FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

If I #PrayforParis, Who Will Pray for the Victims of French Colonial Aggression?

What has happened in Paris last weekend is surely tragic indeed. At least 129 civilians were murdered in blatant terrorist attacks on civilian areas. The mainstream media and social media hysteria is understandable given the surprise nature of the attacks and the geographical location in which they took place: Paris, the city of love.

However, if the public truly care about the deaths of innocent lives perhaps they should direct their anger, frustration, fear and political grievances at the French government. The sympathy, fear and unity that the public feel is not only a powerful distraction from truly awful atrocities that happen daily in other parts of the world, but distract us from France’s acts of aggression in the last decade.

In 2011, France spent over 450 million euros flying at least 4500 sorties over Libya bombing the North African nation back into the Middle Ages. The UN Security Council Resolution authorizing this military activity authorized a no-fly zone to protect civilians but in actuality killed scores of civilians, desecrated Gaddafi’s armed forces whilst backing, funding, supporting and providing air cover for al-Qaeda affiliated rebels. Although we had been told that this military aggression was necessary to prevent Gaddafi from committing genocide on his own people, it transpired that the public had once again been lied to through an Iraq-WMD style propaganda campaign. The French-backed rebels at the time fighting to overthrow Gaddafi were not only the same fighters that France was claiming to fight in Mali, but included fighters from al-Qaeda in Iraq, which today are known as ISIS.

According to the UN Human Development Index (2010), Libya had the highest standard of living out of any country in Africa. Although the United States, the United Kingdom and Italy also played their part; it was a French Rafale jet that first struck Muammar Gaddafi’s motorcade as he attempted to escape Sirte, before these same al-Qaeda affiliated rebels were brought in to the area by NATO commandos to execute the Libyan leader without trial. Before this blatant war of aggression disguised as a humanitarian intervention occurred, Libya was debt free, had high literacy rates and had free healthcare. The country is now in a perpetual state of civil war as two rival governments backed by separate regional and foreign powers fight for control of the country. It should be no surprise that ISIS has a major stranglehold there given that the NATO countries, France being one of the main contributors, backed ISIS affiliated rebels to topple Gaddafi in the first place. According to UNICEF, Libya now has 2 million children out of school. As bad as Gaddafi was, this did not happen under his leadership.

To make this matter more corrupt, the French leader at the time, Nicolas Sarkozy, was under investigation for having received 50 million euros from Gaddafi himself for Sarkozy’s election campaign. So, essentially, Gaddafi sent Sarkozy 50 million euros and Sarkozy pays him back by having him assassinated? That has to be the worst recorded friendship in history.

In 2014, France made over 8 billion euros selling arms. The beneficiaries of these arms include the beacon of human rights itself, Saudi Arabia, a country who not only openly executes political dissidents within its own jurisdiction and supports violent jihadist activity, but is currently contravening international law by launching a war of aggression in neighbouring Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world. The most recent French-Saudi deal is worth $12 billion. Saudi Arabia has used their current weaponry to bomb Yemeni wedding parties and refugee camps. Together with a brutal blockade, Yemen has become Syria within half a year of bombing and faces a humanitarian catastrophe.

France is also actively bombing Mali, Somalia, and in December 2012 emerged as one of the biggest contributors to the rebel groups trying to topple Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Although we have heard time and time again that the US and NATO are only backing moderate rebels, this distinction between rebel groups on the ground has transpired to be false. Take for example the Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), which France has actively and openly supported. The FSA’s ranks have become dominated by extremists and their leaders have admitted not only that they regularly conduct joint operations with al-Qaeda, but that they wish to impose sharia law on Syria. Furthermore, since 2012, Western countries have known that the majority of the weapons and arms that they have been pouring into Syria have ended up in the arms of extremists but they are still doing it.

This selective over-play by the mainstream media combined with social media Giant Facebook’s response makes you wonder why the victims in France are more important than the victims in Lebanon 2 days prior, or the victims of France’s colonial aggression in the Middle East and Africa. How about the 5.4 million people who have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo? When will Facebook propose a flag change for the solidarity of the people who suffer these kinds of attacks daily?

In the wake of the attacks in Paris, the Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, stated “the only answer to terrorism is to be resolute, to not let the terrorists change who we are”.

But perhaps it is time to change who we are. Whether you like it or not, France has become an aggressive colonial power in the last decade. The France that was opposed to the 2003 invasion of Iraq has become a nation responsible for the death and suffering of millions of people. Let’s not forget that ISIS was born out of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, meaning that France had the morally superior position back in 2003. Yet, the public now are sleep-walking and are eating up every single bit of President Hollande’s response.

