During peace time, nations seem to have the unfortunate habit of preparing for a war resembling their last. In 1940, French soldiers were digging trenches, like they did during the Great War. However, this time, the Germans overcame their defenses with armored cars, bombed their positions with planes and deployed paratroopers behind their lines.
After armed conflicts, nations identify the factors that led to the escalation of threat. Following World War II, the Western world has identified the strong German nationalist sentiment, prompting Hitler to attempt to expand German territory eastward to strengthen Germany’s economic autonomy. We started to see the national and ethnic pride as inevitably leading to a military escalation. Nowadays, expressing pride in being a member of the majority is enough to be labeled as a hateful transgressor of the moral code.
Thus, since the second world war, nationalism, or ethnic pride, has become a value severely frowned upon, often criminally. In Germany, doing the Hitlergruß is punishable by a hefty fine. After every terrorist attack, many people’s first reaction is to fear that it reinforces the right-wing sentiment, as if it was a rampant and imminent threat, regardless of the political context (see picture). Diversity and openness towards minority cultures have become inalienable values of our society, to such an extent that the pride of the majority became strictly prohibited. In short, we are conditioned to identify and report signs of a potential nationalist emergence, considered extreme and threatening.
Being prepared to face the factors that led to the Second World War, we are completely powerless against the new type of battle that Islam is waging against the world. It is impossible to fight Islamic terrorism without breaking the moral code we adopted to prevent another global catastrophe.
Confronting Islamic terrorism requires us to put aside our most cherished democratic values. Thus, discussions about potential preventive measures to counter terrorism quickly become chaotic, and do not result in concrete solutions. Having been socialized for decades to condemn the remarks that we perceive as potentially leading to a second World War II, we become unable to face the Islamic threat without breaking our moral code. Determined to learn from past mistakes, we have neglected other forms of ideological extremism.
Similarly, our military advances are useless to counter kamikaze attacks on our territory. We are also prepared for armed combat resembling the Second World War. We have weapons of an unprecedented diversity, like guns capable of firing 100 bullets per second, nuclear missiles, and guided missiles. However, these weapons are completely outdated to counter terrorism on our soil. Following a terrorist attack, the police arrives on the scene armed to the teeth, often to realize that the suicide bomber is already dead, and therefore, there is nothing to do. No need to mention that the aircraft carriers and anti-missile radars are useless in these cases.
We are ready to defend our borders, but this time the enemy is an ideology that crosses borders. We are prepared to prevent another Second World War, but we now face a new form of ideological conquest, against which our weapons are ineffective. We are digging trenches, while the Islamist paratroopers are already in our cities.