At this writing more than 140 have been killed in a series of terrorist attacks in the French capital this evening. First, there were explosions outside a soccer match attended by President Hollande. This was followed by gunmen opening fire (AK-47s) in a restaurant and a hostage situation at a concert venue. Nobody has yet come forward to claim responsibility, but NBC is reporting that ISIS might try even if they are not in fact involved. President Obama has not contacted President Hollande so as not to disrupt the response, but has stated the following:
“This is an attack not just on Paris, it’s an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share. We stand prepared and ready to provide whatever assistance that the government and the people of France need to respond. France is our oldest ally. The French people have stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States time and again. And we want to be very clear that we stand together with them in the fight against terrorism and extremism. Paris itself represents the timeless values of human progress. Those who think that they can terrorize the people of France or the values that they stand for are wrong. The American people draw strength from the French people’s commitment to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. We are reminded in this time of tragedy that the bonds of liberté and égalité and fraternité are not only values that the French people care so deeply about, but they are values that we share. And those values are going to endure far beyond any act of terrorism or the hateful vision of those who perpetrated the crimes this evening. We’re going to do whatever it takes to work with the French people and with nations around the world to bring these terrorists to justice, and to go after any terrorist networks that go after our people.”
The “District Attorney” (NBC’s term) for Paris is saying that five of the perpetrators are among the dead.
…local police are now saying they believe all of the actual attackers have been killed, but they are still looking for accomplices.
Bob Neer says
These attacks will produce a reaction.
Also there is much more background information from Juan Cole.
Circumstantial evidence is that ISIL/ISIS did this, and it is a strategic necessity for the French government to maintain inclusive values, treating Muslim citizens with the same rights as non-Muslim citizens. Otherwise these deaths become a recruitment tool for ISIL/ISIS.
…by baiting countries with much more powerful forces to attack them? Surely they realize if any of us come at them with full force they are goners. It seems Islamic groups would want their people to be able to practice or simply live free of persecution wherever they are.
they are small and we are big.
Our Air Forces will drop bombs and there will be Muslim civilians in range of those bombs. These civilian deaths will be a recruitment tool to convince alienated Muslim youth to join ISIL/ISIS. Moreover, certain prejudiced non-Muslims start acting on their prejudices in the USA and France… creating propaganda for ISIL/ISIS.
Put yourself in the place of a moderate Muslim youth–bored, confused, standard teenage stuff. Then your mother gets threatening comments from prejudiced non-Muslims, maybe searched by the police when she’s done nothing wrong, or questioned by prosecutors. Police & prosecutor represent the Western government, so you start thinking the Western government is against you.
But the most important thing here is that ISIL is small. Less than 32,000 people in their group (actual warriors not captive or intimidated civilians). They sacrificed about 10 warriors in Paris, and if the rage/prejudice in the response of France convinces 50 youths to join, then their strategy worked. If it convinces 500 youths to join, then it really worked.
Our best strategy as Westerners who love freedom is to maintain the rights of Muslims the same as we maintain them for all non-Muslims.
The west has been at war with Islam (or parts of) since Charles Martel sent them packing in 732. There may have been periods of calm for decades between battles, and the west has had their own atrocities but the war will last. Christianity has had a grip on our secular democracy which has been too strong at times, but we are moving away from their influence and Christianity has been able to separate religion and government (render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s) better than many religions. True Islam wants a theocracy and sharia which is incompatible with democracy (Saudi Arabia, Iran).
The battle of Badr, Uhud, The Battle of the Trench have all shown that Islam has a violent Genesis. Mohammed was as famous in his lifetime for being a general as much as a prophet.
…until your “True Islam…” sentence which I suspect many true Muslims would vigorously dispute.
How can you possibly ask what they gain after being alive and sentient for the last fifteen years?
Look around us at the role, influence, and power Muslim extremists play in the world today, and compare it to where the same group was in November of 2000. THAT is what they have to gain.
A sectarian government in Iraq is gone, explicitly because of the 9/11 attacks. The Muslim faith tradition — whether in the extremist form claimed by ISIS or by the more moderate (by comparison) form practiced by Iran — is front-and-center in world-wide conversation today.
Once again, you don’t seem to recognize that other people do not want the same things as you. The vision you describe in your last sentence is not universally held. A great many passionate religious followers — of all three Abrahamic traditions — seek a theocracy that enshrines their particular deity and associated dogma.
The text of the Hebrew Scriptures exhorts the Hebrews to exterminate those who violate the commandments of YHWH, and demands actions that we today describe as genocide. Those Hebrews were hardly seeking “to be able to practice or simply live free of persecution” — they instead actively sought to kill EVERYTHING (emphasis mine):
The history of New Testament “evangelism” is not very different. Huge numbers of people were murdered in the name of Jesus by the Conquistadors.
I am saddened by world leaders again using “war” to describe these acts. What we are seeing is better described as auto-immune disorder. What these terrorists seek to gain is to provoke a military response by the victim AGAINST ITSELF. That was the formula that worked amazingly and disappointingly well in the US in the selection of the WTC attacks, and that appears to be the formula tried in Paris yesterday.
