The Problem with Paris
There have been terrible terrorist attacks against the city of Paris and everyone knows about it. The mainstream media (MSM) is jumping on tragedy the way they are fantastically capable of and everyone in the US who is even near a television knows all about it. Almost.
We know about it in the context of a corporate controlled media. We know all about how innocent the victims were. We know that French President Hollande is promising a “pitiless” war in response to the attacks. And we know because the attackers are terrorists and the victims are innocent and the French President is promising a vicious response, that starting this French war against ISIS is justified. Except we are wrong.
France is not starting a war with ISIL because of these recent attacks on Paris. France has been at war with ISIL for over a year, bombing them in Iraq for that entire time and, two months ago, it started also bombing suspected ISIL sites inside of Syria. Except it has not really been a war because, having learned from the US, the French were perfectly happy killing members of ISIL and countless surrounding Syrian and Iraqi civilians using airstrikes without ever being exposed to a hostile response from ISIL. Here is the sentence you will never see in the MSM reporting of the Paris attacks:
By attacking Paris, ISIL is retaliating against French attacks on Arab civilians and ISIL fighters in Iraq and Syria.
But this background information is critically important if you are trying to understand what is actually happening with these attacks. It gets worse.
Recently declassified US Intelligence documents indicate that the US and western allies, including France were hoping and supporting extremist Islamic resistance to the Assad regime as recently as 3 years ago. This western supported resistance became ISIS.
We have seen this before in the US around the 9/11 attacks. If you ask most US Americans if the 9/11 attacks on the US were unprovoked, they will assure you they were. If you asked them why bin Laden organized these attacks, you will get muddled answers, including gems like, “They hate our freedom”. Before 9/11 bin Laden had outlined the reasons why he was retaliating against the US:
- US military presence in Saudi Arabia (despite significant protests)
- US sanctions in Iraq that killed 600K children
- US support of Israel’s oppressive policies towards Palestine
One can argue about whether these were good enough reasons to launch the 9/11 attacks, but it is hard to argue either that they were unprovoked or a surprise.
Back to Paris. The day before the Paris attacks there were similar attacks in Beirut, which got basically no MSM attention. Why no attention? One could claim that Beirut has been in some state of war for many years. But i believe the reason is deeper. We see over and over that the US MSM does not care about terrorist attacks unless the victims are white.
Do i condone these attacks on Paris? Certainly not. But what i feel an extraordinary need to condemn is the willful ignorance of why these attacks are happening and how the systematic nationalism and racism of the US media helps to insure that they will keep happening.
Other good critical sources on asymmetric reporting on terrorism and failed US policy in the middle East:
We cannot properly honor the deaths of Parisians killed in these terror attacks without analyzing our governments’ understanding of the subsequent radicalization that has followed invasions and airstrikes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria; drone strikes in Somalia, Pakistan, Lebanon, Yemen, and other countries; and the American bombing of the Doctors without Borders hospital in Afghanistan in October.
We cannot bring ourselves to say JeSuisBeirut. White supremacy does not allow us to imagine ourselves in the lives of people of color. We cannot see our humanity, our pain, our fears in the eyes of the Sunni Muslims who were terrorized as they mourned the loss of a loved one.
An excellent and accessible article from the Nation on interviewing ISIL prisoners.
At the end of the interview with the first prisoner we ask, “Do you have any questions for us?” For the first time since he came into the room he smiles—in surprise—and finally tells us what really motivated him, without any prompting. He knows there is an American in the room, and can perhaps guess, from his demeanor and his questions, that this American is ex-military, and directs his “question,” in the form of an enraged statement, straight at him. “The Americans came,” he said. “They took away Saddam, but they also took away our security. I didn’t like Saddam, we were starving then, but at least we didn’t have war. When you came here, the civil war started.”
CommonDreams.org assaults the US and western approach to conflict in the middle East in the article called Paris: You dont want to read this.
But I do have this: stop what we have been doing for the last 14 years. It has not worked. There is nothing at all to suggest it ever will work. Whack-a-mole is a game, not a plan. Leave the Middle East alone. Stop creating more failed states. Stop throwing away our freedoms at home on falsehoods. Stop disenfranchising the Muslims who live with us. Understand the war, such as it is, is against a set of ideas — religious, anti-western, anti-imperialist — and you cannot bomb an idea. Putting western soldiers on the ground in the MidEast and western planes overhead fans the flames. Vengeance does not and cannot extinguish an idea.
I am still getting a fact check on this article about how the Bush Administration was instrumental in building he foundation for ISIL. The second point of the 5 is quite weak, and does not support the thesis. But the other points appear to make the case reasonably well.
- ISIS leaders’ training as part of Hussein’s regime gave them the knowledge they’ve needed to be deadly:
Even with the influx of thousands of foreign fighters, almost all of the leaders of the Islamic State are former Iraqi officers, including the members of its shadowy military and security committees, and the majority of its emirs and princes, according to Iraqis, Syrians and analysts who study the group.
They have brought to the organization the military expertise and some of the agendas of the former Baathists, as well as the smuggling networks developed to avoid sanctions in the 1990s and which now facilitate the Islamic State’s illicit oil trading.
Here is an informative piece on the controversy over the name ISIS/ISIL it’s proposed replacement and how acronyms are quite exotic in Arabic.
The main misapprehensions about the word currently circulating [Daesh] in our media boil down to the following list:
- That daesh is an Arabic word in its own right (rather than an acronym) meaning ‘a group of bigots who impose their will on others’
- That it can be ‘differently conjugated’ to mean either the phrase above or ‘to trample and crush’
- That one of the words in the acronym also means ‘to trample or crush’
- That it is an insult or swearword in its own right
- That is has different meanings in the plural form
An excellent Guardian piece on how the US prison in Iraq at Bucca was the training camp for IS and US prison relations with Baghdadi helped him rise to power and build ISIL
“He was respected very much by the US army,” Abu Ahmed said. “If he wanted to visit people in another camp he could, but we couldn’t. And all the while, a new strategy, which he was leading, was rising under their noses, and that was to build the Islamic State. If there was no American prison in Iraq, there would be no IS now. Bucca was a factory. It made us all. It built our ideology.”