Investigating terror in Europe is not easy. The sheer numbers of people that have died or been injured in the effort are mammoth and impossible to consider and understand.
Most people seem to think that it’s easier to find Al Qaeda suspects in a frenzy of people shouting, “Islamist, Islamist” than it is to find leftist suspects in waves of violence against police, ruling elites and religious minorities.
While leftists are a menace and Al Qaeda may have great ambitions, the truth is that they can be identified in an instant when Muslims descend upon the search party with torches and pitchforks.
Far right militants, meanwhile, have less sophisticated and attractive tools. They often have to take time to recruit members. The brutal police killings of French policemen around Paris are a good illustration of how it is almost impossible to find informants on the left.
It’s generally easier to find a few radicals in a crowd.
That’s what the bloc of mainstream politicians in Germany is attempting to do by drawing on their traditional nationalist base.
Merkel, their common enemy, has been vulnerable since her re-election in 2005, as she acknowledged. It has been almost a decade since she secured a third term. Her choice of dealing with the Russian threat at Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and de-facto occupation of eastern Ukraine makes Germans have mixed feelings.
There was a resurgence of anti-Semitism after the Kremlin-backed Crimean takeover and German public opinion has grown resentful toward their chancellor. It’s not hard to imagine Germans turning to the far right.
Merkel’s conservative Bavarian CSU, the party of the German military, has been weakened. The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees into Germany over the past couple of years has strained its coalition government. And it could hit them hardest in a parliamentary election next fall.
If a little national unity breaks through the front lines and the chasm with Merkel is large enough, the far right could be the big winner.
Over the weekend, the CSU suffered a major setback in the Bavarian state election when they lost a majority in the parliament.
Some blame a poor campaign strategy. Others worry that Angela Merkel should not have given in to President Vladimir Putin and approved the arming of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2015 to combat the so-called Islamic State.
The aim of both groups is to foil Merkel’s brave effort to heal Germany’s awkward political balance with one more centrist party.
Still, the division among the right is not because of ideology. And it’s not likely to impact voters in early September.
The danger for the CSU and other on the right in Germany is that since they are being targeted by Merkel’s rebellious coalition partners, they may find themselves increasingly isolated in national politics.