Belgium, My Country, Is in Denial
Although Islamic State has claimed responsibility for Tuesday’sterrorist attacks in Brussels, they were also symptoms of a profoundly Belgian failure. The institutions of a well-policed and efficiently governed state have been evaporating for decades.
Belgium has been torn by the demands of its warring Flemish- and French-speaking communities. At the same time it has been squeezed by an ambitious European project that subsidized and empowered the country’s regions at the expense of the state. Belgian institutions were left hollowed out, impotent to address the strains of immigration and incompetent to penetrate a rising extremist threat.
This is at root a story of failed investment in all forms of capital — physical, human and institutional. For election cycle after election cycle, politicians squandered the wealth of the state to buy their way back to power. Investment became superfluous, vote-buying and social spending the priority. Belgian voters, who allowed this state of affairs to persist, share some of the blame.