FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

How to Respond to the Paris Attacks

Look, even authoritarian and totalitarian states can’t prevent domestic terrorism. What hope do relatively open societies have? Open societies abound with “soft targets,” that is, noncombatants going about their everyday lives. They are easy hits for those determined to inflict harm, especially if the assailants seek to die in the process.

We also know, as U.S. officials acknowledge, that NATO bombing of jihadis boosts recruitment.

So if Americans and Europeans want safer societies, they must discard the old, failed playbook, which has only one play — more violence — and adopt a new policy: nonintervention.

But how are we to pursue this saner policy in the face of a determined refusal to understand what happened in Paris?

All too typical was a recent discussion on CNN in which an American-Muslim leader and an English former jihadi debated whether the attacks in Paris are best explained by the marginalization of France’s Muslim population or by an “ideology.”

Missing was any reference to France’s bombing of Syria. (France is Syria’s former colonial overlord.)

How could that not have been part of the CNN discussion? The answer cannot be ignorance. Indeed, throughout the weekend the bombing of Syria was often acknowledged on France 24 television. At times the Paris attacks were portrayed as acts of vengeance, however horrifyingly misguided and evil. (While attacks on noncombatants are undeniably evil, we must note that western governments incessantly claim to act on behalf of their people.)

Why do the U.S. media think Americans need not know what the French know? (I won’t say America’s establishment media never associate jihadi terrorism with revenge, but it’s far too infrequent.)

The Islamic State’s own statement made clear that the attacks were in response to the French bombing of Syria.

Let France and all nations following its path know that they will continue to be at the top of the target list for the Islamic State and that the scent of death will not leave their nostrils as long as they partake in the crusader campaign, as long as they dare to curse our Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him), and as long as they boast about their war against Islam in France and their strikes against Muslims in the lands of the Caliphate with their jets, which were of no avail to them in the filthy streets and alleys of Paris. Indeed, this is just the beginning. It is also a warning for any who wish to take heed.

The New York Times reported that a witness to the Paris violence heard one perpetrator say, “What you are doing in Syria, you are going to pay for it now.”

The upshot is that war on Mideast populations will not prevent terrorism against western societies. On the contrary, it will make terrorism more likely because “the action is in the reaction.” Indeed, the U.S.-led coalition commits terrorism in the eyes of its victims — so many of whom are noncombatants. Who can blame them when, for example, the Obama administration has no idea whom it kills with its “signature strikes” by drone? As the New York Times reported,

Every independent investigation of the strikes has found far more civilian casualties than administration officials admit. Gradually, it has become clear that when operators in Nevada fire missiles into remote tribal territories on the other side of the world, they often do not know who they are killing, but are making an imperfect best guess.

That is hardly the way to win hearts and minds. One might be tempted to ask if the foreign-policy elite will ever learn. But if it has no incentive to learn, why should it bother? Has it learned anything from the uninterrupted flow of money and arms to the jihadis from its allies Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and Turkey? Has Israel’s tilt toward the radical Sunnis made any impression?

Finally, just as more war will fail to protect Americans and Europeans, so will further destruction of their liberties fail. Closing these open societies is a bizarre way to answer jihadis. Better to liquidate the self-destructive empire and privatize security. It’s often said that “freedom isn’t free.” Fine, but why must we pay monopoly prices for inferior “services”?

More articles by:

Sheldon Richman, author of America’s Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society, and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com.  He is also the Executive Editor of The Libertarian Institute.

Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
Ted Rall
Why Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh is a Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From
Lauren Regan
The Day the Valves Turned: Defending the Pipeline Protesters
Ralph Nader
Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?
Binoy Kampmark
Deplatforming Germaine Greer
Raouf Halaby
It Should Not Be A He Said She Said Verdict
Robert Koehler
The Accusation That Wouldn’t Go Away
Jim Hightower
Amazon is Making Workers Tweet About How Great It is to Work There
Robby Sherwin
Rabbi, Rabbi, Where For Art Thou Rabbi?
Vern Loomis
Has Something Evil This Way Come?
Steve Baggarly
Disarm Trident Walk Ends in Georgia
Graham Peebles
Priorities of the Time: Peace
Michael Doliner
The Department of Demonization
David Yearsley
Bollocks to Brexit: the Plumber Sings
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail