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Brussels attacks: restrain and rethink

By Mal Fletcher - posted Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Tunisia, Paris and, this morning, Brussels. There can be no doubt that Europe and Europeans are now the objects of consistent threats from terror cells.

Even last year's suicide bombing in Istanbul was reportedly motivated in part by the city's cosmopolitan flavour and by Turkey's desire for membership of the EU.

At the time of writing, at least thirteen people have been killed and thirty-five have been injured in this morning's attacks in the Belgian capital. Two airports and the city's Maalbeek metro station were the target of apparent suicide bombings.


At the time of writing, estimates as to casualties are still fluid, but a clearly shaken Belgian Prime Minister has said, "What we feared has happened. We were hit by blind attacks."

Across Belgium, security levels have been raised to their highest level.

Brussels is normally a calm, clean and orderly city. Sadly, being at the heart of many of the EU's institutions has made it, for disparate terror groups, a symbol of all that is deplorable about European freedoms.

The recent capture in the city of one of last year's Paris attackers has also placed it in the spotlight. Police have said that he was planning a Brussels attack when he was caught

Two things are clear in the immediate wake of the latest carnage. The first is that national European governments and their security services must exercise restraint – as they arguably often do.

In choosing how to respond, cool heads must prevail in emergency planning groups such as Britain's COBRA. It would serve no useful purpose to base responses primarily on the understandably raw human emotion often depicted in live media reports.


The fact is that no European country is under imminent existential threat from these attacks, or those that preceded them.

No foreign army represents a credible and sustained risk to the very existence of Europe's foundational institutions, or its ability to function as an ordered society.

Though ISIS, for one, would like nothing more than to achieve those goals, it does not have either the organisation or the firepower to do so. Indeed, current reports emanating from near its previous strongholds in Syria and Iraq suggest that it is too preoccupied with its own survival there to launch any credible large-scale action elsewhere.

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This article was first published on 2020Plus.

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About the Author

Mal Fletcher is a media social futurist and commentator, keynote speaker, author, business leadership consultant and broadcaster currently based in London. He holds joint Australian and British citizenship.

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