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Is America or Europe Better Able to Handle Terrorism?

Updated on April 5, 2016


And which continent handles violent offenders better?

By Roger Lippman

Two loaded questions. Whole books could probably be written about each one but let's try to tackle what we know and try to analyze why that is the case.

We all know what happened in France and Brussels earlier this year. Islamic terrorists set off multiple bombs and authorities were scurrying around trying to handle the situation. First on the scene in France were police who didn't even carry guns; Brussels could not find one of the terrorists hiding in the neighborhood where he was born even though they knew the area was a hotbed for terrorists.

On the other side of the coin, America has more violent offenders in jails than most other places in the world combined and the repeat offenders are probably higher here than anywhere else. Meanwhile Germany, as shown on a recent 60 minutes program on CBS, houses violent offenders in their own rooms that look like dorms, gives them the key, and many are allowed out to visit family and friends. While incarcerated, they have sports, classes and good food.

Do either of these two issues have any bearing on the other? Okay, start with Europe: after the fall of Nazi Germany, Germany, followed by the rest of the continent, took a different approach and has been more tolerant than America and in Europe when it comes to crime and apparently even terrorism.

Then of course there is the EC, with the European Community trying to compete with America, so Europe opened their borders and Europeans can pass back and forth from any of the countries without being screened. The attitude towards refugees was much more permissive then in the U.S. – for a while at least. However in America we are all American, although different races, colors and creeds, Europe has individual countries, the background of whose citizens was not all the same and socio-economic conditions are vastly different from country to country.

So it has come to pass that there is no national police force such as the FBI for all of Europe, although there is Interpol. Many of the individual law enforcement agencies do not cooperate with other countries and in Belgium we have witnessed that 19 different police agencies in Brussels alone were not cooperating with each other, offering a field day for violent offenders to move about.

The more permissive European attitude towards violent offenders comes about also because guns are not pervasive in the hands of everybody and the general attitude seems to be that America was a violent country while nothing bad could happen in Europe – – until it did.

Therefore if Europeans want to act as one cohesive entity, law enforcement must do a better job identifying terrorists and would-be terrorists and then when they are found, not treating them with kid gloves and give them the keys to their own cells. This requires a totally different mind set from their general attitude of rehabilitation, since what we have witnessed is the aim of Islamic terrorists to take over the world and change our Western values. Can the authorities do it? It is not a question of can, but a question of must and will they do it to survive!

America is a totally different issue. First, one must consider the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution giving every citizen the right to bear arms. Previous articles of mine have discussed the fact that our founding fathers put this in for self-defense and to prevent against tyranny. However as America moved more to the right, the concept expanded to include arming people for no reason other than to insist it was their God-given right and the NRA would see no problem in people walking down the streets carrying a gun, bringing them into schools, movie theaters and houses of worship. After all, they need it now for personal protection. Why? Because all the bad guys have guns.

Will that ever change? Not likely because all efforts to put controls especially on assault weapons and cartridges containing multiple ammunition have failed. Additionally the NRA would tell us any controls has no effect upon crime since criminals will still get guns. Left unsaid however are how do we control young people who go into a school and shoot it up? A Muslim major who shoots his own men, or other such crimes by people who may have mental issues, grudges or just generally feel mistreated. No, nothing will change in the United States because guns will still prevail.

The broader issue is crime on our streets. The violence in some neighborhoods of Chicago is now greater than any other part of the world. While there are good neighborhoods with lack of crime, innocent young people standing on the street in other neighborhoods are being shot in drive-by shootings by gang members. Why and how did this come about?

Once again we reach a touchy point and what is politically correct to discuss out loud. However facts are facts. Unfortunately when the United States Constitution was enacted, many things were left out because it was a compromise among the delegates and one issue left untouched was slavery and the rights of Negroes. It took the Civil War to end slavery but people's prejudices did not end overnight. Black people fought nobly in American World War II, only to come back to prejudice in certain States. So many moved north from The deep south where they lived for ever, to places like Illinois and settled into Chicago. They were still mistreated and not given equality in education until 1954 with the landmark case of Brown versus Board of Education. Separate but equal was no longer correct. Some whites moved out of the city or sent their children to private schools. Everyone else went to the same schools. Because blacks had been deprived of better quality jobs and education, more benefits were given to them and soon a welfare system formed that continues to this day. Democrats would expand it.

Many young black men abandoned the idea of getting married, having children when they could afford it, and taking care of one's family. Instead, they had children with girl friends, left, moved on to other women and had more children. The women went on welfare to support the infants and many found that through a lack of ambition or often lack of opportunity, having children and obtaining welfare became the norm. This by no means applies to everyone in the black community as are black doctors, lawyers, engineers and members of local government but it does to a significant segment.

