The Paris Shootings and Foreign Policy


Daniel Harding

Ron Paul said shortly after the Paris shootings that foreign policy was to blame for the resulting backlash from the various violent extremist groups found in the middle-east (mostly formed during western ‘interventions’ in those countries over the last two decades). Naturally, this view from Dr Paul has caused some controversy amongst our statist ‘friends’ around the world.

Although you might note that the shootings were the result of cartoons drawn by the French magazine, ‘Charlie Hebdo’, this was not the point that Dr Paul was making. Yes, there is a direct relationship between the cartoons of ‘Charlie Hebdo’, and the shooting which happened at their offices, but you reach a different conclusion when you look at the overall picture; the reason that such attacks happen, and why such violent organisations exist in the first place.

Western foreign policy and neo-imperialism can directly be blamed for such attacks as those in Paris, because such organisations only seem to spring up when western governments decide to invade these countries, or if they are created deliberately by aiding one group against another; such as is the case with Al Qaeda, who were originally funded and trained by the US to help them fight against the Soviets when they invaded Afghanistan.

However you look at it, organisations that want to wage ‘jihad’ on western countries only seem to appear when the west decides to interfere again. Not only do we get lumped with the cost of warfare on foreign soil, but we also become to the target for retaliatory action. This is why media groups such as ‘Charlie Hebdo’ have had their staff murdered, not to mention the others who lost their lives simply through western foreign policy. Although this overall cause is merely indirect, it can even be said to be deliberate that such organisations as Al Qaeda even exist in the first place.

A lot of the policies that remove freedoms from our countries come from the ignorant masses clamouring for more security so as to protect them from those who would do them harm; so in that case, Islamic extremism and other terrorist organisations are actually very desirable for western states. This is the point that Dr Paul was trying to make when he made his statement on the Paris shootings, and this is why freedoms will continue to be eroded while more innocent people are put to the fire.

20 comments

  • The French government opposed the Iraq war, and denounces Israel all the time. To pretend this attack or the other attacks in France recently are “blowback” is demented.

    It is not “statist” to ask Ron Paul to stop being a puppet for lying Rothbardians (such as Lew Rockwell) – it is a matter of basic honour.

    What is the next idea? That the invasion by the Caliph Omar was “blow back” for (mythical) Byzantine attacks on the Muslims?

    What about the more than a thousand years of attacks by Islam on Europe – all “blowback” as well?

    Mr Harding you have every right to express your vile opinions – urinating on the dead.

    Just as I have a every right to point out that you are lying sack of shit.

    Still at least you have spared us the Rothbardian idea that the Soviet invasion of Finland was not really that bad……

    And I thank you for that.

    • You might want to note that I blamed western foreign policy for the creation of terrorist organisations, not the French specifically (Although they have interfered in both Libya and Algeria quite recently).
      Although the French may have had no involvement in the various middle-eastern invasions, the US and UK governments did and are largely responsible for these groups existing. This is why there are terrorists who are looking for an excuse to attack.

      • They are attacking because they want cultural hegemony. The use of aggression to gain compliance from other people is hardly novel in human society. The violent martinet who rules their family with an iron rod is doing precisely the same thing.

  • Remind me again why demented BS merchant Paul Marks and his neocon propaganda, lies, and ad homs are providing “a valued contribution to this blog.”

  • Keep calm Paul.

    Ron Paul is correct –meddling in other peoples countries is NOT our business. What the fuck was the toppling of Saddam all about?. He had the square root of fuck-all to do with 9-11. 2-3 million million dollars and a lake of innocent blood later what does the West have to show for it except ISIS and de-stabilisation of the entire region?. Oh Baby Bush settled the score for his Daddy–whose useless handling of the Gulf War may have cost him a second term .You know–encouraging anti-Soddom elements to rebel (the marsh Arabs and others) and then standing by and letting them be slaughtered instead of going in. Soddom actually asked the Yanks if it would be ok to invade Kuwait and got an ambiguous reply from some silly cow who was the US ambassador (if memory serves)

    If polit scum had not imported millions of potential enemies and we had kept out of nose out of the middle east we would be reading about events there in newspapers with minimal interest.

