Jacob Heilbrunn, editor of the National Interest, writes, “The blunt fact is that Europe has a Muslim problem because radical Muslims have a problem with it. They are following a Leninist strategy of attempting to heighten the contradictions between Western values and Islamic ones.”
Heilbrunn continues, “For now, however, the most immediate political beneficiary is Marine Le Pen, the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen and the leader of the Front National party, which has long agitated against foreigners.”
In the end, as Mr. Heilbrunn concludes, the attack on Charlie Hebdo is “a warning to Europe written in blood.”
In Germany, France and Great Britain, the attacks are likely to strengthen anti-immigrant parties. The question facing European leaders—German chancellor Angela Merkel is meeting British prime minister David Cameron today—is whether they can move to co-opt and defuse nationalist passions. Until now, they have often taken refuge in banalities and homilies.
Confronting the plague of Islamic radicalism, which has been greatly inflamed by the fighting in Syria and the rise of ISIS, is imperative. The Islamic threat may have the effect of forcing European leaders to work together more closely rather than feud with each other, as is often their wont. Already, Russian revanchism in Ukraine has inadvertently helped to revive a moribund NATO—had the Kremlin simply waited another year before annexing Crimea, NATO would by then likely have degenerated into a complete state of collapse. Now, Islamic radicalism could animate European leaders to seek further common ground in intelligence and educational efforts to combat terrorism. If it takes a threat to forge unity, then Europe has found it.