What happened in Paris on November 13 has happened before, in a shopping district of Beirut on November 12, in the skies over Egypt on October 31, at a cultural center in Turkey on July 20, a beach resort in Tunisia on June 26—and nearly every day in Syria for the last four years.
Here's something the propagandizing pinheads of the MSM fail to tell us: if the French, and others, were not killing and maiming people in the Middle East, it is quite likely that there would have been no attacks in Paris.
But, but, but...
Maaawwwmmmm!!! He hit me first!
You've got to love the maturity level of the leaders of the world, and the pundits.
It cannot be repeated enough that the root of this terrorist extremism lies in the US's rabid anti-socialist extremism of the cold-war era which itself violently shed the blood of millions from Indochina to Latin America - and in the case of the middle east, supported dictator thugs and extremist medieval fanatics in the brutal oppression of secular progressive Arabs, Persians and Kurds.
And to top it all off - there was the undying US support of Israeli oppression of the PFLP led largely secular and socialist Palestinians.
The star-actor of all this brutality was of course Ronnie Raygun - with Jimmy Carter being the runner-up.
" We must call to account ISIS, a nihilistic cult of death that sees the world in black and white with no shades of gray in between."
Laila Lalami, you just described perfectly the Amerikan Empire and it's agenda. Call to account the major, nihilistic cult of world wide death and you go a long way in eliminating terrorists groups like ISIS.
Dear, Ms. Lalami (what a beautiful name you have, so lyrical!)
While myself and many others would LOVE to hold all of the individuals (and entities) you cited to account, the problem is HOW to do that.
I would encourage you to consider the parallels between what you describe as creating an intolerant, conservative matrix in the Middle East with its precise counterpart in the West:
"Faith was more than its conspicuous manifestations. But things began to change in the 1980s. It was the height of the Cold War and Arab tyrants saw an opportunity: They could hold on to power indefinitely by repressing the dissidents in their midst—most of them secular leftists—and by encouraging the religious right wing, with tacit or overt approval from the United States and other Western allies. Into the void created by the decimation of the Arab world’s secular left, the Wahhabis stepped in, with almost unlimited financial resources. Wahhabi ideas spread throughout the region not because they have any merit—they don’t—but because they were and remain well funded."
In the U.S. (as well as Britain), business moguls along with those who value money over persons began to attain ideological (as well as actual) ascendancy through "leaders" like Reagan and Thatcher. Both denigrated the very premise of a society in favor of individual rights; and those rights typically meant the freedom of Big Money to trample over anything that might be regarded as regulatory in scope.
At this same time, in the U.S. there was the rise of the Christian coalition, also known as Christian Conservatives. Taught to see THEIR way as the "only way to God/Jesus," many from this ilk were convinced that any other form of worship was anathema.
This entity became a gigantic voting demographic and its beliefs were shepherded along by a bevy of TV Evangelists, many of which had viewership into the millions. From this following, giant mega churches were built and entire studios set up for Christian Rock with Christian radio stations and Christian publishing and a rising number of charter Christian schools.
This Balkanization of a population, particularly when its most inflamed religious "leaders" push intolerance of Other is a recipe for a clash of civilizations.
It's clear that the U.S. war machine requires war.
And that weapons-industries have become major "job producers" in too many states.
It's also clear that football and other macho sports are used to foment a patriotism that sees war as proof of fealty to one's nation.
While the Middle East has giant oil reserves (a cause for war), and trades made between nations over oil are done in dollars (hegemonic control of the petro-dollar), the philosophical or theological component (that earlier mentioned clash of civilizations) adds that necessary zealous character to the equation.
And here we are.
But as to this WE, it's always vital to point out that those who orchestrate these travesties, along with their followers do not speak for those who see through the devious messaging and understand how calamitous it will be.
The only way for humanity to overcome the habit for war is to build peace and integrate humane forms of trade and sharing into all international transactions. Needless to say, that is the opposite of spreading weapons and using trade deals (like TPP and TIPP) to dominate, control, harm, and destroy so much lands, lives, and habitats.
