“We’re just one Baruch Goldstein away from all-out war”

We should expect more guerrilla-like attacks like Brussels yesterday: moderate in scale, relatively easy to plan and execute against soft targets, and utterly terrifying to the public. At some point, angry Europeans, fed up with their supine political class, will begin to strike back, and that’s when the really terrifying scenarios come into play. European security services worry deeply about the next Anders Breivik targeting not fellow Europeans, but Muslim migrants. “We’re just one Baruch Goldstein away from all-out war,” explained a senior EU terrorism official, citing the American-born Israeli terrorist, fed up with Palestinian violence, who walked into a Hebron mosque in 1994, guns blazing, and murdered 29 innocent Muslims.

When that violence comes, a practically disarmed Europe will be all but powerless to stop it. To take the case of Belgium, at the Cold War’s end a generation ago, its army had seven brigades with 18 infantry battalions, plus some 30 more battalions in the reserve. Today, Belgium’s army has only two brigades and six infantry battalions, some 3,000 bayonets in all. That tiny force would have trouble exerting control over even one bumptious Brussels neighborhood in the event of serious crisis.

Back in 2012, Switzerland conducted military exercises premised on conditions in Europe getting out of control, between migration, radicalism and economic decline. They repeated those exercises the following year, and since then the Swiss, who have a knack for preparing for all contingencies, have warned that Europe’s burgeoning interlinked crises may result in major war. Such warnings were pooh-poohed by EU bien-pensants at the time; now they seem prescient.