Sunday, November 15, 2015

Circle of Death

I cannot let the events in Paris two days ago go without comment; at the same time, I don’t believe I have anything new or insightful to add.

I had been struggling with timing of this post, and then I read Butler Shaffer:

One reader informed me that bringing such matters to people’s attentions should not be done “when they are still mopping the blood off the floor.” This was the same appeal that was made during the Vietnam War; that people should await assessing government policies until after the war was over. I can think of no clearer evasion of one’s responsibilities than this.  It is precisely when the destructive effects of our thinking are manifesting themselves that we ought to think and speak with one another.

It’ worth a try.  Few pay attention to the atrocities of decades and generations past – the truth of which is generally available.  As time passes, the official narrative takes root.  People move on.

I write this assuming the general narrative being peddled – ISIS-trained extremists, etc.  I am certain that there are many layers to this story beyond or even outside of this rapidly forming narrative, but it is within this narrative that I will work.

Of course, there is the “why.”  Robert Wenzel has published a listing of US drone strikes in various countries in the regions of North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia (NAMECA).  This is a good start, but the reasons run much deeper and wider.  Countless tens of millions of families have had their lives ruined by actions of western militaries – primarily that of the United States, but others such as those of France and Britain cannot be excluded, especially if a longer history is considered.

The manipulations by France and Britain in the Middle East began more than 100 years ago.  The names may have changed, but the stories have not: control, manipulation, intrigue, factions, violence, and interventions – all of it in play then and since then.

World War One was used to divide the region into controllable puppets.  Since 1948, the Palestinians have been held like animals in cages.  Elected governments overthrown and repressive regimes supported.

September 11 brought on a new hell for those in Iraq and Afghanistan.  But this was not enough.  For many in the region, the violence has only intensified in the last several years: Libya, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Egypt. 

Day after day, year after year.  Your wife, father, brother, children all at risk, dying here and there due to the violence which you attribute to western interventionism.  Many will take no overt action in retribution or revenge, but it only takes a few.  For every action, there is likely born one or two who decide to plan an opposite reaction.  Multiplied by a few thousand western actions and it is surprising that there have not been more reactions.

Not to justify such violence – it is deplorable.  But it must be understood by anyone who actually cares to bring an end to any of this.

Instead, the ratchet seems to be continuing.  Tough times demand tough talk.  Unlike in Spain a few years ago, which very publicly pulled back from further interventions after a terrorist event in that country, France seems to be spinning up the machine even more – because doing what they have done over the last hundred years apparently hasn’t been enough.  The United States is right there with them.

Now everyone is focused on the individual stories in this Parisian tragedy: the student, the concert-goer, the gunman.  Yet, this many and more die every single day in NAMECA due to western interventions – does anyone in the west care?

Je Suis Paris – we are being inundated with outpouring of sympathy: watch American football games today for one example.  Nothing wrong with that if the context is properly understood; but where is the outpouring of sympathy for the others?  Who is Baghdad, Aleppo, Tripoli, or Damascus?

This event is a tragedy – no ifs, ands or buts.  The world is full of tragedies – and these are not to be considered in isolation.  This is a circle, and no one in a position to do so seems to have any interest in bringing it to an end.


  1. Let me see if I have this straight. First, the French government effectively disarms it's citizens and does not allow them to protect themselves in a public place. Then, they encourage the immigration of thousands of "refugees," most of whom are actually angry young extremists looking to take advantage of the situation. Then they act shocked when a bunch of these guys start gunning people down. Now they're gearing up to start another war which will only perpetuate and exacerbate this nightmare, just like all the other wars.

    You are quite right; it is a vicious cycle of death, misery, and destruction for everyone involved (well, except maybe for the politicians putting these policies into action).

    And as we speak, our own federal government is (1) looking to expedite the immigration of "refugees" into the United States, and (2) hoping to pass draconian gun control legislation. These people just don't learn, do they? It's almost as if they had perverse ulterior motives or something...

    1. I'd contest the assertion "most of whom are actually angry young extremists" is accurate. Enough are to be a problem.


    Sure, it is The Nation, but Fox isn't going to do the legwork. It goes against their preferred narrative.

    1. Jim, this is very good. Thank you for sharing the article.

    2. I've heard wilder stories about ISIS recruitment methods still. Apparently there are recruiters active in Muslim countries that hook up young men with a steady supply of booze, drug and easy sex (as one put it: "imagine the guy who befriended you offering up his girlfriend"). After some time these young men are then put through a ringer of religious shaming and failing that they're simply blackmailed into supporting the group.

  3. "This event is a tragedy – no ifs, ands or buts. The world is full of tragedies – and these are not to be considered in isolation. This is a circle, and no one in a position to do so seems to have any interest in bringing it to an end."

    You've written many fine works. I rank these words right up there with the best of your prose. Thanks.