I apologize for the hubris of the West. This reign of terror cannot continue much longer... the Great Mother Earth has better plans for humanity and its intended evolution.
I could not agree more. Apparently, the empowered individuals (and entities) fueling the various wars and civil liberties infractions against their own peoples (and those of other lands), enjoy this meme. It's the idea that everyone goes along with what Power does and that no one speaks out.
They keep dissidents off the air.
They make a war on journalists who refuse to merely repeat the Official Narratives.
They bring in police to brutalize demonstrations (or show their muscle, mercilessly upon members of the Black community)
They own all the major media to control who gets air time
And then based on all of these controls, they have the nerve to insist that no one is protesting? And adding insult to injury, they pay message-shaping shills to infiltrate all sorts of Internet sites to reinforce this idea by blaming fellow citizens.
I'm sharing this because I could not agree more... nor is this protocol reserved to citizens inside authoritarian Arab nations:
"I have no patience anymore for people who claim that Muslims do not speak out. They do, every day. Muslims are the primary victims of ISIS, and its primary resisters. It is an insult to every one of the hundreds of thousands of Muslim victims of terrorism to lump them with the lunatics who commit terror."
To the squad that's always on my case for mentioning this particular form of propaganda (verbiage that paints with a singular brush stroke)... maybe when this lovely lady says the same thing, you can begin to take in its logic!
Beautiful, concise, clear and well threaded article that touches on most crucial points. Thank you CD.
Bravo to Laila Lalami for her beautifully written and comprehensive essay. The truth of it cannot be disputed IMO.
Many are not aware of the full extent of what happened in Afghanistan during the Carter years and later.
It was not simply a matter of funding Fundamentalists with weapons. The US Government provided TEXTbooks to schools in both Pakistan and Afghanistan that suggested Communism and Socialism were evil and that indicated it was a Muslims duty to wage Jihad against the same. These were basically like youth camps where children were indoctrinated into violence.
This did not start with Afghanistan either. The british and French Empires in the region that predated the US presence both catered to fundamentalist groups. They provided them arms and training and monies in Countries like Egypt and Iraq and Iran and Syria and the like because they felt they could head off Arab Nationalism in such a manner and ensure they maintained control of the regions.
I recently linked to pictures of people in Afghanistan in the 1960's. Over 50 percent of the persons attending Universiies there were female. Females could be doctors nurses, teachers and lawyers. This was fueled by a Government that was adopting aspects of Socialism. That all changed when the USA decided to meddle and the man responsible for that recently stated it was all worth it to rid the US of the USSR as an enemy.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Adviser to Jimmy Carter and "intellectual author" of the US policy to fuel radical Islamism:
"Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire."
Interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, 15-21 January 1998 (When asked if he regretted drawing the Soviets into a trap in Afghanistan)
"What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?"
Interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, 15-21 January 1998 (When asked if he regretted contributing to the rise in Islamic fundamentalism)
Then again, some would date the troubles to the European partition and colonization of the Levant after the defeat of the Ottomans in 1918 - Israel was the eventual the ill-begotten child of that too. The Arab people never got used to be ruled by European foreigners - at least the Ottoman Turks were neighbors and Muslims.
Then, then, again maybe it all ultimately a result of the rise of the internal combustion engine and the automobile around the same time (1910's-1920's) and the rabid western lust for mid-east oil that came with it. Perhaps future historians will view the automobile as the ultimate scourge of humanity.
But one thing runs through it all - that utterly savage murderous thing that is laughably called "western civilization" - the outrages of ISIL are positively microscopic compared to it!
Have you seen Adam Curtis's "Bitter Lake" yet? It is circulating like crazy about the torrent-sphere the past few days....
Between Brzezinski and Kissinger , I am not sure which of the two cretins is the most foul and base.