    Rothbard lost his marbles when it came to doing deals with leftist shite. And Lew Rockwell–altho’ his heart is in the right place–is far too keen on the “enemy of my enemy” bit and sometimes gives space to scum like Pilger/Chomsky etc. I share Lew’s animosity to the US federal tyranny but that does not mean everyone who hates them is on the side of the Angels.

  • Much as I like Ron, the blowback theory doesn’t really work. Just about everybody on the planet has some historical grievance, but it’s only (or overwhelmingly anyway) muslims- many of whom are native converts, interestingly- doing the religious terrorism. Nobody is scared of sikhs, hindus or buddhists. There is a third variable, and then third variable is Islam.

    The argument that is used tends to be “colonialism”. But the middle East’s experience of colonialism was rather brief and less intense than many other areas of the world, basically covering a short period in the 20th century between the wars after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. If we measure that as 1918 to 1948 (for round numbers) that’s less time than Duran Duran have been in existence.

    The real reason is (yes, I’m going to use that word again) religious puritanism. Islam is the one of the three Abrahamic religions which has not yet found an accommodation with modernity. Christianity did so after the Reformation. Judaism has the Jewish Enlightenment. Islam has not undergone that process yet. The Muslim Brotherhood arose as a fierce cultural reactionary force, determined to prevent the modernisation of (initially) Egypt and the Islamic world in general. They recognised correctly that modernity is corrosive, and it will cause their deeply held social beliefs to collapse. So, they are fighting to destroy modernity, and the source of it- the Western World. And that will carry on until one side wins and one loses.

    This isn’t a political war. It really is a religious war.

    • I believe that it was political for the western states to become involved, but religious extremisim for those in the terrorist organisations.
      I suppose there would have been some level of religious puritanism there regardless of whether western states had intervened there. However, the un-settling of that region through constant warfare has not only given these extremists the ability to grow their organisations and expand their influence, but it has also given them a very good reason to turn their attention towards the west.

  • Another general point here I think is to understand one of the big weaknesses of the Western mind- which amounts to too much self criticism.

    For normal human beings- nearly everyone who has ever lived- the natural thought if somebody attacks you is to seek reprisal. Long before legal systems, this is how all people moderated behaviour. If somebody hits you, you hit them back, harder. If somebody kills your brother, you and your clan go and kill several of their clan. And so on. Blame is exogenous. It’s the other peoples fault. They started it.

    The West- the modern West, particularly- has adopted (I would argue, partly due to our Christian heritage of self doubt and criticism) a different model, which is to blame ourselves. We are like a battered wife. Whereas the healthy human reaction to spousal battering is to think, “I hate this bastard, one day I’ll kill him”, instead the West thinks, “if he’s hitting me this hard, I must have done something really bad to upset him”.

    Worst of all, we don’t grasp that nobody else thinks this way. No other society blames itself when it is attacked. Only us. Which is what makes us so phenomenally vulnerable. Every time the bastard hits us, we resolve to try harder to please him. Which is disastrous at the domestic level, and catastrophic at the level of an entire society.

    • Ian (@ 11:18am),

      You make an interesting point about self criticism. I think that criticizing yourself when you realize that you deserve it is a reasonable thing for any rational person to do. But it’s possible to err from this in two different directions. First, as you point out, there are those, most notably Christians, who err in the direction of blaming themselves for what is not their fault. I’d agree this isn’t a terribly clever strategy. But I wouldn’t myself even try to attribute this thinking to “the West” as a whole. It certainly isn’t my attitude!

      In the other direction are those like the Paris attackers, that will use any perceived slight, real or not, as an excuse for aggression. If you had been able (safely!) to ask them why they did what they did, their reply would probably have been along the lines of “They hit us, so we hit them back.” To you, me and other civilized people, the attack was out of all proportion to any slight that might have been received. But I think that the perpetrators themselves almost certainly perceived Charlie Hebdo as the aggressors.

