Paris has been my second home. I lived there for years; I have many friends there; I even have a few enemies there. I know the cobblestones and the Metro; the patisseries and the bistros; the parks and the boulevards; the museums and the architecture.
Thus, I was especially saddened to see another violent terrorist attack against a city and a people I love. My deepest sympathies are with the French people today.
I am encouraged by the strong response offered by French president Francois Hollande. He called an act of war an act of war and declared that the French would respond mercilessly. One supposes that he also meant… without empathy and without worrying about hurting anyone’s feelings.
Keep in mind that France belongs to NATO. An act of war against France is an attack on all the countries of NATO, including the United States. Now we will see whether America will step up or back down.
Our own president-- the craven fool who could not bring himself to attend the French march against terror after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo-- called for “justice.” As always, Obama thinks within the terms of criminal justice.
A clown named Bill Maher, representing the guilt-ridden American left, has implied that the cause of the attack was France’s bombing of ISIS strongholds in Syria. Student protesters at the University of Missouri took to Twitter to whine that their just cause was being overshadowed by a trivial episode in a foreign country. Their feelings were hurt for lack of attention.
These are minority views. One recalls the important comment of George Packer, from the New Yorker—yes, the New Yorker—that we will not defeat ISIS until we can show that we are more brutal than they are.
That much said, other remarks are worth making, even in the shadow of this tragedy.
Who was it who called Islam the religion of peace? Now, the religion of peace has struck again. The enemies of Western civilization have darkened the city of lights. They brought horror and bloodshed to a concert hall, a restaurant and a shopping mall.
We have recently witnessed our own non-violent terrorists on college campuses, threatening journalists, making demands, destroying careers, rallying the faithful. In other parts of the world the enemies of Western civilization are not quite so well behaved.
Those ideologues who have made a habit and a career of railing against Western civilization should recognize that their thoughts provide a rationale for terrorism. This applies especially to those who espouse violence, but it also applies to those who naively believe that their goals can be accomplished without violence.
The terrorist act of war occurred on a day when President Obama, self-righteous blowhard, had gone on ABC and had declared that ISIS—which he alone calls ISIL—had been controlled. As you recall, ISIS is only the JV team anyway, so: what me worry?
Since the Parisian terrorists had come from Syria and said that they were doing it for Syria, we must point out that Obama’s preferred acronym, ISIL, erases Syria from the equation. ISIS stands for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria while ISIL stands for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.
Since Obama cannot easily blame George Bush for the war in Syria and the rise of the Islamic State, he has chosen not to name it ISIS. Head-in-the-sand politics, n’est-ce pas.
I recall the New York Times making an editorial decision during the Iraq War to rename al Qaeda in Iraq: al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. In news stories. You see, if Times readers thought that al Qaeda was in Iraq they might be more inclined to support the war. Apparently, Times readers are not sufficiently well-informed to know that Iraq and Mesopotamia are the same place. If so, could it be that Times readers are especially poorly informed.
Anyway, yesterday, right before the attack, President Obama offered this assessment to George Stephanopolous:
I don’t think they’re gaining strength. What is true is that from the start, our goal has been first to contain and we have contained them. They have not gained ground in Iraq, and in Syria they’ll come in, they’ll leave. But you don’t see this systemic march by ISIL across the terrain. What we have not yet been able to do is to completely decapitate their command and control structures. We’ve made some progress in trying to reduce the flow of foreign fighters, and part of our goal has to be to recruit more effective Sunni partners in Iraq to really go on offense rather than simply engage in defense.
Either American intelligence is especially incompetent or the president is an especially good liar. Or both. As is normal, his remarks were appalling. His supporters will not notice.
Keep in mind, the American people elected a grossly unqualified fool to the presidency because he convinced them that the best approach to Islamist terror—which he has never been willing to name Islamist—was to retreat and withdraw.
If only we closed Gitmo, we would deprive the terrorists of their major recruiting tool. If only we withdrew from Iraq, we would deprive the terrorists of their reason for fighting. If only we took the side of the Palestinians in their terrorist campaign against Israel, we would solve the conflict in that part of the world. If only we showed respect for the Muslim Brotherhood and blamed all Islamist violence on filmmakers, no Muslim would be so offended that he would want to hurt us. If only we stopped profiling Muslims, stopped surveillance of Muslims and tried to undo the Patriot Act, we would occupy the moral high ground. If only we cowered in the corner and expressed our deep respect for the Prophet Mohammed, the terrorists would fold up their tents and live in peace and harmony.
This did not mean that Barack Obama was not tough. He declared war against climate change, against white privilege, against white policemen, against racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia and transphobia, against the Tea Party, against the neocons and against Israel.
Obama has no strategy for dealing with ISIS; thus he pretends that it is unworthy of a strategy. And yet, his way of dealing with Islamist terrorism was applauded by Europeans. European leaders, with their squishy and decadent leftism were happy to see him replace George W. Unfortunately, his strategy of retreat and cower has produced calamitous consequences.
And the rest of the West has largely followed suit. Of late it has opened its arms to so-called Syrian refugees. Victor Davis Hanson elaborates:
Hundreds of thousands flock to Europe not in gratitude at its hospitality but largely contemptuous of those who would be so naive to extend their hospitality to those who hate them. Barack Obama recently called global warming our greatest threat; Al Gore — recently enriched by selling a TV station to carbon-exporting Persian Gulf kleptocrats — is in Paris in Old Testament mode finger-pointing at our existential enemy — carbon. John Kerry, hours before the Paris attacks, announced that the days of ISIS “are numbered.” Angela Merkel welcomes hundreds of thousands of young male Muslims into Europe, and the more they arrive with anything but gratitude to their hosts, the more Westerners can assuage their guilt by turning the other cheek and announcing their progressive fides.
One suspects that Obama will not learn very much from the events in Paris. You see, Western civilization is not his thing. It was not Jeremiah Wright’s thing, either. Obama says that he stands for universal values at a time when there are no universally agreed-upon values. In fairness, one must note that George W. also seemed to believe that he was promoting universal values, bringing democracy to the Muslim world.
As for the Europeans, they have just discovered that allowing a mass migration of Middle Eastern refugees, including many veterans of the Syrian war is not such a good idea.
How does ISIS recruit? Not with images of Gitmo, but by producing successful terrorist operations. Victory in battle is even better. Once ISIS declared a caliphate and overran Mosul new recruits flocked to the region. Strength is the best recruiting tool, next to signs of weakness in the enemy.
In the meantime we Americans were showing off our inner strength by exchanging five Taliban commanders for an army deserter.
In many ways George W. Bush, the man who pronounced Islam the “religion of peace,” did not fight the war against terror very well. And yet, Obama has been far worse. He prefers grand theatrical gestures to strategy. He crows about assassinating Osama bin Laden and Jihad John but does not know what to about Syria... that is, the Levant.
And yet, it’s worth quoting George W. himself at this time of global turmoil. In September, 2004 he said:
If America shows uncertainty and weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. This will not happen on my watch.
Vive la France!
[Addendum, 2: A more reliable source tells me that the Jewish owners of the Bataclan sold the hall a few months ago and moved to Israel.]
[Addendum 3: Roger Cohen echoes a point I made in my post: The Paris slaughter claimed by the Islamic State constitutes, as President François Hollande of France declared, an “act of war.” As such, it demands of all NATO states a collective response under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. This says that, “An armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all.”
Alliance leaders are already debating what that response should be. Hollande has spoken to President Obama. Other NATO countries, including Germany and Canada, have expressed solidarity. Indignation and outrage, while justified, are not enough.]