Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Best Piece Yet Written on the Paris Attacks

Adam Shatz writes brilliantly and penetratingly about apocalyptic violence in Europe.


Ashok Garhwal said...

Terror trail continues from ISIS terrorism -

Ashok Garhwal said...

Terror continues-

bernard said...

The piece would be brilliant if there was even the slightest hint about how to counter this. As it is, it is simply a catalogue of it won't work, it hasn't worked and I know better. I am not impressed at all.

bert said...

Well, Shatz does say "The most important task of the French state is arguably to combat the roots of jihadist terrorism in France, where a Muslim name remains a liability. Third and fourth generation citizens of North African descent are still routinely described as ‘immigrants’, and the neighbourhoods where they live have been called ‘the lost territories of the Republic’, as if they weren’t even a part of France. A long-term project to end discrimination against Muslims, and ensure their participation in the workplace, civic life and politics, would help to reduce the temptations of radical Islamism."
Granted, Bernard, this isn't the flag you have rallied to over the last week.
And it seems a rather long-term and large-scale undertaking for someone of Hollande's stature, whose own interests and whose party's interests are best served by keeping air in the souffle until after the presidential elections.

christopher delogu said...

Hello, I agree with "bert" who has quoted one of the key passages of the piece. AS proposes a clear domestic agenda for Hollande to rally ordinary French people around while the police, border officials, and army play their roles simultaneously. AS's piece is the best I've read so far too--written with verve and with broad knowledge and careful weighing of the interrelated pieces and arguments. This sentence caught my eye: "Indeed, the genius of IS has been to overcome the distance between two very different crises of citizenship, and weave them into a single narrative of Sunni Muslim disempowerment: the exclusion of young Muslims in Europe, and the exclusion of Sunnis in Syria and Iraq." Ordinary citizens in France and other EU countries could work on mending the "crisis of citizenship" that the "secular religion of laicite", the herding of underprivileged minorities in outlying HLM, and other dignity-denying missteps of the post-colonial era have created. The pool of passive helpers within France has to be dried up so that rocket-launchers and other heavy weaponry (and the people trained to use them) are harder to smuggle in and hide within shooting distance of French population centers. It's a long term project but it's more urgent than ever to recommit to ending that "crisis of citizenship" and writing a new narrative--in deeds not just words--that will incite all immigrant populations to be thankful to their European hosts for giving them a chance to start over. To conclude, one concrete example: Would not President Hollande far upstage President Obama (who no doubt will brag about cancelling the Keystone pipeline) at the Paris climate summit if he were to announce that France would no longer use taxpayer money to subsidize domestic baby production ("allocations familiales") and that France's priority would become, starting in the new year, caring more and better for those already living on the planet (in Calais and elsewhere) instead of contributing further to the planet's overcrowding (and therefore its overheating)?

bernard said...

Sorry all, we have all been aware of these issues for well over 30 years and I can't see how this might help in the present situation, apart from France repenting collectively for its sins. Mind you, I love repenting as much as the next guy and I am all in favour of praying to the tune of next year in Jerusalem but, but that never stopped the bullets flying in the short run so far as I know. I am looking for concrete answers, not generalities, and that article was simply generalities that everyone knows.

FrédéricLN said...

Thank you Art for suggesting this reading and opportunity of rethinking the issues once again. The paper is "brilliant" in the style of Monde diplomatique — many facts, arguments, opinions, stories told, a feeling of certainty and "I told you". "Penetrating", at some places. That's the first one where I read clearly written:

"IS says very clearly in its communiqué that it’s attacking Paris both for ‘the crusader campaign’ *and* as ‘the capital of prostitution and vice’ – and it seems obtuse not to take it at its word."

And that is a key difficulty for shaping the right counter-strike.

But there are, imho, a number of biases: for example, the words "cinquième colonne" (islamiste), i.e. infiltrated support for military ISIS actions in France, were not used by "center-right" politicians, but by Christian Estrosi last April — a right-winger within the right party LR — and by a Front National MEP.

And some inconsistencies: qualifying ISIS as Saudi Arabia's "bastard children" at one place, then approving Obama when he "described IS as a child of the Iraq war", does not clarify the issue… or at least, requires further elaboration.

Footnotes are sometimes the best lines. Here they may be the worse.

Footnote 2 about the Israeli nuclear bomb is ok, it's a surprising gaffe by President Hollande.

Footnote 3 about "hundreds" of Algerians killed on 17 October 1961 may be a bit off the point imho; moreover, researchers' estimates of the count of deads on this day would range between 30 and 98 (wikipedia today, ) - or 120 in two months according to researchers House and MacMaster. But it may look petty to discuss figures.

Footnote 1 about Hollande "not hiding his love for Israel" and criminalizing support to anti-israeli boycott, looks like propaganda imho. Hollande used this word "love" regarding Israel once, after a cover of Mike Brant's song "Laisse-moi t'aimer" ; in France and as far as I know, only columnists from the anti-zionist far left understood that as the revelation of some long term hidden love.

And if Hollande recalled in 2010, 2014 and 2015 that he stands against a boycott of Israeli products, he did not criminalize anything as far as I know. This paper (August 2014) discusses French law on this matter : what law condemns is discrimination. And the European Commission just specified on November 11th that products from the occupied territories should be labeled as such (which is not a boycott neither a decision of the French government, but did also not raise any expression of concern by Hollande or the French government).

Once again, my apologies to Mr Shatz and readers if these remarks look petty. But in my opinion, the more tragic the issues, the more rigorous and accurate policy observers should try to be.

Massilian said...

Merci Bernard. I felt a bit lonely being disappointed by the piece. I enjoyed reading Shatz's papers until this one. It is amazing the amount of air that is moved around by western scholars on this matter. I pay much more attention to 10 lines from Kamel Daoud than 5 pages of almost anybody else..

bert said...

Two pieces also from the LRB:
- on Daoud's Meursault book, reviewed alongside Art's translation of Camus
- a blog post on the book's English-language publication, how it coincided with a shooting on a beach (the atrocity at Sousse this summer) and how Daoud was refused a visa to his own book launch

bernard said...

You are of course correct on every point that you made. You might even have added that the Algerians murdered in the Seine were not murdered by the "French", but by the French police which, in those times, is a very big difference. I know it, shall I say, personally, and do not appreciate being bundled by an obsessed author with the French police of those times.
On the Israel boycott thing, I am afraid that you are actually wasting your effort: no amount of pushing back will work because it is an article of faith that Israel and by extension Jews and supporters are guilty. You see, Hollande must have criminalised calls for a boycott of Israel because he opposed it, and Hamas is a welfare organisation intent on improving the daily lot of Palestinians living in Gaza. The rest is imperialist propaganda.

Thanks for your comment. I am still looking for what would work and, by now, Tunisia is looking to me more and more like a miraculous event: these people are but wise and I would love to hear what if anything they would suggest on Syria where I have now switched to an electron microscope in the hope of finding actual democrats...