Paris Attack Round-up and Open Thread

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, what follow is a link- and quote-fest of Paris attack information. On the attacks proper, I don’t think we know very much — first a passport was found on or near the body of one of the attackers, then it might have been fake, and so forth — so I’ve focused more on material that gives context. This topic isn’t going to go away, at least for awhile, so we might as well give our critical thinking skills as much material as possible, as soon as possible. Please feel free to add links in comments, and if we have any readers in Paris, I’d love to hear from you! 

The Chain of Events

Timeline of the attacks across the French capital France24. France24’s coverage was calm and collected.

The Paris Attacks: What We Know The Atlantic. Good roundup, with lots of “solidarity” images. (Personally, I’m counter-suggestible, so I regard acts of solidarity like, for example, overlaying my Facebook avatar with the tri-color as forms of “cheap grace.” Real solidarity would consist in avoiding a second bout of 9/11-like insanity.)

Paris attacks were carried out by three groups tied to Islamic State, official says WaPo and Seven Militants Led Deadly Paris Attacks WSJ:

“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.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks on a social media account but didn’t provide specific information that would allow the claim to be verified. It said the attacks were retaliation for French airstrikes against the group in Syria and Iraq.

Strategy and Tactics of the Attackers

How the Paris attacks combined more than a decade of terrorist tactics into one night WaPo

Paris attacks: Three Isis teams led atrocity FT

Even as the events in Paris were unfolding, officials and analysts said they were struck by how tightly co-ordinated the series of attacks seemed to be — a level of sophistication in planning and execution that had not been seen since the 2008 attacks in Mumbai.

Paris Attacks Suggest Shift in Islamic State’s Strategy WSJ

“Let France and all the nations following in its path know that they will continue to be at the top of the target list for Islamic State, and that the scent of death will not leave their nostrils.…Indeed, it is just the beginning,” Islamic State said in its claim of responsibility for Friday’s attack.

Given just how simple it is to kill random civilians in a Western city, that isn’t an idle warning. Its also one that calls into question the U.S.-led policy of using limited means to contain, rather than decisively defeat, Islamic State.

Belgium’s home affairs minister says ISIL communicates using Playstation 4 Quartz

Paris Attackers Used Nearly Identical Explosive Devices: Prosecutor NBC

The Paris Attacks Have Nothing to Do With Refugees Slate

[The] actual killers knew Paris very well. At least one has already been identified as a French national, known to the police. Others drove a Belgian rental car. I don’t care how all of the other killers entered the country: This operation wasn’t planned by refugees. They picked targets—bars, a theater, the national stadium—in integrated neighborhoods, places that were frequented by young Parisians of all backgrounds.

The History of ISIS, and the Origins of “Radical Islam”

UPDATE Some observations about the carnage in Paris Angry Arab News Service (G3). Well worth reading in its entirety, disagree or no:

1) ISIS has gone on the offensive: in ten days, they downed a Russian civilian airliner, massacred Hazara Shi`ites in Afghanistan, bombed the southern suburbs of Beirut and now Paris.

2) Western governments: US and France in particular along with their Saudi,Qatari, and Turkish allies are directly responsible for the rise and expansion of ISIS through their policies in Syria which cuddled and nurtured ISIS and its sister terrorist organizations.

3) there is no way on earth to stem the menace of ISIS and Al-Qa`idah like organizations without going to the source, in Saudi Arabia which is the official headquarters of the Ibn Taymiyyah’s terrorist interpretation of Islam.

Whovever “Ibn Taymiyyah” is. But at least we can discuss that, instead of the feels. More on our friends, the Saudis, below.

US embassy cables: Hillary Clinton says Saudi Arabia ‘a critical source of terrorist funding’  Guardian. Surprised Sanders doesn’t mention this.

Our terrorism double standard: After Paris, let’s stop blaming Muslims and take a hard look at ourselves  Salon

How Saudi Arabia exports radical Islam The Week:

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria sees itself as purer than the Saudi regime, but its fundamentalist Sunni doctrine has its roots in Wahhabism. Bob Graham, a former Democratic senator from Florida who has called for declassification of the portion of the 9/11 Commission report dealing with Saudi Arabian links to the hijackers, says ISIS “is a product of Saudi ideals, Saudi money, and Saudi organizational support.”

There Is Only One Way to Defeat ISIS Charles Pierce, Esquire:

It’s not like this is any kind of secret. In 2010, thanks to WikiLeaks, we learned that the State Department, under the direction of then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, knew full well where the money for foreign terrorism came from. It came from countries and not from a faith. It came from sovereign states and not from an organized religion. It came from politicians and dictators, not from clerics, at least not directly. It was paid to maintain a political and social order, not to promulgate a religious revival or to launch a religious war. Religion was the fuel, the ammonium nitrate and the diesel fuel. Authoritarian oligarchy built the bomb. As long as people are dying in Paris, nobody important is dying in Doha or Riyadh.

Hilariously, Pierce manages to get through his piece without mentioning Obama once. The cossacks work for the Czar, after all, and Clinton, last I checked, had a boss.

The hidden hand behind the Islamic State militants? Saddam Hussein’s. WaPo.

Even with the influx of thousands of foreign fighters, almost all of the leaders of the Islamic State are former Iraqi officers, including the members of its shadowy military and security committees, and the majority of its emirs and princes, according to Iraqis, Syrians and analysts who study the group.

They have brought to the organization the military expertise and some of the agendas of the former Baathists, as well as the smuggling networks developed to avoid sanctions in the 1990s and which now facilitate the Islamic State’s illicit oil trading.

French Particularities

When you see a chart like this, France’s radicalism problem becomes really obvious WaPo. Here it is:


Ghostly Paris The New Yorker. Of the attacks on Le Petit Cambodge and Le Carillon:

The bars and restaurants that have cropped up in traditionally working-class or immigrant right-bank neighborhoods, like the Canal Saint-Martin and Belleville, Menilmontant, and Barbès, are popular among residents and all but unknown to most tourists, and this is exactly why yesterday’s attacks, beyond their number and breadth and sheer mortal effectiveness, have so shocked the city.

The Other France The New Yorker:

Ben Ahmed, who is thirty-nine, works as a liaison between residents and the local government in Bondy—a suburb, northeast of Paris, in an area called Department 93. For decades a bastion of the old working class and the Communist Party, the 93 is now known for its residents of Arab and African origin. To many Parisians, the 93 signifies decayed housing projects, crime, unemployment, and Muslims. France has all kinds of suburbs, but the word for them, banlieues, has become pejorative, meaning slums dominated by immigrants. Inside the banlieues are the cités: colossal concrete housing projects built during the postwar decades, in the Brutalist style of Le Corbusier. Conceived as utopias for workers, they have become concentrations of poverty and social isolation. The cités and their occupants are the subject of anxious and angry discussion in France. Two recent books by the eminent political scientist Gilles Kepel, “Banlieue de la République” and “Quatre-vingt-treize” (“Ninety-three”), are studies in industrial decline and growing segregation by group identity. There’s a French pejorative for that, too: communautarisme.

Sounds like Pruitt-Igoe in Saint Louis.

France is on the Verge of … What? Counterpunch

According to the Le Figaro, when asked by IFOP, a respected French poling agency, if they would accept a non-democratic form of government to bring necessary reforms to France, 67% of the French said they would opt for a government of non-elected technocrats. 40% percent said they would back a non-elected authoritarian regime.

Again, that survey was carried out the day before the bloody carnage in Paris. People may have poured out into the streets in an impressive show of unity earlier this year in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings, but that moment of attempted racial harmony was brief and the situation has been fraying ever since.

Refugees in France Fear Islamic State Violence Has Followed Them Bloomberg

What the Paris Attacks Mean for Europe’s Free Borders The Atlantic. “Following Friday’s shootings and explosions, the country has reimposed border controls.”

Media Critique

Debunked: Fake images and rumours around Paris attacks France24. France24 comes through again. This type of story should be a regular feature for all events like the Paris attacks.

A Day Before the Paris Attack, Suicide Bombers Killed 43 in Beirut Mic. Oddly, or not, this attack got virtually no coverage.

Beltway Meltdown and Warmongering

Honestly, what do we do, assuming we have a larger goal than optimizing the Mediterranean and Black Sea littoral for conflict investment? So do we invade Iraq a second time? How about we arm and train some more Syrian moderates? Have Bibi nuke it all, which he’s dying to do? Let Vladi handle it? What, exactly?

Rubio: Paris Attacks Wake-Up Call to ‘Clash of Civilizations’ Bloomberg. “Florida Man Channels Samuel P. Huntington.”

 What Parisians Need Are Guns, Trump Says Bloomberg. One word: Crossfire.

Obama under fire for saying that ISIS has been ‘contained’ just hours before Paris attack as he heads to Turkey for G-20 Summit Daily Mail

On Terror, We’re All Right-wingers Now Politico. Whaddaya mean, “we”? Anyhow, the Democratic debate was relatively sane, by Washington standards. All agreed that it wasn’t just our fight, but that the locals have to be involved.

After Years Of Insults, US Conservatives Now Express Solidarity With France International Business Times

It’s Time to Give Jihadists the Apocalypse They Long For — and Other Thoughts About the Nightmare in Paris National Review. What could go wrong?

* * *

All for now. Readers, have at it!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Europe, Guest Post, Middle East, Politics on by .

About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. MarkJ.Lovas

    Thanks for your work Lambert.

    I have nothing to add about the main story, but I cannot help saying that articles in The Guardian about the debates are bizarre. The debates represent a peculiar form of theater, one I don’t regard as evidence of a lively, thoughtful culture; rather, they seem to reflect all of the worst features of the contemporary world…… But the stories in the G. Oh my! They seem to have been written by someone who has accepted the whole format and all sorts of unspoken assumptions about how to talk and what constitutes “winning”…..
    Again, I apologize for not sticking to your main subject, but I’ve come here to NC precisely because there has been such an absence of information about it. So, thanks again.

  2. skippy

    VAULX-EN-VELIN, France — France may have just hosted its biggest outpouring of solidarity since the end of World War II in response to the terrorist attacks last week in and around Paris that left 17 dead at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket.

    But in the disaffected suburbs, or banlieues, that ring France’s largest cities, those appeals for unity hardly penetrated the sense of isolation, even siege, that has left cities like this one living a parallel existence from the rest of the country.

    “I am French, and I feel French,” said Nabil Souidi, 23. “But here you are forbidden to say, ‘I am Charlie,’ ” referring to the rallying cry of solidarity since the attack on the magazine.

    Mr. Souidi recently graduated from a trade school and hoped to find a job as a mechanic. Months later, he is still out of work, searching for a Plan B. “I’ll go to Syria,” he said, with a sarcastic laugh in an interview over a plate of French fries and mayonnaise.

    For him and many other French Muslims, the nation’s preoccupation with last week’s attacks at the hands of Islamic extremists presents a mere distraction from a fundamental social crisis that has plagued France’s immigrant neighborhoods for decades.

    Probably just proximity splash damage from the conservatives sending over the radicalized text and funding such schools in the ME back in the day….

