Tags: France | Europe | Charlie Hebdo | US

Charlie Hebdo May Have Changed Everything

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Wednesday, 14 Jan 2015 08:03 AM Current | Bio | Archive

The Paris terror attacks could change everything — or nothing. I lean toward "everything" because politicians are clearly milking all they can from the incident. We'll know more in a few weeks.

I have zero sympathy for anyone who uses violence to make political statements. I get why French people are afraid that more attacks are coming. That could happen, but preventing them might cost more than Europeans expect.

Here are three ways the Paris terrorists may have changed the course of history.

First, renewed European unity might buy the euro currency some time and stability. I said last month that 2015 would be the year the euro dies. The Charlie Hebdo shootings are already strengthening anti-immigrant sympathies in Europe. Many of the populist parties pushing that agenda are also firmly anti-EU, anti-euro and anti-austerity.

One such party, Syriza, might take control of Greece's government in the next few weeks. This is suddenly more significant than it seemed two weeks ago. Find Greece on a map. You'll see it is Europe's connection to Turkey, and Turkey is the route would-be jihadists use to reach Syria and Islamic State training grounds.

Greece and Turkey are not the best of friends, for a variety of reasons. But if central and northern Europe really want Turkey's help on terror issues, they may have to put more pressure on Greece. That could give Greece one more reason to exit the eurozone as soon as possible.

Second, European officials are already plotting deeper Internet surveillance measures to detect plots like the one in Paris. Public opinion in Europe has been going the opposite direction ever since Edward Snowden revealed the National Security Agency's aggressive collection programs.

Will Europeans suddenly decide they are okay with Uncle Fritz reading their email? As I said, people are scared. Look what U.S. citizens let our own government do in the 9/11 aftermath. We wrote two presidents a blank check to do whatever it takes to keep us safe.

If French, German and other European democracies let the Charlie Hebdo terrorists send their countries in a similar direction, their entire economies will change dramatically, starting with the technology sector. Whom the changes will help is another question, but the status quo won't continue.

Third, European leaders may have just acquired public support for more intervention in Syria. This would be a serious strategic mistake. It wouldn't reduce the terror threat, but they might do it anyway. Add this to the fear Russia may get aggressive in the Baltics and we now have a feasible scenario for sharply higher European military spending. That would be a bonanza for both U.S. and European defense contractors.

None of this is a sure thing yet. Much depends on how fast the public gets past its current emotion. The Unite States spent trillions in Iraq, lost thousands of lives and accomplished practically nothing. Now we will see if France can avoid the same mistake.

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PatrickWatson
The Paris terror attacks could change everything — or nothing. I lean toward "everything" because politicians are clearly milking all they can from the incident. We'll know more in a few weeks.
France, Europe, Charlie Hebdo, US
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2015-03-14
Wednesday, 14 Jan 2015 08:03 AM
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