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Police stand at the area after a lorry truck ploughed through a Christmas market on December 19, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
(Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The Amazing Blinkered European Elites

Walter Russell Mead

Today’s Wall Street Journal has an important article outlining the steps that allowed Anis Amri, the main suspect in the Berlin truck massacre (killed today in Milan), to carry out his atrocity:

The prime suspect in the Berlin truck attack arrived in Europe five years ago, at the leading edge of a wave of nearly uncontrolled immigration. That influx, culminating in the 2015 mass arrival of refugees, has exposed the region to security threats that will linger far into the future. […]

Overtaxed security agencies dropped 24-hour surveillance of Mr. Amri this year when they failed to find enough evidence to make him a high-priority target. Mr. Amri had been under scrutiny after authorities discovered links between him and a radical cleric.

Police detained him in July when they discovered his request for asylum was denied and he was to be deported. But they released him a day later, because of Germany’s strict legal limits on the detention of migrants and Tunisia’s unwillingness at the time to take him back.

German officials in November provided information that prompted the U.S. to put Mr. Amri’s name on a no-fly list.

Reading the article, one simply cannot understand how the European authorities could have worked themselves into such an obvious and massive set of errors. Nothing could be more obvious to a child than that mass immigration to Europe from war-torn regions convulsed by serial waves of radical Islamist ideology would create a massive threat.

Yet the EU essentially went about its business of bureaucratic infighting, process-worshipping, and complex institutional ballets without any real sense of urgency. Even today the EU has not developed an effective method of securing its frontiers. And control over your frontiers is the essence of sovereignty and the first element of any kind of internal security. This isn’t some arcane secret of statecraft; anybody who doesn’t understand this is massively unqualified to participate in governance.

The radical populists across Europe are wrong about many things, but they are right about this: governments that can’t protect their frontiers aren’t worthy of the name. Effective border control is what states are all about. Ask the Romans or the Chinese.

The failure of the Democratic and Republican establishments to understand that public concern over the security of America’s frontiers opened a pathway to victory for Donald Trump; the failure of European leaders to ‘get’ the vital importance of border control and, yes, immigration limitation is opening the door to massive political change in Europe.

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