    Skippy…. easy to play Masters of the Universe when there are so many body’s between policy wanks and the experiment, tho home grown is a distinct possibility down the road….

    1. Anonymous

      Holland: “This act of war was prepared and planned from the outside, with accomplices inside,” – inside job then ! Did they use any non-nitrogen based explosives like nano-thermite ? Holland ‘declared war’ to the terrorism actions of eight people, like Bush did to the socounted 19 Saudis ? – Scripted action means falseflag.

  3. Plutoniumkun

    First thoughts are that these attacks are different from previous terrorist attacks in Europe and the US (excepting 9/11) in two ways:

    1. There was a degree of co-ordination and planning in obtaining relatively sophisticated weapons (suicide belts as opposed to home made bombs). Its not a huge step up in sophistication from the London and Madrid bombings, but it is distinct. The killers seemed to have some level of training – not the internet self trained morons involved in the Hebdo or London attacks in the past.

    2. The attack seemed entirely aimed at causing mass death among a random selection of young people – there does not seem to have been any symbolism in the places chosen, or the date. The football match was a friendly, so would have had far less attention than a competitive game, and the other venues seemed to be chosen quite randomly – no high profile tourist or government sites, etc. Nor – unusually – was it focused on public transport. Having been in Paris 2 weeks ago, my first thought was that if I was a terrorist I would have chosen somewhere more symbolic to blow myself up in.

    In many ways, it seems more reminiscent of the type of attacks carried out by AQ and Isis in Beirut 2 days ago and in numerous other non-Sunni targets. They are just aimed at causing carnage among non-believers, nothing else. In other words, its an attempt to bring Iraq/Syria to Europe.

    It seems to me that unlike previous ‘lone wolf’ attacks this was carried out by some type of sleeper cell, and activated for a specific reason by some branch of AQ or Isis (whether it was coordinated or not with the Beirut bombs we can only guess so far).

    If I was to make a wild and only semi-educated guess, I would think this was organised by a specific cell of AQ or Isis at a revenge response to particular attacks by France in Syria. As Jason Burke has pointed out in his various writings on Islamic extremists, the motives of individual terrorists is often tied up into surprisingly ‘local’ concerns – they are less ideological than you might think, more linked to a desire for revenge for real or perceived wrongs.

    1. andyb

      cui bono from these attacks?

      The new world (dis) order globalists determined to spread chaos throughout the globe?

      The justification for NATO to invade Syria. Putin be damned.

      More totalitarian police state policies for Europe.

      How convenient was the passport discovery. Reminds me of the miraculous finding of an undamaged passport at ground zero of 9/11.

      1. tony

        In one of their publications ISIS said it wants to eradicate the grey area if people and especially Muslims who are not siding with Islamists or the West. They want a war of civilizations.

        On the other hand I would not discount a false flag attack. There have been plenty:

      2. neo-realist

        I myself get the scent of Gladio from the apparent training and skill of the attackers and the rally around the flagpole blather we’ve gotten from the MSM.

      3. susan the other

        Very very convenient. Shortly after the attackers had blown themselves to bits two onvenient items of evidence were salvaged: an index finger and a passport. It was shortly announced on F24, officially, that this was proof positive that at least this attacker Syrian and had traveled in thru Greece where his passport was recorded – and voila! – the lucky finger proved it was him! Case closed. But oopsie somebody forgot to coordinate a possible glitch for such an announcement: this morning on zero hedge there was a big fat headline that the French and US authorities believe the passport is a FORGERY. So this leaves the possibility that all sorts of inside treason is going on because the possibilities are that the original refugee was IS and made his way with a legit passport and with serious dispatch to Paris to be in on the action, which can easily be verified – all they have to do is find him; or that he was murdered and his finger was either frozen or taken a day earlier; or that the passport is forged which is the most logical explanation, in which case that stupid finger just exposed the whole false flag operation. And it looks to be the latter.

        1. Oregoncharles

          My own suspicion is that IS itself is the false flag; it’s just too convenient for the interventionists.

          If so, they’ve committed a whole new level of crime against humanity: they’ve re-introduced 7th-century levels of open barbarism, crimes we thought we were done with, to humanity. (Yes, these things went on, but under cover and on a small scale. Trumpeting them is a whole new thing.)

          I don’t mean the terrorist attack in Paris – that isn’t really new, except in scale; I mean essentially the open genocide against the Yazidis, including auctioning off women as sex slaves (again, done openly and boasted about), as well as slaughtering hostages on TV.

          1. Vatch

            There may be covert “false flag” financing of ISIL, but the ISIL soldiers themselves are genuine Muslim fanatics. They’ve read and re-read the Quran, and they hate the non-Muslim Others.

          2. Jim

            The wars of the twentieth century were far more bloody and barbaric even than the wars of the 7th century. There was certainly nothing “small-scale” about the violence of 20th century warfare. The slaughter of innocents in Paris had it occurred in WWII would have been a very minor incident. You seem to know nothing of the history of the 20th century.

            1. kl

              Western wars were more bloody, but not more barbaric. Futhermore, they were fought over modern, Western ideologies, e.g. nationalism, capitalism, communism, anarchism, etc.
              WTF is Jihad…7th Century.

              1. JTMcPhee

                Western wars including with Japan were in largest part a result of resource grabs and the idiocy of Elites. Ideology? Just a honey trap for the rubes to get excited about.

                We got around to the subject of war again and I said that, contrary to his attitude, I did not think that the common people are very thankful for leaders who bring them war and destruction.

                “Why, of course, the people don’t want war,” Goering shrugged. “Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.”

                “There is one difference,” I pointed out. “In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.”

                “Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

                And where, kl, do you come up with the idea that Western wars were and are less “barbaric?” Care to document and expand?

              2. Jim

                kl – I suspect you are only familar with highly senitized “histories” of what actually happened in for example WWII.

        2. Plutoniumkun

          Most of the media seem to be reporting that the Syrian passport is suspicious.

          I can’t believe this is a false flag operation. Its too big and complicated – you can’t persuade eight people to kill themselves for a fake Gladio type attack.

          If the Syrian passport is a fake, then the most likely explanation is that the bombers had as at least one intention to provoke a backlash against Syrian refugees. This is consistent with Al-Q and Isis policies in the past, where its seen provoking anti Muslim actions in the west as the way towards fomenting a wider war.

          1. Vatch

            Good comment. I agree that this series of events is too complex to be a false flag operation. If there had been only one site with a terrorist attack, then yes, maybe it could have been a false flag event. But there were at least 6 terrorist events!

            As for the passport, of course ISIL wants to discredit the refugees. Most of the refugees are trying to escape from ISIL. That makes ISIL look bad, and it removes manpower from them. ISIL wants to make the refugees look bad, and they probably succeeded.

          2. Will

            8 sounds like too much? The FBI is known to set up fake terror plots in the US by finding suggestible people, suggesting they engage in some sort of terror-plot, helping them assemble materials and make plans, and then busting them for plotting to engage in terrorist activity.

            Here’s a good summary in The Guardian:


            How hard would it be to find 8 people to actually follow through with this, given actually-working bombs/guns/etc? To me, it seems like with enough creativity and planning, it’d be relatively simple for an intel agency, especially given that they’re operating in friendly territory if it’s the French or allied intel agency. I’m not saying it definitely was false flag, but I await convincing evidence one way or another.

            1. hunkerdown

              Surely it couldn’t be harder than to find 19 wanna-be pilots 14 years ago, especially among the early-stage terminally ill? (Prediction: if a cancer Dx doesn’t get you on Certain Lists today, it will.)

            2. Vatch

              In that Guardian article it looks like all of the cases involving informants and possible entrapment were stopped before any act of terrorism actually took place. So we don’t know how effective the patsies would have been if they had actually been able to do something.

              The terrorists in Paris appear to have been considerably more competent than the American patsies. That doesn’t prove anything, but it is worth noting.

    2. Scylla

      Is it possible that these attacks were strategic in nature rather than just a revenge attack?

      IS is hemorrhaging citizens, and as crazy as they appear to be, they must know that all of those people leaving is harmful to IS as a nation. The European (and especially the French) response to such attacks might be predictable: Close the borders and start deporting people back to Syria where the Islamic State can put them back to work doing whatever it is that IS wants them to do. Islamic State has to be aware that they need some sort of economy for their supposed nation to function, and if everyone continues to leave, they will have no way to function once the Saudi money eventually peters out.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A billionaire can not exist without his customers (you and me).

        A government can not exist without people.

        The reverse is not true, in either case.

        That shows customers and the people come first.

      2. Plutoniumkun

        Isis doesn’t actually control many population areas in Syria – those maps we see all the time are misleading because most of the Isis area is just desert. In truth, they have little interest in Syria, that conflict is just an overflow from the main action as they see it – in Iraq.

        But I’ve no doubt that they do see provoking a backlash against refugees as being in their interest. Camps full of refugees stuck for years are major breeding grounds for pissed off young men wanting to do something violent.

      3. Gio Bruno

        I’m not certain the IS leadership is concerned about “citizens” of their caliphate. They are vicious, military-types with a strange religious vision, who seem ready to decapitate friend and foe alike. I don’t think the refugees (sunni or suffi) find any comfort in that type of “leadership”.

        The only economy remaining in the IS caliphate will be mercenaries. Not very attractive to “citizens”.

      1. Rhondda

        FWIR and FWIW, the front man for Eagles of Death Metal was also vocally pro-Israel, anti-BDS and the band had performed in Israel several times.

  4. Plutoniumkun

    Re: Charles Pierces’ article – I think thats the ‘must read’ today (even if he doesn’t talk about Obama!).

    We can talk all we want about the deep reasons behind Islamic fundamentalism and death cults. But the absolute core issue is exactly as Pierce describes. These groups exist because the leaders of the Gulf States have an unwritten covenant with religious extremists in the region. ‘We will turn a blind eye to your sources of support and funding so long as your bombs go off in Iraq, Syria, Europe, Asia, and not in Jeddah or Doha’. It really is that simple.

    Forcing the Gulf States to cut off all funding and weapon support to those groups will not eliminate them. But it will seriously reduce their ability to cause havoc.

        1. Jef

          and nearly two decades of sanctioning and bombing all across the middle east and northern africa by US/Israel/ Saudi/NATO and hindering rebuilding leaving the region nearly uninhabitable is how we do it.

      1. Dana

        It’s been more than ten years since meme warriors updated and recirculated the old “when you drive alone, you ride with Hitler” WWII era posters. It’s no less true today.

      2. Plutoniumkun

        That wasn’t the logic of what I was saying at all.

        Of course oil and gas ‘finances’ what is going on directly and indirectly – and oil and gas is the reason the West interferes more in the Middle East than, say, central Africa. But its something of a red herring to discuss it as if we can make the oil factor disappear.

        First off – a basic fact about Arabian oil – it is the cheapest and (surprisingly enough) most environmentally friendly form of oil available. Cheap to extract, and cheap to process – and requires very little energy to produce (unlike tight oil, offshore oil, oil sands, heavy sour crude, etc). It also represents something like 20% of world demand. So even if we were to reduce oil use overnight by the 80% that scientists say is needed to mitigate climate change (and that is a huge target to meet), the rest of the world would still need oil from Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States. It really is that simple.

