Having my two cents worth

Giving an opinion on world events and news…

The German stoicism in face of a terrorist threat

Intelligence has been received by Germany that there is a very real possibility that Al Qaeda is planning a terrorist strike. I have already blogged about how the Germans are reacting to this threat, that is they are responding in what I consider to be a proactive way. They have tightened security around the airports, the railway stations and at such places as the Brandenburg Gate. These are of course, necessary measures due to the nature of the threat involved.

What I admire most about the German response is the outright stoicism of the people, regardless of being on the left or right of politics. Der Spiegel online has been running a few articles regarding the response to this current threat. Here is an extract from those articles:

Commenting on the new terror warning in their Thursday editions, Germany’s main newspapers reiterate de Maizière’s exhortations for ordinary Germans to keep calm and carry on, with one newspaper suggesting that Germans seek inspiration in London’s famous "Blitz spirit" during World War II.

The centre-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:

"Every individual, irrespective of the degree to which they — rightly — trust in the state (to protect them), can respond to terror, not only by being vigilant but continuing to live their life as they please. The minister said there was no reason for hysteria. That also applies even in the event of an emergency."

The centre-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:

"What should citizens do (in response to the terror alert)? Should they not fly any more and not go to the opera or the movies? Should they avoid public transportation, Christmas markets and busy supermarkets? That would be the hysteria that the interior minister warned against. The terrorists will have already half won if they succeed in paralyzing public life."

"What should the state do? It can show strength. A democracy is strong if it can defend its principles with a cool head and calm courage. A state is strong if it realizes that human and civil rights are the best guarantee of homeland security. An interior minister is strong if he promises citizens every possible vigilance and keeps that promise. … But being vigilant does not mean immediately drafting a new anti-terror law at breakneck speed, as has so often been the case in the past."

"Germany’s homeland security is at stake. But homeland security also requires the guarantee that the principles that are intended to protect democracy also apply when that democracy is being defended. Homeland security requires inner resolve and an unwavering confidence in the fundamental rights laid down in the constitution — even in times of terror."

Did you note the wording here? This is what I mean about being proactive and at the same time safeguarding the rights of the population at large. Contrast this attitude to what we are witnessing in the USA where new useless and dangerous procedures are being implemented in airports around that nation. Those new laws indicate a government that is reactive to a threat that has already passed.

The conservative Die Welt writes:

"Islamists sometimes accuse Western societies of being too complacent and ill-equipped to deal with existential crises. Supposedly they are wimpy, unable to fight and lacking in pride. One of the most compelling features of our civilization is the fact that such accusations are not true. Again and again, Western societies have overcome severe crises without throwing their democratic nature out of the window and taking refuge under supposedly strong leaders with dictatorial powers. When London was being bombed by Germany during World War II, its society remained as free as ever, yet still managed to mobilize amazing strength. The same applied in New York in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks."

"There is no evidence that the Germans, who also reacted calmly to the financial crisis, will now be tempted to panic and overreact. There are situations in which keeping calm is actually a civic duty that has nothing to do with apathy. The population should react with a relaxed vigilance. The increased police presence will give them the sense that they are being protected. It is not a sign of indifference but of strength when life continues as normal even in dangerous situations. In democracies, heroism and everyday life can go hand in hand. The murderous nihilism of the fanatics is no match for such strength."

The mass-circulation daily Bild writes:

"As of yesterday, the ugly face of Islamist terror has become a bit clearer for us in Germany, in the form of a threat. But we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be led astray. If, out of fear of attacks, we no longer go to Christmas markets and avoid large-scale events, then the devil’s spawn from the terror camps in Afghanistan will have achieved their goal."

"We are supposed to be afraid of them? We are supposed to change our lifestyle, because they can’t deal with the way the world is? We cannot allow that to happen! The police and security agencies have to support us in that effort and send the following message to the terrorists: You have no chance!"

The left-leaning Berliner Zeitung writes:

"It is debatable how useful terror warnings are. Anyone who hears that something might happen, but doesn’t receive the slightest information as to the what, when, where or how (of the planned attack), tends to feel more unsettled than on guard. … Why then is the interior minister, who has previously showed no tendency to adopt the strong-arm anti-terror rhetoric of his predecessors, warning the population about an attack that could even happen this month? When the authorities have specific information about a terrorist attack, only one thing is worse than warning the public — not warning them. Even if citizens cannot respond to the warning in their everyday behaviour, they at least want to be sure that the authorities recognize the danger and are reacting accordingly."

"All the tightening of security measures which are now being carried out across the country could ultimately turn out to be futile. But if a bomb goes off after the population has been warned, the interior minister can explain it by referring to the impossibility of absolute security. If a bomb explodes without warning, the minister does not need to give any explanations. Instead, he need do nothing more than hand in his resignation — because he would be seen as having failed."

— David Gordon Smith

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2 responses to “The German stoicism in face of a terrorist threat

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