15 November 2015

Thoughts on Paris Attacks

In my 11 years as a resident and forty something years as a visitor of Paris, I never thought such a horrible event could take place here.

As a human being, I am still in shock and my heart goes out to people who lost their lives and to those who had to live through that horrible tragedy.

I cannot imagine how they will cope with that kind of trauma in the coming months and years.

As a contrarian blogger, my mind shifted almost immediately to the aftermath and the consequences of these attacks. On Friday night, I heard a commentator pronounce this as France's 9/11. While I see the similarities, including perhaps this becoming a Bush moment for Fran├žois Hollande, I fear that this will have deeper and more disastrous consequences for the whole of Europe.

In fact, it is likely that this will mark the end of the European project.

Let me start from the Muslim end of things.

I am preparing a post on whether Islam is an inherently violent religion, so I will have more to say on this a little later but for now, I just want to reiterate an important point.

Radicalized Second Generations

It now looks like the perpetrators were French-born Muslims. One has already been identified. He has a familiar story. Family from Algeria, 6 kids, parents unable to educate them properly, petty crime, radicalization at the hands of the local imam. I outlined the scenario here. It is incredibly common in Western Europe.

I have been trying to explain the main reasons behind the radicalization of Muslims, which, contrary to what most people think, has only taken place in the last 35 years. The link in the previous sentence is my most comprehensive discussion of the subject, but you can find a more succinct summary here.

Essentially, it stemmed from a systematic and Saudi-financed religious assault on the weak and artificial national identities that emerged after the collapse Ottoman Empire. The Saudi effort, which was undertaken by radical imams in their freshly built madrassas and mosques around the globe, focused almost exclusively on reducing Islam to three precepts, namely, Islamic garb, alcohol ban and blasphemy vigilantism.

This social engineering project was designed to isolate Muslims in their communities and to radicalize their second generation. And the European reaction to these Muslims, especially after 9/11, deepened their isolation and helped the recruitment efforts of radical imams.

Paris attacks are the culmination of that plan.

Europeans were already leery of their Muslim minorities. But from this point onward, Europeans in general and French people in particular, will see every Muslim as a potential terrorist and will act accordingly. And understandably, they will demand their government to protect them from "these people."

The "us and them" divide is now fully in place.

When the heightened level of animosity is eventually coupled with the inevitable harsh state actions, those Muslims who do not approve terrorist acts will simply run out of choices. They will no longer be able to pretend that they are French. And most of them will have no "mother country" to which they can return.

The blurred map lines in the Middle East will make things especially difficult.

This will also take all refugee solutions off the table. As I will discuss it a little later, there is no way European governments could accept Muslim refugees in any significant numbers after the Paris incident.

That is the first fault-line.

The most important question in that respect is what would the French government do next?

France's 9/11: Hollande's Bush Moment?

My liberal friends who called me after the attacks were unanimous in their worry that these events might help Marine Le Pen's presidential bid. She is on record that she does not want these immigrants to stay in France.

I am not so sure.

I believe the rise of the extreme right in France (Europe is another matter) will depend on Fran├žois Hollande's reaction to this crisis. In fact, this tragic event might make him more electable than ever before.

You see, as the dictum "only Nixon could have gone to China" makes it clear, only a socialist government can take very harsh measures. No one would suspect Hollande of nurturing a secret fascist agenda.

Consequently, I think he will throw the book at France's Muslims.

My guess is that, at first, they will round up hundreds of known terrorists. I am told that there are roughly 600 hardcore Jihadis in France. You know, the kind that received some training abroad and happy to wear a nicely fitted bomb vest. That means we are talking about 5-6 thousand people including their families.

Parading these bearded men and their hijab (or niqab) wearing women in handcuffs would do wonders for any politician's popularity after the cold-blooded Paris murders. They are now the face of the evil also known as "the other."

French courts already approved the stripping of citizenship of dual nationality Jihadis. The government will remove their citizenship and expel them to their country of origin. Moreover, they will apply this rule to anyone who is suspected of Jihadi connections. This will be presented as both a security measure and a deterrent.

And it will be very popular.

Suspects with a single French citizenship will be placed under surveillance and some might even be moved to special camps or confined areas. Which, after all, is cheaper than round the clock surveillance. Budgetary discipline matters.

Anti-niqab laws will be extended to cover other Islamic garb, including and especially shalwar kameezes for men. Gender equality matters. The justification would be that, as a secular republic, France could not allow openly religious symbols to be displayed in the public realm.

Municipalities will start closing Islamic centers and mosques. After all, they are the source of radicalization.

Muslims will protest and cry discrimination. Those who scream the loudest will also be stripped of their citizenship and be deported.

You might think that I am exaggerating but I actually look at it from the disinterested perspective of their political survival. You know, as if I were Hollande's campaign manager. If this hypothetical scenario is enacted, either Francois Hollande or his current Prime Minister Manuel Valls, already popular for his tough immigration stance, will likely be elected President in 2017.

If they don't do it, expect President Le Pen to take the baton and implement an even harsher series of measures. Actually, her popularity rose after this incident and analysts expect her party to be the big winner in local elections in December.

So either way, I believe that these will come to pass.

What especially worries me is the effect of these measures on non-radicalized Muslims. As I noted, these people will soon run out of options, identities and places to go.

Then what?

I am also concerned about what these measures will do to the French psyche. My long time readers will remember my discussion of the Rafle du vel d'hiv and the effects of dehumanizing the other.

The second fallout of these events will be the open border policy of Europe.

End of Schengen?

This summer's Syrian refugee crisis has already shown the deep schism on Schengen Europe.

Eastern European countries, most of which had elected right or extreme right-wing governments, expressed their disagreement on having open borders with other European countries. They did not want Muslims to even pass through their territories and to stop the flow they did all kinds of horrible things.

What a conservative news outlet called the anti-Muslim fervor in Eastern Europe was expressed as "today refugees, tomorrow terrorists."

It was prescient.

The Syrian passport conveniently found near the body of one of the assailants, and confirmed as belonging to a refugee that was processed by Greek authorities in October, was promptly used by Konrad Szymanski, Poland's European Affairs minister as the definitive reason why his government will not accept EU-allocated refugees.

Nor surprisingly, following the Paris attacks, Marine Le Pen went on TV to state that "it is absolutely necessary that France regains control of its borders." In case it is not clear, she is talking about leaving the Schengen Area.

Merkel's decision to accept one million refugees, roundly criticized at home, will be another reason for other European countries to opt out of Schengen. They will claim that there is no guarantee that those refugees will stay in Germany.

And they have another miraculously convenient case to support their argument. A man was arrested last week in Germany en route to France with an interesting cargo.
Officers discovered two pistols and a hand grenade in the man’s car during a routine check on the main highway from Salzburg, Austria, to Munich on Nov. 5. Closer inspection of the vehicle revealed eight Kalashnikov rifles with ammunition, two handguns, a revolver, two hand grenades and 200 grams (7 ounces) of TNT, the criminal investigations office in Bavaria said in a statement.
No one knows whether this incident was connected to the Paris attacks, as the man is not talking, but you have to grant that this provides the perfect cover for the anti-Schengen position.

As you know, the EU is based on four freedoms brought about by the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community (EEC), the precursor of EU.
This common market is founded on the famous "four freedoms", namely the free movement of persons, services, goods and capital. It creates a single economic area establishing free competition between undertakings. 
If Schengen is abolished, free movement of persons (i.e. labor), services, goods and capital will become much more difficult. European market will once again become fragmented and, already unwieldy with 28 member states, EU will have a hard time to simply function properly.

In that sense, an end to Schengen could be the beginning of the end of the European Project.

Incidentally, this is already taking place as several border fence projects are underway: Austria and SloveniaSlovenia and CroatiaHungary and Romania, Hungary and Serbia and Bulgaria and Turkey, to name just a few.




In this context, Eastern European leaders like Viktor OrbanEwa KopaczBoyko Borissov and Robert Fico are more likely to pursue ultra-nationalistic policies and distance themselves from Brussels. As you might remember, when the first-tear EU countries led by Germany insisted on EU refugee quotas these politicians simply refused to accept the new EU rules.

A fragmented market and an East-West rift will exacerbate the existing economic woes of the Union, like the return of socialists to government in Portugal, the likely economic implosion of Italy, the continuing Greek saga and the possible British exit.

In that sense, I believe that the terrorists who shot hundreds of people and killed 128 innocent victims have just destroyed not just the French vision of liberty, equality and fraternity but they reinforced the processes that are likely to end the European dream.

Final Thought

When I started blogging, I had no idea that Saudi Arabia spent 200 billion dollars to bribe military regimes around the world for them to accept madrassas; built thousands of mosques and madrassas all over the place; dispatched and paid for tens of thousands or radical imams -especially in the West- to make these institutions operational; and financed this project to reduce Islam to an angry religion focusing on just three precepts.

I simply looked around for an hour or two and it was all out there.And it was not presented as a conspiracy theory. I could and did double and triple check everything.

In light of this, here is my problem:

How come no mainstream media outlet would ever mention their role in this?

How come no politicians would say anything against Saudi Arabia, including, American Presidents even after 3000 Americans died on 9/11?

How come no European government would expel radical imams and replace them with imams on their own payroll?

How come no one noticed this 35-year long radicalization and/or did absolutely nothing about it?

As I said before, please don't say it's oil.

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