        Reducing oil use dramatically – which is necessary for all sorts of reasons – means eliminating expensive forms first – oil sands first, then tight oil, then off-shore, then heavy sour crudes. This still leaves us with a need for that cheap light sweet stuff from under Saudi and Iraqi sands.

        So for the foreseeable future, we are stuck with needing oil from a bunch of religious nuts. What is needed is not to stop buying fuel from there, simply because it will take decades to achieve that – that is far too long. What is needed is to stop that oil trade enriching fanatics and we need to do it fast.

        The key problem is that the foreign policy establishments in the US and Europe simply refuse to face up to the problems caused by our support for the Gulf autocracies. There are many reasons for this – partly an intellectual failure, partly the prisons caused by past policies, partly cynical pragmatism, partly simply because the Saudi’s, Qatari’s and others have been cleverer (not necessarily smarter, but they know their homelands and they tend to take a longer and more strategic timescale).

        One measure that could be taken immediately, is to hit them where it hurts – in their foreign properties and assets. Simply inform the Saudi’s that all foreign investments and accounts will be frozen, all foreign travel visas will be refused to all the leadership of those countries until they can absolutely prove that no money is going to Isis or Al-Q, and that they stop funding radical mosques abroad. This was done to Iran with far less justification.

        1. IDG

          For starters all the clever West intelligence agencies could use all their powers to destabilize those regimes instead of supporting them.

          The problem is those same agencies were so busy the last century destroying any secular movement that could challenge them due to communism that there are no ‘moderate’ forces to support anymore with enough strength to challenge the theocracies.

          So we are stuck between a rock and a hard place: supporting cruel dictatorships and when they get out of hand or are not strategically favorable any more, start chaos in a given country or region, which in the end breeds failed states and more violence and problems.

          Off course all this are petty problems for TPTB in the end, a little price to pay, for the big gains, and doing things ‘correctly’ is costly and takes effort than most of the western politicians and the population itself simply does not want. So we can accept this little problem of the occasional terror attack (which can then be used to increase the subsidies to the MIC, intelligence agencies and decrease our rights) instead of the hard war (either try to fix the real problems there, or to cease dealing with them completely, which includes cutting down big time the resource imports from the region).

        2. Ron

          You make good points my only add is that ISIS as a army without a country cannot exist much longer on the ground as a creditable fighting force taking and holding large areas of land they simply do not control the air space and as such will be bombed into small fighting units that will be destroyed over time. This is what makes there recent attempts to create chaos in France, bomb the Russian plane and other acts to generate leverage as the area in question gets divided up politically but its doubtful that any of the western powers along with Russia will allow them to keep and hold and land taken to date. The result will probably be Paris type attacks in many parts of the world and severe restrictions of any kind of mass transportation systems such as rail and air.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          PlutoniumKen, thanks for explaining about the grades of oil.

          In terms of measures to take, it occurs to me that a combination of:

          1) Financial measures and

          2) Treating the attacks as criminal and taking them to the Hague (as should have been done after 9/11) provides Western Civilization with a Mulligan for the Beltway’s disastrous foray into Iraq and Afghanistan. (One notes that it’s fine to have a supranational tribunal for money, as in ISDS; it’s not so fine to have a supranational tribunal for human lives, as at the Hague. So there’s that).

          Of course, Hollande’s buffoonish and bellicose speech may already have foreclosed that possibility, but Hollande hasn’t proved especially effective at anything, so why this, and in any case Europe is an American military protectorate, even if their leadership does seem to be trying to slither out from under.

          The Beltway is in the throes of an extended wargasm right now, but perhaps cooler heads may prevail in a few days. Move this to a court system, and even put a well-respected Muslim cleric or two on the panel, and we’d restore a lot of the soft power the last two administrations pissed away.

          1. Plutoniumkun

            Well, sorry to bore on about oil grades, but I read a lot of misleading commentary by people who don’t really understand that oil is not as fungible a substance as is often assumed by geopolitical analysts. It is one of those sad ironies of history that the remarkable energy gift/poison from nature – easy to extract light crude middle-eastern oil – happened to be located under sands owned by a bunch of camel raiders with extreme religious beliefs. And the huge failure of successive western governments was the failure to realise that:

            1. However lived there would pump the oil out onto the open market – it is just too valuable not to do it.
            2. The Saudi’s and other Emirs were determined to use that money earned to keep their religious counterparts onside, just as European kings and emperors bought Christian Churches off with cathedrals and monasteries.

            The modern economy depends on middle eastern oil – but the crucial point is that this does not change (at least, not within half a century) even if we radically changed our transport systems and reduced energy use. Middle eastern oil is the very last fossil fuel that will be phased out – because it is the cheapest, cleanest and most useful fossil fuel available.

              1. Plutoniumkun

                Thanks Lambert.

                BTW, you are very right about Holland, what a huge disappointment he has been. The left in Europe has been cursed by dreadful leadership since Blair onwards. A topic for another day is that the Irish left wing have been disastrous too, they threw away so many opportunities to make a stand against austerity.

            1. Vatch

              The modern economy depends on middle eastern oil – but the crucial point is that this does not change (at least, not within half a century) even if we radically changed our transport systems and reduced energy use.

              Sadly, this is true. But we can reduce the severity of the problem. Despite the temporarily low petroleum and gasoline prices, I urge everyone who is currently planning to buy a car to get the most fuel efficient vehicle that they can afford. In May, I bought a new car, and its fuel economy is excellent. If I had known that fuel prices would remain low for so long, I would have tried to bargain harder for a bigger price reduction. So shop for a hybrid or something with very good fuel economy, and push the salesman to give you a nice price reduction.

          2. Oregoncharles

            If you go into court, whom do you put on trial? The actual attackers are dead or, perhaps, fled, and unlikely to be taken alive. Those actually responsible, if it was IS, are the leaders of a quasi-state that certainly won’t hand them over for trial. Again, they’re most unlikely to be taken alive, and trying would constitute a major war in the Middle East (already underway, of course).

            It might actually make sense to send a (genuinely) international force, preferably not including the US, given the history, to quash the Islamic State. Most of their victims are actually locals and mostly Muslims, so that might earn the UN some gratitude. But actually pulling it off (the Russians would have to be onside – and what do you do about Assad, the legitimate government?) would be far beyond any leadership we see in evidence. Maybe the Kurds could be deputized; but Turkey wouldn’t like that.

            And what do you do about the Sauds, the root of the problem?

            In short, the proposal is idealistic but not very practical. Again, the only real solution is not to make these messes in the first place. There’s a lot to be said for isolationism.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              ISIS claimed responsibility; take them at their word and put them in the dock. (And perhaps their defense might have interesting things to say.)

              I’m in sympathy with the idea that since we have the Atlantic to the east, the Pacific to the West, Canada to the North, Mexico to the South, and the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, we don’t need to worry very much about foreign entanglements. However, I think, to use your word, that it’s “naive” to think that conflicts between states or would-be states will never affect us.

              1. Oregoncharles

                Courts don’t usually try ideas or organizations, but it might be worth a try.

                I said “idealistic,” not “naive.” Granted, a quibble. Mainly, I don’t see any way to make it happen, at least until the war is over.

              2. JTMcPhee

                Seems to me “our” political economy LIVES off of “foreign entanglements,” and “our” state apparatus, military, “security”, ” financial,” commercial and political, grows and profits off of more and merrier liaisons… Loyalty to nation? Piffle!

        4. skippy

          Don’t disagree with the larger framing pluto, tho it does not negate the actions by the west over a long period of time to incubate the reality we now experience.

          Which leads to some curious possibilities –

          In the United States there have been calls to invoke Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which contains the principle of the collective self-defence of the member states.

          “The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked,” it reads.

          Read more:
          Follow us: @smh on Twitter | sydneymorningherald on Facebook

          Like I said, a much less binding agreement with Russia, France and Britain played a large part in the escalation leading up to WW1. The Pope thinks this is WW3 and at this point, history may look back at this point in time and deem it the start of WW3. In the present, we are blind to the future and the events that WILL unfold, relying only on the deeds and actions of men to charter the uncertainties of what is happening in the now.

          Here’s the rub – as posted earlier, there is a growing pool of evidence that ISIS is a CIA project off its leash. How does NATO handle one member’s proxies attacking another member? – snip

          Can’t find the cheap or environmentally friendly aspect, too any of it, when a comprehensive cost weighing is done actually.

          Skippy… were back to the black hand and bondholders looking for preservation launch pad methinks.

          1. Plutoniumkun

            Skippy, I’m not very fond of conspiracy theories about Isis – I think its pretty clear that their origins lie in the fetid swamp created by the Iraqi ‘surge’. But there is little doubt that there were some idiots in the US Military or CIA who thought at some stage they might be useful, especially against Iranian interests. One thing I think its always worth bearing in mind is that, as the old saying goes, military intelligence is an oxymoron.

            But NATO is in a bind alright – but not because of the origins of Isis. It is in a bind because a key member – Turkey – sees Isis as an ally. Erdogan is now a de facto dictator in Turkey, and he will, if necessary, go to war to prevent Isis in Syria being destroyed by the Russians. Of course, he won’t frame it this way – no doubt his direct allies in Isis will re-title themselves ‘Syrian Free Army’ or something like that, but it will be Isis.

  5. David

    The TV and radio in France have been broadcasting nothing else since yesterday but endless discussions between dazed, so-called “experts” who are having a collective meltdown trying to understand what happened. This in spite of the fact that the IS has claimed responsibility, specifically said that the attacks are in reprisal for French policy, and called on the French (and other nations) to change that policy. It could all hardly be clearer.
    Pace Pierce (who often writes sensible things) this has nothing significant to do with Saudi funding or attacks in Asia. This is the IS equivalent of airstrikes by western powers, and doesn’t need complicated religious and social explanations. It’s just a message: Stop Attacking Us. But it’s doubtful whether western political systems with their heritage of cost-free intervention everywhere, are actually capable of assimilating the message, even if they understand it intellectually, which I suspect they do.
    As of this morning, it seems that the attacks were well-planned and organised, with at least some of the participants having had military training. It has been said that the explosives were military-grade, and the use of suicide vests shows a sophistication never seen in the West before. This kind of operation requires a lot of logistic support, and time and effort to plan. My personal hunch, but no more, is that the Baathists who control the military wing of the IS were finding western attacks burdensome, and wanted to raise the their price to unacceptable levels. This might work in the Middle East, where such tactics have been used frequently, but whether western governments, for whom the world is essentially a video game, will be able to understand the message, I’m not sure.

