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The Paris Attacks And The Endless Cycle Of Terror

19/11/2015 9:10 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - NOVEMBER 18: People take part in a candle light vigil for the victims of the Paris attacks in the Molenbeek district of Brussels, Belgium on November 18, 2015. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The 13 November attacks in Paris took the lives of 132 people (at last count), common people who were attending a concert or walking the streets or enjoying a meal or drinks on a Friday night. A tragic end of the "joie de vivre" of so many people. A cruel, unjust and horrific event. But as often happens, the next casualty post such events is reason and rationality. The shell-shocked mass of humanity is always a gullible audience. Because the valid question "Why us?" overshadows the ability to see the bigger picture or trace the causality. The mainstream media has already seized upon this opportunity and gone into top gear, spinning out their pet theories, such as "War of ideas" "clash of culture", "threat to western way of life". The socialist president of France has already upped his stakes, calling the attacks an "act of war" that will be met with a merciless response.

What does this mean?

In France, it means a state of emergency, transforming the country into something of a police state -- suspending basic democratic rights, closing borders, banning protests, and giving police sweeping powers to search and detain individuals.

"Consider the other narrative and try and wonder why it is that 'we are all Paris' but never 'all Lebanon' or 'all Syria' or 'all Iraq'."

France has already dispatched its aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, to the Middle East to intensify its campaign in Syria and Iraq (France has already carried out 1300 sorties in Iraq alone). Not enough mention is being made of the collateral damage that will come with the air strikes. Hospitals, schools, places of worship, wedding parties could be bombed out of existence. Then, some General will appear, rattling out an apology in an unconvincing monotone and the matter will be put to rest. But what will inevitably follow is the next round of violence, leading to further loss of life for common men and women on both sides. As the distinguished commentator, Bill Johnson, said, terrorism is about killing pawns to affect the king.And it is high time that the pawns - ordinary men and women the world over -- realise that they should rely on the simplistic and stereotypical narratives and "solutions" from politicians and the press.

A brief relook at history of terrorism will be quite instructive at this juncture.

Some analysts believe that way back in the 1980s, the CIA "created" Osama Bin Laden and trained his organisation in bomb making, sabotage and urban guerrilla warfare. Former British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, told the House of Commons that Al Qaeda (which in Arabic stands for an abbreviation of "the database"), was originally the computer database of thousands of Islamist extremists who were trained by the CIA and funded by the Saudis, in order to defeat the Russians in Afghanistan.Then, after the Soviet withdrawal, having accomplished its strategic purpose, Americans in the most careless manner left Pakistan with a highly weaponised and radicalised civil society. Such was their respect for democratic values and human decency.

The origins of ISIS can also be traced to American recklessness and lack of any concern or respect for humanity at large. Iraq under Saddam may not have been democratic heaven but it was at least a functioning society and the internal tribal contradictions were being effectively managed. In post Saddam Iraq with Shia-dominated polity, hundreds of thousands of working class jobless Sunnis became foot soldiers for Al Qaeda which first appeared on the Iraqi scene under the post Saddam American administration. An even more radical offshoot of the group became ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) fighting in the Syrian theatre against Bashar al-Assad. The arms provided by the US to the Syrian opposition went in the hands of ISIS and a new Frankenstein's monster was born.

Something similar has happened in Libya, which is now falling apart. Last year, rebels in eastern Libya sold a tanker-load of crude oil despite Libyan government's threat that the vessel would be "turned into a pile of metal" if it left port: the Libyan navy blamed rough weather for its failure to stop the ship. One can only imagine what the finances will be used for.

This is the story, albeit extremely abbreviated, of the great global "war on terrorism" that the United States has led with vassal nations like Britain, France, Australia and others in tow.

Let us appeal to all those grieving Parisians and other Europeans to pause for deeper reflection when the shock wears off. Consider the other narrative and try and wonder why it is that "we are all Paris" but never "all Lebanon" or "all Syria" or "all Iraq". After all, you are the descendants of those who made Liberty, Equality and Humanity universal values.

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