There is a big difference between fighting the cold war and fighting radical Islam. The rules have changed and we haven't.” - John le Carré

Last week saw another Islamic terror attack in Europe, the latest in a long series that started with the rise of the Islamic State in the media in 2014. Over the last 3 years, there has been attacks on a regular basis in Europe with an average of one every month: 38 attacks recorded on the Wikipedia page, excluding attacks outside the European Union. This trends shows no signs of slowing down and the various police departments throughout the region have reported a rapid growth of radical individuals.

While researching this topic, we came across the following study, which we highly recommend reading: The Future of Jihadism in Europe: A Pessimistic View. The author postulates that European Islamic terrorism is likely to increase in the following years due to 4 macro factors:

  1. Expected growth in the number of economically underperforming Muslim youth,
  2. Expected growth in the number of available jihadi entrepreneurs,
  3. Persistent conflict in the Muslim world,
  4. and continued operational freedom for clandestine actors on the Internet.

The sheer increase in potential attackers are worth pondering: between 2011 and 2016, an estimated 5,000 European Muslims went to fight for Jihadist groups in Syria, 5x more than all the previous destinations combined. An estimated 20-30% having returned as of 2016. Arrests, plots and attacks have seen rapid increases in numbers.

Europe is thus facing its demons: illiberal, deadly, ideologically motivated individuals overwhelmingly coming from poor immigrant background. Indeed, only a very small number of attacks were performed directly by migrants, most of them were unsophisticated and almost all of them happened in Germany. However, there are several cases of operatives who re-entered Europe as by posing as migrants.

The number of attacks is expected to increase over the next decade and a number of questions thus need to be asked: how to control the various networks, associations and individuals promoting an extreme view of Islam? How to economically integrate existing citizens from poor background? How to deal with radicalized individuals since they will continue their activities in/from prison and usually continue after their liberation? And finally, given the poor track record of integration of migrants, should Europe continue to welcome thousands of poor migrants who will end up in ghettos with mid-double digit unemployment rates?

The Muslim population in Europe is expected to grow by 50% by 2030 as a result of immigration and high fertility rates, reaching about 7-8% of the total population or a total of 37 million. This will represent a large pool of potential recruits in the future, and as the attacks have made clear, only a handful of motivated individuals can inflict tremendous devastation using simple attack methods. But while mainstream politicians have publicly qualified the various attacks as the work of ‘evil’ and other inhuman adjectives, it is the extreme right that has mostly benefited from the avoidance of the public discourse to ask the questions above.

Governments have been repeatedly calling for ‘unity’, but large parts of the population are asking for more than just good words. Instead, benefiting from the absence of large scale debate, a number of fringe thinkers have managed to promote their views and theories. They have been shunned off the public discourse and relentlessly attacked by the governments and various associations, but this fury somehow plays in their favor by showing how unwilling the establishment is to address the tough questions raised by Islamic terrorism.

While global warming and economic inequalities are the largest threats of Europe in the coming decades, the ‘arc of instability’ spanning from Nigeria to Afghanistan creates many short term menaces that will capture the public attention, just as the Islamic terrorists hope to do. Following the Global War on Terror launched by the USA, ignorant of the Middle East dynamics and far from the conflicts, Europe has no choice but to try its best to manage the chaos resulting from the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The idiotic Libya intervention only confirmed that direct military intervention had limited benefits without massive numbers of troops on the ground.

Europe is thus under pressure internally and externally, and its economic crisis only compounds its challenges by restricting military and domestic security budgets. Until the security services get the upper hand in this endless fight, we can expect attacks to unfold at the current, or even increasing rate, in the coming years. In the mean time, we also need to secure Europe’s future by asking today the right questions and enacting policies for tomorrow.

Science, General Knowledge and Environment

Factory farming in Asia creating global health risks – The increases in animal protein consumption in Asia endangers humanity because of the potential viral infections (ever deadlier bird flu viruses with latest having a 30% mortality rate), deforestation in Latin America to produce enough plant proteins, as well as individual health risks linked with the increased consumption of red meat and processed meat.

How the Chicken Industry Got Hooked on Antibiotics – Before antibiotics, chicken was rare and didn’t taste good. But the medicine combined in the feed allowed a whole industry to emerge and now threatens the human race because of the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria. FYI, the UN actually says that “antimicrobial resistance poses a fundamental threat to human health, development, and security.

Deadly drug-resistant fungus sparks outbreaks in UK—and it’s stalking US – The fungus was first discovered in 2009 in Japan and spread quickly throughout the world, resisting multiple antibiotics, being extremely resilient, and threatening the life of patients with weak immune systems.

History & Geopolitics

Surviving America’s Political Meltdown – Both the US President and the US Congress are unable to act in the interest of their nation, and continue to undermine the USA’s standing in the world. The US needs to reforms its political system and wean off its dependency on lobbyists’ money.

Living with Trump – The obsession of the media with Trump as the sources of the problem of the USA conveniently forgets decades of wars on the government, the rise of inequalities, a corporate coup, and a controlled media, among others. Removing Trump doesn’t fixes America, but fixing America will eventually remove Trump.

Thucydides’ Ignored Lesson – Great powers fighting with similar equipment may start a war confident that they will win quickly but eventually find themselves stuck in a long and drawn out war from which no clear victor will emerge. Today’s nuclear weapons only add to the probability of world destruction.

The End of Asia’s Strategic Miracle? – Asia’s economic miracle rests on the ability of the region to maintain peace, but the region wide re-armament and increasingly confrontational international politics increases the chances of devastating wars.

The Islamic State May Be Failing, but Its Strategic Communications Legacy Is Here to Stay – ISIS invested heavily in propaganda creation, paying handsomely its ‘journalists’ and media creators, and producing huge amounts of media to win the online information battle. Its techniques, narratives, and efficiency will have lasting effects on the war for the minds.

Beyond the pale: China’s cheerful racists – We’ve lived for over half a decade in Greater China and the article does a good job of describing the pervasive racism that is expressed casually, even in the most developed cities. A blond hair blue eyes friend of ours received a bad grade even for his work, even if the answers were all good. When he asked his teacher to explain why, the latter answered bluntly that he believed our friend was ‘one of the black student’. The conversation then turned crazy with the teacher refusing to change the grade or admit his fault…

Finance & Economics

Why Public Company Ownership Is Irrelevant to Monopolies – Companies in the US are getting even more power thanks to their ability to create monopolies in selected markets. The focus of a recent article denouncing the holdings of the companies by a selected few investors is wrong because these investors are not able to influence companies decisions: instead, we should focus on enforcing anti-monopoly laws.

Prominent China debt bear warns of $6.8tn in hidden losses IMF’s China debt warnings are eerily familiarSo When Will China’s Debt Bubble Finally Blow Up? – Big surprise: China’s financial profile is starting to look like South Korea, Japan and Southeast Asia before their respective financial crisis. Non performing loans are probably undervalued. And the government is still very much in control of the situation, until…

Cashing Out of Unicorns Gets Hard – Unicorns (start ups valued at over USD 1 billion) have an almost perfect track record of being overvalued, with investors exit becoming more difficult as the valuation rise to stupid levels.

Picture of the week: Scenes from the ‘Boston Free Speech’ rally and counterprotest

About Carlito Riego

"Great perfection may appear imperfect, but its usefulness is inexhaustible. Great abundance may appear empty, but its usefulness cannot be exhausted. Great correctness may appear twisted, great skills appear crude, great eloquence appear awkward. Activity conquers cold; inactivity conquers heat. Clear serenity governs the world." - Lao Zi