Inspector’s Page: Time of Terror

So many people have suffered this autumn, and so few have done anything really effective to help. There have been worse times in history, but it has been a while since leadership was so needed and yet so absent.

The terror trade has been industrious and successful during an eventful and deeply depressing autumn. Over the course of four weeks, we experienced the death of hundreds. Starting on October 31, a Metrojet aircraft with Russian tourists returning from Sharm el Sheikh was bombed over Egypt. 224 people were killed. On November 12, a suicide bomber killed 43 people in Beirut. The day after, 130 people were killed in Paris. A week later, on November 20, another 27 were killed in Bamako, Mali, at the Radisson bombings. Then we had the Tunis suicide attack on a bus, rendering 12 casualties, and two more deeds killing in total 39 in Nigeria and Niger. We also had our own disaster in Trollhättan earlier in October.

In parallell, and very much a consequence of the above acts, we have a migrant crisis in Europe. Who wants to stay in Syria? Currently, it appears that more than one million asylum seekers have come to EU countries this year, causing both moral and logistical challenges for host countries.

Both aspects of terror have revealed the lack of organisational capabilities of the states that suffer from terrorism, and the EU countries hosting migrants. The Russian air force was unlucky in their raids in Syria. Turkey, too, were unlucky when they shot down a Russian aircraft operating too close to the Turkish border. Others have taken it easy and talked about “dialogue”. In Sweden, the secret police had their own moment when they raised the threat level to “elevated”, launched a nationwide alert and chased a suspect, unaware of the show, chilling in Boliden up in the north.

The way we have dealt with the migrant crisis is a fundamental failure on so many levels: we have those who will not help and look to Germany to fix the whole thing; then we have those who care so much they do not really think straight – like Sweden. We open up entirely, assuming the others will do too, borrowing a billion dollars to be able to deal with it, but soon realising not even that is enough, just to get nervous and shut down shop completely. The deputy prime minister (apparently considered so unfit she is only deputy in title), who has just turned the whole equation upside down for prospect immigrants, breaks down and cries on national television. The real prime minister was invisible the whole autumn, occasionally surfacing with a not okay-statement.

So many people have suffered this autumn, and so few have really done anything effective to help. There have been worse times in history, but it has been a while since leadership was so desperately needed and yet so absent. This goes for the national level, but even more so on the multilateral level. The problems have emphasised that the individual state is too small to manage the terror and the migrant crisis. The weight of the responsibility and the expectations are significant, but it is difficult to spot any sign of progress.

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