Paris open thread

by Grace aka costofcollege

This post was created in case you all want to post thoughts and opinions on the Paris attack.  If you’re not interested, please ignore.

Paris Attacks Were an ‘Act of War’ by Islamic State, French President François Hollande Says

PARIS—French President François Hollande on Saturday blamed Islamic State for the terrorist attacks across Paris that left at least 127 people dead, and vowed to retaliate.

“It is an act of war that was waged by a terrorist army, a jihadist army, by Daesh, against France,” Mr. Hollande said, using an Arabic name for Islamic State. “This act of war was prepared and planned from the outside, with accomplices inside,” he added, saying France would respond to the attacks.

“France, because it was freely, cowardly attacked, will be merciless against the terrorists,” Mr. Hollande said in an address to the nation broadcast on French TV. “France will triumph over barbarism.”…

Mr. Hollande’s remarks may herald a sharp escalation of France’s military action in Syria and Iraq against Islamic State. France has been bombing the group’s positions in both countries, but has so far refused to put troops on the ground.

President Obama characterized the attack in a slightly different way.

… 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.

What does this mean?

We stand prepared and ready to provide whatever assistance that the government and the people of France need to respond….

Is this act of terrorism a turning point of some kind?  Troops on the ground?  More aggressive routing out of potential terrorism within country borders?


36 thoughts on “Paris open thread

  1. I am horrified and angry, and the only thing that cheers me up is to fantasize about a team of Jack Reacher, Liam Neeson in Taken, and Denzel Washington in The Equalizer going over to the Middle East to take care of ISIS. Silly, I know, but it makes me feel a bit better.

    Our city hall was lit up in the colors of the French flag, and I saw similar shows of support in photos from New York and Toronto. I know that I appreciated reading about other countries showing support for the US after 9/11.

  2. I heard this news as I was driving home after work yesterday. I feel tremendous sadness that this happened and real sympathy for all those who suffered direct losses, all Parisians and the French.

  3. I’ll admit I became a bit obsessed with the Paris attack yesterday and ended up watching way too much TV reporting about it.

    From Rhett’s link and other sources, it appears that ISIS wants world domination based on their archaic values rooted in a fundamentalist version of Islam. They want to kill us or enslave us. Containment does not seem like a smart strategy. Clinton is sounding hawkish enough to anger many lefties/progessives, but what other choices do they have? What new or old mistakes will be made by US leaders trying to deal with this threat? There is a rising risk of a type of nationalism that could be ugly. Here’s one impassioned view on why borders must be closed.

    So the only rational, logical thing to do is to close the borders. Yes, it sucks for the refugees. Yes, that means they will be suffering in a war-torn nation or be forced into a nation that may not be as developed, nice, generous, or welcoming as the European nations they’ve been flooding. There are no assets in Syria and no resources to perform background checks on the thousands and thousands of people demanding entrance into the West. Neither France nor any other EU member has the ability to properly check the thousands of military-aged males entering their countries for any connection to terrorist groups.
    So yes. They need to shut their borders down. It might be callous, but it’s the only way to protect the citizens of those nations, and after all, isn’t that the basic role of government?
    It doesn’t matter if only a small number of refugees are terrorists. It doesn’t matter if they’re terrorists hiding in a swarm of great people. Fact is they are there. They enter countries, and they destroy lives. So how about we focus on that, and stop pushing your idiot political agendas?

    It’s complicated, of course. Angering displaced non-radical Muslims feeds right into the goals of ISIS.

  4. Many of my FB friends posted the Peace for Paris image along with words of sadness and consolation. But one of my Israeli friends posted this at the end of her rant: “To the sane world leaders: GROW A PAIR AND KICK THEIR ASSES.”

  5. CoC,

    It’s interesting how similar ISIS’s ideology is to that of Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan. Replace Muslim with Aryan or the Caliph with the Emperor and it’s remarkably similar. The major difference, in terms of our policy response, is that Germany and Japan were major industrial powers. There is no industry in the territory ISIS controls so the existential threat to us is minimal. Given that, what is correct response?

    I don’t know.

  6. Oil is fueling their terrorism efforts, so maybe we should start with Trump’s advice to demolish their oil fields. Oh, wait.

    U.S. Steps Up Its Attacks on ISIS-Controlled Oil Fields in Syria

    Interesting that last night “Clinton sounded much like the conservative Charles Krauthammer, writing in the month after the September 11 attacks:”, when he called radical Islam the heir to Nazism. But Clinton said it was not America’s fight, a position that she’ll probably change in the near future.

  7. ISIS has been waging its fight and committing mass atrocities in Muslim countries for a while (their activity is not confined to Arab nations). It is not so much that we have become recently desensitized or overloaded with information – if terrible things happen in Africa (Idi Amin’s regime in Uganda ended in 1979) or in some other world area that is far from the usual Eurocentric focus AND is not deemed strategic, we didn’t put on armbands in the old days or nowadays overlay our facebook photo with a national flag. I don’t even recall much reaction outside the South Asian community to the most recent Mumbai attacks, which resemble the Paris attacks. However, the real worry is that ISIS now can mount a coordinated attack outside its area of direct control. There is an entire generation now of young radical or radicalized Muslim men with EU passports born in the EU – from the news some of the identified individuals fit that profile. I don’t think internment camps will be considered or ethnic deportation/revocation of citizenship. Organized terror attacks will continue in Europe. In the US, we like to think that our security services have been using all those invasions of our traditional civil liberties to foil many organized terror attacks ever since 9-11. But as long as there are angry young men without hope and with a violent politico-religious ideology, such as native born Timothy McVeigh or foreign born Tamerlan Tsarnaev, random acts of violence will occur.

