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Inevitable

The Inevitable Divorce: Secular France and Radical Islam by Mihail Neamtu.

Ayoub El-Khazzani, aged 25, failed to reach the trigger of his Kalashnikov aboard a train passing through Belgium en route to Paris last month, which enabled three Americans and a Briton to stop the radical Islamist from killing any of the train’s nearly 500 passengers. When the four were awarded the Legion d’Honneur in Paris, it had been nine months since the gruesome Charlie Hebdo killings in that city.

The Americans remember 9/11; we remember Madrid (2004), London (2005), Paris (2015), and many other outrages, and we were relieved not to have to add the high-speed Thalys train to the list. Innocents have met a violent death at the hands of a few fanatics, thousands have been maimed. Europeans have been feeling under siege even before the new waves of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, and Eritrea began reaching us; the possibility of ISIS fighters being smuggled in among them has added to the sense of crisis.

These fanatics hate our institutions of economic freedom and political representation. They have brought fear to places where the freedom of movement operates peacefully, on a daily basis. The symbolism of the Islamist insurgence is quite plain: Jihadists targeted the pillars of commercial freedom in the United States, and the trains, the underground, and the railway stations in Europe—and a political magazine exemplifying another democratic institution: the free press, independent of any governmental control.

The Continent is less able to defend itself against jihadism than is the United States, for various reasons: geography, demographics, religion, and the political temperament of the European Union elite sitting above the national political structures. How did a liberal, prosperous and optimistic Europe end up with so many problems in such a short time?

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