Immediately following the jihadist bombings in Paris, President François Hollande announced that he was declaring a three-month national state of emergency, closing the French borders, and treating the attacks as “an act of war.” Two nights later French planes began attacking ISIS in Syria, and two days after that Hollande and Vladimir Putin agreed to coordinate their air attacks. Meanwhile, the French government was ferreting out some of the perpetrators in Belgium and “intensifying” its domestic surveillance.
Then again, France has been intermittently bombing Syria for months already, and the government claimed to have “intensified” surveillance after the murders at Charlie Hebdo in January. With what results? Like President Obama, Hollande promises victory from a somewhat heightened application of an already failed strategy.
It is always the impulse of Western politicians, when they are compelled by events to respond, after delays, to crises related to migration and terrorism, to deal with what they call the “origins” of the problem—to try to cope with it from a distance—and then, when the attempt fails, to move reluctantly toward measures closer to home, working from the outside in, as it were. The far more sensible (and one would think obvious) approach is to work from the inside out, “inside” being where they have the greatest influence and competence. Which is the more direct, less complicated, and most feasible solution to the threat of terrorism in Europe: to attempt to resolve the innumerable and insoluble problems of the Middle East, Western Asia, and North Africa; or to seal the periphery of the European Union, close the various national borders, round up the perpetrators in whichever country they are discovered, and expel them to their lands of origin without possibility of eventual readmittance to the West? Granted, the latter is an immense job, but it is certainly not an impossible one.
Three things are necessary to accomplish it. The first is for Brussels and 28 European capitals to send troops to the E.U.’s borders and deny foreign migrants, “refugees,” and “asylum seekers” entry. The second is for each of the E.U. members to declare a national emergency and close its borders, as Hollande has done (more or less). The third, taking advantage of that measure, is to suspend (better yet abolish) national and E.U. laws prohibiting “profiling” and aggressively investigate people who match the enemy’s description. In rape cases, the police do not treat women as suspects. Instead, however irrational and prejudiced it may seem, they write off 51 percent of the population at the start, and concentrate their investigation on males. In the last European war, citizens exhibiting the traits or appearances of fifth-column men or traitors were routinely “profiled.” If France is indeed at war, then she needs to act like it, at home as well as abroad.