  8. But Clinton said it was not America’s fight, a position that she’ll probably change in the near future

    They blew up a Russian airliner and killed hundreds in Paris. Marine Le Pen has called for substantial increases in French defense spending. Why don’t we let them deal with it?

  9. COC, thanks for posting this yesterday. I’ve had my head in the sand and have been avoiding the news. I feel so helpless about the whole situation.

  10. NO. No no no no no. That Atlantic article is very wrong. See:


    Wood argues that the Islamic State is really more Islamic that moderate Islam. Why? Because they take the Qur’an literally. So you can’t say, as moderate Muslims do, that it’s un-Islamic because rilly it’s extra-Islamic.

    That’s just dumb. Many fundamentalist Christians think they’re “more Christian” than moderates because they take the Bible “literally.” Ignoring standard lit-crit charges that there’s no such thing as taking a text literally, you would be hard-pressed to find any fundamentalist Christians actually obeying Deuteronomy 21:18-21. Everyone ignores the parts of the complicated religious texts that they find boring or wrong. Everyone. EVEN THE DUGGARS, y’all! The Duggars are not more Christian than I am. Or, if they are, it’s not because they breed like rabbits and are homophobic. Da’esh is NOT more Islamic than the moderate Muslims down the street. There are lots of parts of the Qur’an that preach peace, and those are the parts that Da’esh are ignoring.

  11. RMS, I read the Think Progress article, and while it’s interesting I don’t think it undermines Wood’s point: ISIS believes it has established a caliphate, they believe their actions are supported by their interpretation of the Quran, and we in the west do not understand their goals or the means they are willing to use because so few of us have studied Islam or read the Quran.

    It is not fair to assume that most Muslims interpret the Quran in the same way as ISIS, and there are certainly many who reject ISIS’s interpretation.

    However, if we want to defeat ISIS, we are going to have to understand how they think and why they think it. Even if the French bomb every inch of its territory in the Middle East, there are a lot of sympathizers elsewhere – I saw one survey that said that 27% of Frenchmen between 18-25 agree with ISIS. What will change their minds?

    What I’m trying to say is that whether or not ISIS’s version of Islam is fair, correct, or the majority’s interpretation of their texts is irrelevant to stopping them. Of course, we should use their interpretation of the texts against them by using them to predict where they might attack next – e.g., Rome – and eliminating any prophetic symbolism we can.

    But we are going to need the help of every moderate Muslim to challenge ISIS’s theology, in their mosques, in their families, and in their universities. It’s not happening fast enough.

  12. However, if we want to defeat ISIS, we are going to have to understand how they think and why they think it.

    That much is absolutely true. But Wood seems to agree with them! They’re “literal”, so they’re more “truly Muslim”. It’s one thing to characterize Da’esh correctly; it’s another to agree that their self-characterization is correct.

  13. RMS,

    The question isn’t what they actually are. The question is what they think themselves to be and what other Muslims perceive them to be.

  14. No, Rhett, the question is what do our fellow countrymen (countrypeeps?) think they are. If we all start agreeing that those are the “true Muslims”, we will behave differently. If we view them as the Fred Phelps Westboro Church of the Muslim world, we will be less inclined to start “purging” Europe and the U.S. of all Muslims.

  15. I have lived through religious violence and there is a two pronged way to defeat it. One is not backing down and upping the security and defense efforts, the other is socio economic. Doing one without the other doesn’t work. I think we had discussed this before, young men seeking structure and a sense of purpose and belonging, sometimes they end up in the with the wrong type of army fighting for the wrong cause.

  16. we view them as the Fred Phelps Westboro Church

    If Fred gains control of territory from which he launches attacks against us then we have the right to incinerate him and all those who reside within the lands he controls. See Dresden, Tokyo, etc.

  17. RMS, I see what you are trying to say, but Phelps has about 60 people in his “church.”

    ISIS has somewhere between 20,000 fighters (the CIA’s 2014 estimate) and 200,000 fighters (Kurdish estimate). They control an area the size of Britain with over 10 million inhabitants, so I would not be surprised if the larger estimate is correct, or even too low.

    Opinion surveys show that 9% of British adults support ISIS (that’s British, not British Muslims, and would be about half of British Muslims if only Muslims supported ISIS, so let’s hope some jokers were pulling the pollster’s leg); 25% of British Muslims surveyed said that they supported the Charlie Hebdo attacks. It’s not as far off the fringe as we wish it were.

    Unfortunately, we have no way to separate ISIS sympathizers from the moderates among those who are here or in the EU, or among the migrants trying to get in. We can’t even confirm the nationalities of many of them.

    The attacks in Paris were perpetrated by less than a dozen people.

    Merkel plans to admit 1.5 million this year; most are young men. If one in a thousand is an ISIS militant, that’s 1,500.

    There is going to be a debate on whether the other 999 should be stuck in war zones and refugee camps to keep that 1 militant out.

  18. I’m too tired to keep arguing right now. Tomorrow maybe I’ll be back on it. But what policy will result in the best outcome?

  19. I don’t know what policy will result in the best outcome, but I think it’s clear that the current policy is not having sufficient success. I feel that it’s inevitable that given the “success” of the French attack, that a similar attack in a major US city will come. ISIL has absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain by continuing their audacious attacks. If Western nations take a more aggressive tack and injure and kill more civilians, we are cementing ISIL’s power for a generation. I don’t understand the willingness of young men to strap explosives to their chests and head into a crowd, but there does not seem to be a shortage of them. I would not want to be the one trying to formulate our plan right now, because many of the possible scenarios run the risk of making things worse and do little to guarantee our safety.

  20. I fear we’re on the verge of a humanitarian disaster between this epic migration that was already straining Europe’s welcome, and frickin ISIS giving all the justification anyone needs to shut out desperate migrants. It’s one of those situations where the wolves hide among the sheep. And sometimes the sheep morph into wolves. There are no good answers.

  21. “Wood argues that the Islamic State is really more Islamic that moderate Islam.”

    I didn’t read it that way, but rather that ISIS is simply unwilling to accept any interpretation other than their own. This is also true among some factions of other religions, certainly among some Christians. However, even the most fundamentalist Christians today do not present the type of threat that ISIS does. At least not IMO, although I read about others who think otherwise.

    The whole argument of whether true Islam can be considered a peaceful religion has been played out frequently in my home, especially after my son took a couple of courses on Islamic thought and lit. I don’t feel qualified to argue either way, except to say that in the little I have seen, Jesus comes out as more peace loving in comparing him with Muhammad. (Maybe more educated readers can correct me there.) But that doesn’t make me believe the peaceful majority of Muslims are not true believers.

  22. Why don’t we let France deal with it? I believe we should, but I believe this is also our fight. And while I’m torn on whether America should take a leadership role, I most certainly believe we should be engaged in some manner.

  23. I view taking the approach of letting France deal with it as being akin to the US’ initial approach to Hitler. I think that even if this is not our fight today, it will eventually become our fight, and the longer we wait to engage, the more damage will be done.

  24. I agree with MBT that there will be attacks in the US. It is almost too easy if you are willing to die. Just blow yourself up at soft target, or take over a small shop as the guy did in Sydney.

    I have accepted this threat as part of my daily life in NY. I travel frequently to other target cities such as DC, London, Paris. I was working across the street from the WTC in 1993, and I put the terrorist threat with the other crime threats in NY. I just accept it, and I try to be aware of my surroundings. I managed several groups of people in 2001 that were in the US, but outside of NYC. Some of the staff that I managed refused to travel to NYC after 9/11. ever. I understand their fear, but they are probably in more danger driving their cars on 95 each day vs. a terrorist threat. My mom friend took 10 girls into the city last week on Veteran’s Day, and 2 of the 10 girls had never been on metro north or the subway. They live less than 1/2 hour from NYC, but their parents think public transportation is dangerous. Everyone has different fears.

    I think the US can not avoid the fight against ISIS, but I can’t stand the amount of time and money that goes into what seems like an endless situation. I don’t believe that a bombing campaign or invasion will ever totally stop them, but they have to be contained.

  25. @Lauren – I think of this when DH travels since one of my colleagues was on a 9/11 plane. I think our smaller cities are targets too, not just the large ones. Two of the planes took off from Boston, a city that was considered easier security wise than NYC.

  26. This article is long but interesting.

    Talks about the role climate change is playing in geopolitics. Lots of places in the Middle East are running out of water.

  27. RMS – that was fascinating… Only recently (and I’m somewhat ashamed to say this) have I connected climate change (lack of water in this case) with politics.

    This whole situation scares me – as much as I was scared on 9-11. Maybe I’m older, wiser, and have more to lose. I don’t know. But the thought that something so coordinated could occur with little oversight just scares me. I also saw a list of “target” cities ISIS claims to have on their list – quite a few are close by (and all military installations). Whether or not the list is accurate, the thought of how this could be done, when it could be done and so on just sits and stews in my 300 ring circus imagination.

  28. “There is going to be a debate on whether the other 999 should be stuck in war zones and refugee camps to keep that 1 militant out.”

    While the attacks may prove to be the trigger to closing borders to migrants, there are other reasons to keep migrants out beyond the possibility that some of them are militant. Especially given their numbers, they are threats to the social and economic stability of the countries to which they emigrate, and burdens on those countries.

    I’ve been wondering fro a while what would provide the rationale|political cover for European border closings. We may have our answer.

  29. Late to this thread, but wanted to thank Rhett for posting the Atlantic article. It will be impossible to defeat these people if we keep willfully misunderstanding what motivates them.

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