The weekend terrorist alerts issued for Europe are the most extensive and serious in history. What should we do? Personally, nothing.
The best intelligence suggests a coordinated terrorist attack is currently playing itself out, right now. The media is reporting that the plans include something akin to the 2008 Mumbai slaughter where pretty good suicide gunmen fanned out across a city center shooting madly, throwing incendiary bombs.
It’s a race between implementation and prevention. But it’s not easy anywhere in Europe, any more, to pack a weapon and go into a populated area. It’s not even easy to get a weapon, or ammunition… as it is in the U.S.
Alerting travelers and residents alike, there will be more eyes and ears to report unsavory activity. It will increase the chances that nothing will happen.
But shouldn’t I advise you to “just wait a while?” Let things cool down? Sure I could, and so could the terrorists wait a while. (Or following a dreaded success, they could claim another is imminent.)
Don’t exaggerate our own government’s announcement. It’s an alert, not a warning. Were it a warning, I might argue differently.
The risk of being hurt by terrorists in Europe, now, is worth the risk of any travel you have arranged. It’s time for the frequent reminder of the threats you and your children face crossing busy city streets, driving on an interstate, or injuring yourself while playing sports.
All of these are greater than you being hurt soon by terrorists in Europe. God forbid, even if it happens, as car wrecks happen every minute. There’s not the slightest indication, for example, that the target relates to travel or airports, any more than it does to pubs or hotels or hospitals or malls. All that we might surmise is that it is planned for areas with lots of people.
The counter I often hear is that crossing the street, driving, working out, are all essential to your daily lives, but that vacation travel isn’t.
We can just stay home, the argument goes. We don’t have to travel.
For those of us fortunate to have the means to travel, we probably also have nice homes and comfortable life styles that to many may now seem a safer alternative. Five hundred cable channels and sixty types of potatoes chips with three nearby pizza delivery services. And as soon as we nuke all the deer in our city parks, we won’t have to worry about tick fever, either.
It’s precisely because Americans have so insulated themselves from the outside world that we started the wars in my life time that I believe have led to the current level of terrorism. We’ve painted ourselves into a corner, and it’s a very tiny, self-contained corner.
About a third of all American travel is to Europe. Nearly a third of that is by Americans who will never travel anywhere else except on a cruise.
Please, enjoy Europe, now. A life in a box isn’t worth living.