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The Reason for the Paris Attacks

2015 November 14
by Ian Welsh

So, 128 dead so far, and over 200 injured in multiple attacks across Paris. ISIS has claimed responsibility, though nothing in their communique shows any knowledge not in the news, so it may or may not be them.

In a sense it doesn’t matter who it is. The task of any group which seeks minority support is to “heighten contradictions,” as the old Marxists used to say. You commit atrocities precisely because you want backlash against an identifiable minority. The more they are oppressed, the more they will turn to you, the less they will inform, and so on.

“Terrorists” and western Governments have become co-dependent. Many in the West want further excuses for internal repression (which is usually justified as just being against a despised minority, then spreads), and for more war.

Hollande has used language which indicates he may be about to invoke NATO Article 5. If so, he would presumably want significant Western military action where ISIS is—Iraq and Syria.

This is a potential disaster, given the Russian presence, and given that the Russian presence, in part, was to forestall a NATO “no fly zone.” With public opinion inflamed, the West may tell Russia to “step aside, or else.” What if Russia doesn’t?

Even if Russia does withdraw, welcome to another quagmire, ending in a failed state. (Yes, Syria is a failed state now, mostly, but if you think Western intervention will fix that you haven’t been paying attention.)

Let us hope sanity reigns. And let us remember that attacks of this magnitude are reasonably common in Iraq, Syria, and other failed states. To be sure, it is a tragedy. It is no more of a tragedy, nor less a tragedy, than a similar attack in Baghdad.


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17 Responses
  1. V. Arnold permalink
    November 14, 2015

    Hmm, I couldn’t distill “the reason for the attack” in your missive (did you forget it?).
    Russia has proved to be the only effective force deployed against ISIS; not excluding the Kurds in their various iterations and Iran.
    NATO wouldn’t dare tell Russia to step aside; unless NATO is prepared for a battle it can’t win (and it knows it).
    The U.S.’s lap dog, NATO, is highly over-rated and ill prepared for a down and dirty fight against Russia.
    Russia is a formidable adversary. Underestimate at great risk.
    Due to incompetence and hubris, the west has lost control of the narrative which they so desperately try to retain.
    Sources; Fort Russ; Sputnik; Vineyard of the Saker; RT; and Russia Insider.
    Oh, and don’t forget Pepe Escobar…
    Sycophantic western media would lead us into WWIII in a heartbeat; with John McCain leading the charge and Joe Biden at his side…

  2. BlizzardOfOz permalink
    November 14, 2015

    In a sense it doesn’t matter who it is. The task of any group which seeks minority support is to “heighten contradictions”, as the old Marxists used to say. You commit atrocities precisely because you want backlash against an identifiable minority.

    In other words, terrorist attacks are a predictable consequence of inviting hostile minorities into your country. What were the supposed benefits, again?

    Even if it does, welcome to another quagmire, ending in a failed state.

    This presupposes that Westerners don’t realize that, instead of sending their young men to die in the Middle East yet again, they can simply expel all Muslims from their countries. Yes, that would be “racist”. Would the internationalists start another World War to prevent nationalism from reasserting itself?

  3. high permalink
    November 14, 2015

    “The task of any group which seeks minority support is to “heighten contradictions”, as the old Marxists used to say.”

    i.e., to further polarize, as if the humanoid species needs anymore fuel pored on the fire of wolfpack alpha – beta male interaction.

    the bolshevik revolutionaries were/ are masters at manipulating eh collective mind: it isart and science. the intellectual rebel arthur koestler eventually left the communist party after realizing the statics and dynamics of collectivism. more important to the party leaders than the ideology was maintaining their alpha role. koestler finally sickened of having his true self hijacked.

    “put on your thinking cap” as the saying goes. filter the outside world through the firewall of the cerebral cortex rather then opening all kinds of holes in it so the stuff goes through directly to the “fit or flight” amygdala.

    the right wing authoritarians/ neo cons/ neo libs/ …. are nothing more than wolfpack collectivists. beware and read some koestler. killing begets more killing. (unfortunately, russia let itself get sucked into this massive sink hole once again.)

  4. November 14, 2015

    France’s internal minorities don’t exist because of “benefits” — they prinicipally exist because of the specific history of French colonialism. ie, their minority issues are nevertheless French problems. But naturally, violently expelling people who have mostly done nothing but be born in France or elsewhere is the obvious answer, huh.

  5. Ian Welsh permalink
    November 14, 2015

    Oh for fuck’s sake. What you do is not treat them as minorities, but integrate them.

    The same rhetoric has been applied against everyone at some point: Chinese, Japanese, Irish, Italians, Poles, etc… (Papists!)

    This stuff always circles on itself. Austerity and so on feed it. Rich societies integrate, poor societies fracture on fault lines. And Europe continues to insist on acting poor.

  6. yellowsnapdragon permalink
    November 14, 2015

    Exactly so. Terror attacks inevitably inspire nationalism and consolidate state power. Add to that NATO article 5 and the Russian military action to save Assad in Syria is interrupted by what will appear to be a legitimate NATO intervention against ISIS there. Note that the attackers came from Brussels.

