The Attack in Nice, France

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W.J. Astore

In Nice, France, 84 people were killed by a maniac who drove a truck into a crowd on Bastille Day (French Independence Day).  The driver, identified as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, was a French-Tunisian with a criminal record but with no known terrorist links.

Much remains unknown about this attack.  Was the driver acting alone?  Was he “radicalized,” killing for a political/religious purpose?  Was he working with a terrorist sect, or perhaps he sympathized with one?  We should be careful not to jump to conclusions.

I want to make one rather obvious point: It’s easy to politicize such horrendous attacks. It’s easy to say things like: “It’s all the fault of radical Islam!  The West is at war with radical Islam!  Muslim immigrants are to blame!”  And so on. Before reaching any conclusions, let’s gather all the evidence.

There’s a natural tendency to resort to the rhetoric of warfare here.  Politicians are especially prone to this.  And if you don’t agree with them, they dismiss you as naive or delusional — or worse.

The problem with warfare rhetoric is that it answers questions before they’re even asked. It imposes solutions before you even fully understand the problem.  For example, if it’s a “war,” the inevitable solution is more militarization.  More surveillance.  More police. More weapons.  Perhaps more military strikes as well.

But what if more military strikes actually aggravate the problem?  What if more police, more surveillance, more raids combine to abridge the freedoms that France fought for, the very freedoms which the French celebrate each year on Bastille Day?

Liberty, equality, and fraternity are noble goals.  They need always to be nourished and protected, not just from terrorists and other criminals, but from those in authority who may overreact in the name of protecting the people.

13 thoughts on “The Attack in Nice, France

  1. Western leaders – civic and opinion – struggle mightily to hang a peace symbol on a religion which, by example, says it does not deserve it. The truth will out.

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    1. Yes, Walter. You nailed those Judeo-Christian crusaders (medieval and modern) perfectly. Peace on Earth? Not so much. Every piece of earth they can get their money-grubbing hands on? You bet. As the Pope’s own representative at the Siege of Bezier infamously put it for all time: “Kill them all. God will know his own.”

      Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind. Cause-and-Effect. Blowback. Karma. That sort of thing.

      Better increase the military budget so we can have more pieces of people laying all over the earth they once called home. The “born again,” “faith-based” Deputy Dubya should have listened to his earthly dad who told him not to do those awful things in the Middle East that Dick Cheney kept telling him he must do. But, as the world has learned to its horror, the dyslexic dwarf chimpanzee didn’t consider dad strong enough and so listened instead to a “higher father.” You sure can’t beat those Judeo-Christian crusaders when it comes to setting the world on fire — and then blaming the world for burning.

      Yes, Walter. You nailed the “religion” of those Judeo-Christian crusaders (medieval and modern) perfectly. Not “peace,” but pieces-of-eight, as the pirates used to call their preferred coin-of-the-realm. Not just war as religion. Not even just war as crime. But war as business. And you can’t get more Judeo-Christian than that.

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      1. Dear Mr. Murry: Let me suggest a good beach book for you: “The Confessions of Maria Monk.”

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  2. Here in southern Taiwan a 55-year-old man set off an explosion on a train a few days ago. I don’t know the casualty figures. The police looked into things and discovered that the man — who injured himself as well as others in the blast — had recently gotten a divorce and discovered that he had terminal cancer. Shit happens. No one declared war on anyone or started bad mouthing anyone else’s religion. I sure do like living in a civilzed country.

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    1. A good point. The motivation of the driver is still unclear. A petty criminal, apparently with a “road rage” conviction, estranged from his wife: well, maybe he became unhinged and decided to end it all while murdering a bunch of people. Is this “terrorism”? Just because he’s Tunisian-French?

      Again, let’s not jump to conclusions. We don’t know yet if he was affiliated with any terrorist organizations, or even if he saw himself as making some big political impact.