If Hollande truly cared about terrorism, he should stop funding it.

What has he proposed instead? To close the borders of France, to allow right-wing xenophobia take root and blame this whole issue on the refugee crisis, and to immediately start aggressively bombing Syria. Apparently, France has not done enough bombing in the Middle East and North Africa. Note how quickly Hollande has referred to the Paris attacks as an act of war. The perpetrators of this crime were few and were not acting on behalf of any sovereign government. Who is France now at war with? With ISIS? Given that Western leaders still blame Assad for the rise of ISIS it should not be hard to predict where France’s campaign is headed. It would also be a safe bet that we will start to see an activation of France’s new democratic and transparent surveillance laws passed earlier this year.

If blowing up civilians in France is a tragic and cowardly act which can generate so much fear, anger and sympathy, it cannot be realistically said that blowing up civilians in Syria in response is a realistic solution.

More articles by:

Darius Shahtahmasebi has completed a Double Degree in Law and Japanese from the University of Otago, with an interest in human rights, international law and journalism

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
November 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Meet Ukraine: America’s Newest “Strategic Ally”
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Frankenstein Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Ukraine in the Membrane
Jonathan Steele
The OPCW and Douma: Chemical Weapons Watchdog Accused of Evidence-Tampering by Its Own Inspectors
Kathleen Wallace
A Gangster for Capitalism: Next Up, Bolivia
Andrew Levine
Get Trump First, But Then…
Thomas Knapp
Trump’s Democratic Critics Want it Both Ways on Biden, Clinton
Ipek S. Burnett
The United States Needs Citizens Like You, Dreamer
Michael Welton
Fundamentalism as Speechlessness
David Rosen
A Century of Prohibition
Nino Pagliccia
Morales: Bolivia Suffers an Assault on the Power of the People
Dave Lindorff
When an Elected Government Falls in South America, as in Bolivia, Look For a US Role
John Grant
Drones, Guns and Abject Heroes in America
Clark T. Scott
Bolivia and the Loud Silence
Manuel García, Jr.
The Truthiest Reality of Global Warming
Ramzy Baroud
A Lesson for the Palestinian Leadership: Real Reasons behind Israel’s Arrest and Release of Labadi, Mi’ri
Charles McKelvey
The USA “Defends” Its Blockade, and Cuba Responds
Louis Proyect
Noel Ignatiev: Remembering a Comrade and a Friend
John W. Whitehead
Casualties of War: Military Veterans Have Become America’s Walking Wounded
Patrick Bond
As Brazil’s ex-President Lula is Set Free and BRICS Leaders Summit, What Lessons From the Workers Party for Fighting Global Neoliberalism?
Alexandra Early
Labor Opponents of Single Payer Don’t  Speak For Low Wage Union Members
Pete Dolack
Resisting Misleading Narratives About Pacifica Radio
Edward Hunt
It’s Still Not Too Late for Rojava
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
Why Aren’t Americans Rising up Like the People of Chile and Lebanon?
Nicolas Lalaguna
Voting on the Future of Life on Earth
Jill Richardson
The EPA’s War on Science Continues
Lawrence Davidson
The Problem of Localized Ethics
Richard Hardigan
Europe’s Shameful Treatment of Refugees: Fire in Greek Camp Highlights Appalling Conditions
Judith Deutsch
Permanent War: the Drive to Emasculate
David Swanson
Why War Deaths Increase After Wars
Raouf Halaby
94 Well-Lived Years and the $27 Traffic Fine
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Coups-for-Green-Energy Added to Wars-For-Oil
Andrea Flynn
What Breast Cancer Taught Me About Health Care
Negin Owliaei
Time for a Billionaire Ban
Binoy Kampmark
Business as Usual: Evo Morales and the Coup Condition
Bernard Marszalek
Toward a Counterculture of Rebellion
Brian Horejsi
The Benefits of Environmental Citizenship
Brian Cloughley
All That Gunsmoke
Graham Peebles
Why is there so Much Wrong in Our Society?
Jonah Raskin
Black, Blue, Jazzy and Beat Down to His Bones: Being Bob Kaufman
John Kendall Hawkins
Treason as a Lifestyle: I’ll Drink to That
Manuel García, Jr.
Heartrending Antiwar Songs
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
Poetry and Political Struggle: The Dialectics of Rhyme
Ben Terrall
The Rise of Silicon Valley
David Yearsley
Performance Anxiety
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail