I imagine myself leaving Europe and returning to Canada. From my Paris perspective, I view my homeland as a safe haven, a country of peace and tolerance. Seen through the lens of the half-dozen terrorist attacks that have occurred on French soil in 2015 alone, and the threats we are receiving for future attacks, I do not view my adopted country in the same light at all.
France has become a prime target for terrorists for a variety of reasons – (a) recent military intervention in Mali, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, (b) not-so-recent historical colonialism and crimes in North Africa (Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco), West and Equatorial Africa that have left deep and lingering grudges, (c) the ghettoization, marginalization and/or stigmatization of a percentage of French Muslims, not all, who in total represent 10% of the country’s population, (d) high unemployment in France, especially among young Muslim youths who already feel excluded from society, (e) policies and cultural practices that are seen as anti-Muslim (those absurd and inflammatory Charlie Hebdo satirical cartoons, the burka-niqab ban, Marine Le Pen and her far-right, xenophobic National Front party and, yes, an undeniable, ingrained racism in the DNA of a majority of white, Catholic French citizens, a racism that I have personally witnessed.)
Vous récoltez ce que vous semez. (You reap what you sow.)
There are other factors that add fuel to the fire, but the list is long – the Schengen Agreement – since the dismantling of European border controls in 1985, France is geographically vulnerable. Antiterrorist organizations are woefully underfunded and overwhelmed. Example – it was Morocco who alerted Paris to the fact that the ringleader of the Paris attacks, Abelhamid Abaaoud, was hiding in a Parisian suburb (Saint Denis), right under the noses of French intelligence agencies.
Criticism is mounting against French officials for not doing more to prevent last Friday’s multiple terrorist attacks
The general sentiment of Parisians today, aside from shock and grief, is one of anger. “We thought we were protected,” is the general refrain. The tragic consequence of government laxism are the deaths of 131 innocents and over 300 wounded.
In response to last Friday night’s killings (exactly one week ago last night), Manual Valls, French prime minister, announced that stricter anti-terror measures will be put into place. Will be put into place? We thought that after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January, that had already been done. Other major problems include –
- Salafist non-French imams who are allowed to come into France and preach hate-filled invective to their congregations. Not in ALL mosques, but in enough clandestine fringe mosques to radicalize disenfranchized young Muslim men;
- Under-surveillance in French prisons, hotbeds of Islamist indoctrination amongst inmates;
- Under-surveillance of departing and returning French jihadists to and from Syria;
- The continued financing of mosques by Saudi-Wahhabis, purveyors of a medieval form of radical ideology and terror (not only mosques in France, but in the U.K., the U.S.A., Canada and elsewhere.)
What makes our countries unsafe? Our own governments.
Blowback, backlash, vengeance, payback, retribution…call it what you want, the message is the same. There’s an expression in French – de payer leurs erreurs (to pay for their errors.) The problem is, it’s not the politicians who pay, it’s us, the honest tax-paying, law-abiding citizens. And that’s why I envisage myself living on a safe island somewhere in Canada – Prince Edward Island, say, or one of those sleepy islands off the coast of British Columbia. Far, far away from the toxicity of lies and terrorist threats.
I blame French politicians and a handful of other Western politicians for the mess we find ourselves in, and it’s really only a handful. The Islamist terrorist forces of today are the direct results of Neoconservative Foreign Policy in the Middle East. The “N” word is not discussed enough in mainstream media. I know that I keep harping on about Neoconservative ideology, but it’s wholly relevant to our current situation. In short, neocon warmongering threatens us, has threatened us already.
Here’s just one example among many – Sarkozy and Cameron in Libya in 2011. What was that about? The U.S., Britain and France, under the pretext of “rescuing the Libyan people”, “promoting freedom and democracy”, and “aiding the Arab Spring uprising” that had occurred in neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt, decided that it was time for a regime change. Why oust Gaddafi? Because he was guilty of insubordination to US imperialism and its allies. (Funny, and only a few years earlier he had contributed 50 million euros to Sarkozy’s election campaign and, while visiting Paris, was allowed to pitch his Bedouin tent in the Elysée backyard.) In return for their help in ending Gaddafi’s rule, Sarko and Cameron expected deals, lucrative deals from U.S.-approved Mahmoud Jibril, the interim prime minister. Toppling Gaddafi destabilized the country, just like it had in Iraq 8 years earlier when those same Western allies toppled Saddam. Today, Islamist militias terrorize Libya while hundreds of thousands of migrants, coming up from sub-Saharan Africa and all over, attempt to leave Tripoli for Europe. In small boats.
“France, Great Britain, Europe, will always stand by the side of the Libyan people!” proclaimed Sarkozy in 2011. Where are those Western leaders today, now that the Libyan people are succumbing to atrocities worse than they ever knew under Gaddafi (abductions, torture, beheadings by Islamic State militants)? They’ve walked away. Mission completed, Libya no longer interests them. Or rather, they no longer have interests in Libya.
We in the West can hold grudges too, and here’s mine – the genesis of ISIS can be traced back to May 2003 when errand boy Paul Bremer, under orders from George W. Bush’s government, disbanded the entire Sunni-dominated Iraqi army. It was a move that put 250,000 young Iraqi men out of a job, out on the streets, angry, and armed—and guaranteed the violent chaos to come.
And if that wasn’t enough, senior members were then expelled from Saddam’s Ba’ath party. This disastrous decision led many Sunni Iraqis to conclude that they had no hope of a prominent place in a future Iraq. Why the meddling? What right did Bush’s government have to even be in Iraq in the first place?? They had no right whatsoever. They had illegally invaded Iraq.
Sunnis were the technocrats who populated the ministries and staffed the army — members of Iraq’s experienced middle class who would happily have supported new leadership, had they been offered a serious role. Instead, they felt banished, and by the end of 2003, an insurgency had taken hold.
Deep down, I can’t help thinking that all this was pre-planned. I find it hard to believe that U.S. intelligence, along with American and British experts on Iraq, did not foresee the consequences of the above actions.
As for the members of this Neoconservative cabal, the vile and abhorrent “Dick and Don”, aka Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, along with Paul Wolfowitz, Karl Rove, Richard Perle, Tony Blair and others, none of them have been held accountable for their crimes, not a single one. Where are they today? Playing golf in the sun. Writing their memoirs. Peddling their stories on the speaking circuit. Raking in millions of dollars a year. It’s almost as if they’ve been rewarded for their sins. Where’s the justice in that?