  6. James Levy

    The most depressing thing about the standard American elite (and too often non-elite) answer to every threat and atrocity is the unassailable assumption that killing lots of innocent bystanders is a great way to respond to the killing of innocent bystanders. The simple truth that the Paris murderers were depraved criminals exactly because they had no concern for the lives and well-being of those civilians, that killing civilians was the crime and is a crime and therefore the point is you don’t do it, can never be brought up in public discourse or polite conversation here in the US. You must believe in your heart that the crime was killing those particular civilians, not civilians as a category, or, heaven help us, human beings in general. The fact that when you throw ordnance around you are bound to kill people who have done no wrong is seen as completely justified and beyond questioning. It is this depraved indifference to the deaths of others that horrifies me about the Islamic extremists and condemns them in my eyes–nothing justifies it, nothing. The same depraved indifference has become a hallmark of American foreign policy.

    1. 1 kings

      Bravo James.

      Justifying killing innocents is depraved. Just as Pres Obama saying ‘We must end this gun violence’ while sending ‘smart’ bombs through Arab windows.

    2. Expat

      When we do it, it’s “collateral damage” or “acceptable civilian losses”. When they do it, it’s murder, terrorism, and crime.
      We get what we deserve. Were the victims in Paris innocent? Yes and no. No more or less than the hundreds of thousands the West has killed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, etc. over the past fifteen years. No more than the thousands rounded up, tortured, and disappeared by the French government in Algeria a mere forty years ago.
      France is responsible in large part for the cluster fuck that Syria turned into after independence, much as the US is responsible for the freshest anarchy in Iraq and Afghanistan. Neither country is a victim of “terrorism” in the sense it is used by the West. Both are merely combatants in a war they created, started, stoked, and financed.
      Qui sème le vent, récolte la tempête.

      1. Jim Haygood

        ‘[Obama’s] attempts to kill 41 men resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,147 people, as of 24 November 2014.’ — Guardian

        The West is shocked when its victims respond proportionately and in kind.

        This asymmetric warfare business is no fun when it turns symmetrical (or pear-shaped, as the case may be).

    3. timbers

      Totally agree. When the Boston Bomber hit (I live in Boston area), to point out the U.S. does what the Boston Bomber did almost daily in Muslim nations got me un-friended or blocked by many on FB (which I am no longer on). But I still posted pics of dead mutilated civilians and babies from U.S. drones on FB anyways.

      1. Massinissa

        “I don’t like what youre saying! Im going to block you!”

        Ah, Americans sure love free speech.

    4. EoinW

      Exactly right! This was a criminal act. It needs to be treated as a criminal act and not politicized. Such criminals are the reason we have police forces. I’m sure there are enough policemen in France to deal with this. No need for the military nor shutting down cities nor states of emergency. However it is in the interests of those in power that the entire issue be militarized. It’s a wonderful opportunity to again expand the security state. I do not agree with any theories that suggest French authority was behind these attacks, yet it is undeniable they will use the fear such attacks create to expand their own power. And given the disregard for human life western elites have shown this century, I can’t blame others for questioning who was really behind it.

      The thing is: it’s a crime. After a crime has happened the object should be to solve the crime. In any murder investigation motive plays a big role. Columbo would have never caught a single suspect without first figuring out the motive. Yet motive – the true motive – seems to be the last thing our leaders, media and police want to find out. Doesn’t suit their agenda. it’s also a crime to supply a weapon to a murderer. However, once again, western authorities really don’t want to trace the crime back to its source. Instead they propagandize the entire issue. Smoke screen to hide their agenda?

      Violence begets violence. The unfortunate fact is that these extremist groups need each other and feed off each other. You can’t have endless war without al Qaida. If al Qaida’s fear factor diminishes, no problem, bring on ISIS. You also can’t have massive taxpayer money transferred to the military and security state without creating fear through terrorism. Yes we got Jihadi John! We also created Jihadi John. Is it unfair to ask if we created him solely to get him later on – while putting a personal touch to the terrorists along the way(we’ve run out of Saddams and bin Ladens…oops!). One can’t help but wonder if the whole thing is a complete fabrication from point A to Z. BTW extremist groups can also be white, christian, english speaking and dressed in 3 piece suits or green khaki.

      I suspect our leaders will respond to this crime. Maybe a little more Phillip Dick Pre-crime to come. I am certain that anything western authority comes up with will not solve the problem. That’s because, they themselves are the problem.

      1. tgs

        The ‘west’ will absolutely not treat this as a ‘criminal act’. In fact, Hollande referred to it as an ‘act of war’ for which there will be a ‘merciless response’. It is possible that he will invoke Nato’s article five; in which case Nato will have a justification for intervening in Syria and getting the confrontation with Putin that they are obviously longing for.

        1. visitor

          Indeed, the declaration by president Hollande was stunning.

          a) By stating that the attacks in Paris were “an act of war”, he conflates slaying unarmed civilians, far from any battlefield (i.e. no justification for “collateral dammage”) as a legal act in a conflict. This goes against everything in international law.

          b) He could have stated that this was a “war crime” — but then this would designate ISIL as a legitimate party in a legal conflict, but which overstepped its rights and broke the rules.

          By the way, (a) does not really surprise me.

          After all, what was the reaction when the USA willfully bombed a MSF hospital in Afghanistan, or when Saudi Arabia repeated the procedure against a MSF hospital in Yemen? Nothing. No calls for the Security Council to intervene, no steps at the ICC, no calls for solidarity. For the powers that be, slaughtering civilians is, indeed, a normal act of war.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            My guess is if the Imperial Japanese Navy had just killed civilians in Hawaii, we would have responded as if someone had declared war on us.

            And we ended that war by fire and atomic bombing cities full of civilians.

            1. visitor

              Nihon Kaigun was one of the official, recognized armed branches of an internationally recognized government — with which the USA had diplomatic relations.

              By setting an equivalence between the IJN and the ISIL gang in Paris, you just validated point (b) and recognized ISIL as a legitimate state.

              Not a clever move.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                A nation goes to war when her citizens are killed, it doesn’t matter it’s a legitimate state or a fleet of space aliens

              2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Let’s me also add that, since war is easily justified, we, those who oppose war, should make it harder, more broadly, not just some narrow cases.

              1. LifelongLib

                AFAIK, the civilians outside Pearl Harbor killed during the attack were the victims of improperly fused anti-aircraft shells fired by the U.S. falling back to the ground. No civilian areas were targeted by the Japanese. This was known shortly after the attack but not reported until several years later.

        2. Jagger

          In fact, Hollande referred to it as an ‘act of war’ for which there will be a ‘merciless response’


          I read somewhere recently that France has conducted over 1000+ airstrikes against ISIS over the last few years. So are those acts of war????? I can’t see how Hollande can get all righteous about acts of war by ISIS with that track record of acts of war against ISIS.

          I guess if ISIS had conducted the Paris attacks with Mirage’s and 2000 lb bombs or just used drones, it would not have been so outrageous.

          1. Gio Bruno

            The term “merciless” was one translators transformation. A French reporter I listened to used the term “pity-less response”. There’s a difference.

    5. Inverness

      I’ve been reading some articles and headlines from Le Monde. So far, very little context from this respected newspaper on how western/French foreign policy increases France’s vulnerability to terrorism. There was mention of how French “values” and “history” are an affront to ISIS. Well, interesting how the journalist didn’t call it what it is. French values include limiting the freedom of movement and ability to work of the miniscule amount of burqa wearing women. Their ” history” is blatant colonialism. But calling it “history” is easier to swallow. Why not mention how delivering air strikes which kill innocent civilians and destabilize governments actually created this mess? I’d like to think that Hollande will consider withdrawing from Syria, but I doubt it.

      If you want to honor the victims of this tragedy, you do what you can to prevent future attacks. That means a willingness to criticize policies that have never worked, and should be discarded. After Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan…more aggression is the proper tone?That means some serious soul-searching. Declaring acts of war and claiming you will wage a campaign without pity is literally, pardon my English, ass-backwards. If this is how their “socialist” president responds, what would Sarkozy or Le Pen do? We may soon find out!

      Also, what would a campaign without pity look like? Already, France has helped to destabilize Libya, and is participating in a NATO campaign which is helping extremists. They have expanded state surveillance, so the French have already lost some of their civil liberties. France has done very little to help out the refugees, victims of a crisis the West created. Sounds like a great way to prevent more terror. More state terror begets more terror from the terrorized.

      1. SqueakyRat

        “If this is how their “socialist” president responds, what would Sarkozy or Le Pen do? We may soon find out!”

        We’ll certainly find out if he responds with the sort of chin-stroking you seem to recommend.

            1. Massinissa

              Maybe they will find it more helpful if we ask if we should invade Algeria or Lebanon again instead. Its been longer since we bombed those, maybe the hawks just want a change of scenery for their mass murder. Surely they’ve gotten bored of bombing Iraq for over a decade by now.

        1. Montanamaven

          NYC has a French channel. They reported that Sarkozy told Hollande that they needed to ally with Russia . Hope?

    1. Paper Mac

      This is really uncharitable to ibn Taymiyyah, for whom suicidal terrorism was unknown and who would have been horrified by his modernist interpreters (the destruction of sufi-associated masajid and other sites by those claiming to follow him is a good example- ibn Taymiyyah was himself a shaykh of the Qadiri order).

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Got any links on this? There are times when I feel (to transpose to religions more familiar to me) that I’m hearing “Why will no one speak against radical Christianity?!” — after the Inquisition, the Crusades, and the sale of indulgences quite sensible, really — but during the Reformation, when “Christianity” is Catholics, Lutherans, Calvinists, Hugenots…

        Shorter: We need to know the players better.

        1. Paper Mac

          I’m not 100% on what you’re looking for- if you want a general overview of the various issues Taymiyyah was interested in and the opinions of later scholars, here’s one by GF Haddad, one of the more notable English-language voices of the traditional currents of Sunni Islam:

          ibn Taymiyyah’s works have lots of problems, but taking seriously the salafis who claim him as their intellectual ancestor doesn’t really make any sense. ibn Taymiyyah was a vituperative enemy of antinomian Sufis (as opposed to the majority of Sufis, like his own Qadiris, who acknowledged the probativeness of the shari’ah), of Ash’aris (philosophical occasionalists), and of Shi’ites. His primary concerns were almost purely theological and he had nothing whatever to say about the political agenda of modern salafis- the modern legally monist state did not exist in his time and no one contemplated using state power to implement some particular, homogenous articulation of the shari’ah. It took Western colonialism to introduce the idea that the state was the sole repository of law and that only one law should apply to all state subjects. Taymiyyah spent most of his career in jail railing against his perceived theological enemies and never formed any kind of coherent political program.

          To the extent that the salafis take anything from ibn Taymiyyah it’s his vicious rhetorical style and extreme dislike for particular philosophical and theological currents within the community. The rest is just the use of the man’s name to provide some kind of “traditional” legitimation of their political program that it would otherwise lack.

          1. Paper Mac

            I should add that I’m responding solely to AA’s claim that ibn Taymiyyah “inspired” and “guided” the attacks in Paris. Wahhabi theology, such as it is, is definitely an exaggerated version of Taymiyyah’s thought, as the above article notes, but this body of work is almost exclusively about refuting particular trends that Taymiyyah regarded as theologically corrosive. It’s ahistorical to draw a direct line from these concerns to armed terrorist attacks on non-Muslims and runs the risk of legitimating the al Qaeda-type political program as indigenously traditional, which it is not.