Black leaders were silent on the issue of encouraging young men to change and be more responsible adults. The only one on record saying something was Bill Cosby, until he was disgraced for his own sexual misconduct. Before that, Cosby was denounced by black leaders for even discussing the issue. Many blacks felt they deserved the welfare because of prior injustices and that became and still is a major silent issue separating the races. So they have become more militant in protest and their demands.

The absence of a father figure and sometimes a nurturing mother, led to children being raised by their grandmother and looking for something else in their life. Enter that gang.

Yes, Enter a gang and be a part of something. It is your family. Do as they do. Protect your turf and your fellow gang members.

And so it is that gang members drive around in cars shooting out the car window at anyone and often times other gang members without discriminating if they hit young children in playgrounds or innocent adults in the process. The black community then holds vigils, screams of what is happening in their neighborhoods but no one knows nothing. No one has seen nothing, no one will talk. The code of silence prevents cooperation with the very law enforcement agency that tries to help them. Police are viewed as the enemy because of their treatment of black people.

In Chicago violent killings has led to more police involvement while the neighborhoods do not support them. The issue of course is more complicated because there are some bad cops but more than 99% are decent. A gang members mother and grandmother will be on the street blaming law enforcement if her son is killed by them and accepting no responsibility themselves. It does not help that Pres. Obama went on national television and practically indicted a white policeman for shooting Michael Brown, although it later developed that Brown had just committed a robbery and the officer was not wrong.

A consequence of this is that a recent survey showed over 3,000 Chicago residents with assets of over $1 Million, not including their residence have abandoned the city to move somewhere else citing violence and race relations as the reason. This is second only to Paris where more millionaires are leaving. Meanwhile the total value of assets of Black people in Chicago has lowered. All of this tarnishes Chicago as what was labeled a “world class city”.

The media is liberal and enforces the belief that the cops are always wrong and TV is filled with things bad cops did but not what the 99% do to keep them safe. Protests are encouraged and promoted. Stopping the violence at the root is secondary.

The killings with guns by gang members is perverse. Drugs from Mexico and other parts of Latin America fill the streets of America with impunity and promote more crime. Is this all incendiary and racial profiling? Maybe, but it is an honest effort to show what is happening.

So we have the criminal justice system here with, on the one hand too many people in jails which is overcrowded and we are trying to cut down those going into the system. On the other hand, often times violent offenders are given a slap on the wrist and repeat crimes and we have to ask how did they slipped by? Gang members walk into prisons, and then out and back into the same gangs. Would the European system work here? With more guns on the streets in America and the lack of parenting, negative view of law enforcement and other issues, probably not.

That leads us back to terrorism. Because America does not have the permissive attitude of Europe, we are doing a better job than Europe when it comes to terrorism. This is especially true since we do have an FBI in the United States which covers all 50 States plus at times getting involved worldwide; A newer agency, Homeland Security, which is a central authority for combining all agencies was to help specifically where lo al, state and national law enforcement was not working together and we are less tolerance of offenders in America.

It does not help however when the president of the country tries to create a better image with the offenders and wants to close Guantánamo and let terrorists off easier, or trades them for an Army deserter. Of great concern is we have not accepted the premise that ISIS is not only looking for weapons of mass destruction but will at some point get them and then will set them off, probably at soft targets both in America and in Europe. The warning signs are there with testimony before Congress by key law enforcement officials but our soft targets are vulnerable.

Our hospitals and research agencies having radioactive isotopes and the facilities are easy to penetrate. Our nuclear energy facilities here and abroad are open invitations to radicals. Finding places to put dirty bombs to destroy our national electrical grid, our drinking water, or other things vital to our economy is easy. Europe is also a far easier target for both obtaining the material and setting it off.

One quick sentence to further bring this home: “cybercrime” or “ cyber warfare” and the ability to destroy everything, overload our systems or even set off missiles.

So, the answer to who is better able to handle this in reality is neither because in America we are still debating how important the issue is while in Europe it had been ignored—up to now.


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    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 

      2 years ago from Auburn, WA

      Not even close. The United States does better from a security standpoint and social standpoint. Europe has been negligent for too long in both security/intelligence matters as well as integration issues.

      One major problem is that their job markets are basically closed shops. So they don't have jobs for immigrants. For too long they closed their eyes to a growing problem. Consequently, we are years ahead on this issue. Granted, it did take a major attack and several other smaller attacks to wake us up.


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