I suggest that we need to treat this as a ravaging auto-immune disorder. We need to identify and suppress, eliminate, or render ineffective the attacking agents, while carefully monitoring the “leukocytes” of our response. We also need to examine the targeted nations to identify enabling and causal behavioral and environmental factors.
Finally, we need to examine the “DNA” of the targeted nations/societies to seek “genetic” susceptibility to such attacks. If we merely wage war against ISIS, we will only worsen the disorder.
…but it doesn’t mean I have ever understood it, or likely ever will. Every great religion, certainly the Abramic ones, has some variation of the Golden Rule as a key tenet. Carrying out acts such as these fails that test miserably.
Andrei Radulescu-Banu says
What do they have to gain?
The problem of ISIS is not France, or even the US, but Iran. They get nothing by rousing the for-now silent West.
Yet they attack us because it’s the only thing they know to do. Old sayong – for a hammer, everything looks like a nail. For ISIS, any problem czn be solved by chopping a head, cutting a tongue, or strapping a suicide vest.
I don’t think they have a master plan. They are basically drones – able to do the same thing over and over without a central brain.
The West had trouble mustering the will to clean up Syria and Sunni Iraq. We’ve tried to deal with that problem on the cheap, after fatigue set in in wakd of the Bush wars.
Well, what ISIS achieved now is that they got our attention, and that of the French. Any plan for military action, now, will find a lot more support. If the West put its mind to it, and its resources, it could destroy ISIS – while not diminishing the rights of Sunni Muslims in Europe or the US, and fighting the war within the confines of modern morality.
What the area needed, long ago, is separation along ethnic lines. A Sunni state, a Kurdish state, a Shia Iraq state, etc.
Let the neighbors come to the negotiating table – twist their arms so they do. Draw acceptable maps. Initiate action to put the ISIS territory back in tribal hands. Find a Sunni leader willing to be the face of the anti ISIS fight.
This cannot be ignored anymore. There is justification to bear a lot more resources into this fight.
Trickle up says
Specifically, the purpose is to polarize France into Muslims versus France. To provoke France and its people into turning against the mainstream Muslims of France to the point where there is no such thing any more. To abandon its values of tolerance and inclusion.
Ironically this agenda is perfectly congruent with that of the Front National, which stands to gain politically from this attack.
Peter Porcupine says
Or one of their affiliate groups? That killers shouting Allah Akbar while the shot people one by one were….Lutherans? Scientologists?
It is politically inconvenient for them to stage this right now but they really aren’t ruled by debate scheduling.
Islamic terrorism existed long before ISIS and ISIS is mostly concerned with its own backyard. It’s been trying to recruit people to come over and fight to create a caliphate in the Middle East. There are suburban ghettos filled with unemployed, angry Muslims outside of Paris (a high percentage of them of Algerian descent), which is probably where these attackers are from.
The Islamic world is fairly large and ISIS is far from the only malefactors operating inside of it. Surely you know that.
I strongly recommend reading The Atlantic’s article from back in March called What ISIS Really Wants. A central part of ISIS’ message is that they are re-establishing the caliphate. Having a caliph, by this line of theology, imposes special obligations on the faithful to pledge allegiance to the caliph and to uncompromising in their support.
Key to all this is that Baghdadi is descended from the Prophet and that he holds territory. (Bin Laden, for example, could not claim such descent.)
Andrei Radulescu-Banu says
Window dressing. ISIS wants what everyone in that region wants: power to rule over its own, and over its neighbors.
Their justification for violence is that it quells, Genghis Khan style, other violence. In that, they have a leg up on everybody else, becausr they are willing to be more ruthless than their enemies – even against their own people.
Any crazy Muslim is going to claim to be “part of ISIS”. ISIS will claim them. It gives ISIS a sense of omnipresence that intimidates right-wing bedwetters, and makes the crazies seem super-organized rather than lucky. This happened five years ago, they’d have claimed to be members of al-Qaeda, which would have confirmed that. Forty-five years ago, they’d have said they were with the PLO. These claims serve all radicals’ interests — and those of American and Western fearmongers, be it Marine Le Pen or porcupine and her Republican friends.
Those of us who want our societies to prosper are better off ignoring them.
Death to the enemies of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity !
Fred Rich LaRiccia
The Islamic State may not be officially recognized as a nation, but it controls territory and is trying to conquer its way into nationhood. If it’s going to conduct civilian strikes against other nations, then those nations theoretically could strike ISIS where it lives. That’s a primary reason why nations do not behave so recklessly. They have something to lose.
Imagine if a nation had been behind 9/11. Its capital would have been reduced to rubble within days. Combined with the Lebanon attack, this sends the message that ISIS is willing to conduct civilian attacks in any nation. France very well may determining what constitutes Islamic State territory, determining where its leadership (at least the families of its leadership) live and planning to wipe it off the map.
At a poker game last night, one of my right wing friends chimed in, “Well, at least they attacked the right country, bunch of surrender cowards..” I reminded him that I have several friends in France. That ended the conversation. Another friend on social media is quoting Putin and his way of treating minorities..and that Obama should do the same. Yet another is using this to push her NRA agenda…..