      Interestingly, Tony Blair did exactly the same in regard to the Iraq war, fabricating from thin air a fable about “weapons of mass destruction.” I hope you, and others here, would agree that this fabrication, and the aggressive acts carried out using it as “justification,“ were orders of magnitude worse acts than any of the violence in Paris last week.

      In any case, both Blair and the Parisian attackers erred in the opposite direction to the thinking which you are (rightly) criticizing here. And for me, they deserve far harsher criticism, even, than those who tend to over-blame themselves.

      Your final point is an excellent one, and is actually valid more generally than you say here. One of the big weaknesses of liberty lovers is that we tend to assume that our enemies think the same way we do, and can be persuaded by the same things we can be persuaded by. But this simply ain’t so. Anyone who has ever tried to convince a global warming alarmist using scientific facts and logic will testify to this. I think we need to become more creative in this area.

  • Ian,

    I can’t agree with your dismissal of colonialism as a problem in this case. Of course, the suspects were French born Muslims. But the Kouachi brothers, at least, were of Algerian stock. You don’t need to read beyond the Wikipedia level to understand what an unholy mess the French made in Algeria in the 130+ years they ruled over it.

    You’re right that an Islamic Enlightenment is necessary – and, I like to think, overdue. But I think this is only one aspect of the whole story. There are many more cultural reactionaries today than just extreme Islamists; deep green “climate change” freaks spring to mind.

    Myself, I see the war as neither uniquely political nor uniquely religious; it’s both at once. I call it a “paradigm war.” Enlightenment versus disenlightment, Civilization against the political state, the economic means versus the political means, Western values versus conservative Islamism; you can put many labels on the beast. But they’re all different fronts of the same war.

    • Every civilisation that had any success engaged in colonialism, and many of them did things that are, at least by modern standards, horrible. So we need a third variable to explain why some people have reacted differently to other people. The big problem is that everyone acts as if the only “colonialism” that counts historically is that by Western European powers. As with the endless reminders about the Atlantic Slave Trade, and nobody giving a tinker’s cuss about the Arab Slave Trade, and so on.

      The French were In many ways both nasty and foolish. Their determination to recover their Empire after WWII was particularly stupid and damaging. But it is insufficient explanation for the jihad.

      These people are religious ultra-fundamentalists. That is the third variable.

      • I would suggest that we can blame the US and UK governments mostly for the creation of these groups. The French have interfered in both Libya and Algeria in the last few years which I doubt has helped them. All of these things in combination give the religious fundamentalists a reason to look for any excuse they can to attack.

        • Why do you think they need an excuse? Why do you think the cause of their behaviour is external to themselves? If you look at the history of the Muslim Brotherhood, you see people who were simply ultra-reactionaries against Western civilisation, and wanted to expel it from their society. Sayeed Qutb was motivated by a trip to the USA, horrified at men and women dancing together at a church dance.

          The West is a challenge to these people simply because it exists and it does not follow their ultra-puritan rules. We drink beer. We are sexually loose. We do not pray to Mecca five times a day. This is what motivates them to attack us.

          • Yes such people have always existed, but this has given them the ability to recruit large numbers of people who wouldn’t give what they have to say a second thought; it spawns more of them than there ever would have been otherwise.

            • I’m not sure they need wars for recruitment, whether we approve of them or not (which we generally don’t). The terrorists in our societies tend to be either converts, or formerly ordinary muslims who suddenly get that old time ‘ligion in a big way. I think it’s basically a matter of psychology.

              The society proposed by jihadis is one which appeals to the negative nature of young men. It is a fiercely clan society, predicated on strength and bravery. It provides a strong sense of belonging. I, like most libertarians I think, don’t have a very collectivist nature, but many or most young men do, and societies based on this have a strong appeal, like drug and ghetto gangs, or football hooligan (or more weakly, mere supporter) movements.