            1. g3

              I don’t know much about Islam, let alone ibn Taymiyyah. But Angry Arab (Lebanese American professor in CA) generally provides sound analysis and that’s why I submitted his link. And much appreciate your inputs.

              1. Paper Mac

                I don’t really have an issue with the rest, FWIW (though I’m not sure what he means by bribes to Azhar- a lot of Azharis have spoken out against ISIS et al). AA’s a secular anarchist AFAIK so I wouldn’t necessarily expect more than a gloss on this stuff, but it’s worth getting down in the weeds if we’re interested in the roots of Muslim political violence, and IMO Taymiyyah is peripheral to the actual program of terrorist attacks.

        2. fresno dan

          The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy, and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior. Its rise to power is less like the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (a group whose leaders the Islamic State considers apostates) than like the realization of a dystopian alternate reality in which David Koresh or Jim Jones survived to wield absolute power over not just a few hundred people, but some 8 million.

          We have misunderstood the nature of the Islamic State in at least two ways. First, we tend to see jihadism as monolithic, and to apply the logic of al‑Qaeda to an organization that has decisively eclipsed it. The Islamic State supporters I spoke with still refer to Osama bin Laden as “Sheikh Osama,” a title of honor. But jihadism has evolved since al-Qaeda’s heyday, from about 1998 to 2003, and many jihadists disdain the group’s priorities and current leadership.
          We are misled in a second way, by a well-intentioned but dishonest campaign to deny the Islamic State’s medieval religious nature. Peter Bergen, who produced the first interview with bin Laden in 1997, titled his first book Holy War, Inc. in part to acknowledge bin Laden as a creature of the modern secular world. Bin Laden corporatized terror and franchised it out. He requested specific political concessions, such as the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Saudi Arabia. His foot soldiers navigated the modern world confidently. On Mohamed Atta’s last full day of life, he shopped at Walmart and ate dinner at Pizza Hut.
          There is a temptation to rehearse this observation—that jihadists are modern secular people, with modern political concerns, wearing medieval religious disguise—and make it fit the Islamic State. In fact, much of what the group does looks nonsensical except in light of a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bringing about the apocalypse.

          The most-articulate spokesmen for that position are the Islamic State’s officials and supporters themselves. They refer derisively to “moderns.” In conversation, they insist that they will not—cannot—waver from governing precepts that were embedded in Islam by the Prophet Muhammad and his earliest followers. They often speak in codes and allusions that sound odd or old-fashioned to non-Muslims, but refer to specific traditions and texts of early Islam.

          he reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.

          Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.
          There was an article I read years ago about David Koresh. I think it is easy for secular people or non literalist believers to dismiss such fundamentalist’s beliefs. It may be illogical and bizarre to you and me, but any religion is based on rather fantastic beliefs and ways of thinking.
          Really read the old testament, and imagine if those precepts were taken seriously…

          1. Paper Mac

            I’ve commented on this article before, but it’s worth reiterating. The author really has no idea what they’re talking about. Note that there are no citations of particular ‘ulama or other scholars, just a blanket insistence that ISIS is “very Islamic” because they’re capable of basic references to the Qur’an and hadith. If you’d like to see an open letter signed by representatives of almost every major Islamic educational institution describing the basic methodological errors ISIS is forced to make in order to justify their interpretations, there’s one here:

            It’s worth noting that literalism per se has never really been a problem in Islam- the Qur’an itself actually insists that some verses are meant to be taken in the plain sense and others are metaphorical. “Islamic fundamentalism” is not cognate to Christian fundamentalism- the problem is fundamentally a political one, not doctrinal, and the theological justifications that are offered for the political programs are paper thin and trivially debunked by anyone with a solid education in the tradition (sadly lacking these days). For more please have a look at this talk by a leading American scholar of the history of Islamic law and philosophy, Sherman Jackson:


    2. MikeNY

      Thanks for that. I think there’s a lot of truth in that list. (I can’t comment on the specific point Paper Mac refers to — don’t know enough. But I do think our alliance with Saudi Arabia is big problem.)

      1. JTMcPhee

        “our alliance with the Saudis” actually = “US imperial oligarchy alliance,” no?

        And that plural possessive pronoun, whether “our” or “we,” so happily obscures so much — “WE need to respond by {whatever},” “WE need more {or less} economic equality,” “WE need another generation of warships/air superiority multi-role stealth bomber rail gun cyberweapon nanobot autonomous killing machines to Project Power as is OUR God-given or seized-power ability and divine right…” Also a problem is “OUR {oligarchy’s} alliance” with the Israelites, Egyptian, Turkish, Myanmarese, Ukrainian, all those African former colonies, nascent new dictatorships more or less apparent in Central and South America, and so many other coup-installed dictators or faux-elected ministers.” Seamless web? no, a set of faux “national interests” that the Few can use us stolid workers to cheerlead and finance and springboard off of, and to give our kids the “right” to enlist in directly or through “contractor” employment. It’s got Momentum, and Inertia, and assent or silence from most of us, who recognize how difficult it would be to drive the PTB to do anything else, pending, of course, planetary environmental collapse…

        All this insistence on clear acceptance of “agency” here — dare one ask what “WE” can do to redirect all the huge amount of wealthpowerenergy that is aimed at dragging all of us into “all anomic armed violence, all the time”? I would not say “all war all the time,” thinking of “war” as a violent complex industrialized conflict nominally between national entities (since when is ISISILDaesh a “nation” now? or just a very successful “business model” that our Elites are seemingly jealous of in that the former Saddam Generals can skip even the patina of “ruleoflaw” and “the limits of civilized conduct,” ) — unless one accepts a definition of “war” as a mashup of the observation-revelation of Smedley Butler and Heller’s hellish exposition of Milo Minderbinder’s Enterprise/Syndicate in “Catch-22.”

        Maybe there is some enlightenment to be found in these links that look at ISIS as an enterprise:

        “The Banality of Islamic State– How ISIS corporatized terror”:

        “Forbes Israel: ISIS is World’s Richest Terrorist Organisation in History”,

        “ISIS: The Richest Terrorists In History?”,

        And a couple of related articles:

        “Who Is Really Fighting ISIS?,

        ” Terror Expert Louise Shelley: ‘Islamic State Is a Diversified Criminal Operation'”,

        From link in post above:

        “Given just how simple it is to kill random civilians in a Western city [just ask US police, ol’ “To Serve And Protect,” how simple it is, or check out all the youtube videos of “street shootings”], that isn’t an idle warning. Its also one that calls into question the U.S.-led policy of using limited means to contain, rather than decisively defeat, Islamic State.”

        For all those people who exhort “us” to go all in on the “destruction and defeat of ISIS,” one might ask how “we” get shut of an infection of unbridled capitalist entrepreneurialism, fed by people who “profit” from arming, funding and trading with those folks, that looks to be as endemic as E. coli and toenail fungus…

    3. tgs

      Thanks for drawing attention to that list. The angry arab, unlike our ‘western leaders’, is part of the reality based community. It is certain that the self-appointed ‘international community’ will seize this opportunity to advance their ME agenda and make things far worse.

  7. Plutoniumkun

    RE: The WaPo chart – I don’t think that chart says anything at all about radicalism or assimilation in France. Those are absolute numbers – doing a bit of a rough calculation based on population percentages, Belgium has a much bigger problem, and the numbers are quite similar as for the UK.

    It would be more useful to look not just at percentages, but also ‘first generation’ origins of immigrants to look at assimilation and radicalisation issues. On first glance, Germany seems to have less of a problem than France or the UK, but since a very high percentage of German islamic immigrants were from ‘moderate’ populations in Turkey and Kurdish areas, that may well be the main explanation. I think the relative success of the US and Canada in assimilating muslims is almost entirely explainable by the geographic and social origin of US muslim immigrants.

    I worked for some time in a majority East Asian community in the British Midlands in the 1990’s. One thing that was very obvious then was that the first generation influence was huge. Kids born to parents from relatively prosperous parts of India or Pakistan (whether muslim or hindu) usually thrived in the UK, outdoing their white British counterparts. Those who could trace their origin to remote villages, with semi-literate parents, were most likely to struggle and be marginalised.

    One issue thats often forgotten in the discussion of the success of the US to Europe in assimilating immigrants is that the US (and Canada too) is far more selective – a much higher percentage gain citizenship via having done third level education and/or having valuable skills – while the immigrant populations in France, Belgium and to a large extent the UK have come from the poorest parts of north Africa, the Middle East and Central/East Asia, coming either as refugees or using family connections. It makes a huge difference.

    1. oho

      *while the immigrant populations in France, Belgium and to a large extent the UK have come from the poorest parts of north Africa, the Middle East and Central/East Asia, coming either as refugees or using family connections. It makes a huge difference*

      this is a true but politically incorrect statement that’ll never see the light of day on an op-ed page or on TV—just internet comments.

      You can say that the US/Canada gets the first round draft picks for secular, educated migrants. EU? not so much.

      US race relations, though flawed, looks like MLK’s utopia when compared to race/ethnic relations in Europe.

      1. Inverness

        Yet the racism isn’t confined to Arabs. I have Arab and Arab-looking friends who don’t want to set foot in France, as they find French racism intolerable. Is the racism a product of having poorer immigrants (to whom the French, like it or not, have a historical debt, thanks to Algeria, Morocco, etc), or is it because of a hostility to foreigners that there is a strong hostility to what isn’t considered French.

        Look at history. The French were willing collaborators under the Vichy government,and many seemed fairly content to hand over Jews. So hatred of the other doesn’t seem confined to Arabs, but Jews and the Roma (consider how Sarkozy gave more than a few plane tickets to Romania a few years back).

        1. Inverness

          Last sentence should read, “hatred of the other isn’t confined to Arabs. The Jews, and more recently, the Roma have also suffered from French racism.”

        2. Massinissa

          My dad is Puerto Rican. When he visited France, several restaurants he went to refused to serve him because they thought he was Algerian.

          Of course this was in the 70s but I highly doubt it has changed.

  8. IsabelPS

    I don’t much care for shows of solidarity on FB etc, but I have a lot of respect for people that sheltered strangers stranded in the cities and taxi drivers that took people home for free.

      1. Gio Bruno

        I think most people are magnanimous in moments of catastrophe. It’s when those moments continue into days that having an organized government to handle affairs efficiently and professionally becomes an imperative.

      2. IsabelPS

        I have absolutely no doubt that good people, and good deeds, far exceed the rest. Of course, it takes very few to cause a lot of hurt, and some more to allow them the freedom to do it. But good wins over bad.

  9. fresno dan

    Far distant second:
    John Dickerson: (after saying the next subject is Wall street) And now, for a word from our sponger…

    that was suppose to be “sponsor”
    but on second thought, sponger works well too…

  10. snapout of it.

    Stop calling defending Western civilization “warmongering”. This all is ultimately at the door of the entrenched Left–what we have been calling “liberals” for the last 40 years, and their useless idiot, of which NC is filled to it brim. The Left wants to destroy the West. This is not just a case of bad judgement; this is all intentional.

    Speaking of useful idiots, this, “This is really uncharitable to ibn Taymiyyah, for whom suicidal terrorism was unknown and who would have been horrified by his modernist interpreters (the destruction of sufi-associated masajid and other sites by those claiming to follow him is a good example- ibn Taymiyyah was himself a shaykh of the Qadiri order)”, is their typical deceitful, deluded poppycock.

    1) Please stop pretending that you are some sort of scholar on Islam–you are in fact mostly ignorant of the time you speak. Taymiyyah would have in the end be all in for the Islam conquest of Europe. You get this nonsensical posturing out of the Multi-cult propaganda mill, no doubt getting most of it from whatever college you went to. It is mostly just anti-western swill peddled by Marxists who seek to degrade the West. It is coming that you feel you are some sort of “authority” on Taymiyyah, his period or his intentions. It is embarrassing, and you are making yourself looking like a fool.

    2) Stop the moral, intellectual and cultural relativism.

    3) Stop apologizing for the foreign enemies of your civilization. While you are at it, do some soul searching on how you may be aiding its internal enemies as well. Bith groups wish notion but your degradation, ruin and death. This includes the EUocrats and the Democrats.

    What will it take to get you people to grow up, see what is at stack and to abandon your narcissistic false consciousness? The end of your civilization? Sure seems so/

    1. Peter Schitt

      Well, hello there, angry old white man.
      Which parts of Western ‘civilization’ do you refer to? Colonialism? Genocide? Pogroms? Anti-Semitism? Fascism? Socialist revolution? Bourgeois revolution? Porn? Predator drones? Liberalism? Neoliberalism? Regime change? Hope and change? Making America Great Again? Reproductive rights? Slavery? Liberté, égalité, fraternité? Disneyland? Homeland?

      Let me guess: the parts that entrench old white guy privilege. Bad news, pal: the serfs are starting to smell a rat. (With apologies to rattus norvegicus, which is a lot more intelligent than the average defender of Western civilization™.)

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Hmm. “angry old white man” seems to me a fine example of the dictum that “It’s always OK to talk about race, it’s sometimes OK to talk about gender, and it’s never OK to talk about class.” I think that this — “no doubt getting most of it from whatever college you went to” — is a tell; notice the assumption that the commenter went to college, which of course not everyone, and not even all commenters here, can do. And that’s before we get to ideology, which can cross-cut any intersectionality at the individual level.

        No doubt he has “civilization” confused with thing that he owns or people that he rents.*

        To put this another way, I’m an angry old white man. And I have a lot to be angry about!

        * Personally, I regard blowing faraway brown children to pink mist with drone strokes as uncivilized, but perhaps that’s just me.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Yes. My thought, too: it’s precisely some of the “angry old white men” (and women, TBF) he objects to.

      2. Massinissa

        We don’t actually know if hes white, old, or a man.

        Could be angry young islamophobe white woman (I know some) or angry old islamophobe black man (I know one).

        Im an angry young white man, but im angry at kleptocracy rather than muslims.

        1. Vatch

          Yes, kleptocracy is quite vile. It’s also understandable to feel anger towards violent fanaticism. Violent fanatics are sometimes Muslims, and they can also be Christians, Hindus, Jews, atheists, etc.

        2. Peter Schitt

          Sorry for stereotyping but I just had a picture of Bill O’Reilly in my head. Still, I bet I’m right.

    2. Paper Mac

      LMAO. Get this, buddy- I’m Muslim!! BOOGY BOOGY BOOGY!! Which scares you more, impoverished Arabs or the Marxist boogeymen in your closet?

        1. Paper Mac

          Zakat is Marxist as heck! Every time I pay the poor rate I high five a Marxist Professor and we say mean things about Samuel Huntington!

      1. MarcoPolo

        I am not Muslim and don’t have a clue about those things, but what you wrote above sounds at least reasonable and that seems in short supply right now. Darkness is not pierced by darkness. Only light can do that. I didn’t make that up. MLK said ( a Christian pastor) something to that effect.

      2. IDG

        They are scared to hell by Marxists Muslims! Probably worst combo… They were very busy killing that sort of movement in the last century after all.

        Off course that helped creating this situation. But all is good, nothing as good as having a mortal enemy so you can rump up on military spending and police state building.

    3. low_integer

      From prior reading of the NC comments section, I believe Paper Mac, whose comment you quote, is a Muslim, and therefore probably knows more than most on this site about Islam. In my experience, his comments come across as those from an intelligent and level headed person.

      Please stop pretending that you are some sort of scholar on Islam–you are in fact mostly ignorant of the time you speak. Taymiyyah would have in the end be all in for the Islam conquest of Europe.

      So it is you who is the expert then?

    4. Jagger

      Stop apologizing for the foreign enemies of your civilization.

      I am curious what civilization do you belong to?

    5. Sandwichman

      “This all is ultimately at the door of the entrenched Left…”

      Forty years, eh? Then you are no doubt referring to the decision by the entrenched leftist President Reagan (supported by bi-partisan Congress) to fund the arming of the Mujahedeen (a.k.a. “freedom fighters”) in Afghanistan and leave the details up to the entrenched left of the Saudi kingdom and the Pakistani ISI?

      STEVE COLL: Well, it of course begins in 1979 when the Soviets invaded during the Carter administration, and it really swelled between 1981 and 1985. Essentially, under Bill Casey, the CIA created a three-part intelligence alliance to fund and arm the Mujahadeen, initially to harass Soviet occupation forces and eventually they embraced the goal of driving them out. The three-way alliance in each of the parties had a distinct role to play. The Saudi, their intelligence service primarily provided cash. Each year the congress would secretly allocate a certain amount of money to support the CIA’s program. After that allocation was complete, the US Intelligence liaison would fly to Riyadh and the Saudis would write a matching check. The US role was to provide logistics and technological support as well as money. The Saudis collaborated with Pakistan’s intelligence service, ISI, to really run the war on the front lines. It was the Pakistani army, in particular the ISI, that picked the political winners and losers in the jihad, and who favored radical Islamist factions because it suited the Pakistan’s army goal of pacifying Afghanistan, a long-time unruly neighbor to the west, whose ethnic Pashtun nationalism the army feared. The army saw Islam not only as a motivating force in the anti-Soviet jihad, but as an instrument of Pakistan’s regional policy to control Afghanistan. The US acquiesced with all of this in part because they thought that the only purpose that brought them to the region was to drive the Soviets out, and they didn’t really care about local politics. But also because after Vietnam, the generation of CIA officers involved in this program were scarred by their experiences in Southeast Asia, and they essentially operated under a mantra of no more hearts and minds for us. We’re not good at picking winners and losers in a developing world. Let’s let the Pakistanis decide who carries this jihad forward. That’s how the favoritism of the radical Islamic factions was born and nurtured.

    6. Gio Bruno

      Hmm……………this is something the native Americans were probably thinking when confronting the Colonists.

    7. skippy

      Can’t help but chuckle when I see “Cultural Marxist” being bandied about.

      “In current wingnut usage, the term is a favourite of Pat Buchanan and, to the most dangerous extent, Anders Behring Breivik. It is a Cold Warrior’s way of decrying “political correctness” or “multiculturalism.”[3][4] It’s when capitalism and democracy are still the law of the land, but they don’t work exclusively for you anymore.

      Despite its widespread popularity among the hard-right, many on the right have thoroughly debunked the concept as not being Marxist at all, including Christian Dominionist Gary North and Michael Acuña from Common Ruin.[5][6][7] How to Paint Your Panda has debunked it as well.[8]

      It’s become a favorite term of many of the nuttier Gamergaters—demonstrating the movement’s attraction of many anti-Semites, white supremacists, and MRAs — to explain why those bitch slut whores won’t shut up about sexism in video games. They got their collective jockstraps in a knot when discussions on Wikipedia pre-dating their obsession with the term resulted in the “Cultural Marxism” article on Wikipedia being redirected to the “Conspiracy theory” section of Frankfurt School[wp], restored after appealing to the God-King, no consensus after that, then deletion and redirection back to the conspiracy theory.[9]

      The term is odious enough that people wanting to use it now apologise in advance,[10] much as nobody behaving in a blatantly racist manner will accept the label “racist”. ”

      “A 20th-century conspiracy theory regards the Frankfurt School as the origin of a contemporary movement in the political left to destroy western culture, referred to as “Cultural Marxism” by theory proponents.[51][52] It advocates the idea that multiculturalism and political correctness are products of critical theory, which originated with the Frankfurt School. The theory is associated with American conservative thinkers such as William Lind, Pat Buchanan and Paul Weyrich, and has received institutional support from the Free Congress Foundation.[53][54]

      Although it became more widespread in the late 1990s and 2000s, the modern iteration of the theory originated within Michael Minnicino’s 1992 essay “New Dark Age: Frankfurt School and ‘Political Correctness’”, published in Fidelio Magazine by the Schiller Institute.[55][56][57] The Schiller Institute, a branch of the LaRouche movement, further promoted the idea in 1994.[58] The Minnicino article charges that the Frankfurt School promoted Modernism in the arts as a form of Cultural pessimism, and played a role in shaping the 1960s counterculture.[55] In 1999 Lind led the creation of an hour-long program, Political Correctness: The Frankfurt School.[56] The documentary

      “… spawned a number of condensed textual versions, which were reproduced on a number of radical right-wing sites. These in turn led to a welter of new videos now available on You Tube, which feature an odd cast of pseudo-experts regurgitating exactly the same line. The message is numbingly simplistic: all the ills of modern American culture, from feminism, affirmative action, sexual liberation and gay rights to the decay of traditional education and even environmentalism are ultimately attributable to the insidious influence of the members of the Institute for Social Research who came to America in the 1930’s.”[56]

      Dr. Heidi Beirich likewise claims the concept is used to demonize various conservative “bête noire” including “feminists, homosexuals, secular humanists, multiculturalist, sex educators, environmentalist, immigrants, and black nationalists.”[59]

      According to Chip Berlet, who specializes in the study of extreme right-wing movements, the Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory found fertile ground within the Tea Party movement of 2009, with contributions published in the American Thinker and WorldNetDaily highlighted by some Tea Party websites.[60][61]

      More recently, the Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik included the term in his self-authored document “2083: A European Declaration of Independence”, which along with the Free Congress Foundation’s “Political Correctness: A Short History of an Ideology” was e-mailed to 1,003 addresses about 90 minutes before the 2011 bomb blast in Oslo for which Breivik was responsible.[62][63][64]

      Philosopher and political science lecturer Jérôme Jamin has stated that “Next to the global dimension of the Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory, there is its innovative and original dimension, which lets its authors avoid racist discourses and pretend to be defenders of democracy”.[53] Professor and Oxford Fellow Matthew Feldman has traced the terminology back to the pre-war German concept of Cultural Bolshevism locating it as part of the degeneration discourse that aided in Hitler’s rise to power.[65] William S. Lind confirms this as his period of interest, claiming that “It [Cultural Marxism] is an effort that goes back not to the 1960s and the hippies and the peace movement, but back to World War I.”[66]”

      Skippy…. Western society to fundamentalist stripes just another term for Christian dominance….

  11. equote

    “The most likely way to defeat the strongest enemy militarily is to drain it militarily and economically”——of course, (draining it) economically is primarily by military operations, in addition to other means. Even Rumsfeld says to reporters in justification for his setbacks: “What more can we do?! Don’t forget that we are spending billions in combating an enemy that spends millions.”

    Naji Abu BakuI

    1. JTMcPhee

      Equote, I hope this manifesto gets wide reading and circulation. “Our” oligarchs and weapons buyers are similarly organized, implacably motivated and and insatiabl, and infiltrated among the rest of us to establish their own permanent “inevitable caliphate.”

      What are the outcomes us ordinary people need from “our” political economy,” then?

  12. NV

    One of yesterday’s Wikileaks tweets links to a document detailing the legalities of “state of emergency” – when it and how it ends, for instance. Assuming that it is a government document. No time right now to find it.

    1. Jim Haygood

      From USA Today:

      WASHINGTON — The United States is in a perpetual state of national emergency. Thirty separate emergencies, in fact.

      An emergency declared by President Jimmy Carter on the 10th day of the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979 remains in effect almost 35 years later.

      A post-9/11 state of national emergency declared by President George W. Bush — and renewed six times by President Obama — forms the legal basis for much of the war on terror.

      Tuesday, President Obama informed Congress he was extending another Bush-era emergency for another year, saying “widespread violence and atrocities” in the Democratic Republic of Congo “pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States.”

      My understanding is that during an emergency, the U.S. flag should be flown upside down. Especially if you spot a Congolese lurking in the shrubbery.

  13. Steve H.

    Hollande’s “pitiless” = positive feedback loop.

    Paraphrasing Boyd: the Pentagon is not a war-fighting machine, it’s a weapons-buying machine.

    The term here is ‘self-licking ice cream cone.’

    One side benefits from continued expansion of scales of spending. This generates the sad, angry, oppressed individuals who are the materiel for the delivery systems of the the other side. The resonance benefits, on both sides, “people to whom people are things.”

      1. Steve H.

        Just read Haygood noting we’re still in the Iranian Hostage Crisis Emergency.

        Seems a bit like derivatives, if we wrote down this original emergency, then everything built on top would collapse. I guess a good emergency has no maturity date.

          1. hunkerdown

            For instance, if the War on Pot collapses, the War on Other Street Drugs doesn’t have the scale to believably continue as a war. And if the War on Brown People collapses, there won’t be a popular gangsta culture to promote antinomian consumption of “b—-es, blunts and forties” as Eminem put it.

            1. Ulysses

              One of my most fascinating friends is a former gangsta rapper– who was stimulated by what he heard at Occupy to begin questioning how he and other entertainers were being played. He’s still active in hip-hop, yet now that his lyrics are more thoughtful, and less violent, the money isn’t as good.

  14. linda amick

    Intensive spying by all Western Intelligence agencies especially in France after the Charlie Hebdo killings and NO foreknowledge of this event? Hard to believe. It must have required great deals of collaborations among the terrorists. I am beginning to believe these intelligence groups are just fronts for money laundering otherwise why do they NEVER know what is coming?

    1. andyb

      Unless, of course, these same intelligence agencies planned and executed the entire operation, using convenient patsies (who just happened to be jihardists?)

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      The most suppressed secret of ALL of these spying systems is that they do not work, at all, in the slightest, not even a little bit. In fact they hurt the intelligence effort. The simple reason? Listening to all of Grandma’s voice mails and transcribing all of Missy’s text messages generates a volume of data that can easily fill the known universe. For the Boston Bombers, the FBI admitted that the Russians told us beforehand “it’s them!” not once but *three times*…but the FBI was much too busy reading Myrtle’s Facebook posts to pay any attention at all.
      The Surveilllance-Industrial Complex is just another taxpayer money extraction device, it has no relation whatsoever to actual terror prevention.

      1. hunkerdown

        Unless a nation were to redefine terror as any act of force that is not directed laterally or downward. In which case, the surveillance complex is extremely helpful.

    3. fajensen

      …. Because they are Morons. Missing the collapse of the USSR should perhaps have been a clue-brick to the politicians funding them. But … No. Of course not.

      First, they don’t want to pay the market rate for talent. Second, they actively screen out anyone who has ever smoked dope or blown up their credit card and the like – which is pretty much *all* the potential talent gone from the pool right there. Third, they continue to evict any talent that might have snuck in by accident with random drug tests and voodoo science like lie detectors.

      In short: Intelligence services is not an environment where smart, creative people, who can get things done will want to work!

      Some of those people will go to the “sell side” of the “multi-spectrum surveillance”, then they sell this “system-that-will-do-your-job-so-you-don’t-have-to-work” to the dum-dum’s who are absolutely overwhelmed with all this information the system provides, that they don’t know what to do with, so then they buy more “smart gear” to handle that problem. And so it goes.

  15. oho

    this is a case of a pox on everyone’s house as every side is wrong about something—–

    plenty of conservatives (Ben Carson) still don’t get why the Sunni/Shia split matters or still don’t get that air strikes won’t solve anything while plenty of liberals won’t accept the argument that having an open door policy for migrants, in a Europe of chronic unemployment, awful finances, and failed assimilation doesn’t make sense.

    but given the politics of our age/the blogosphere/the media, i’m not waiting for a prominent leader to take a nuanced/circumspect point of view.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Nothing nuance for corporations.

      Immigration means more worker competition and more customers.

      A win-win for them.

  16. GlobalMisanthrope

    “Even as the events in Paris were unfolding, officials and analysts said they were struck by how tightly co-ordinated the series of attacks seemed to be — a level of sophistication in planning and execution that had not been seen since the 2008 attacks in Mumbai.”

    Sophisticated, you know, for those people. Seriously?

    Should read: Officials and analysts surprised that terrorists can tell time, use electronic devices.

    1. Oregoncharles

      My thought, too: so they can synchronise their watches – as in roughly half of movies ever made.

      1. susan the other

        Stg that isn’t being reported on is guest-posted today on – it is the account (don’t know how official) of the French Security communication network being shut down the day before the attack for several hours. There are three or 4 articles indicating false flag on PCR.

  17. DJG

    This article is more tightly argued than the “double standard” one from Salon. Maybe it has to do with it appearing in Famiglia Cristiana, a general-interest publication for Roman Catholics and sponsored by the Italian bishops. (Of all places for what will be perceived as a leftist position by U.S. standards.)

    Scaglione is willing to talk about morality. Salon seems to be looking for blame.

    It is in Italian:

    Going with Lambert’s mention above of minimal-level, kitsch displays of solidarity, the title translates as “France: Let’s at least stop our chattering.”

  18. DJG

    One of the articles above mentions that the sites were somehow unexceptional. I don’t want to go out on a limb and declare the Bataclan a symbol of Western civilization, but it has a storied past. Colette played there, when she was between marriages and supporting herself as a mime-performer. Mistinguett sang there. For me, reading that the attackers had gotten inside and slaughtered the audience was, needless to say, highly disturbing because of the deaths and because the Bataclan has been a vehicle for the mix of culture (what we’d call low brow / high brow) that is a characteristic of France. I’m not sure what the equivalent institution would be in the USA. Maybe Carnegie Hall.

    1. Jim Haygood

      One of the NYT’s resident neocons winkles out an obscure ethnocentric angle in the attack on the Bataclan:

      The only adequate measure, after the killing of at least 129 people in Paris, is military, and the only objective commensurate with the ongoing threat is the crushing of ISIS.

      To defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq will require NATO forces on the ground. An air war against ISIS will not get the job done; the Paris attacks occurred well into an unpersuasive bombing campaign.

      The Bataclan, the club targeted in the Paris attacks, has, as the French magazine Le Point pointed out, been a frequent meeting-place for Jewish organizations.

      This is not the time to turn on [Syrian refugees], but to help them.

      Help Syrian refugees by invading their country with ground forces! Doubtless they will greet our liberators with flowers and chocolates.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I think we should subcontract it all:

        1) Have Bibi turn the desert to glass with a few nukes;

        2) Hire Putin for the mop-up operation.

        That way, our hands are clean.

        1. susan the other

          I don’t recall any Links on NC to – a post-communist blog. But I just went there today our of curiosity and found interesting analysis on western finance and the great implosion. (But I could have missed them as I burn out sometimes before I get to the Links.) It was a very interesting and pretty well-reasoned blog so I hit a few more articles written as far back as 2010 on the GFC and all its implications with predictions that seem fairly accurate now in hindsight… how the US is desperate to maintain control of global finance and resources and will improvise a cause for war in the MidEast, etc. The kind of stuff that nobody puts too fine a point on here, but everyone knows is more or less true.

      2. Massinissa

        The Syrians wouldn’t even let the Russians have boots on the ground, probably. Definitely not the country that had Syria as a colony 70 years ago.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      The sites are really not unexceptional; the first New Yorker article shows this clearly. In fact, when I got a chance to look at the map, I found I was familiar with the area, and in fact knew people who lived there. (For Maigret fans, the Lenoir runs in to the Canal St. Martin). It’s as if the 9/11 bombers didn’t hit Wall Street, but instead hit the Village, or a mixed boho/working class district in Brooklyn.

  19. Norb

    My first reaction to the 9/11 attacks was that the criminal perpetrators must be brought to justice. They were criminals, nothing more. These thoughts are possible when you believe you live in a working social order that operates on a system of equal justice. When the official government line focused on terrorism instead of criminal justice, I was somewhat taken aback. Regardless of the scale of the incident, it seemed a leap of faith to convert individual acts of violence into an amorphous campaign against an idea or technique of violence. As compared to the strength of the nation, or the durability of our founding principles, the notion that we would use the resources of our country to fight some war on terrorism seemed insane.

    By choosing the path of violence instead of the path of justice, the US is now committed to a strategy that degrades our Democratic principles. Social and economic justice will not be brought about through war, violence or religious fanaticism.

    We live on a world with finite resources and we allow a powerful elite to commit trillions of dollars to warfare. More violence is not the answer. The rotten foundation on which modern society is built will not be able to sustain many more shocks.

    1. Jim Haygood

      In similar fashion, France has ‘declared war’ in response to the actions of eight violent criminals, seven of whom are dead, and at least three of whom were French citizens.

      When do the bombing raids on Courcouronnes begin?

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Taking away those trillions of dollars warfare spending and using that money for healing and sharing is preferable over something like depositing a platinum coin that just allows the status quo to continue, but on a bigger scale.

    3. fajensen

      More violence *could* be an answer, as many people before, like: Wellington, Napoleon, Stalin or Hitler surely demonstrated.

      However, the Undirected violence (like death squads), the drive-by killings with drones, “critical node” theory (bomb just one more of ‘X’ and the enemy will surely collapse) is what doesn’t work – unless “work” is defined as: “Making the mil-sec industrial complex very rich while producing a steady flow of pissed-off enemies”.