I had to cut ties with a few friends during the last spree of school shooting and their callous remarks. Wonder how many I’ll lose this time.
…is to point out that France essentially won the Rev. War for us.
American got attacked on 9/11, we all hid under the basement. One person got killed by a Chechen exchange student, Boston shut down the city and its Constitution.
After Charlie Hebdo, thousands marched holding pens aloft. Tonight there are thousands-strong rallies across Paris of people holding signs reading “NOT AFRAID” in a variety of languages.
They are tougher than us.
Some of us gathered for peace in Copley Square and marched down Massachusetts Avenue, across the bridge, and ended in Harvard Square. It was that night as I recall, but may have been a few days later.
On September 11, 2001, my future wife and I walked from our jobs in Cambridge, across the BU bridge, and to our home in Coolidge Corner. Contrary to raging rumor, the bridges were not closed, the streets were open, I don’t recall any shutdown. I watched the second plane hit the WTC on a television in an open restaurant.
The same was not true, sadly, in the aftermath of the marathon bombing. My recollection is that the civilian hysteria on 9/11 in Boston was limited and managed by authorities. It was the government that led the hysteria after the marathon bombings.
So much for “security”.
The US invoked Article 5 after 9/11, France is well within its rights to do so.
…that Article 5 was probably drafted with the idea that it would basically be the US assisting a European nation, but the first time it was ever invoked was on behalf of the US AFTER the dreaded Soviet bloc was no more.
has something interesting to say. I am speechless myself.
The next time anyone running for the White House tells us that we need to attack Iran/Iraq/Syria….because they are oppressing Christians, beheading civilians, and running a nation of threat and terror, I want them to tell me why they are excluding Saudi Arabia from that list? You know Saudi Arabia, the place where the 9/11 crews originated from and were financed by…
…was when CJ Cregg made her own comments about Saudi Arabia.
That’s a great link, and should be required reading each of our government officials.
Here is, for me, the most important paragraph of the piece (emphasis mine):
I want to be very explicit about something else — in my view, the US, Israel and Halliburton are very much included in the list of players to be held to this standard. They are at the top of my list.
Let me please reprise what is for me the most important sentence: “It’s time to be pitiless against the bankers and against the people who invest in murder to assure their own survival in power”
Here’s the phrase that matters: “people who invest in murder to assure their own survival in power”. That’s not just Muslims. President George W. Bush and Halliburton did EXACTLY THAT in Iraq and after the 2003 Iraq invasion.
We chose to ignore our own war criminals. Our response to the Paris attacks, and the world’s reaction to our response, would be far better had we done the right and courageous thing instead.
…there is the issue of diplomatic immunity which I’m not sure how you get around.
Diplomats may not casually flout the laws of either their host nation or whatever nation they are applied to. We certainly were able to investigate and prosecute Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and the rest — they were not, after all, diplomats representing a foreign nation. We chose not to.
In any case, bankers and investors do not generally have diplomatic immunity.
A more serious issue is our much-needed constitutional protection from ex post facto laws. We cannot, after the fact, decide that was illegal to invest some bank accused of funding terrorism.
Until we decide to make these banking activities illegal, we cannot constitutionally do any of that following of money trails.
Isn’t the amount of victims of this attack a smidgen more that what the Allies rack up as collateral damage to kill a single terrorist? (I don’t know how the count terrorists that the government claims to have killed more than once…) Is it that wiping out families and neighborhoods to claim a single terrorist aggravates survivors?
How many citizens of Europe and the Americas has Assad killed? How much arms, equipment and ammunition will we send the “moderate” rebels to be duly filtered down to Isis? How long before the headlines blare the death toll of our military used as human shields by Isis after the fifty due to be sent land in Syria? Has it occured to anyone that we may be backing the wrong horse?
So much for the great ears of the NSA. Does it make us warm and fuzzy to know that for all their ability to listen to your intimate communications, they are deaf to the logistics of plannings by a real enemy? Has the CIA, FBI, and IRS (when they’re not harassing domestic political enemies) ever thought to follow the money? Or do they already know who is financing the terror and won’t share that?
Lastly, does anyone else feel that Allied diplomats all graduated from the same von Ribbentrop School of Diplomacy and Duplicity?
“Nicaragua dealt with the problem of terrorism in exactly the right way. It followed international law and treaty obligations. It collected evidence, brought the evidence to the highest existing tribunal, the International Court of Justice, and received a verdict – which, of course, the U.S. dismissed with contempt.” –Noam Chomsky
The US killed 63 people in our 2008 drone attack on a wedding party in Yemen. We killed 163 more in a different wedding party attack last September.
Other than who did the attacking and who suffered the damage, I see little difference between an attack on a soccer game, a concert, and a wedding.
Once again, when “they” do it it’s “terrorism” and the deaths are “murders”. When we do it, it’s “defending freedom” and the deaths are “collateral damage”. An American gunship mounted a sustained hour-long attack using machine guns, bombs, and incendiary devices against an operating civilian hospital.
Nothing that happened yesterday was any worse than our hospital attack.