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      1. Always sad when innocent people die, wherever and for whatever reason. Lots more innocent people died in Fallujah, Iraq today, and yesteday, and the day before that, and …

        I don’t know much about Tunisia, but I do know that it lies in North Africa along with Libya and Algeria, where the French used to have colonies. Recently, as you know, the French joined with the British and the Americans in bombing the shit out of Libya and then standing aside while one of their proxy jihadi mobs murdered its leader, Moammar Gaddafi on Youtube after first sodomizing him with a knife. Whether all this has any connection with Tunisa or the Tunisian-French person in question, I can’t say. The French government, on the other hand, does seem rather keen of late to get back into the colony business in North Africa — something about past days of “glory” and “empire,” not to mention oil and water resources. You know: Western Democracy and Humanitarian stuff. I can see where that — along with spreading proxy jihadi mobs all over the place — might bring about a little blowback on France. But who knows? If the French didn’t learn from Indochina and Algeria, then they’ll never learn anything. I know the French would hate me for saying this, but they seem almost as obtuse and impervious to learning as American presidents and generals. Sacre bleu! …

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  3. Dear Western Political Elites: You live by trying to exploit proxy jihadis for your own purposes and you die — or some innocent bystanders do — when the proxy jihadis you tried to use decide to do their own thing for their own reasons instead of yours.

    Why The Infernal Terror Spiral Will Go On And On

    By Pepe Escobar

    July 15, 2016 “Information Clearing House” –
    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article45113.htm

    “We still don’t know if this man is a jihadi lone wolf or not – even as his modus operandi comes straight from Daesh’s playbook. And even if he’s not an insta-jihadi, what’s certain is that his appalling “example” will be emulated.

    The Washington-Riyadh axis used terror in Afghanistan even BEFORE the 1980s jihad. Wahhabism destroyed both Afghanistan and Pakistan, installing a Kalashnikov culture. Shock and Awe in 2003 led to Washington promoting Divide and Rule as in pitting Sunnis against Shi’ites – and that brought terror to Iraq. Washington and Brussels supported jihadis in both Libya and Syria, and that was supported even by the liberal ‘human rights’ left. Ah, but the (bogus) enemy is Putin and “Russian aggression”. Meanwhile the real enemy – Salafi-jihadis – even gets crucial “support” (and weapons). Add to it the blowback for NATO’s wars – a taboo discussion in the West.

    Nothing was done against the ideological matrix of jihadism: Wahhabism. So nothing will change. The Empire of Chaos WON’T withdraw from the Middle East for the pivot to Asia; it wants both. Kerry in Moscow yesterday offering a plan to Putin to fight Daesh together – that’s yet more shadowplay for the galleries. Washington may put up a pretense of fighting Daesh while the CIA support for “moderate rebels” won’t abate. FrankenDaesh – which was let loose to fester by a “willful” decision in Washington – is now, for all practical purposes, a Cyber-Caliphate. It does NOT need territory. It continues to project an image of success. And that’s why it still manages to attract – and “inspire” – all manner of deeply alienated individuals living in the West. This infernal spiral is bound to go on and on and on.”

    Thanks, as usual, Pepe. You’ve boiled it all down to the essential hypocrisy of Western “divide and rule” geopolitical machinations. First, topple any and all secular regimes in the Middle East and, second, foment sectarian civil war between Sunni and Shia Muslims. Stir and repeat. Saudi Wahabism and Apartheid Zionism dictate American foreign policy in the Middle East. As Henry Kissinger explained things during the Iran-Iraq War: “Let them kill each other off.” Yes. I believe that covers it. “This infernal spiral is bound to go on and on.”

    In time, the headlines of deaths in the West will begin to bore, just like they do regarding the decades long carnage in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, … Then what happens?

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  4. I’ve seen a lot of articles about Nice and the “new face” of terrorism, but then I saw this article from the New York Times:

    A Surly Misfit With No Terror Links Turned a Truck Into a Tank
    By ANDREW HIGGINS
    The suspect in the rampage that killed 84 people in Nice had run-ins with the law but no record of radicalization, and left no declaration of a motive.

    In short, we really don’t know what this guy was about. We don’t know his motive. He may have been a “lone wolf,” a disaffected individual. If this is so, it doesn’t count as “terrorism.”

    It’s not “terrorism” just because someone has a Muslim-sounding name and kills lots of people.

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  5. New reports suggest the driver had been “radicalized” quickly, and that the Islamic State is now taking credit. But according to the Washington Post:

    “It remains unclear whether the Islamic State directed the attack, was taking responsibility for an assault it inspired or was simply seeking publicity from an event that it had no direct hand in.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/islamic-state-claims-responsibility-for-france-attack-in-nice/2016/07/16/4327456e-4ab9-11e6-8dac-0c6e4accc5b1_story.html

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    1. No doubt the Islamic State Pentagon did not direct the attack, only called for it in a social media appeal for “behind enemy lines” operations. Something like our radio appeals for French citizens to operate against German occupation troops in WWII.

      What we are seeing is asymmetric warfare with a smart-phone twist. Of course, the “convert or die” mandate of islam makes it easy. Is our Nice trucker now enjoying virgins in paradise? He surely believed he would be.

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      1. Speaking of fundamentalist, “convert-or-die” mandates, Walter, you wouldn’t by any chance have in mind the Republican Party Platform due for unveiling in Cleveland next week at Der Trumpenfuhrer’s coronating convention? As Salon.com‘s film critic Andrew O’Hehir describes it:

        “Legislators are urged to use religion as a guide, although it’s a safe bet that only some religions are acceptable. The Bible should be taught in public school, and judges should respect “traditional family values.” Pornography is defined as a “public menace,” parents should be free to seek “conversion therapy” for LGBT children and a theory is advanced that the offspring of “natural marriage” between a man and a woman are less likely to become substance abusers. Change a couple of proper nouns and ISIS would endorse the whole damn thing.”

        Unfortunately for The Donald — a rich man who can afford not to give a tinker’s damn about religion, morality, or any other of that silly dogmatic stuff himself — he needs the firebreathing fundamentalist crusaders of the Republican party base to get elected, as any Republican party candidate for President does. This explains the dogwhistle Jesus-jive that one always hears liberally sprinkled throughout their public pronouncements. This explains Trump’s choice of Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his vice-presidential running mate.

        But the world can not afford to ever forget what happened when one of these true-believing crusaders first got into the White House — courtesy of a corrupt Supreme Court hijacking of the year-2000 election — and then proceded to stuff the American government full of these fanatical people, at all levels, where too many of them remain today. I do not think for a moment that The Donald personally believes any of this Judeo-Christian Crusader Crap, but he will never become President of the United States unless he feeds these zombie zealots heaping helpings of their red-meat religiosity, regularly, and in ever-increasing amounts. He obviously thinks that Mike Pence can do this for him while he goes on happily acting bat-shit nuts for the sheer, reality-TV, middle-finger, entertainment value of it all. Can he pull off the classic Crusader con-job one more time? We’ll soon see …

        Meanwhile, the human disaster as President of whom I speak above does not seem inclined to attend Der Trumpenfuhrer’s Beer Hall Putsch in Munich — I mean, Cleveland — next week, which probably suits The Donald just fine, as it should. But let us not lose sight of the sort of people who will attend, and the reasons we should fear them getting anywhere near the levers of power in our country. Journalist Ron Suskind warned us about them and their “born again,” “faith based” hero in his famous article
        “Without a Doubt” (The New York Times Magazine, October 17, 2004):
        .
        “This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can’t be persuaded, that they’re extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he’s just like them. . . .”

        I can just imagine Osama bin Laden in Hell, looking in the mirror and seeing George “Deputy Dubya” Bush staring back at him — for all eternity. “It takes one to know one,” indeed.

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  6. Another factor in violence against the masses — Rebecca Traister is always worth reading

    http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/07/mass-killers-terrorism-domestic-violence.html

    An excerpt:

    This history of domestic violence puts Bouhlel in the horrific company of many mass murderers. Omar Mateen, who last month killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in a mass shooting at an Orlando gay club, had an extensive history of domestic abuse. His former wife has claimed that in addition to taking her paychecks and forbidding her from leaving the house, Mateen also beat her if she failed to live up to traditional wifely responsibilities.

    And before anyone jumps to the conclusion that killers with Muslim backgrounds have uniquely bad histories with women, recall that Robert Lewis Dear, the devout Christian who killed three people and wounded nine at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic in November, had a lengthy history of violence against women, including a 1992 arrest for rape and sexual violence. According to the Washington Post, two of his three ex-wives had accused him of domestic abuse.

    When Elliot Rodger went on a shooting rampage in Southern California in 2014, killing seven, including himself, he left a video in which he detailed his fury, particularly at women who had rejected him. “I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me but I will punish you all for it …You will finally see that I am, in truth, the superior one, the true alpha male.”

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  7. Many in the United States, including the general population, politicos and the military alike are especially fond of running around screeching “the sky is falling” at the top of their lungs given the least provocation. Too often, the citizenry and our leaders alike execute the first knee jerk proposal to an event and it’s rarely productive especially the decisions taken while we’re in an emotional state. In today’s complex world, responding emotionally to battle cries like “Remember the Maine” or “Remember Pearl Harbor” are rarely productive. Everyone in the U.S. needs to learn to remain calm, to seek out the facts and to rationally consider those facts and what can and should be done to alleviate the problem over the long-term. .

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