Dearest Europe, sister of mine, where have you gone wrong? Considering the latest ISIL-inspired terrorist attack on June 3, the United Kingdom now faces its most severe security crisis in over a decade.
Three successful terrorist plots have killed 35 people and injured hundreds in the last ten weeks. MI5, Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, has not faced such a threat since 2005 when coordinated terrorist attacks in London led to 52 civilian deaths. Questions are now arising as to how the country has let this happen after 12 years of foiled plots and relative stability.
The U.K. is not the only country confronting such a threat. Over 200 citizens have been killed in France since the beginning of 2015, with shootings, stabbings, bombings and weaponized vehicles, leaving the country in a perpetual state of emergency.
Brussels and Berlin have also seen spates of violence, with the former being noted for being a hotbed of radicalism.
Many, such as our president, will not hesitate to blame the religion of Islam for these attacks, perpetuating a bigoted narrative describing a “clash of civilizations.” They are barbarians, and we in the West are the civilized victims. This is simply a lie. In fact, it is the barbaric actions that western governments have undertaken that place their citizens at risk.
I am not condoning terrorist attacks in Europe. Though I believe political violence is justified in some senses, I cannot agree with the murder of innocent civilians enjoying a live concert and Europe’s colorful nightlife. These attacks, however, are not random. They are radical responses to the West’s murderous imperialism.
ISIL, the militant group that has claimed responsibility for most of these attacks, was able to grow and prosper in the power vacuum created by the 2003 invasion of Iraq—an invasion mostly led by American and British forces.
ISIL mostly consists of individuals either my age or not much older, who have known nothing but an occupying force from far-off lands. At times, I have wondered what I would do if my family members were killed by drone or air strikes gone awry. Fury and confusion would dominate my being as I plotted revenge. I will happily concede that this is not always the case.
A lot of the suspected terrorists in Europe were born on the continent and were radicalized in their neighborhoods and on the internet. All the same, these opportunities would not exist if it were not for the way the West conducts itself militarily.
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the recently resurgent Labour Party in the U.K., was brave enough to say the war on terror is not working in the wake of the Manchester bombing. Having the army patrol British streets is an indication we need a smarter way to combat terrorism, he added.
Unless we are sending in our military with a clear goal, whether it be properly-resourced peacekeeping or nation-building, the West will continue to suffer from horrific terrorist incidents. The specter of terrorism that is haunting Europe is an indefinite epidemic, and its antidote—which has yet to be utilized—is in the West’s hand.
-Rudy Martinez is a philosophy senior