Ms. Lalami is absolutely correct about the Saudi responsibility for spreading the deadly Wahhabi ideology throughout the Islamic world, but it is critical to understand why these ideas have taken root so strongly. In many ways Islam resembles Mormonism, with which I am more familiar. The Quran, like the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine & Covenants, is clearly a work of imagination designed by a typical cult leader. In both cases, "God" provides revelations which conveniently support the leader's desires and whims, often in nearly identical ways. God warns Emma Smith to stop giving Joseph Smith a hard time about his philandering; God warns Muhammad's followers not to annoy him over the various women he takes from his followers, such as his son-in-law. Both of the scriptures are full of tales of blood and vengeance, with very little in the way of compassion except in the material both cult leaders cribbed from Christianity. And generations later, millions of people still buy the self-serving nonsense created by long dead cult leaders.
But Mormonism, for all its efforts to spread its ideology, has limited success and, no matter how closely people study Joseph Smith's fantasies, almost never leads to violence. However, people who imbibe the Quaran in the prescribed Wahhabi manner often turn to violence. Why is this?
The answer is in the misery of so much of the Islamic world, and for that colonialism and subsequent dictatorships bears the blame, the Saudis themselves being one of the worst such tyrannies. Bad ideas alone do not kill people, but are seized upon by desperate people to justify the hatred and rage that they feel.
Well said, though I don't see a living, caring Earth mother as having actual intentions. Perhaps biological life as the cosmic partner intended for manifesting intentions?
Well written article that indicates the way forward by simply remembering a not too distant secular past. I have seen old black and white photos which included pretty young college girls wearing short skirts in both Afghanistan and Syria. The stoking of monotheist rivalries is ugly and the US has been in the thick of this tactic often used to destroy democracies. Thanks for writing this.
No I have not.
Thank You, Laila, for this beautifully written and most timely commentary. While many are pointing figures to a so-called ‘civilizational clash’ behind the rise of ISIS, few of us are willing to confront the role of the West in abetting Islamist extremism, beginning with the British Colonial takeover of Arabia (for oil), which installed the House of Saud and, in turn, helped spawn the Wahhabist doctrine that has proved useful time and again in marshalling ideologically-driven terrorist proxy forces to do the West’s dirty work (e.g., the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan).
And now we have the neocons cynically advancing sectarian Islamist violence as part of their ‘divide and control’ agenda over North Africa and the Middle East, all of it in the close allegiance with Saudi royalists, and with the intelligence agencies playing a key role.
Many of the ‘freedom fighters’ NATO chose to ‘rescue’ in its Libya intervention turned out to be CIA-backed Wahhabist-inspired Al Qaeda veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and in a covert operation were given the task of smuggling weapons captured from Gaddafi’s military arsenal into Turkey, Jordan, etc., where so-called “moderate” Sunni rebels were being armed and trained to execute the long-planned takeover of the Assad regime.
The Saudis, of course, backed this effort as part of their goal of neutralizing the ‘Shiite Crescent,’ but no doubt a deal was struck to ensure their largess (Prince Bandar Bush’s role in orchestrating trainings at a secret CIA base in Jordan should make this clear).
Meanwhile, back in Libya, Abdul Hakim Belhadj, the former leader of the CIA-backed Libya freedom fighters (who was once ‘blessed’ by Senator John McCain) is now heading ISIS in that country!
As many journalists have documented, e.g, Seymour Hersh, Tony Cartalucci, Nafeez Ahmed, but well disguised in the corporate media, the imprint of the West, including Israel, is all over the build-up of ISIS, Al Nusra, and other Al Qaeda affiliates. Israel has supported Al Nusra in its operations near the illegally-occupied Golan Heights (part of Syria) where vast new oil deposits have recently been discovered. Dick Cheney, Rupert Murdock, and Jacob Lord Rothschild, among others, are involved in the Genie Oil company exploiting these reserves (W. William Engdahl, New Eastern Outlook, 26 Oct 2015).
Yet now, with the tragic events in Paris, we have frenzied calls for bombing the ‘villains.’ We should all be looking at ourselves. And, of course, our leaders. We should also be 'outing' those who call the shots behind the scenes. I don’t support air strikes. But I do agree with Putin’s call for a coordinated international effort in defanging ISIS and in coming to a fair resolution of the Syrian war. Let’s hope the peace talks move forward and that our better angels will prevail.