This time the public shouldn't let them
Over 30 innocent people killed in terrorist attacks in Brussels – headquarters of EU and NATO – today. So let me guess, this is another moment for Europe to have a shared grieving experience; to apply Belgian flag filters to Facebook profiles, to express shock and horror at the European lives lost – and most of all to completely forget the role of European leaders in growing this terror, of which only a tiny fraction has ever reached western Europe.
As the great Patrick Cockburn put it just the other day , when a planner of the November Paris attacks was apprehended in Brussels:
A strange aspect of these conflicts is that Western leaders have never had to pay any political price for their role in initiating them or pursuing policies that effectively stoke the violence.After Paris attacks media and much of the public opinion allowed western leaders to cover themselves in grief, when really it should have examined their role in helping unleash these horrors – not only in Paris or Brussels, but to a much greater extent in the tormented countries that are blessed with their interventionist attention.
Isis a growing power in Libya, something that would not have happened had David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy not helped destroy the Libyan state by overthrowing Gaddafi in 2011.
Al-Qaeda is expanding in Yemen, where Western leaders have given a free pass to Saudi Arabia to launch a bombing campaign that has wrecked the country.
After the Paris massacre last year there was a gush of emotional support for France and little criticism of French policies in Syria and Libya, although they have been to the advantage of and other salafi-jihadi movements since 2011.
By taking up the cause of the Syrian and Libyan opposition and destroying the Syrian and Libyan states, France and Britain opened the door to and should share in the blame for the rise of and terrorism in Europe.
By refusing to admit to or learn from past mistakes, the West Europeans did little to lay the basis for the current, surprisingly successful “cessation of hostilities” in Syria which is almost entirely an US and Russian achievement.
Britain and France have stuck close to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies in their policies towards Syria. I asked a former negotiator why this was so and he crisply replied: “Money. They wanted Saudi contracts.”
After the capture of Salah Abdeslam there is talk of security lapses that had allowed him to evade arrest for so long, but this is largely irrelevant as terrorist attacks will go on as long as Isis remains a power.
Once again, the wall-to-wall media coverage is allowing Western governments to escape responsibility for a far worse security failure, which is their own disastrous policies.