The most serious problem right now is that the West appears helpless in the face of major threats and challenges. Not that it is about to come tumbling down like a paper tower. The continent has been through too much for a hasty futurologist to discard it.
But Europe does face two crucial issues: the flows of refugees and migrants and Islamic extremism. Large movements of populations are a recurring phenomenon throughout history. It’s hard to stop them. Europe is currently trying to do this through NATO and the closing of borders.
NATO, however, is operating more along the lines of a think tank, as opposed to a military alliance. The alliance’s frigates may be state-of-the-art and look very threatening, but in reality they do not have the authority to halt a boat carrying refugees or migrants. This is becoming evident to the rest of the world and paints a picture of weakness.
The same is true of terrorism. Every time a terrorist attack occurs, the streets of Brussels are flooded by military vehicles and armed commandos. So what? They might offer a sense of security to passers-by or tourists visiting the city, but they are clearly not capable of deterring terrorists attacks. Watching footage of soldiers walking the streets, while we know that they merely give the impression of safety, is like watching a tragicomedy.
Europe became very spoilt over the last decades. The Cold War brought the continent under the safety umbrella of the US. European governments, with very few exceptions, did not have to deal with security concerns. They felt they could go on living the good life, which they became accustomed to after WWII, without spending energy, time and money on security issues.
They are now realizing that the American umbrella no longer provides the continent with a shield and that, at the same time, the world has suddenly become far more dangerous and unpredictable.
Europe has been coming of age in a violent way in the last few years.
There’s another thing. Europe cannot handle both the refugee crisis and terrorism as it gradually enters a period of cold war conflict with Russia. This is a recipe for disaster for both Russian and European interests.
Europe and Russia are natural allies in the war against terrorism and should work together to rebuild the broken puzzle in the Middle East.