It was four days after the Paris attacks that a friendly soccer match between Germany and Holland was to be played. Chancellor Angela Merkel and some members of her government had announced their presence. It was to be a show of strength and a message to the masterminds of the (future) attacks: we have not been browbeaten, we continue to live the way we have up to now. An hour and a half before the game started, it was canceled and the venue with a large neighboring area evacuated. It is alleged the police was tipped off on a planned terrorist attack; it was alleged an unattended object had been found on the stadium premises.
Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere held a press conference1. He had a hard time explaining the situation. Everything was done for the sake of security, how otherwise. Yet there remain questions that weren’t asked and weren’t answered. Is it true that the German state cannot seal off a sports venue? How come is the whole state paralyzed by a misleading tip? Why did the government so self-assuredly call on the citizens to turn up at the match in defiance of the terrorists without regard for such an outcome? Is not Germany kept at bay by a handful of underground fighters who do not even need to resort to the use of arms?
Businesses may fare badly
Fear that arose after the Paris attacks in France has spread all over the world, which may negatively affect the French income generated by tourism. Its contribution to the GNP stands at 77 bn euros, but, taking into account all the tourist-related businesses, it is in excess of 190 bn or 9% of the French GDP. More than 1 million French citizens are employed in tourism.
It is beyond doubt that from now on France is not going to be a popular place with tourists, which means losses. Immediately after the Friday attacks travelers from Australia, New Zealand and Ukraine were discouraged from flying to Paris. Japanese airlines followed suit2. The re-imposition of state-border controls, necessary as it is, will not help lessen the economic loss either.
French economy will be affected by the canceling of the cuts on defense spending, and the violation of a budget deficit limit of 3% of GDP, which is supposed to set off the expected smaller income from tourism. Paradoxically, the defense expenses may boost French economy, which lately has experienced a stagnation. A larger indebtedness will be the cost of it all.
It is a small comfort that economy is being boosted through military expenses because the private businesses will lose their leverage. Some of the entrepreneurs, especially small ones, who have invested in France are likely to leave the country. The richest of them are already leaving France because of taxes3; now they will be motivated to do so even more. The feeling of being threatened may have its effect on small businesses not only in France but also in Germany, where the feeling of insecurity is growing. The combat with terrorism carried out inside the country and the insecurity coupled with it may not necessarily result negatively in the consumption level; still, the conditions favorable for investment, not satisfactory at the moment anyway, are going to deteriorate, which will make it all the more difficult to overcome the economic stagnation.
Actions speak louder than words
The European leaders, as usual after events like the Paris attacks, fall all over themselves to reassure the public opinion that horrible as the assaults may have been they will not negatively affect the European way of life nor the European set of values. Or will they?
‘We will not change our mode of life, we will not bow to terrorists,’ can be heard from far and near, yet concerts have been canceled, large gatherings are discouraged from forming or downright prohibited, soccer matches are being put off4, the World Climate Summit will be scaled down5, and the whole French nation is forced to live under the state of emergency.
‘We will continue to pursue our walk of life the way we have always done6,’ the politicians, the media moguls, the journalists keep saying. Yet we are experiencing a drop in tourism in particular and in business in general, and, if similar attacks repeat themselves as sure they will (we had Madrid, London, Paris, Paris again), the trend is sure to gather momentum.
‘We will combat terrorism,’ or so sound the reassuring words said from the mouths of those who have been vested with decision making, and yet, they say as if contradicting themselves, we are ready to attract and accommodate and financially support more and more migrants. Sure, the vast majority of them are no terrorists, yet, a disquieting thought keeps popping up to many a European: would you eat a dish made from mushrooms, knowing that just a tiny 1% of it contains poisonous species?
And they say on our behalf, ‘We will integrate them,’ and they seem to be turning a blind eye to the fact that migrants for the most part do not entertain the hope of being integrated (hence separate city quarters or blocks, the so called no-go zones), but merely the hope of living off from the fat of the European continent.
Are there workable plans for combating terrorism?
Almost right after the Paris attacks it is the Climate Change Summit that is slated to take place in the afflicted city (30 November – 11 December). This international gathering of high-visibility leaders will set itself the task of combating the impending climate change. The Europeans might be looking forward to having a conference of a similar magnitude devoted to providing them with security against being terrorized. The Climate Change Summit will be held in defiance of the attacks to show they will not by any means affect the political agenda in Europe. Its participants claim to have set their sights on curbing greenhouse gas emissions and slowing the global warming to preserve desirable weather. One might wonder why are they not so much interested in slowing the migrants influx.
It has been stated in the run-up to the summit that ‘there is a direct relationship between the global warming and the global conflicts7,’ that the human-induced protracted drought in Syria probably contributed to the unrest and civil war in the region. Do the leaders want to sidetrack the ethnic and religious mixing as the likely cause of the conflict?
That’s the climate issue. How about the terrorist threat? As for now the European politicians appear to have no idea how to cope with it. Border controls that are slowly being re-introduced in one form or the other in European countries (Denmark, Hungary, now France) do not seem to be the solution to the problem: terrorists are within the gates, they hold French or Belgian citizenship8 or they are sneaking into Europe along with the thousands of refugees9. Despite the many assurances to the contrary, the authorities are in no position to process the data on each migrant who enters the old continent nor verify them: for one thing, the magnitude of the job to be done is far too large, and for the other, people who keep coming may have either no or forged IDs on them. Combating terrorism may prove harder than combating the climate change.
As it was the case with the 11 September attacks on the World Trade Center and the resulting restrictions that were imposed on American society, so is it now in France, where President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency, with the overwhelming majority of the French, including those of the Muslim persuasion, expressing their readiness to trade their civil rights for safety10. Some more attack like that and Europeans may take leave of their liberties. Quite willingly.
1. Germany vs Netherlands match in Hannover cancelled after ‘concrete threat made with plans for explosion’ Source: The Independent 18-11-2015
2. Japanese Companies Cancel Trips to France after Paris Attacks Source: Latin American Herald Tribune 18-11-2015
3. Rising number of wealthy French fleeing abroad Source: France 24 08-08-2015
4. Germany v Holland cancelled due to ‘concrete plan’ to cause explosion in stadium Source: The Guardian 17-11-2015
5. Paris Climate Summit Scaled Back in Wake of Terror Attacks Source: US News 16-11-2015
6 . Paris attacks: Gigs cancelled as bands pay respects Source: BBC 15-11-2015
7. France to limit U.N. climate summit to core talks, ban rallies: PM Source: Reuters 16-11-2015
8. Merkel besucht Länderspiel gegen die Niederlande Source: Donaukurier 15-11-2015
9. Merkel sucht die vielfältigere Gesellschaft Source: ZDF 17-11-2015
10. Paris Climate Summit Scaled Back in Wake of Terror Attacks Source: US News 16-11-2015