"It's long been predicted that France's simmering cauldron of lawless Muslim ghettoes would someday combust," contends Duncan Currie in his article called "Over There, Over here" in the rightwing magazine The Weekly Standard.
Along with the chronic troubles in Iraq, the 7/7 bombings in London, and last year's murder of Theo van Gogh in Holland, the French riots pose one of the central geopolitical questions of our age: Does democracy quell ideological fanaticism? President Bush thinks so, and he's based his long-range anti-terrorism strategy on spreading liberal institutions and decent governance in the Middle East.
The French have never had much truck with the Bush doctrine. Too risky in its military aims and too quixotic in its democratic triumphalism, has been the Chirac government's basic stance. Of course, anti-Bush doctrine attitudes among the French can partly be explained by sheer resentment of the American hyperpuissance. But as the riots indicate, they were also a function of pragmatic fears--fears that support for the U.S.-led war in Iraq would spark France's ethnic-Muslim powderkeg. […] Democracy may well cure the poisonous political culture of the Arabs, as President Bush has predicted. Whether it quashes the mini-intifadas set to explode in Holland, England, et al. will depend on the self-confidence and self-assertion of European elites.
He explains why the United States is in a better position and quotes Prof. Francis Fukuyama's recommendation for Europe:
First, countries like Holland and Britain need to reverse the counterproductive multiculturalist policies that sheltered radicalism, and crack down on extremists. But second, they also need to reformulate their definitions of national identity to be more accepting of people from non-Western backgrounds.
John Rosenthal, Editor of the Transatlantic Intelligencer, criticizes the widespread perception in the media and blogosphere of a French intifada by pointing out that Muslim and non-Muslim rioters mix and that
there is as of yet no hard evidence that Islam - and, more specifically, the political form of Islam preached by the Islamists - has played any role in the outbreak or spread of the violence. (...) The danger in the present circumstances is precisely that the Islamists will gain in prestige by virtue of their ability to maintain order where the French police cannot.