As every thinking person in the world I am disgusted by what happened in Paris yesterday. France is my country as London is my home and Greece my origin. I cannot do anything to help with what is happening, so I will just share some thoughts on this blog.
The despicable attacks in Paris raise a number of key issues.
Firstly, Europe has a problem in Syria. ISIS is claiming this attack, as many others. We knew for years now that Syria would be a problem, policy makers knew, everyone knew, yet nothing happened to help resolve the conflict. Now everyone is involved in the war in Syria, and France will be more active for certain. President Holland called the attacks an act of war, so retaliation is a given. Syria has been the spawn of the medieval murderous theocracy that is ISIS and has sparked an unprecedented humanitarian and refugee crisis that again Europe does not know how to deal with.
ISIS needs to be defeated militarily and the situation in the middle east needs to be brought under control. I guess the majority of my readers will agree with this.
Secondly, Europe has a security problem. While one can fight the enemy (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq and wherever they crop up, one cannot address the internal security problem effectively. Israel is the proof of this. The more repressive a state becomes, the more widespread the threat becomes. Islamic terrorism is a monster that cannot be defeated by internal security.
Paris had already combat-ready troops in the streets. I went to visit the centre last month and around all tourist attractions were groups of 4-5 soldiers with automatic weapons. Same in the metro, same at railway terminals. The attacks still happen. If you place a soldier on every street corner, the attacks will still happen. In Israel, in an environment of almost total security lockdown, you have attacks carried out with knives, people driving trucks onto bus-stops.
The way to minimise the chance of attacks is to create a total surveillance and total security state that is totalitarian, nazi like. This is not a compromise most people are willing to make. This is a compromise people should not consider making.
The values of the Republic need to be preserved against this threat. Abandoning human rights and personal liberty is no win over extremism.
Thirdly, Europe (and the world) has a problem with Islam. Yes other religions have conducted atrocities, yes atheist regimes have committed crimes, yes everyone has their hands dirty. Islam has its hands dirty today, now. Islam in its current expression, interpretation and practice has managed to generate the kind of blind fanaticism that has people shooting innocent civilians point-blank, throwing bombs on unarmed crowds and think it just.
I am not suggesting here that Islam has to be supressed. I am suggesting however that Muslims worldwide need to mobilise to purge their ranks of these murderers and fanatics. Islam in its current incarnation is not a religion of peace. Christianity was not a religion of peace, but it became one. Atheism was not consistent with peace, but it strives to be. Muslims need to act now, do more, save their religion from the medieval fanatics that have come to define it.
Fourthly, the injustice, inequality and marginalisation that have become the hallmarks of financialised capitalism are feeding fanaticism. The ruling class needs to comprehend that the young men who join medieval factions like ISIS would not do so if they had a future in a capitalist liberal world. Europe needs to rethink its social contract to re-absorb the ‘losers’ of the system in society. Nothing can be solved at home if this is not addressed, and fast.
We need therefore to defeat ISIS in its homelands, preserve the values of the Republic in France and in Europe, help Islam purge itself of the fanatics and ameliorate the excesses of capitalism. If we do this, we will have a future of security. If not, the public will turn to the fascists in a desperate effort to protect itself. Do not kid yourselves, Le Pen as president would make everything worse.