Dispersing the Terrorist Storm

WARSAW – On September 11, 2001 at three p.m., Warsaw time, I was talking on the telephone with Poland’s Consul General in New York. She informed me that two planes had hit the World Trade Center. That moment, I realized, was more than just a plane crash. The United States, the world, indeed our very lives, were about to change fundamentally.

Ten years later, it is clear that the fanatics behind those attacks miscalculated in two central respects. They regarded Western democracies as weak – unwilling or unable to respond to their evil extremism. And they expected Muslim communities and countries around the world to rise up and mobilize behind their millenarian worldview.

But, far from being uncertain or indecisive, the democratic world responded with unrelenting determination to terrorist outrages of all shapes and sizes. Across Europe and in America, new arrangements have been set up to pool information about possible terrorist attacks and take the speedy (and sometimes robust) action needed to prevent or disrupt them. Where possible, we work closely with India, Russia, Pakistan, the Gulf states, and other key international partners.

The institutions and policies established by the European Union are a vivid example of the unobtrusive benefits of modern cross-border integration. EU member states share highly sensitive intelligence and police information as never before, thereby increasing public security while upholding world-class legal and democratic standards. These operational measures have been complemented by carefully calibrated policies that aim to acknowledge social diversity but reduce the political space available for intolerance and bigotry.