Blowback in Paris
While it's largely considered bad form to criticize so soon after a tragedy, our own experience with 9/11 should remind us of the dangers of allowing political leaders to exploit tragedy to create further suffering. French President Francois Hollande stated, "It is an act of war that was waged by a terrorist army..." This is the type of demagogic statement that can't be allowed to stand uncontested. If the attacks in Paris were an act of war, then what were the French airstrikes in Syria and Iraq aimed at the Islamic State that preceded them? Hollande doesn't get to rewrite history when the attacks in Paris were a clear response to his foreign policy of intervention against ISIS.
In their statement claiming responsibility for the attacks in Paris, the Islamic State claims that one of their reasons for attacking France is because of France "striking a blow against Muslims in the land of the Kalifate with their planes..." The Guardian reports that "France has carried out about 1,300 sorties in Iraq, with 271 airstrikes destroying more than 450 terrorist targets. Only a few strikes have been carried out in Syria." Hollande's implication that ISIS has targeted France out of the blue and that now France is going to hit back is at odds with reality. The United States has had no greater ally in their war against ISIS than France, and that's why France was targeted.
Continuing with the theme of holding political leaders to account, President Obama made a statement on the attacks in Paris as well.
Once again, we’ve seen an outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians. This is an attack not just on Paris, it’s an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share.
This is a strong appeal to the emotions of all of us, but it has no basis in truth and Obama has the least right to deliver such a statement of almost any living person. What does Obama do everyday but terrorize innocent civilians around the world with his drone strikes? Remember that Obama is probably the first Nobel Peace Prize recipient to ever bomb another Nobel Peace Prize recipient when he knowingly bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan last month. That terrorist attack against innocent civilians for some reason did not merit the same response or 24/7 media coverage that the attacks in Paris have done in the west.
This is not to belittle the senseless tragedy and suffering of the people of Paris, but merely to point out the selective outrage that so many people in the west suffer from. How many innocent civilians have been terrorized, maimed, or killed in airstrikes by France or the U.S. or other western powers over the years? Did CNN give endless coverage to Obama bombing the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz last month? Did your friends on Facebook change their profile pictures to stand with the doctors and patients who were killed in that terrorist attack?
The cognitive dissonance that allows us to beat our chests and wail about violence committed against us, but to completely ignore that violence which our political leaders conduct in our names is maddening. So yes, let us stand with the victims of Paris who did not deserve the violence that was brought to them, but let us reject being snookered once again by our own politicians who are no better than the people with guns and bombs in the streets of Paris last night.