Once again, civilians ended up indiscriminately targeted by the asymmetric warfare of jihadist terror, reduced to bloody and frightened victims, crippled forever in their ability to simply live daily life. All the more so after previous massacres that bloodied Paris in November 2015, devastating what had been a typical Friday night of fun. The two attacks Tuesday in Brussels confirm this reign of terror is not over.
The bombings were full of symbolism. They took place the day after leaked information that Salah Abdeslam, the lone surviving Paris attacker, would cooperate after his arrest. The Islamic State insists Brussels was not retaliation but rather a pledge never to stop. The explosions at the Brussels airport were in front of the American Airlines counter, a message to the United States. And the attacks on the metro station were near the European Commission, and Brussels is also home to NATO. Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was barricaded inside with the head of the European Council, Donald Tusk, who spoke of his shock by the bombings.
It will be written that Europe is at war, as though Europe and the entire West have not already been at war in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria for the last two decades, with hundreds of thousands of victims and many, too many, massacres of civilians. Maybe the West has forgotten — insulated from the killing as it is thanks to remote-controlled drones. Maybe it has forgotten France’s new post-colonial enterprises in Mali, Niger and Chad. As if having destroyed and helped to destroy with Western wars three states of the Middle East was an exotic and marginal arabesque.