Friday, Dec. 17, 2010

European Terror Alerts: Sign of the Times

From the Oct. 18, 2010 issue of TIME Magazine

The terrorist attacks on the U.S. of Sept. 11, 2001, had their origins in the resentments and rage that had accumulated in an Islamic crescent stretching from the Middle East to Pakistan. But they were planned in Hamburg. Understanding modern Europe, and the temptations and disappointments that it holds in equal measure for some Muslim young men, has always been key in the fight against Islamist terrorism. So there was little cause for surprise in learning that national-security officials believed Europe was in danger of new attacks (leading to the closing of the Eiffel Tower and a U.S. State Department travel alert), that German nationals had been killed in drone attacks in Pakistan or that France had rounded up 12 people. Europeans are used to such news, which may be one reason its consumers and travelers seemed to take the increased level of security in their stride. We think of the "new normal" as being about foreshortened economic horizons for ourselves and our children. But being told to be on our guard, all the time: for more than nine years, that's been normal too.