      It’s a real war or nothing – If one really have no better plan than to use violence, then one had also better put some real determination, resources and effort into it and get it over with. If not, then leave it be.

  20. TheCatSaid

    Whatever happened to army whistleblower Scott Bennett who revealed the 19,000 CIA bank accounts being used to transfer funds to ISIL? I wonder what he’d have to say about this.

    1. craazyboy

      Yeah. I can see the Republicans supporting the Republican Guard, but why are the Democrats supporting them?

      1. TheCatSaid

        Sure. His book is “Shell Game”. I sent some links to interview & documentation, but that post hasn’t appeared yet.

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Condolences to the victims and their families in France and Beirut.

    Any more news (are they about to declare war as well, were refugee passports found) on the bombing in Beirut?

  22. David

    Here’s an interesting article from the site of Libération, which generally acts as the guardian of political correctness in the French media. Yesterday, they published an alleged account of the IS communiqué, in which they left out the sentences about French policy in the Middle East, so this is quite an important straw in the wind. Bayard is a well-known expert on the (mainly Muslim parts of) Africa.
    Meanwhile, it’s obvious that the government, including Valls in particular, has no idea what they mean when they say that France is “at war”. Logically, this would mean there’s a state of armed conflict and that any captured IS personnel need to be treated as prisoners of war. Somehow, I doubt that they think that. This seems to be a concept of war in which only one side is actually allowed to fight.

      1. David

        Well that’s interesting. Here’s the story
        But I had to search for ages to find it. There are no obvious links on the site. You’ll see that, if you know what you are looking for, there’s a reference to “crusaders”, but what was specifically omitted is the reference to French air attacks on the IS and alleged “war on Islam” in France.
        Meanwhile, this, from Le Monde manages to suggest that the death-rock band playing was “high culture”, and apparently it’s all the fault of the Palestinians, or something. The online version doesn’t seem to allow linking, but you can find it under the title Le Bataclan, un haut lieu de la culture ciblé de longue date par les islamistes To be honest, The whole article is pretty incoherent. Meanwhile, I can’t find any text of the communiqué on the Le Monde site at all. How interesting.

  23. Sluggeaux

    Sounds like Pruitt-Igoe in Saint Louis.

    Truer words have not yet been written about Friday’s attacks. Pompidou and Chirac cleared the poor out of Paris inside the Peripherique just like Giuliani and Bloomberg cleansed Manhattan of its lower classes. The Banlieus outside the Periph are just as hopeless and anarchic as Ferguson Missouri was for Michael Brown — and remains today. As details emerge, the attackers were for the most part French citizens who had lived their entire hopeless lives in the Brutalist concrete cites of the Banlieu Parisienne.

    This attack will eventually be understood to have been conducted by members of France’s dispossessed under-class, lashing out against “white privilege” and gentrification of a “mixte” neighborhood, rather than the “Battle of Civilizations/Armegeddon” that the neo-Lib/neo-Con crowd want to make it out to be (more war profits!). This was exactly the sort of violent anarchy that happens when the marginalized become radicalized.

    My personal takeaway is that the horror Friday night in Paris is emblematic of why “The Great Divide” will eventually become deadly. Mass unemployment is incompatible with the Second Amendment.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      On Ferguson, I think the situation is more nuanced; see, e.g., this from Road and Track (!). There were months of marches before Ferguson was a hash tag and got national attention; though frayed, I think the social fabric there is much tougher than most people think. (One sign of that is that all the restaurants aren’t chains.) No paradise, for sure, but different from Pruitt-Igoe. (And modernist architecture has a lot to answer for. The bainlieu is merely the “Radiant City,” is it not?)

      1. Sluggeaux

        African-American communities have always had to be resilient and have developed an amazing culture of solidarity in the face of the unimaginable oppression that they have suffered. However, I don’t doubt that many of the current residents of Ferguson can trace their cultural journey through the now-cratered towers of Pruett-Igoe.

        I also doubt that the latter-day immigrants to France from the Maghreb were as culturally prepared for the oppression of Corbu’s realization of the Taylorized worker’s paradise of his “ville Radieuse” — as originally imagined by V.I. Lenin and Henry Ford. Take a trip by Google Street View to the places where the murderers lived — many in the shadow of Europe’s larges prison, la Maison d’arret de Fleury-Merogis. They are concrete wastelands — enlivened by brutal concrete “artworks” poking through the trampled greenery.

          1. Sluggeaux

            Lambert, you need to check-out the giant concrete “art” piece that is the symbol of Courcouronnes, where tuer de fous Omar Ismail Mostefai grew up before his family got a clue that they were living next door to the biggest prison in Europe and moved to Chartres. You know, Courcouronnes was just that perfect packed-in concrete community college campus that everybody dreams of raising their kids in…

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              Here it is, from the Street View link:


              I think I have a vague memory of structures like this being used for skateboarding or perhaps parkour. [goes to look]

              I’ll be damned. My memory is still functional. So some use can be made, even of this structure… Starts at ~1:25.

  24. m-ga

    Here is some information about the Bataclan killings I’ve not seen mentioned very much.

    It may just be coincidence, but both the band and the venue have connections to Judaism. Until recently (September this year) the venue had Jewish owners. They had hosted pro-Israeli events, and had received terror threats:

    The band playing had recently played in Israel. They were vocal in their support of Israel, and their opposition to moves to boycott Israel (i.e. boycotts over Israel’s actions in Palestine):

    If there is a connection, then of course it doesn’t excuse or justify the killings. But it does offer some insight into the motives of the killers.

    Jason Burke’s articles are also helpful in this regard:

  25. juliania

    I am not an Islam scholar, but I think an adjustment needs to be made to the statement that the demonstrations after the Hebdo criminal assault in Paris proclaiming “I am Charlie” were demonstrations of racial solidarity. They were not. They were statements in celebration of free speech, the French ideal of outspokenness over religious sensitivities of any kind because that’s what being French means, and it is understandable that working class muslim residents of the right bank would have a hard time saying “I am Charlie” even if at the same time they condemned the violence. It may seem like a distinction without a difference but to me that felt wrong. I felt at the time the demonstrations didn’t help diminish the ‘us and them’ environment in which feelings of injustice fester.

  26. David

    Apparently the French Defence Minister has announced a “massive airstrike” on Raqqa. No details in the media as yet.

      1. David

        Here’s a link

  27. Jim Haygood

    NYT stenographers:

    PARIS — French warplanes struck Islamic State militants in Syria on Sunday, a French government official said.

    As Glenn Greenwald wrote in 2012:

    Virtually every time the U.S. fires a missile from a drone and ends the lives of Muslims, American media outlets dutifully trumpet in headlines that the dead were ”militants” – even though those media outlets literally do not have the slightest idea of who was actually killed. They simply cite always-unnamed “officials” claiming that the dead were “militants.”

    It’s almost as if Glenn had a purloined copy of the agitprop playbook. Maybe Snowden gave it to him.

  28. Bunk McNulty

    What I Discovered From Interviewing Imprisoned ISIS Fighters (The Nation)

     More pertinent than Islamic theology is that there are other, much more convincing, explanations as to why they’ve fought for the side they did. At the end of the interview with the first prisoner we ask, “Do you have any questions for us?” For the first time since he came into the room he smiles—in surprise—and finally tells us what really motivated him, without any prompting. He knows there is an American in the room, and can perhaps guess, from his demeanor and his questions, that this American is ex-military, and directs his “question,” in the form of an enraged statement, straight at him. “The Americans came,” he said. “They took away Saddam, but they also took away our security. I didn’t like Saddam, we were starving then, but at least we didn’t have war. When you came here, the civil war started.”

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Just think. All we had to do was pay off Saddam’s generals, which they expected. But Bush — remember the Coalition Provisonal Authority? — didn’t want to do that. So here we are!

      1. Paul Tioxon

        THE GREEN ZONE, The Hollywood movie starring Matt Damon, shows just this scenario, with Saddam’s top General waiting for the call to make the deal to set up the new provisional government after Saddam was deposed. It sums up all major problem of the US Government’s failure in Iraq from non-existent WMDs to ex-pat Iraqi civilians flown back to be the new leader of Iraq only to be rejected by the Iraqi’s and the lying US presscorps which willfully cooperates in the deception of the American public. Nicely paired with SYRIANA, another Hollywood movie that gathers up a lot of details into a viewable big geopolitical picture.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Or a Médecins Sans Frontières hospital (as in last month’s first recorded instance of one peace laureate bombing another).

    1. Sluggeaux

      Courcouronnes backs-up to the largest prison in Europe, La Maison d’Arret de Fleury-Merogis, which is know as a hotbed to Islamist recruitment. There is quite a bit of spill-over into the surrounding communities — one of the Charlie Hebdo shooters was from Grigny, which also abuts the giant prison. Beware of conventional wisdom (“He seemed like such a quiet young man…”).

  29. RBHoughton

    The choice after 9/11 was to lash out against someone, anyone.

    What have we learned since then?

    Will France recall her ‘mission to civilise’? Are we ready to put our fists down and follow another more difficult path?

  30. Paul Hirschman

    The dynamic between Israel and the Palestinians may well now come to dominate popular feeling in Europe and the US: “we’re the good guys, and they’re the bad guys.” When we attack, it can only be understood as self-defense of Western Civilization. When they attack it can only be understood as terrorism against Civilization. There can be no “blow-back” because nothing we do can ever be wrong, and nothing they do can ever be in self-defense.

    Gandhi: “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Who benefits from this state of affairs?

    The permanent war party.

  31. Richard Hagen

    IMHO, the attacks in Paris are payback for the US EU GCCs no longer willing to support them in ISISs attempt to overthrow Assad.

  32. ks

    French President Francois Hollande thus backs the kingdom that backs the forces that backed those who carried out the Charlie Hebdo massacre. He also backs a kingdom that allows donations to flow to ISIS, which he now identifies as responsible for the latest atrocities.

    Hollande prefers to beat his breast and issue ringing calls for “compassion and solidarity” rather than actually doing something about the relationships that generate such attacks in the first place.


    Hollande’s address was delivered one day after he was in Doha, where he signed a $7 billion deal that included the sale of 24 French Rafale fighter jets to Qatar, along with the training of Qatari intelligence officers.

    In 2013, President Hollande, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian traveled to the kingdom to meet with the late King Abdullah, other Saudi officials, former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Ahmed Jarba of the Syrian opposition. A delegation of 30 businesses accompanied Hollande on his visit, which ended with the signing of a deal in which France pledged $3 billion of French weapons for the Lebanese Army (a grant worth twice as much as Lebanon’s entire military budget).

  33. David

    Here’s Valls on RTL this morning say that the attack was “conceived, organised and planned” from Syria. In effect, he’s discussing the situation as though there is a conventional state-to-state war just started, neglecting, perhaps, the fact that the French and their allies attacked Daesh first. The tone of his remarks is being described as “martial”. It’s worth pointing out that he has ambitions to be President, and there’s a public image competition with Hollande, who has the charisma of a wet tea towel.

Comments are closed.