2 Points About Paris: The Attackers’ Motives Are Crystal Clear. There’s Nothing New Here.

ted-rall-aaron-la-timesStadiumSkewed News — It’s for Syria!” shouted one of the masked gunmen at his victims in Paris’ Le Bataclan theater.

“What are you doing in Syria? You’re going to pay now,” another attacker explained.

ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has claimed responsibility in a communiqué called yesterday’s attacks in the French capital “the first of the storm” and calling France a decadent “capital of prostitution and obscenity.”

“Ambulances screamed down the boulevards, as a stunned and confused French capital was again left to wonder: Why us? Once again?” reported The New York Times.

Amid the chaos and horror of this latest spasm of urban terrorism, it is vital to keep two key points in mind:

  1. Asking “Why us?”, as Americans did after 9/11, is stupid. We know why. Anyone who doesn’t know why, and why “us” — Paris, New York, the West — is willfully obtuse.
  2. This is nothing new. We are not/This is not [some new] “war.” After each dramatic terrorist attack, including 9/11, overcaffeinated editorialists claim that Everything Has Changed and so We Had Better Step Up and Kick Terrorist Ass. This is even stupider than asking “Why us?” Terrorism has always been with us and, unless the configuration of power dynamics defined by economic relationships internationally as well as within nations changes radically, it always will be. Paris is the latest manifestation of a cycle of violence.

First, why us.

There is no mystery about why radical Islamists carry out high-profile attacks, often involving suicide bombers, against Western targets. There’s a whole book of Osama bin Laden explaining why over and over and over. Groups like ISIS are not “evil terrorist death cults,” as the British prime minister claimed yesterday.

Terrorists are engaged in asymmetric warfare — the best strategy available to those engaged in armed conflict against an opponent with more powerful weapons, bigger armies and other structural advantages. ISIS leaders know they can’t prevail in the battlefields of Syria and Iraq against the United States and its European allies. The U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition has too many advantages, especially related to air power: an endless supply of fighter jets, drones, and missiles and bombs to drop from them. ISIS has no air force whatsoever. The Paris attacks are an attempt to sap political support — a better word might be tolerance, because the anti-ISIS war was never ratified by the people of France — for the French government’s participation in the air war against ISIS.

The attacks also serve secondary purposes as propaganda for recruitment — look, emasculated Muslims everywhere, we are fighting back against the infidel crusaders who have tortured and massacred and humiliated us, in their center of power! — as well as to make Westerners ask this very question: why us? ISIS wants France to draw the conclusion that what they are doing in Syria and Iraq is immoral and/or too costly to continue.

Why us? Or, in this case, why France? Because President Francois Hollande ordered the French air force to help the United States bomb ISIS.

ISIS says so.

So let’s not have any more of that “why us?” crap.

Second, this is not new.

President Hollande says that the attacks were “an act of war that was committed by a terrorist army, a jihadist army, Daesh, against France.” He’s wrong.

Hollande’s statement is classic colonialist bullshit. When powerful nations like France drop bombs on Syria, they want us to think, that’s not war.

I don’t know what your dictionary says. According to my understanding, when you drop bombs, especially when you do it over and over and over, that is war.

For elites like Hollande, it’s only war when the other side strikes back.

At this point, it’s necessary for me to affirm that, like everyone else, I am disgusted and appalled at ISIS’ slaughter of more than 100 innocent people in Paris yesterday. I am a dual French-U.S. citizen. I love France. These people did not have this coming.

What I am trying to point out here is that the Paris attacks do not mark the beginning of anything. They are a continuation in a cycle of violence that goes back a long time. If France was not bombing Syria, ISIS would almost certainly not be shooting Frenchmen.

France has a long history of military and colonial intervention in Syria, most notable the League of Nations mandate beginning with the Sykes-Picot Agreement during World War I and nominal independence in 1943.

Paris is the latest iteration of this circus of death. France bombs ISIS. ISIS shoots Parisians. Now, right on cue, right-wingers are calling for an escalation of the air war against ISIS.

Which will lead to more attacks by ISIS against the West.

