THE MASSACRE IN PARIS: PART TWO
France launched air strikes against Isis targets in Syria on Sunday night, with jets bombing the Islamist terror group’s stronghold of Raqqa. The strikes came hours after France and the US pledged to step up the campaign against Isis in response to the chilling, co-ordinated terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 129 people and wounded more than 350. Speaking in Antalya at the G20 summit, Laurent Fabius, French foreign minister, said: “France has always said that because she has been threatened and attacked by [Isis] it would be normal that she react in the framework of self defence. It would be normal to take action. That’s what we did with the strikes on Raqqa, which is their headquarter. We cannot let [Isis] act without reacting.” The French defence ministry said 12 aircraft had taken part in raids on a command centre, munitions depot and training camp in Raqqa. The strikes were launched in co-ordination with US forces. The flurry of air strikes marks a significant escalation of French involvement in the conflict in Syria. It also follows an agreement on Sunday by the Pentagon to accelerate the process for sharing intelligence about potential Isis targets with the French military. The commitment to “intensify” action against the Islamic terrorist group in Syria came as France and Belgium launched a manhunt for a suspected eighth assailant, named as Salah Abdeslam, after an assault deemed “an act of war” by President François Hollande. Seven terrorists died on Friday night after six set off their explosives and another was shot by the police.Alex Barker, George Parker & Barney Jopson, "Paris attacks: France in air strikes on Isis stronghold in Syria". The Financial Times. 15 November 2015, in www.ft.com.
Paris is also a warning that the best counterterrorist efforts in the world cannot protect any country, particularly the open societies in the West, from every attack; and that no victory against any given movement can be decisive. The forces that have created violent Islamist extremist movements over the past decades - and that came home to Americans on September 11, 2001 - are simply too great for any lasting near-term victory in what some call the “war on terrorism.” Here, it is critical to keep ISIS in perspective. The Islamic extremism that drives ISIS is only one of the world’s sources of terrorism and insurgency by non-state actors, and ISIS is only one such movement. There are similar extremist groups in many countries with large Islamic populations. They include Al Qaeda Central in Pakistan, the Al Nusra Front in Syria, and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Saudi Arabia and Yemen – just to name a few. Many have gone far beyond terrorism in the classic sense, and have become insurgent movements seeking to take control of the state by force. ISIS, for example, is both the most successful and the most dangerous, because it has become an actual protostate in parts of both Iraq and Syria.... Europe, the United States, and countries without large Muslim populations are not the victim of some “clash of civilizations,” and certainly not one that can be solved by calling for tolerance or religious education. Every death and casualty matters, but France, the United States and other “outside” states are only minor targets that are the spillover of a massive clash to shape the future of Islamic civilization. Horrible as every pointless death from terrorism in the West is, it must be compared to violence within Islam that has killed hundred of thousands of Muslims in recent years, halted economic life and development in several countries, and produced millions of displaced persons and refugees. No one set of factors drives this struggle for the future of Islam, and it clearly interacts with serious ethnic and tribal conflicts and tensions, broad patterns of failed governance and corruption, crony capitalism and massive state barriers to development, failures to create a meaningful rule of law and honest policing, and endemic repression.Anthony Cordesman, "Paris, ISIS, and the Long War Against Extremism". Center for Strategic and International Studies. 14 November 2015, in www.csis.org The always intelligent insights offered by the American defense specialist, Anthony Cordesman puts paid to any one-dimensional analysis, much less solutions to Friday's massacre in Paris. Which is not to gainsay the fact that a lumpenproletariat of Muslim first, second and third generation of immigrants in many Western countries constitute and will constitute for many years to come the 'enemy within'. A constant danger to Western countries, Western and Christian civilization in short, requiring when necessary iron fist treatment (think of Israel's treatment of its own Arab population from 1949 to 1966) 1. But per se, that minority cannot be other than a secondary or tertiary threat to Western countries by themselves. Only in conjunction with a Near or Middle Eastern state (Afghanistan) or a proto-state such as ISIS can terrorism constitute a serious, first category threat to the West. Consequently, it is incumbent upon the Western powers to destroy the ISIS proto-state. Only by doing so can the danger posed by Muslim extremists both in the region and without be contained. Mark, not eliminated but merely 'contained', since as Cordesman cogently if pessimistically states, ISIS and its ideological confreres on the radical Islamist universe are outgrowth of the manifold mis-development which the Near & Middle East has been suffering from low these fifty to sixty years. And in fact, as Aron Lund pointed out only last week, militarily speaking ISIS appears to be on the backfoot 2. Suffering recently a series of military setbacks of one sort or another. And in fact the attacks may have been a contemporary equivalent of the V-2 rocket attacks that the soon to be defeated Nazi Germany unleashed on London in the Fall of 1944. With that being said, one cannot emphasize enough the need to destroy ISIS proto-state as quickly as is possible. Ideally of course without the employment of American and other Western ground troops. Unfortunately, that does not appear to be a plausible scenario. With the exception of a tie-up between Western air power and the Assad Regime and its allies of Russia, Persia and Hezbollah. Whether the Western powers could or would be willing to defy the animus of its local Sunni allies over such a mésalliance, is a very open question indeed. Therefore, the only quick and clean military scenario in the absence of local ground forces to do the job, would be the employment of Western, mainly American forces to destroy in a clean sweep the Islamic State. Pur et simple. There is in fact nothing else to say. Until then of course, it is not beyond the bounds of possibilities that the Islamic State will endeavor to unleash more havoc and mayhem on the various cities of the West. 1. Amal Jamal. Arab Minority Nationalism in Israel. (2011). 2. Aron Lund, "Strategic Implications of Assad’s Victory at Kweiris". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 10 November 2015, in www.carnegieendowment.org