Indeed, the fissure between liberalism and multiculturalism is opening
just as the continent undergoes its most momentous population shift since
Asian tribes pushed westward in the first Christian millennium.
Immigration obviously hits a national security nerve, but it also raises
economic and demographic questions: how to cope with a demonstrably aging
population; how to maintain social cohesion as Christianity declines and
both secularism and Islam climb; whether the EU should exercise
sovereignty over borders and citizenship; and what the accession of
Turkey, with its 70 million Muslims, would mean for the EU. Moreover,
European mujahideen do not threaten only the Old World; they also pose an
immediate danger to the United States.
A FINER SIEVE
The United States' relative success in assimilating its own Muslim
immigrants means that its border security must be more vigilant. To strike
at the United States, al Qaeda counts less on domestic sleeper cells than
on foreign infiltration. As a 9/11 Commission staff report put it, al
Qaeda faces "a travel problem": How can it move its mujahideen
from hatchery to target? Europe's mujahideen may represent a solution.
The New York Times has reported that bin Laden has outsourced planning
for the next spectacular attack on the United States to an "external
planning node." Chances are it is based in Europe and will deploy
European citizens. European countries generally accord citizenship to
immigrants born on their soil, and so potential European jihadists are
entitled to European passports, allowing them visa-free travel to the
United States and entry without an interview. The members of the Hamburg
cell that captained the September 11 attacks came by air from Europe and
were treated by the State Department as travelers on the Visa Waiver
Program (VWP), just like Moussaoui and Richard Reid, the shoe bomber.
Does that mean the VWP should be scrapped altogether, as some members
of Congress are asking? By no means. The State Department is already
straining to enforce stricter post-September 11 visa-screening measures,
which involve longer interviews, more staff, and more delays. Terminating
the VWP would exact steep bureaucratic and diplomatic costs, and rile the
United States' remaining European friends. Instead, the United States
should update the criteria used in the periodic reviews of VWP countries,
taking into account terrorist recruiting and evaluating passport
procedures. These reviews could utilize task forces set up in
collaboration with the Europeans. Together, U.S. and European authorities
should insist that the airlines require U.S.-bound transatlantic travelers
to submit passport information when purchasing tickets. Such a measure
would give the new U.S. National Targeting Center time to check potential
entrants without delaying flight departures. And officers should be
stationed at check-in counters to weed out suspects.
Europe's emerging mujahideen endanger the entire Western world.
Collaboration in taming Muslim rancor or at least in keeping European
jihadists off U.S.-bound airplanes could help reconcile estranged allies.
A shared threat and a mutual interest should engage media, policymakers,
and the public on both sides of the Atlantic. To concentrate their minds
on common dangers and solutions might come as a bittersweet relief to
Europeans and Americans after their recent disagreements.
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