History teaches us that the only way to break a cycle of violence is for at least one side in a conflict — usually the stronger side — to stop striking “back,” accept its losses, and lick its wounds. Unilateral ceasefire isn’t a magic recipe for peace. But it’s a required ingredient.

For Skewed News, I’m Ted Rall.


  1. These attackers are called terrorists because they use low tech weapons instead of cruise missiles, or bombs delivered by the latest aircraft.

    But, as Donald Rumsfeld stated: ‘You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have’, and so they have learned well by the example of the West’s GWOT inflicted on them.

    And in conformance with Dick Cheney’s 1% solution (one also adopted, de facto, by Obama’s drone attacks) killing 100 is not wrong if there is possibly one enemy among that one hundred.

    The “little people” always bleed in the rich man’s wars.

  2. Abhishek Mittal says:

    I agree to what you have said here. But at the same time I would like to support French government in their decision to support US by asking French airforce to carry out airstrikes in Syria. These terrorist organisations are going to grow anyhow. Ceasefire is not a solution to stop terrorism as terrorist’s do not have a civilised governance structure. You cant just sit back and assume a ceasefire and wait for an incident like 9/11 to happen. What are the chances that if West nations do not attack the Islamic State in Syria and one day the Islamic State does not carry out another act of this manner? Any terrorist organisation that too of ISIS’s stature is there to destabilise world peace. Sitting back and waiting for such incidents to happen is not a solution. We need to present a united front against ISIS and strike them hard.

  3. Thomas Lane-Borgers says:

    I have read that ISIS can only field approximately 7500 fighters at once…it has killed thousands of Muslims. It has destroyed monuments of antiquity across Iraq. The USA protests loudly about Russian military successes against ISIS. ISIS has never sacked Israel. Turkey purchases petroleum from so-called ISIS refineries. ISIS has been helping Washington DC, NATO, and Israel to destabilize Syria and remove ASSAD…Do people really believe that ISIS is trying to build a Caliphate? Or is it really Israel attempting to create ‘Greater Israel’ (Eretz Israel) by sweeping out refugees from the region to Europe? By creating this false flag attack to create more chaos in Europe, Israel benefits from their projection of future western support for its nazi regime in Tel Aviv…they think we are idiots, but this situation did not occur overnight. Netanyahu threatened France against recognizing Palestinian statehood last year, and the threats were ongoing towards the EU. This was carefully crafted. Soros, Israel, and the new world order are doing their dirty work.

    • Personally, I think it’s all a demonic plot by ClubMed to encourage people to take vacations closer to home. Carnival Cruises has been hurting pretty badly, too – yup, I smell conspiracy.

      Take a deep breath, man. Really. And remember, the tin-foil goes on shiny side out.

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  5. So, if the enemy will stop at nothing, the answer is to do nothing? Great Monty Python routine, but not so practical as a response to ISIS.

  6. There is more than one side that can declare a unilateral ceasefire. Still, the West being what it is I suppose it’s true, you guys may as well just give up. There is no will for a serious, prolonged military effort that could utterly smash the enemy in all the many areas of his activity, and no amount of terrorist attacks and angry press comments will change that.

  7. You are right! How the US helped ISIS grow into a monster http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/08/how-us-helped-isis-grow-monster-iraq-syria-assad

    Putin Described How Obama Created ISIS: http://myqute.com/PopularWebsites/Political-PutinExposedObama/index.html

    Stealth need to be used where the ISIS has no idea who attacked them. This is not the case with France.

  8. This explains it all. Violence begets violence. Years ago, I saw a picture of an Indian immingrant in England holding a sign: “We are here because you were there.” Yep.

  9. Are you suggesting that Europe should stop interfering in Syria and IS? Because I would like to see that this will end peacefully, I just do not have the feeling IS will leave it at that. They want the whole world as a muslim state and they keep expanding their territory. How should this end?

  10. “Why us?” It’s the Russians who are KICKING the ass off of IS. Meanwhile, ain’t it the French who are deciding to recognize Palestine? Zionland is the master of False-Flag, it knows well how to load and deliver its Manchurian(esque) biological weapons delivery systems. It’s been developing those levers for over a century.

