Attention was briefly focused on the latest terrorist mass attack on the French Riviera before it was displaced from the front pages by the ongoing coup in Turkey. The fact that France, which has been under a state of emergency since the Paris attacks, was unable to detect let alone prevent the onslaught raised the possibility that Western security simply cannot cope with the Islamist threat any more; that it is no longer a question of will not but cannot.
The Turkish crisis now makes the answer to that question critical. At this writing a struggle for power is raging in Turkey. The coup and counter-coup caught the Obama administration, according to news sources, completely by surprise. That assertion is supported by the fact that it caught John Kerry on the hop, as he returned with a secret agreement to coordinate Syrian military operations with Vladimir Putin. It turned his agreement with Putin, which was doubtless to be presented as a triumph, into a canceled check. It leaves him standing like a man with a fruit shirt, a travel brochure and missing wallet at what he now realizes is the wrong airport.
The shambles was underlined by President Obama’s belated statement of support for the embattled Erdogan, who is secreted in parts unknown communicating to followers over FaceTime, even as the man suspected of masterminding the coup is residing in Pennsylvania. Obama is struggling once again with another “unexpected” event looking not a little like a deer caught in the headlights.
There can be but little doubt that Turkey will be in upheaval for some time, no matter how things shake out in Ankara. There is even less doubt that ISIS and al-Qaeda are putting out an all-points bulletin to jihadis to converge on Turkey to exploit the situation there. This is but the first detonation, following on Nice. More alas is likely to come.
The last 48 hours have blown the hinges off NATO’s southern door. The European Union was relying on Turkey to stand between it and the chaos of Syria. Now the wall is threatening to collapse on Frau Merkel. The chaos she sought to keep at bay may have moved one country closer to the heart of Europa, a Europa which the French security failure suggests is defenseless against the fire which it, itself, has started within its borders.
The New York Times reported that readers were becoming depressed by the recent spate of violent news headlines. They had expected Hope and Change, the Arab Spring, the Reset and a World without Nuclear Weapons would bring great things. They laughed at every warning to their perfect world. Who’s laughing now?
The uncertainty will only grow until they wake up to the fact that the magic they had counted on to keep them safe is failing. The idea that the world’s problems could be solved by becoming more like enlightened Europe has come crashing painfully to the ground. The politically correct pentagram and lotions have failed to slow the shadow that has been creeping up from the South and now crawls ever closer to the sanctum sanctorum.
What to do? What indeed.
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