I’ve been in Europe during the changing of the guard at Downing Street and now comes the news of two large bombs discovered in cars in downtown London. Here are a few observations from across the Atlantic.
Many commentators believe that Tony Blair’s legacy will be forever tarnished because of his support for the Iraq War and perhaps more importantly, his unwavering support of President Bush. This may be true, but it would be unfortunate.
For all his faults, Blair is just the type of politician I wish we had in the United States. He is extremely articulate, fully embraces globalization, and is firmly committed to the enlightenment values that best define Western culture.
Under his watch Britain has prospered for the past decade. In addition, even though his legacy is most closely aligned with the future of Iraq, he actually helped to solve what seemed to be an even more intractable situation at home: reconciliation with Northern Ireland. After decades of conflict, including many terrorist attacks, Blair managed to achieve a peace which none before him had been able to do. This is a huge achievement that should help elevate his status as time goes on.
Europeans have been dealing with terrorism on their soil for a long time; as the bombs discovered this week demonstrate, the threat of terrorism is real and governments must remain vigilant.
But as a friend recently pointed out to me, virtually no one in Europe considers Islamists to represent an existential threat to the West. After two world wars and their own homegrown insurgencies, Europeans are not terrified of scattered bands of Islamists, many hiding out in caves, no matter how determined and hateful they are. Of all of the mistakes we have made in the past six years, to me none is greater than not recognizing this essential fact:
Terrorism only works if we allow ourselves to become terrorized.