Terrorism in Paris: A Few Thoughts

The French showed great resolve in 1915. A century later, that resolve yet lives
The French showed great resolve in 1915. A century later, that resolve yet lives

W.J. Astore

The world is still trying to digest the horrifying news from Paris of terrorist attacks by ISIS.  We sympathize with all the victims of terrorism and other forms of violence, and we stand with France and its desire to bring the perpetrators and their accomplices to justice.

Yet we also must be careful not to overreact — not to play into the hands of ISIS and similar terrorist organizations.

French President François Hollande is already on the record as vowing, “We are going to lead a war [against ISIS] which will be pitiless.” But the answer to terrorism is not “pitiless” war.  That’s exactly what terrorists want: they thrive on war and endless cycles of horrifying violence.

I understand Hollande’s rhetorical purpose.  He’s saying: We’re united, we’re tough, we’ll avenge the murder of innocents.  But pitiless war has been tried again and again in history — and it begets more atrocities and more war.

Terrorism is nothing new.  What’s new is the way the West is elevating it into a generational war — another crusade.  We must be very careful not to let the rhetoric of “generational” and “merciless” war become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

We must also be careful not to overreact to the threat of terrorism.  In spite of the latest horrifying attacks in Paris, the threat of terrorism remains remote for the vast majority of us.  The answer to the terrorist threat is not more state surveillance, not more military reprisals, not more curtailments of individual freedoms in the false name of security.

What is the answer?  Resolve.  Patience.  Cooperation (e.g. international police work, intelligence sharing, and so forth). And action.  Anger and cries for revenge in the form of “pitiless” war are natural after a profound shock, but they are not smart policy. Injustices committed in the name of “pitiless” war will not bring justice to the victims of the Paris attacks.

Resolve — yes.  Justice — yes.  Courage — yes.  Action — yes.  Pitiless war — no.

8 thoughts on “Terrorism in Paris: A Few Thoughts

  1. Yes!. Today our Nation and next President faces challenges unseen by the generations that came before. In a perfect world we’d also have the perfect President not unlike Harrison Ford’s portrayal when Terrorists took over his plane in “Air Force One” of some years ago now, and uttered the memorable quote “Get off my Plane” Not unlike I heard LBJ was in real life when he was President.We have powerful Forces, but they are essentially nullified in the pursuit of Terrorist Cells.That’s why I also concur this next fight will take all our courage, determination resolve, fortitude, and lastly good old Guts…!


  2. What is the answer? As Noam Chomsky said, the way to stop terrorism is to stop participating in it. Terrorism is blowback. We bring it on ourselves. As Pat Buchanan said, “Islamic killers are over here because we are over there.” Get out of countries over there where we have no right to be trespassing.


  3. Let us be direct. What we don,t need now is our politicians using this criminal act as an excuse to abandon even further the rule of law in order for them to launch more assaults on our own citizens civil rights and extra judicial attacks on foriegn soil


  4. Bill–You laid out perfectly exactly how the “West” WILL proceed, though your intent was to warn them AGAINST following that path. It’s all so easily predictable! Our own country, with its Nobel “Peace Prize” winner at the helm, remains committed to an indefinite “War On Terror” which has produced nothing but more carnage in the world, anything but peace and tranquility. Without a doubt the Paris events will be seized upon as an excuse to further curtail freedoms for us all; Trump and his brand of xenophobia will gain new appeal; Europe will close its borders to the stream of refugees trying to flee the carnage; Marine LePen, the fascist leader in France, will likely become the next President of that “Republic.” More brilliant achievements of the Cheney Gang and their plan to change regimes and control fossil fuel resources! It’s difficult to install a new regime when your policies have unleashed utter chaos in a region. Let’s all raise a toast to the US’s great achievements in the 21st Century!


Comments are closed.