It took Angela Merkel 10 hours to find the words to respond to the attack on a Christmas Market in Berlin yesterday that left a dozen dead and scores injured. And when she finally spoke and acknowledged that it looked like a terrorist act, she hastened to express the pious hope that it was not the deed of “refugee.”
Ten hours! In that detail we see why Germany is presently defenseless against terror.
The Chancellor has directed the whole state apparatus to serve the purposes of her personal rule, which means to ensure the general public is lulled into a sense of false security, and the connection between terrorist acts and the refugees from the Muslim Middle East whom she so warmly welcomed is not made.
What we see in her rhetoric and in the political correctness she enforces is precisely what Donald Trump called out in his debates with Hillary Clinton: the stubborn refusal to deal with “Muslim extremists” or “Jihadists” in the name of avoiding ethnic or religious profiling. But whereas Clinton paid a price at the ballot box for such phony liberalism, so far Angela Merkel has been unscathed.
Merkel has muzzled the police, who are not allowed to say anything that contradicts her political narrative which uses multiculturalism as a cover. With a pliant press, she has denied to the public full and relevant information about rapes and other attacks which are alleged to have been committed by immigrants/refugees going back to the New Year’s rampage by migrants at the Cologne main railway station last New Year’s eve.
However, a docile public, ignorant of the real dangers it faces makes the job of effective policing difficult if not impossible. Without an alert and nervous public, without involved communities, the police will not be getting all the intelligence they need to uncover plots before they are implemented. This was patently clear in Brussels, where the plotters and perpetrators of the Paris attacks were hiding out in their ethnic community rather close to their last officially registered addresses.
I do not pretend to be a security expert, but ever since the terrorist attacks on Belgium’s National Airport in Zaventem and on metro stations this past spring, I am aware of what was not done to protect us before and what is being done presently. With that perspective, I have a few observations to share from my day trip to Berlin this past Friday when I participated in a press event in the Bundestag building. I have written about that trip separately (http://usforeignpolicy.blogs.lalibre.be/archive/2016/12/19/berlin-diary-16-december-2016-1154420.html), but here I will address the security issues that I noted entering, traveling around and leaving Berlin.
I arrived at Berlin’s Schoenefeld and left from Tegel airport which is more generally used for European flights and is conveniently close to the city center. What I saw at Tegel is exactly the same if not worse as what prevailed at Zaventem before the terrorist attack, only it is further aggravated by the peculiar configuration of Tegel’s departure/check-in facilities, which are set in a semi-crescent structure served by a roadway for taxis and passenger cars to drop off passengers. That proximity would allow a car bomb to wreak havoc. Moreover, as was the case at Zaventem, the departure hall is served by many access doors to the street, none of which is guarded. Police presence inside the terminal building is minimal.
By comparison, in the time since the attack on Zaventem access roads to the airport have been diverted, there is no vehicular access to the building itself and passengers on foot now pass through one entrance door only where they are subject to face control and immediately after which a detachment of four soldiers armed with heavy machine guns and facing in all four directions ensure that no one can get past them who should not be there.
Whereas in Brussels we now have patrols of heavily armed soldiers posted at various metro stations and passing through trains, what I saw on the Berlin metro last Friday was a situation that antedated our modern age of terror. No police were in evidence on the system, only ticket controllers who passed through the trains and checked my tickets and the tickets of others to ensure we had properly stamped the tickets when we entered the system. Such laxness is quite unbelievable for this day and age.
By the same token, we are told that the Christmas market in Berlin which was attacked had no special police protection and it was finally a motivated civilian who chased down the perpetrator of the attack.
To be sure, government buildings do better. The Bundestag was in session last Friday and when I got there I found that the security procedures were fairly tough. We all passed through metal detectors and our briefcases and handbags were x-rayed. Outside and above us a stationary helicopter was maintaining surveillance of the whole area. And yet, the checking of visitors was done by unarmed personnel, and I wonder how effective they would be against properly trained and armed terrorists.
In summary, Merkel’s denial of the high risk facing Germany due to her naïve or egotistical policy on immigrants as the solution to Germany’s low birth rate and labor shortage means that more terrorist attacks are to come. And what she has been doing to protect herself politically at the expense of everyone else’s personal safety may well be her undoing in 2017.