Belmont Club

Rotten in Denmark

Although the news cycle today will be dominated by accounts of the “lone wolf” attacks on a cafe and a synagogue in Copenhagen, it’s at least worth noting similar events happening all over the world.  For example, elements of the “bad Taliban” recently attacked a Shi’ite mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan, killing at least 22 people.


“The same Umar Mansoor group had also carried out the massacre at the Army Public School in Peshawar.” … The official said three police and four private guards were deployed at the mosque at the time of the attack, but the terrorists scaled the wall of an adjacent under-construction building to enter the mosque. The terrorists first entered the house of the prayer leader on the mosque premises and killed his son and nephew before heading for the main prayer hall.

In magnitude the the attacks were far worse than Copenhagen, and were duly denounced by Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations. The United Nations has been doing a lot of denouncing lately. Just today the UN Security Council “condemned ‘in the strongest terms’ the continued escalation of attacks perpetrated by Boko Haram terrorists. In a press statement, the Security Council noted the attacks in Chad, Cameroon and Niger in recent days were ‘heinous.’ The actions of Boko Haram constituted one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, it said.”

Statements of regret in the wake of attacks have become so routine it seems like they’ve delegated the task to an NSC functionary.

Statement by NSC Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan on the Shooting in Copenhagen

The United States condemns today’s deplorable shooting in Copenhagen. We offer our condolences to the loved ones of the deceased victim, and our thoughts are with those wounded in this attack. We have been in close contact with our Danish counterparts and stand ready to lend any assistance necessary to the investigation.


People on the ground, however, have long known that statements, resolutions, hashtags and candlelight vigils are mostly a waste of time. The Voice of America reports that local tribesmen beset by the Boko Haram have more or less taken matters into their own hands and formed militias, often armed with makeshift weapons. “Vigilantes have long provided security in Gombi. But when Boko Haram overran the town last November, they turned their guns, bows and knives against the insurgents, said Babuka Jimeta, a vigilante commander.”

“Boko Haram is a new group,” he said. “Before, we didn’t know them. But we usually heard that they would attack this village, sack that village, do this, do that. We didn’t know what they wanted. We didn’t know that they attack any religion. We cannot sit down at home and hold down our arms and leave them to do their atrocities.”

But it’s not just Africa. Death both wholesale and retail, has come to the first world. The Telegraph reports that although a spotty ceasefire has come into effect in Eastern Ukraine, the jaws of encirclement are still closing in on 8,000 Ukrainian government troops trapped in the Debaltseve pocket.

Alexander Zakharchenko, the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, signed a decree ordering a ceasefire on Friday afternoon.

But he added in a press conference that the ceasefire would not apply to Debaltseve because he considered it to be inside separatist territory.

And he added that any attempt by the Ukrainians to break out of or to relieve the pocket would be considered “a violation of the Minsk agreement”.

That effectively presents the Ukrainians trapped in the pocket with an ultimatum: surrender or die.


“Surrender or die” has such a 20th century ring to it. The left-wing Guardian notes, with apparent genuine sadness, that Europe has been divided again. One gets the sense of a sense of guilt finally registering on the consciences of a self-appointed elite who thought they could remake the world according to the principles of fantasy. The wolf has arrived at Europe’s door, with many more wolves to follow.

After the ceasefire negotiated in Minsk, a peace settlement in eastern Ukraine remains distant. Most of the points in the agreement, including Ukraine’s constitutional reform and the resumption of Kiev’s control over the entire Ukrainian-Russian border, will probably never be implemented. The most one can hope for is that the conflict is frozen and people stop dying. Even that, however, cannot be taken for granted, as continued fighting ahead of the ceasefire’s formal entry into force suggests.

If the truce sticks, it will be the first negotiated arrangement in a newly divided Europe, leaving Russia almost alone on the east, with much of the rest of Europe supporting Ukraine. This split can grow much worse if the conflict in Donbass continues. But even if it stops, reconciliation is not on the cards. This means that in the foreseeable future there will be no common security system on the continent of Europe, no commonly agreed-upon norms and no rules of behaviour. The world disorder has entered the recently most stable and best-regulated part of the globe: Europe.

Not so long ago the peerless intellectuals of the West accepted the victory of the Cold War and the union of Europe with a kind of resentful churlishness;  a legacy from the imbecile Ronald Reagan who came into a strategic fortune through sheer good luck.  He did not deserve it. They even rewrote history to make it appear that the European project really won the peace.  But now they know the truth.  They won nothing and threw away everything.


In Copenhagen, the police are confident that the perp is finally dead, though in truth, he gave more than he got. Any more like him and the Danish cops would have been in trouble. Meanwhile, in Peshawar, a new convoy of corpses heads for freshly dug graves in the cemetery.  In Africa, blunderbusses, bows and arrows are being dusted off, as in ancient days, as if to confirm Santayana’s dictum that “only the dead have seen the end of war.”

The world will survive its foolishness.  It always does, but the contrast between the hopes that marked the new millennium and the present reality are saddening.  In the decades to come historians will be obsessed with the question of what might have been.

The current generation of leaders has presided over an unraveling in Europe, Africa and the Middle East that was almost unthinkable half a decade ago. The contrast between the vaulting promises of Obama’s Cairo Speech, Hillary’s Reset, the EU’s eastward expansion and the reality of 2015 are almost too painful to contemplate. The turnabout is so extreme it would be funny if it weren’t so tragic. But maybe it’s the other way around. We have to see the funny side of it to keep from crying.

The omnipresent witness to our self-inflicted wounds is the cellphone.  Here’s what it’s like to be in the Peshawar mosque.  You might have thought the attackers would have been content to use AK-47s on the worshippers.  But no, they brought explosive charges as well.  They probably would have used flame throwers if they could get them.  How like an angel is man.  A killer angel.


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