The Persistent Illusion of
“I am not excusing terrorism in shape or form. What I am asserting is that the moral base of globalization and American domination is deficient. Markets are amoral. The untrammelled pursuit of self-interest does not necessarily serve the common interest, and military might is not necessarily right. This may be an unpopular thing to say, especially after innocent people have been killed in the name of a perverted religious belief, but it is nevertheless true. I was saying it before September 11.”
— George Soros on Globalization (2002)
George Soros is not a revolutionary Marxist. He is a billionaire and one of the most respected American entrepreneurs, but devotes much of his time and wealth today to worthy causes of development and seeking to improve the lots of thousands of people. These words written thirteen years ago are as true if not even more heart-rending today because since then nothing has changed for the better. The same causes leading to the same results: we have been the sorry witnesses of the tragedy in Paris last Friday.
The tragic events, which have unfolded in Paris on that fateful Friday 13th, have sent shock waves across the planet. Cynical as it may sound, it is true that many experts on “terrorism” have been almost expecting some sort of retaliation against France after its interventions in Western Africa against the Boko Haram and the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria more recently. Few people may know that under President Francois Hollande, France is increasingly seen as a frontline European state in the war against Daesh – also known as the Islamic State – and Boko Haram. Yet the sheer scale, temerity and organizational and logistical dexterity deployed by the perpetrators of these most atrocious crimes have shocked even the most experienced observer.
After the first hours of shock, the media and the net are now overflowing with comments. At a time when knee-jerk reactions are to be avoided at all costs, it is difficult to expect most people to take a reasoned and balanced view of things. Riding the wave of emotional duress under which the people of Europe are reeling, the populist and extreme right wing movements such as Marine Lepen’s ‘Front National’ in France have already gone on a spin propagating their racist and simplistic, reductionist solutions.
The fact is that there is no simple and straightforward explanation for this turmoil which threatens to derail even the painstakingly constructed and yet fragile European Union. The ongoing refugee crisis has only compounded the complexity of a situation in which the very foundation of the democratic way of life risks being the first casualty.
As we have said earlier, the situation is extremely complex and involves multiple and long-standing issues such as the Sunni-Shiite divide, the unravelling of the post Iraq and Afghanistan situations for which the US bears an enormous responsibility, unanswered questions regarding the role of multiculturalism and integration in mature European nations, not to mention the problems related to the Kurdish affirmation of their nationhood. The new and determining factor is that the Syrian imbroglio consequent to the breakdown of the Assad regime has culminated in an explosive hotchpotch of all these issues right at the doorstep of Europe.
Having said the above, though, the fact remains that in spite of what the spokespersons of the “community of nations” may say, there will be no solution to these conflicts as long as there is no comprehensive political solution to the Palestinian question. The Israeli occupation of Palestine with the complicity of Western nations is the geo-political original sin which provides a bedrock of moral high ground to all those who engage in the sort of indiscriminate, ruthless violence in the guise of “jihad” that we have witnessed in Paris.
The most sincere appeal to the cherished “universal values of liberté, égalité, fraternité” is bound to be marred by suspicion as long as it is assimilated to double standards. What of the forty or so people who died in Beirut at the hands of the same ISIS only one day before the deadly attacks in Paris? Barely a few minutes were dedicated to these “incidents” in all the Western dominated media. So it goes with the hundreds if not thousands of innocent men, women and children of Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Yemen who are regularly bombed or targeted by the drones of the “coalition” forces.
The point we are driving at is that there is no solution outside of a peaceful political settlement of the Palestinian issue – not that this is a sufficient condition for peace in the Middle East but definitely a necessary one. Such a settlement will remove one of the most problematic factors out of the presently unmanageable equation if only by giving the West the credibility of an “honest broker” in the process of finding a lasting and equitable solution to put an end to an already disastrous situation which can only grow worse.
Lest our readers are led to believe that what is written above is due to some sympathy for or justification of what has happened in Paris on Friday last, let us conclude with the following.
The indiscriminate killing of innocent people is an inexcusable barbaric act. Those who actually blew themselves up or went on an obviously suicidal mission are probably poor souls who have been subjected to the worst kind of brainwashing to convince them that they were accomplishing some sort of religiously ordained mission.
Those who masterminded the whole operation and who hide behind the appellation of “Islamic State” are in our view nothing more than vile robber bandits who financially and materially profit from the prevailing dystopia – defined by Webster as an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives. Utopian (opposite of dystopian) as it may seem at first sight the only realist way out of this infernal paradigm would be to deprive these warmongers of their causus belli.
Unfortunately the declarations and reactions of President Hollande to the attacks seem to be going exactly the opposite way. While this may be understood as being politically compelling in the present context, he may well be engaging his country on the very slippery path of what Clausewitz called the “absolute war.” Battles then become massacres and victory always seems to be within grasp if only sufficient mass could be hurled against the enemy to achieve a breakthrough. By declaring war on what is but a travesty of a state, Hollande may be participating in giving a band of criminals much more than they bargained for.
- Published in print edition on 25 August 2017