    Of course the real objective for NATO in Syria is to destroy the state and weaken the growing Russia/Iran power axis in the ME. If that happens, Qatar gets its pipeline through Syria to supply EU and the West retains its status as major power alliance in ME and beyond. It’s a clever and likely effective strategy to get NATO into Syria to stop Russian progress for restoring Assad. Frightening.

  7. Pelham permalink
    November 14, 2015

    “What you do is not treat them as minorities, but integrate them.”

    But what if Islam truly is a fundamentally different kind of minority? What if they don’t want to be integrated? Or — more likely — maybe the great majority want to, or don’t mind being, integrated but there will remain always a radical sub-minority within the Muslim minority that — due to certain arguably valid interpretations of the group’s belief system — don’t want to be integrated and will violently resist?

    Many years ago I read about a study of class clowns. Teachers typically think that if they rid the class of that one kid, their job would be so much easier. The study looked at just that, what happened after a class clown was removed. Turns out that another kid starts acting up. In other words, there’s always a class clown.

    Maybe Islam is like that — and in this sense is categorically different from the other groups Ian mentions because it identifies not according to nationality or ethnicity or a mild ethical system largely compatible with Western norms but rather according to a strong, vibrant and relatively recent religious experience that to have any validity at all must soar above the secular world that surrounds it.

    So instead of being a collection of pretty much identically assimilable people across any substantial number in any given Western context, Muslims from at least some parts of the Islamic world will always include a small contingent that is susceptible to being inflamed and radicalized. (Of course, the West’s constant interventions in the Middle East give them plenty of reason.) And even if you isolate and extract that radical contingent, another one will arise — perhaps one that’s even more motivated by the very act of isolating and extracting the original contingent.

    What’s the solution then? I don’t have one. It would be monstrously unjust to somehow penalize the majority for the actions of a few. Still, the very existence of that majority may ensure the perpetual return of the radical few.

  8. BlizzardOfOz permalink
    November 14, 2015

    What you do is not treat them as minorities, but integrate them.

    European countries have been earnestly trying to integrate Muslims, for decades. The EU elites are committed to multiculturalism as a religion. It’s taught in government schools, pushed constantly via the mass media. In the name of tolerance, authorities look away from Muslim Pakistani rape gangs. What more can be done to promote integration? People don’t abandon their ancestral identities so easily.

    Austerity and so on feed it. Rich societies integrate, poor societies fracture on fault lines.

    But diversity is itself an obstacle to welfare policies. All you have to do is look at the US — I think Krugman had a point when he wrote that if the poor were white, the middle class would think “there but for fortune…”

    Where are the benefits that offset the costs and risks of importing Muslims en mass?

  9. Tom permalink
    November 14, 2015

    The problem with France is the same as Turkey had till Erdogan came along. They don’t realize Secularism means shutting up on religion, not attacking religion.

    France can’t shut the fuck up on religion and needlessly antagonizes Muslims over non-issues such as dress. Nor can France stay the fuck out of conflicts not its own, such as Mali and now this.

  10. Steeleweed permalink
    November 14, 2015

    Does anyone here recall the situation before, during and after Algerian independence? The brutality by both sides in Algeria, the rightwing OAS activity when De Gaulle pulled France out? The demonization (and exploitation) of the pied-noir by French politicians? De Gaulle had the sense to abandon a battle he knew would ultimately be futile and he had the balls (and political smarts & charisma) to confront and defeat the challenge to his regime and to French civilization. .

    Much of the turmoil in the Middle East dates back to the Sykes-Picot agreement and particularly the way the Brits set up the regimes on their way out the door. The kettle has been simmering since WWI and after WWII, the US & it’s flunkies raised it to a full boil. When the dissolution of the USSR gave us the delusion we were omnipotent, our hubris went full-bore crazy. Stonekettle Station gets it right – barbarism flourishes in the space between civilizations. It is the West which seems determined to destroy civilization in much of the world. We should not be surprised to see a rise in barbarity.

  11. S Brennan permalink
    November 14, 2015

    Immigration policy, I mean , WTF, is that really useful, I mean, a travel visa was more than enough for 911?

    However, Ian’s post is on western “intelligence” agencies using this incident to get Hollande [ever the willing patsy] to use France as a cats-paw into Syria is interesting. I came to a similar suspicion myself…remember, ISIL/Al-Nussra-[AKA Al-Qaeda] works for US/Saudi/Turkey/[and assorted gulf states] “intelligence” agencies…and Russian forces are beating the shit out of them…it’s much harder to fight an well armed, well supported, well motivated military, than a rag-tag group of rear guard soldiers who are unaware that they are fully reconnoitered by western intel assets.

    Suddenly, ISIL is having to fight real battles, instead of the fun & games of slaughtering civilians in heinous acts of barbarism, now it’s writhing around after getting wounded and staring at your dead buddy…when only a few months ago you were sharing jokes about which village girl you would get to rape as you barbecued a captured soldier. So for ISIL, good times are over, they need a game changer, the western “intelligence” agencies [who created this e’ffing mess], need a game changer.

