What were the two sides in that bloody Friday night in Paris?
Writing in Esquire, "There Is Only One Way to Defeat ISIS," November 14, 2015, Charles P. Pierce described that evening's terrorism as a battle between the lethal backwardness of religious extremism and the ordinary enjoyments of a high-spirited and enlightened culture — a fight with the perpetually revolted shooting concertgoers, the reactionaries killing the broadminded, the constricted attacking the free.
"They struck at the most cosmopolitan city in the world," wrote Pierce. "They struck out at assorted sectors of western popular culture. They struck out at sports, at pop music, and at simple casual dining."
Pierce further described the savagery in Paris on the night of November 13 as a "coordinated act of fanatical ideological and theological Puritanism, brewed up in the dark precincts of another of mankind's monotheisms."
The attacks in Paris came just a day after President Obama told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America that ISIL had been "contained."
As a point of clarification between the two terms, ISIS and ISIL, the two acronyms are just different translations that use "Islamic State" and describe the group's differing locations. ISIS is the acronym for "Islamic State in Iraq and Syria" or "Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham." The acronym ISIL, President Obama's preferred term, stems from those who maintain that "al-Sham" is better translated
as "Levant," which refers to a larger area that includes Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, and Israel.
"I don't think they're gaining strength," stated President Obama on November 12 in the ABC interview with Stephanopoulos. "What is true, from the start, our goal has been first to contain, and we have contained them. They have not gained ground in Iraq. And in Syria, they'll come in, they'll leave. But you don't see this systemic march by ISIL across the terrain."
The currently expanding reach of terrorist violence might be sanguinely portrayed as including n0 systemic march across the terrain, but that's only if we exclude the placing of a bomb on a Russian Metrojet airliner so that the blown-apart bodies of 224 people end up scattered across Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.
Similarly, we we might see no systemic march by terrorists across the terrain only if we skip the move to Paris for the slaughter, as of this writing, of 130 people and the wounding of hundreds more by the detonation of suicide bombs at a soccer match, by the killing of 15 and the wounding of 10 in drive-by shootings at Le Carillon and Le Petit restaurants, by the firing at Café Bonne Biere, killing five and critically wounding eight, by the drive-by shooting of people on the terrace of La Belle Equipe, killing 19 and critically wounding nine, by a suicide bombing of Comptoir Voltaire, and, most lethal in its outcome, by the attack on the Bataclan, a concert hall with a capacity of 1,500 people, while an American band was playing in a sold-out performance.
Shouting the all too familiar "Allahu akbar" slogan, three men with assault rifles entered the darkened concert hall and starting firing at the crowd and tossing grenades. The gunmen were shooting up the music hall and taking hostages for more than two hours before the police and anti-terrorist commandos stormed the building. The day following, Paris officials reported that 87 people had been methodically murdered inside the Bataclan.
The Good Morning America interview with President Obama in which he stated that ISIL had been "contained" was broadcast on the same day as the attacks on Paris.
The way to defeat ISIS? It won't be by bombing and traditional military strategies, writes Pierce: "A 242-ship Navy will not stop one motivated murderous fanatic from emptying the clip of an AK-47 into the windows of a crowded restaurant. American soldiers dying in the sands of Syria or Iraq will not stop the events like what happened in Paris from happening again because American soldiers dying in the sands of Syria or Iraq will be dying there in combat against only the most obvious physical manifestation of a deeper complex of ancient causes and ancient effects made worse by the reach of the modern technology of bloodshed and murder."
And tough talk won't work, states Pierce. "Flexing and posturing and empty venting will not cure the deep sickness in the human spirit that leads people to slaughter the innocent in the middle of a weekend's laughter."
Pierce points to the money as the key to defeating ISIS: "It is long past time for the oligarchies of the Gulf states to stop paying protection to the men in the suicide belts. These are the people who buy their safety with the blood of innocents far away."
The money links between the oligarchies and terrorism, between the authoritarian regimes and the Parisian murders, are no longer a secret, reports Pierce: "In 2010, thanks to WikiLeaks, we learned that the State Department, under the direction of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, knew full well where the money for foreign terrorism came from. It came from countries and not from a faith. It came from sovereign states and not from an organized religion. It came from politicians and dictators, not from clerics, at least not directly. It was paid to maintain a political and social order, not to promulgate a religious revival or to launch a religious war. Religion was the fuel, the ammonium nitrate and the diesel fuel. Authoritarian oligarchy built the bomb. As long as people are dying in Paris, nobody important is dying in Doha or Riyadh."
A secret December 2009 paper signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, reports Pierce, states that "Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide."
Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics and the B. Kenneth Simon professor of free enterprise at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.
Ralph R. Reiland
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