The Informed

The Paris Attacks & What We Haven't Learned Since 9/11

Following the attacks on New York & Washington on September 11th, 2001, the United States government announced their decision in 2003 to go to war in retaliation, albeit not with the perpetrators of the crime. Not only was the terror event used to launch a brutal & illegal war, it was also the motivation behind the Patriot Act, creating the Department of Homeland Security and allowing authorities to search citizens without warrant, arrest without accusation and detain without cause in the name of defeating terror in the US and abroad. 


Fourteen years later, we have seen the slow erosion of rights and freedoms not just in the US, but in all Western countries, and this gradual change has created a new reality, a new order. Sadly, France is following suit in the days after the tragic attack on Paris in a predictable removal of the liberties of its people. They promise to return those rights eventually, but there's no indication things are getting better any time soon.

by Jean Jullien
Although many decried the use of such drastic measures to deal with terrorism in the aftermath of 9/11, it soon became clear to the world that the event was being capitalized upon to further an agenda that ultimately led to another war in the Middle East, a militarized police force within the US in addition to the creation of the DHS, and a blanket domestic surveillance program in effect creating the beginnings of a police state - one that has been steadily growing in Western countries. Although gradual, their agenda was becoming exposed. In fact, some high level sources have said that there was a plan in place to go to war in Iraq at least a year prior to 9/11.

But when the twin towers fell, their war machine finally had its raison d'être. Before that, the American people would never have supported this initiative. There are far too many examples of this in modern history. Although impossible to know if 9/11 was a false flag, an event designed to allow the conditions for war, it sure did begin to feel like it. Was Paris yet another attempt to escalate war and eliminate freedom without pushback from the people?

Despite the complete lack of evidence that there were any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (there never ended up being any and it's now known that they already knew this), and despite the fact that there In the pro-war groupthink that followed, it was wholly un-American to criticisewas no indication that al Qaeda was being harboured by Saddam's regime, the US went in with guns blazing in retaliation. Forget the fact that al Qaeda was backed, trained and supported by the CIA and the US government during its inception, forget the fact that the 9/11 Commission Report was a fraud and an utter insult to the American people, forget that building 7 collapsed without sustaining any damage from the attack and was in fact reported in more than one news outlet as having fallen before it even happened - the US had made their decision (if you don't know about building 7, you should and you can learn about it here). In the pro-war groupthink that followed, it was wholly un-American to criticise these actions, but the thoughtful and the passionate did. If you refuse to speak out against tyranny, then you are already a slave (John Bryant)Michael Moore used his opportunity in front of the world when he won and Academy Award for his anti-gun documentary "Bowling For Columbine" in March of 2003, four days after the war had begun:

[We] live in fictitious times. We live in the time where we have fictitious election results that elects a fictitious President. We — We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons? Whether it’s the fictition of duct tape or the fictitious [sic] of orange alerts, we are against this war, Mr. Bush? Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you.

In so much smoke and so many mirrors, we let the terrorists win, as we lived in fear of heightened alert levels, as we submitted to the police state, as we let Big Brother listen to our every word, and we did it because it was the right thing to do to help combat the evil that exists. It was the only way, or so they thought. Indeed, was any other option even tabled?

As the years dragged on and the world became war-weary and the death toll rose on every side of the conflict, it became appallingly clear that this war was not about terror at all, but about oil and other interests, that this loss of liberty was not about patriotism but instead control. We were all lied to but we proved to be complacent and apathetic. One-time allies and CIA-created groups in the Middle East became enemies, and weapons in massive quantities flowed to the region as the fat cats at Halliburton and the Carlisle Group became grotesquely wealthy from it all. Merchants of death. And thousands of young American men and women would die to facilitate this greed, not to mention the untold death toll of civilians.

In those early days of the conflict, at a time when it was considered un-American to criticize the war effort, Chirac would declare, in 2003, the position of the French government on the matter of the illegal US invasion of Iraq:

France is not pacifist,  we are not anti-American either. We are not just going to use our [UN] veto to nag and annoy the U.S. But we just feel that there is another option, another way, another more normal way, a less dramatic way than war, and that we have to go through that path. And we should pursue it until we’ve come to a dead end, but that isn’t the case.

