of the problem because it gives the impression that McGurk has actually provided us with what he thinks should be Europe's response to al Qaeda. If he has, I don't recognize it here or what he's suggesting is so outrageously irresponsible that I can't accept what I'm seeing.
First he asserts that the al Qaeda threat is a "unique" terrorist threat. I agree with McGurk on this. There is no political agenda other than global Talibanization. And, the terror masters have no moral constraints. The more civilian casualties they can cause the happier they are.
After laying out his case that al Qaeda is a unique threat thriving on "a Muslim world that finds itself among the poorest, least educated and most politically impoverished international communities in the 21st century" McGurk then says that democratic societies may not be able to respond "if they are to insist on maintaining their values of individual human and civil rights". And, this is where he loses me.
First he states that a "Fortress Europe" might arise, which would take liberties with the rights of the individual. Surely, democracies have had to do just that during past major conflicts? Why would it necessarily be permanent?
Yes, Europe has a larger and seemingly more disenchanted Muslim population than the US, but I can't see why the loyalty of those Muslims living inside Europe cannot be assumed even while pursuing a significantly stricter border control & immigration policy.
Then McGurk claims George Bush's visit to Ireland is an "opportunity for al-Qaeda to send another message to the European electorate about our relations with this particular presidency [Bush]". WHAT?! First he says that al Qaeda is a unique terrorist threat with no real political agenda then he indirectly states that maybe we should send political signals indicating that we are no friends of President Bush.
This is complete lunacy and shows that McGurk is having trouble squaring his own views with regards to al Qaeda, the War on Terror and the Bush Administration.
I suspect that what McGurk really fears is that Bush might be right after all. Since he believes the "Fortress Europe" solution won't work, the only other real answer to al Qaeda is to transform the Middle East, a process in which the Iraq war was the first step. Instead, McGurk seems to lament Saddam's passing as he was a "bulwark against fundamentalism".
What he's missing is that Saddam was also a great recruiting tool for fundamentalists, as are the other corrupt regimes in the region. The fundamentalists were the only ones willing to risk death and torture to confront these regimes. Now, the US has stepped in to help those who would advocate liberty and democracy as an alternative.
What McGurk implies is the right answer is to ignore the problem, avoid the US and hope al Qaeda keeps America firmly in its sights. I hope I'm misreading this, but that seems to be what he suggests Europe should do.