Charles P. Pierce / Esquire Magazine & Beenish Ahmed / Think Progress – 2015-11-19 00:37:06
There Is Only One Way to Defeat ISIS
We must hold accountable our Middle Eastern “allies”
— the states and bankers and political elites — who persist in funding mass murder
Charles P. Pierce / Esquire Magazine
(November 14, 2015) — There was a strange stillness in the news on Saturday morning, a Saturday morning that came earlier in Paris than it did in Des Moines, a city in Iowa, one of the United States of America. The body count had stabilized. The new information came at a slow, stately pace, as though life were rearranging itself out of quiet respect for the dead.
The new information came at a slow and stately pace and it arranged itself in the way that you suspected it would arrange itself when the first accounts of the mass murder began to spread out over the wired world. There has been the predictable howling from predictable people. (Judith Miller? Really? This is an opinion the world needed to hear?)
There has been the straining to wedge the events of Friday night into the Procrustean nonsense of an American presidential campaign. There will be a debate among the three Democratic candidates for president in Des Moines on Saturday night. I suspect that the moderators had to toss out a whole raft of questions they already had prepared. Everything else is a distraction. It is the stately, stillness of the news itself that matters.
The attacks were a brilliantly coordinated act of war. They were a brilliantly coordinated act of pure terrorism, beyond rhyme but not beyond reason. They struck at the most cosmopolitan parts of the most cosmopolitan city in the world. They struck out at assorted sectors of western popular culture. They struck out at sports, at pop music, and at simple casual dining. They struck out at an ordinary Friday night’s entertainment.
The attacks were a brilliantly coordinated statement of political and social purpose, its intent clear and unmistakable. The attacks were a brilliantly coordinated act of fanatical ideological and theological Puritanism, brewed up in the dark precincts of another of mankind’s monotheisms.
They were not the first of these. (The closest parallel to what happened in Paris is what happened in Mumbai in 2008. In fact, Mumbai went on alert almost immediately after the news broke.) They, alas, are likely not going to be the last.
The stillness of the news is a place of refuge and of reason on yet another day in which both of these qualities are predictably in short supply. It is a place beyond unfocused rage, and beyond abandoned wrath, and beyond unleashed bigotry and hate. It is a place where Friday night’s savagery is recognized and memorialized, but it is not put to easy use for trivial purposes. The stillness of the news, if you seek it out, is a place where you can think, sadly and clearly, about what should happen next.
These are a few things that will not solve the terrible and tangled web of causation and violence in which the attacks of Friday night were spawned. A 242-ship Navy will not stop one motivated murderous fanatic from emptying the clip of an AK-47 into the windows of a crowded restaurant.
The F-35 fighter plane will not stop a group of motivated murderous fanatics from detonating bombs at a soccer match. A missile-defense shield in Poland will not stop a platoon of motivated murderous fanatics from opening up in a jammed concert hall, or taking hostages, or taking themselves out with suicide belts when the police break down the doors.
American soldiers dying in the sands of Syria or Iraq will not stop the events like what happened in Paris from happening again because American soldiers dying in the sands of Syria or Iraq will be dying there in combat against only the most obvious physical manifestation of a deeper complex of ancient causes and ancient effects made worse by the reach of the modern technology of bloodshed and murder. Nobody’s death is ever sacrifice enough for that.
Abandoning the Enlightenment values that produced democracy will not plumb the depths of the vestigial authoritarian impulse that resides in us all, the wish for kings, the desire for order, to be governed, and not to govern. Flexing and posturing and empty venting will not cure the deep sickness in the human spirit that leads people to slaughter the innocent in the middle of a weekend’s laughter.
The expression of bigotry and hatred will not solve the deep desperation in the human heart that leads people to kill their fellow human beings and then blow themselves up as a final act of murderous vengeance against those they perceive to be their enemies, seen and unseen, real and imagined. Tough talk in the context of what happened in Paris is as empty as a bell rung at the bottom of a well.
Francois Hollande, the French president who was at the soccer game that was attacked, has promised that France will wage “pitiless war” against the forces that conceived and executed the attacks. Most wars are pitiless, but not all of them are fought with the combination of toughness and intelligence that this one will require.
This was a lesson that the United States did not learn in the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001. There are things that nations can do in response that are not done out of xenophobic rage and a visceral demand for revenge.
There are things that nations can do in response that do not involve scapegoating the powerless and detaining the innocent.
There is no real point in focusing a response on the people whose religion makes us nervous. States should retaliate against states.
Syrian Refugee Puts Paris Attacks
Into Perspective in One Simple Sentence
Beenish Ahmed / Think Progress
(November 15, 2015) — Fearing reprisals for the deadly attacks in Paris on Friday which are believed to have been carried out by at least one Syrian, refugees across Europe are bracing themselves for a backlash.
“We are with them right now, just to help them with this crisis,” a Syrian refugee who walked for 17 days before he made his way to Germany said. Ghaled, 22, who was a dentistry student in Syria before he was forced to flee the conflict there, visited the French embassy in Berlin to pay his respects to those killed in coordinated bomb and gun attacks across Paris.
“What’s happening to them is happening every day in Syria, 100 times per day for five years, so we know what that means,” he said. Such attacks have become all too common in his native country. While his math might be a bit off, Ghaled has a point about the scale of destruction.
At least 129 people in Paris have died as a result of attacks on a soccer stadium, concert hall, as well as bars and restaurants. That number might rise since another 99 are believed to have been seriously injured, but as it stands, it falls short of what Syrians have faced on a day-to-day basis at the hands of a brutal regime and a ruthless terrorist organization.
According to conservative estimates, about 210,060 people have died in Syria since civil war engulfed the country four years ago. That means that an average of 144 people in Syria have died each day, at least half of them civilians.
It’s important to note that unlike Syria, France was at peace when terror struck. A bloody rampage in a popular tourist destination will naturally garner more shock than one in a country known to have slipped into seemingly unending conflict.
Still, it’s important to compare the scale of violence in Syria and in France if only to remember the situation refugees like Ghaled fled — especially as some have blamed them for the carnage.
As some have pointed out, many refugees risked their lives to flee the sort of violence and bloodshed that racked Paris on Friday.
Despite this, refugees have become the targets of attack across Europe. A fire swept through one sprawling camp in Calais, France just after mayhem broke out in Paris.
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