    The problem, as I see it is, I don’t believe Putin will back down at this point. Now, western “intelligence” agencies may have already calculated such an outcome. Western “intelligence” agencies may have already determined what many observers know, the US/Europe can not compete successfully, hobbled as they are, with the shackles of unfettered greed. If things don’t change internally, China & Russia together, are the future.

    Removing the shackles will never enter the mind of western “intelligence” agencies, so perhaps, war with Russia, now, while it is still relatively weak, is seen as the best option available by western “intelligence”. While Russia is in a strong position tactically and logistically, China is not…if you’re a “wild and crazy” “intelligence” agency guy, willing to gamble with other peoples money…and children…why not?

    It all comes down to whether France is willing to enter the book depository and then, play the patsy…hmmm…I forget, what happened after Oswald’s trial anyway? Whatever, Hollende may be just the man for the job…God help us all.

  12. highrpm permalink
    November 14, 2015

    @tom
    “The problem with France is the same as Turkey had till Erdogan came along. They don’t realize Secularism means shutting up on religion, not attacking religion.

    France can’t shut the fuck up on religion and needlessly antagonizes Muslims over non-issues such as dress. Nor can France stay the fuck out of conflicts not its own, such as Mali and now this.”

    good points. and well describe the religious right wingers of the republican party.

    how much of this gut reaction stuff is fear-driven? how much of our public policy discriminates and sets boundaries between acceptable public behavior –which is the proper domain of governments and politician to protect its citizens against “the tragedy of the commons” — and private behavior, which is nobody’s business as long as the perps do no evil to harm others; keeping it within the bounds of mutual consent where it involve others.

    an example of bad public policy making is this nation’s evolving public sexuality laws. i care not wtf your sexuality is; its a private matter. but when you pull down you pants in public, then, yes, i get pissed. you’ve violated a “protecting the commons” for the use of all policy. same with your [religious/ policitical] beliefs. keep them to yourself. when your religion espouses “evangelizing the world”, you’ve crossed the middle lane marker and are putting other drivers in danger of a head-on collision. failing to distinguish between private and public behaviors makes you a nuisance, like the “donker” driving around with his windows down and sound systems blasting at 120 dB.

    of course, the dominant alpha personalities are always going to be imposers, pushing their [enlightened] views on the beta, gamma, delta…omega members of the pack. their large IQ personalities condemn them to such calling. so much for nature. perhaps www3 will teach the survivors yet another important lesson on mankind’s evolution to living at peace with our fellow man.

  13. Roman Berry permalink
    November 14, 2015

    I feel as if we’re on the brink of WWIII, and the genesis of it is the destabilizing actions of the US of A, beginning with the invasion of Iraq. Looking back at the warnings from GHW Bush admin officials, they were prescient. They knew that the long term effects of going to Baghdad and deposing Hussein were going to be instability, unpredictable outcomes (besides chaos) and just a mess in general. It’s a slow motion disaster that just seems to be getting worse, and our pols (with a few exceptions) all seem to want to double down on what got us to this point in the first place. If I were religious, I’d say “God help us, and God help the people of Paris and God help the people of the nations we have destroyed or are working to destroy.” But I’m not religious, so absent God and absent leaders with good sense, we’re fucked.

  14. November 14, 2015

    I feel as if we’re on the brink of WWIII, and the genesis of it is the destabilizing actions of the US of A, beginning with the invasion of Iraq.

    Why begin there…you could go back to 1953 and Operation Ajax against Iran’s secular democracy. And it didn’t stop with G.W. Bush, either. Libya was on the neocon list (7 countries in 5 years), and Obama and Hillary turned it into a failed state.
    ~

  15. kj1313 permalink
    November 15, 2015

    @Pelham Hold on how is it that the US has done a better job integrating Muslims? Yes we have our crazies but most Muslims are blended in our society. Maybe it is more to do with class than ideology. Muslims in France are far poorer than here in the States.

  16. nihil obstet permalink
    November 15, 2015

    Adam Curtis’ Bitter Lake is an interesting examination of the U.S. involvement in the Middle East, and how the complex situation is transformed into simple black and white narratives. It’s relevant to the discussion here.

  17. Pelham permalink
    November 16, 2015

    @jk1313

    I don’t have the numbers to give a fully informed answer. But having lived in Europe, I can say that the Muslim population seems much larger and more concentrated there than it is here.

    This indicates a failure to blend Muslims in with the large population. But then the question is why? Is it (A) primarily due to outright discrimination by Europeans against any Muslim? Or (B) is it due to the sheer number of Muslims arriving at too rapid a pace, encouraging them to hive themselves off into separate and poorer neighborhoods where resentments inevitably fester?

    Judging from my quite limited observations, I favor B, plus a bit of A. The fact is, governments over there are generally no more responsive than our own to the wishes and sentiments of the general population on issues related to their economies. Europeans resent this when it comes to the issue of immigration, which they would rather see curtailed, and some of that resentment spills over to the immigrants themselves.

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