              Add into that a whole set of official rules that make women overtly subordinate to men, and to have to wear black sacks (thus solving the perennial, “are you looking at my bird?” problem) and it’s obvious where the appeal is. I don’t think the geopolitics much comes into it. Really I don’t. The Muslim Brotherhood et al have always been entirely happy attacking other muslims for not being “one of us”. One of them. Whatever.

    • I agree, the political or religious distinction seems irrelevant. These problems are largely stemming from theocratic states and armed groups involved in power struggles. This sort of aggressive militarism goes hand in hand with an ideology that elevates the cause above the individual.

      We have amplified the problem by destabilising large parts of the middle east, allowing particularly violent groups to rush into the vacuum. Meanwhile, we offer little to inspire on the home front: a corrupt political class, bankrupt economy and unreasonable interference in everyday life. The population are disillusioned and this is a recipe for radicalisation. A natural source of inspiration for the Muslim community are firebrand preachers, aggressively supported and promoted by our enemies abroad. Other sections of the population have turned to -isms that may turn out to be even more dangerous in the long run.

      Is this any different from other ‘paradigm wars’ of the 20th century? Extremists gain a foothold due to a collapsing social fabric and external grievances.

  • There are two causes at work here, concentrating on either of which is a temptation to ignore the other.

    First, the Middle East policies of USUK are provoking terrorist attacks. This is not to excuse these attacks, but does help to explain them. The 2001 bombings were provoked by US foreign policy. I think the 2005 bombings were provoked by UK foreign policy. If we want to reduce the number of such attacks, we should stop interfering in the Middle East. Since this is also a policy in our own interests, I suggest it only more forcefully than I normally world.

    Second, the growing number of Moslems in European countries is leading to demands for a domestic accommodation in their interests. We saw this first in the Rushdie protests. I think the Paris Atrocities are another example. Paul is right that the French Government had no part in the Iraq/Afghan disasters.

    The only short term answer to this second is to stop further immigration from the Third World and to impose a policy on those already here of “cujus region, eius religio.” This is to say that we should insist on a rigid upholding of Western norms in all life outside the home – establishment of Christianity (in the cultural sense), no recognition of other faiths, no administrative endorsement of polygamy or other legal systems, no accommodation of foreign languages, Western dress codes in court and similar places, etc, etc.

    Of course, what people do at home should be their business alone. But there should be no further toleration of female barristers and witnesses turning up in court draped in black flour sacks, and schools and colleges should be able to insist on dress codes that don’t make the place look like the less alluring parts of The Arabian Nights.

    I accept that most Islamic terrorists don’t think very clearly, and their motivations for any particular act may hover between both of the above. But it is possible to classify their motivations, and to see what response is appropriate to each.

    Certainly, our current policy is one of standing up with a placard in each hand. One says “We’re coming to bomb you.” The other says “Come in and make yourself at home.” This is hardly very wise.

    • Exactly. This is the other side of the argument which I didn’t explore in this article. The idea of multiculturalism certainly doesn’t help when combined with western foreign policy. However, I suspect multiculturalism is very much intended anyway as it helps the state to do what they do best.

  • Someone else acts appallingly. It’s your fault. A peculiar argument for an individualist who presumably believes in personal responsibility. What is it that “the West” is supposed to have done to “provoke” fanatics to murder civilians in their places of work? The assailants in this particular case said explicitly that the violence was a reprisal for “insulting The Prophet” (Oh, how I hate the way in which the legacy media has taken to referring to the prophet of Islam (he is not my prophet) as The Prophet), not a “response” to wars in the Middle East.

    • To be clear, I’m not saying that those responsible for the shooting weren’t to blame for what they’ve done, I was merely starting that western foreign policy and interventionism were responsible for these groups gaining ground and getting large numbers of new recruits.
      The reason for the shootings was clearly the drawings done by ‘Charlie Hebdo’, but they more than likely came in to existence as radicalised because of western states.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s