But the France of that era is gone, eroded and jaded by years of terrorism and war, replaced by an ever-growing xenophobic and heavy-handed government, and an increasingly immigrant-intolerant population. Interestingly, France stands as the largest exporter of weapons to the Middle East as a dollar-per-capita figure, and their foreign policy has become ever-more brutal as the years since 9/11 have passed. 

The current political climate of Europe, with it's stream of refugees fleeing Islamic State in war-torn Syria and elsewhere, with it's increasingly prevalent populist far-right governments taking power across the continent (look to pre-WWII Europe for a chilling parallel), is fragile to say the least. Economic woes, civil unrest, and a regular, debilitating incidence of terror have created a new world indeed.

And it is in this current climate that the terrible attacks on Paris took place on November 13th. The world watched in horror as multiple attacks took place throughout the city simultaneously, as Paris descended into turmoil and later, into grief and anger and fear. This attack came on the heels of suicide bombings in Beirut and Baghdad just days before, and the downing of a Russian jet with 224 passengers just the previous month - although the media treated these events as barely news-worthy. The frequency of terror was indeed increasing, and Islamic State was winning as they claimed responsibility for attack after attack and as they took more territory for their self-proclaimed caliphate. But in mere hours after the attacks that took place in Paris, dramatic decisions had already been made - far-reaching decisions that should not be made lightly, regardless of the impetus.

As President Hollande proclaimed that this was an "act of war" and that France would destroy Islamic State in a "pitiless war" (like there is any other kind of war), the all-too-familiar diatribe against terrorism resounded across the globe. Without his government's approval or even consultation, he made this decision. Without the legal channels being followed, he declared a state of emergency and, without yet concrete proof that the Islamic State was indeed behind these attacks (there still remains to be any concrete evidence, only a vague statement from the terror group), Hollande declared that he would destroy this enemy of France and the world, both at home and abroad.

Such decisions may appeal to the blood-thirsty culture in which we now live, but maybe we should take pause to look at whether more of the same is, in fact, what is needed or what is effective. Yes, Islamic State is an evil that needs to be contained, but if we have learned anything in the last 14 years, is it not that the Middle East is a hydra, a multi-headed beast that will grow seven new heads as soon as one is chopped off? And these new heads will be more militant that the last, and they will fight with the arms and training from those that were previously called allies. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. 

Not only does this decision by France's president mean more arms flowing into the region, it also means severely restricted liberties for The global assumption at this point is that not only does war not have to be legal or ratified by the United Nations anymore, but that war is the only waythose at home. Liberté, égalité, fraternité . These tenets of French society were removed in a matter of mere moments, and without protest the day following the attacks in Paris. The global assumption at this point is that not only does war not have to be legal or ratified by the United Nations anymore, but that war is the only way. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. (George Orwell, 1984). We now live in a world of perpetual war, and this is what those in power want. If actions can be the measure of motive, it would seem that at every turn, every opportunity, intensified war is the agenda, along with its benefits (for a few powerful men).

A country that valued liberty above all, the very model for democracy in the US and its mentor and friend, now can search its citizens without warrant, arrest without cause or accusation and detain without trail. All in the name of peace and freedom. The way to peace is to bomb them, bomb them and bomb them some more, as one blood-thirsty FOX News reporter once pointed out. Thank you for that well thought out and compassionate analysis, FOX.

Perhaps nowadays war is the only way, perhaps there is no other recourse left. After all, we have armed the region, created the conditions for Islamic State to flourish and have made every bad possible decision for peace to prevail. And yet we continue to think that more of this will solve the problem. I can tell you, more of it will not.

All of us agree, Islamic State must be contained, for their evil and their ideology is a barbarism, but we now move into incredibly dangerous territory without even dialogue or debate, without weighing the costs. What then, after we destroy Islamic State? As each generation breeds more and more radicalized youth in the region and around the world, we blindly push on. The so-called War on Terror has seen the creation of far more terrorists than we have ever seen before. Is there another way, as Chirac posited in 2003? Or have we forgotten? Have we learned nothing since 9/11?

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