OSLO TERROR ATTACKS AWAKEN US TO A NEW FOREIGN POLICY CHALLENGE
The recent terror attacks in Oslo shocked the world and disbelief and compassion fill our minds. Although unique in its nature the tragedy builds on a series of violent and non violent changes that have spread across Europe the last decennia that may impact U.S. national security interest in the region and increasingly need attention.
Analysis: Europe is home to the largest Muslim population outside the Muslim world. France alone has 7 million Muslims. Muslims in Europe are more radical than those in the U.S. due to its proximity to the Middle East and the generally pro-Palestinian European media. In addition European Muslims are less integrated in society than in the U.S. and are considered underclass rather than middle class. Radical Muslims in Europe therefore may be a threat to our homeland security. Some of the 9/11 terrorists for example resided in Germany for years and many radical European Muslims can freely travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver program.
The disproportionate large number of European Muslims has caused widespread anti-Muslim sentiment. European anti-Muslim parties are on the rise and have become a powerful political force in some countries getting as much as 25% of the popular vote. What may get more attention after last week’s terror attacks in Oslo is that the European anti-Muslim sentiment may be a threat to U.S. interests in the region as well. Not so much for the acts of one person but more the political earthquake anti-Muslim sentiment causes in parliamentary elections. Anti-Muslim parties cause a split among Europe’s center right making conservative coalition governments more difficult to form giving rise to center left European policies. Take Norway for example, The center left government of Prime Minister Stoltenberg has been in power since 2005 despite the fact that they have fewer seats in parliament than the coalition of the center right parties including Norway’s anti-Muslim party. Most anti-Muslim parties do not want to take part in government. The Netherlands for example has a minority center right government that needs parliamentary support of the anti-Muslim party to stay in power. If they do join a government coalition they proof to be an unstable coalition partner or cause public outrage and isolation as witnessed when Austria’s anti-Muslim party joined the government.
Conclusion: To assess the impact of Europe’s radical Muslims on U.S. national security interests in the region we should not only focus on confronting Islamic terrorists but also pay close attention to the division anti-Muslim parties cause among some of our closest allies. All anti-Muslims parties have shared in the grief of the Oslo terror attacks and most of them condemn any form of violence but their willingness to form center right coalition governments and their experience to assume power are limited creating more socialist policies in Europe. Hopefully this will be a lesson from Oslo.