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Jewish World Review May 14, 2002 / 3 Sivan, 5762

Michael Ledeen

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Consumer Reports

Open doors for thugs | I don't know Roberto Calderoni, the vice president of the Italian senate, but I have just become one of his fans. When asked about Italy's willingness to take in some of the 13 Palestinian terrorists from the Church of the Nativity, he immediately responded, "We already have enough delinquent criminals and terrorists in Italy."

How come our senators don't talk like that? For that matter, how come our secretary of state doesn't talk like that? Indeed, how come he seems to have assumed that the Italians would be pleased to have more terrorists come in, even though nobody seems to have bothered to figure out just what their status would be. Are they technically under arrest in their posh hotel on the beach on Cyprus? Or are they now free men?

It seems they must be prisoners, since free men can go most anywhere. Especially in the new Europe, where there are no institutional borders between most of the countries. Once you arrive in Europe, nobody's going to check your passport as you move from country to country. So if, for example, the terrorists end up in Holland, they could easily get on the next plane to Rome and invite Senator Calderoni to share a pizza with them. Which Italy obviously doesn't want. So it's best they go to jail somewhere, and stay there for many years.

There are two aspects to this story that tickle my fancy: Why did Europe accept these guys? And why did the United States want the terrorists to go to Europe in the first place?

It seems that some of our diplomats must have forgotten about the recent decision to have the European Union make common foreign policy for all the members, because we pressured the Italians and the Spaniards to accept a reasonable terrorist quota. Now I ask you, why would any civilized country want to have a number of certified murderers? So why would we even ask? It strikes me as the embodiment of everything the Europeans love to criticize about us: It's gauche, it's presumptuous, it's heavy-handed, and it's stupid. If you doubt it, go read the remarks of some of the Eurocrats who went for it. They say the most amazing things, like the failure to clearly define the status of the Palestinian terrorists is a fine example of "strategic ambiguity." A less grammatically challenged person might just call it a fine example of the appeasement of terrorism, but what do I know?

But the Europeans went for it, which either shows that there really is no hope for this generation of European leaders (with the notable exceptions of Italy's Berlusconi and Spain's Aznar), or that the United States found some really convincing arguments. What could they be? I mean, if we felt so strongly about it, why not invite the terrorists to come live in New York City, where they would quickly meet a lot of stimulating people who have recently been deprived of their loved ones by people just like the Bethlehem terror gang.

Instead, we asked the Europeans. Was it because the Vatican had just launched a passionate appeal to free the terrorists (that might explain the choice of two Catholic countries - Spain and Italy - as the terrorists' hosts)? Or was it Colin Powell's attempt to enforce the principle that "no good deed will go unpunished?" Aside from England (which still doesn't count as part of Europe), Italy and Spain have been the most loyal and the most helpful allies in the war against the terror masters, and we certainly chose a peculiar way of thanking them for their support.

Why did we want the terrorists to go to Europe? I'm only guessing here, but I'm pretty sure that we felt the Europeans couldn't very well reject our entreaties and still claim to be active supporters of the war. After all, they had been so overwhelmingly pro-Palestinian, it would appear churlish of them if they refused entry to the terrorists.

Still, they didn't enjoy it. Berlusconi quickly denied that he'd made any promises to Powell during their several long conversations, and insisted that Italy had no right to say either "yes" or "no." Only "Europe" could make such a decision.

Finally, I was astonished, as I so often am nowadays, by the lack of surprise in our media coverage of these very peculiar events. None of our journalists seemed to think there was the slightest thing odd about opening Europe's door to these thugs.

I guess the journalists all think of these guys as freedom fighters.

JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of Tocqueville on American Character . Comment by clicking here.


04/20/02: Iran on the Brink … and the U.S. does nothing
04/16/02: It’s the war, stupid … someone remind Colin Powell
04/08/02: Gulled: In the Middle East, Arafat doesn't matter
04/02/02: Faster, Please: The war falters
03/26/02: The Revolution Continues: What's brewing in Iran
03/18/02: Iran simmers still: Where's the press?
03/05/02: We can't lose any more ground in Iran
02/14/02: The Great Iranian Hoax
02/12/02: Unnoticed Bombshell: Key information in a new book
01/31/02: The truth behind the Powell play
01/29/02: My past with "Johnny Jihad's" lawyer
01/21/02: It's Munich, all over again
01/08/02: What's the Holdup?: It's time for the next battles in the war against terrorism
12/11/01: We must be imperious, ruthless, and relentless
12/06/01: Remembering my family friend, Walt Disney
11/28/01: The Barbara Olson Bomb: Understanding the war
11/13/01: How We're Doing: The Angleton Files, IV
11/06/01: A great revolutionary war is coming
10/25/01: How to talk to a terrorist
10/23/01: Creative Reporting: Learning to appreciate press briefings
10/19/01: Not the Emmys: A Beltway award presentation
10/15/01: Rediscovering American character
10/11/01: Somehow, I've missed Arafat's praise of the first stage of our war on terrorism
10/04/01: What do we not know?
09/28/01: Machiavelli On Our War: Some advice for our leaders
09/25/01: No Room for the U.N.: Keeping Annan & co. out of the picture
09/21/01: Creative destruction
09/14/01: Who Killed Barbara Olson?
08/22/01: How Israel will win this war
08/15/01: Bracing for war
08/09/01: More Dithering Democrats
08/02/01: Delirious Dems
07/31/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit, cont'd
07/19/01: Be careful what you wish for
07/17/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit
07/05/01: Let Slobo Go
05/30/01: Anybody out there afraid of the Republicans?
05/09/01: The bad guys to the rescue
05/07/01: Bye-bye, Blumenthal
04/20/01: Handling China
04/11/01: EXAM TIME!
04/05/01: Chinese over-water torture
03/27/01: Fighting AIDS in Africa is a losing proposition
03/14/01: Big Bird, Oscar, and other threats
03/09/01: Time for a good, old-fashioned purge
03/06/01: Powell’s great (mis)adventure
02/26/01: The Clinton Sopranos
02/20/01: Unity Schmoonity: Sharon is defying the will of the people
01/30/01: The Rest of the Rich Story
01/22/01: Ashcroft the Jew
01/11/01: A fitting close to the Clinton years
12/26/00: Continuing Clinton's shameful legacy
12/21/00: Clinton’s gift for Bush

© 2001, Michael Ledeen