    After all, as with the Paris “terrorists,” GZO’s “Palis” are all Muslim suicide bombers … except that a whole lot increasingly remain Christian communities that are also being ethnically cleansed. Greater Israel will only host the elect Jews of Zion and their slaves (so many of whom currently reside in WDC). As predicted in the Talmud, increasingly, the world becomes Palestine.

    Meanwhile, will the French start obeying their Dark Lord Netanyahoo, thereby lessening the terror of their slavery?


    • And black is white, and up is down, and victims are perps, and Muslim violence anywhere is really Israeli aggression everywhere.

      In other news, I hear costco is having a sale on tinfoil. Maybe you and Thomas can get a roll together.

      Remember, shiny side out.

  11. If France wasn’t bombing Syria yeah maybe ISIS wdnt be targeting French people…yet. But isn’t their goal an Islamic empire? Might that not be an eventual concern of everyone’s? Can we only blame western imperialism for this? Haven’t there historically been other violent attempts to create an Islamic empire? And what about the people they are killing and torturing now? Any ideas how to stop that?

  12. When Geo. Bush invaded & destabilized Iraq, it was a recipe for disaster. And he walks free in Texas. Remember next November.

  13. Ted, have the powers that be at the LA Times apologised to you and made everything right again – which would make me very happy indeed – or do you, as I suspect, remain the *former* cartoonist for that journal ?…


    • No developments, alas.

    • Unfortunately, the constant news cycle sweeps important issues away soon after they happen… unless it serves the needs of the corporations who pay the bills and the government at who’s feet the journalists worship.

      We still support you, Ted, and will keep alive the story of this injustice based on slanderous lies. Like the other political retaliations you have suffered over the past 13 years, those people will fall into dust while your truth and integrity will shine into the future.

  14. Ted, I love ya, man and I agree with the tenor of your opinion piece… but. You knew the but was coming. The ISIS fighters who committed the atrocities in France are not so stupid, or at least those who plan attacks are not so stupid, as to believe that an attack on France’s citizens will cause them to shrink back.

    I can think of only one circumstance like that in recent times, and that was related to the Madrid train bombings. The attack caused the Spanish people to lose enthusiasm for Bush’s ridiculous and counter-productive war on terror. However, it wasn’t the bombing that did it, it was the lies of their government who tried to blame the bombing on the politically unpopular ETA, when they knew the bombing was a response to Spain’s support for America’s illegal wars.

    The have to know that this attack will have only two possible responses. One will be massive military retaliation on the Islamic State by France and the other will be the complete shunning of refugees in the midst of a crisis where Europe has recently been flooded.

    My first question is… cui bono. There is no doubt that the Islamic State will pay a heavy penalty, their citizens will be bombed and their fighters killed via drone targeted assassinations, i.e. more of the same. But who benefits? The western powers, that is who benefit.

    The Muslim “terrorists” are again spotlighted as the focus of evil in the world while NATO, the United States, France, and Great Britain continue to ignore international law and murder anyone who opposes their policy of terror and murder. This legitimizes the “attacks” on ISIS who are simply used as an excuse by the United States to complete the overthrow of al Assad in Syria against the stated will of the American people and the congress. More weapons will be purchased, the stocks of the companies that supply the means of death and destruction have already risen.

    The destruction of the European Union as a rival to the hegemony of the United States will continue since the refugee crisis has forced the closing of borders, abrogating long established treaties ensuring open borders. In addition, bring more players to Syria will complicate operations for Russia, the one player that really understand the conflict and wants to destroy ISIS.

    The United States has no interest in destroying ISIS any more than George W. Bush had any interest in capturing Osama bin Laden. Osama bin Laden became a threat to the United States because of the actions of the United States in Afghanistan. The Islamic State has become a threat to the United States because of the actions of the United States in Iraq. In order for the Pentagon to continue the orgy of death and destruction that creates massive chaos in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, more and more need to be created on a daily basis.

    This is just another version of the self-licking ice cream cone. The perpetual war that keeps on providing enemies to kill and more war… AND BIGGER PROFITS.

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