11/15/15

Paris, the city of lights, or as some would call it the city of love, is clearly one of the most beautiful cities in the world. In 2015 it has also become the city of terror.

The events of last Friday are so terrible that simple words cannot convey the feelings that one has.

However, they are not surprising. Indeed, if at all, what is surprising is the timidity of the affair.

Over a year ago, soon after ISIS became known I wrote the following in my “Islamic State (IS)” post:

It is highly likely that IS will unleash a serious campaign of terror against the West in general and the U.S. in particular. If they are anywhere near as good as they seem to be, they are already in the process of executing a wave of terror acts that will shake the foundation of civil society in this country.

Not bad…

Even before that, in the February 2014 (nearly TWO years ago and before ISIS even had a name) post “Syria: The Next 9/11 in the Making on Obama’s Watch!” I clearly predicted—as the name of the posting indicates—that the next significant terror campaign would originate in Syria and laid out the grounds on why I believe it is Obama’s fault. While I predicted that an attack would be against the US and US interests, by extension, a terror act on France is an attack on US interest and the events of last Friday could be just a beginning.

I also offered a strategy to fight and really destruct ISIS and others earlier this year in the post “The US Strategy in the War Against Islamic Terror.” I had enough sense to note that: “Of course, Obama won’t do it and unfortunately the entire world AND the US will pay with blood and treasure for the failings of this president.”

In a strategic sense what happened in Paris could be, I am afraid, just the beginning.

First, let’s be clear: the intent of the terrorists was to cause MUCH more mayhem than they did. After all, sending THREE suicide bombers (out of a total of “squad” of eight) to the main football stadium in Paris was meant to cause a HUGE number of casualties. In fact, for whatever reason that we may never know, these three failed miserably, thank God!

More important, I am surprised that ISIS has not been able to set up a much better, bigger coordinated attack on the West until now. Given their access to so many Western “fighters” (terrorists), why is it that until now we have only had sporadic terror attacks as opposed to regular, perhaps weekly, attacks like we saw in Paris last Friday?

So, why have they not done it until now?

It is my contention that ISIS does not consider themselves a terror group. They see themselves as a state, a country. Sure, they use terror as weapon but only to achieve state goals, not for the sake of terror. Their goal is to conquer the Middle East and establish an Islamist caliphate and as long as the West will leave them alone, they will to a large extent leave the West alone. I think that is, or was, the message that they were trying to send. They were not focusing on coordinated terrorism in the West. Their terror acts to date centered mostly against locals in the service of their goal to conquer ground and fight their local foe. Their few murders of western hostages were, to my mind, a combination of propaganda, recruitment tools (as horrific as it sounds, yes, my dear president, Gitmo is NOT a recruitment tool), and a punishment/deterrent for others to see for the lack of ransom payment.

The question is, is this changing? Are we about to enter into a new phase where terror against the West will become a mainstay of the ISIS campaign?

The bombing of the Russian plane few weeks ago in Sinai and the events in Paris taken together could indicate a change, but I am not sure about that. It is possible that the plane downing was not sanctioned by ISIS headquarters, was just an opportunistic act of a rogue franchise. But Paris?

I do not know if we are entering a new phase. On the one hand, I find it hard to believe that ISIS will embark on a one-off type mission. It is still possible that the Paris attack was also an attack of a more opportunistic nature. But if we are entering a new phase, then there will be many, many more attacks like the one in Paris in quick succession.

Of course, the reaction by the West to the events in Paris will be interesting to watch. Will France trigger Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization? The US did after 9/11. How will NATO and, of course, the US (i.e. Obama) respond to such a call to arms by France? Will the US-led-West just give some platitude and “commit” itself to redoubling the efforts to achieve a “diplomatic” solution for Syria? That would be hollow rhetoric typical of Obama’s view and track record.

The next few months will be interesting.

Lastly, a few other comments:

  • I watched Obama on Friday night and Sunday morning in Turkey. Somehow, whenever he is faced with terror around the world, and even in the US, his rhetoric is very subdued. This is the “king” of eloquence; a man whose words and passion alone got him the biggest “prize” in the world. Why is it that he is so flat-toned whenever he needs to confront terror? Where is his passionate and soaring rhetoric like “this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal” (modestly referencing his election)? Could it be that his heart is not in it???
  • A number of pundits have come to the conclusion following the events of Paris that Obama’s strategy (what strategy?) to fight ISIS is not working… about time I would say.
  • We are told that both Saturday evening’s CBS Democratic Party debate and, much more important, the G-20 summit agenda will change materially to reflect the events in Paris. Really? Our G-20 leaders did not know that ISIS and terror were a big issue before Paris? The same for CBS?
  • How lucky can a guy be? Napoléon said that he wants lucky generals, not good ones. Well, no one can bit Trump for luck. Not only is the issue of illegal immigration—which he is trumpeting—getting a major new impetus given that we already know that at least one of the Paris terrorists was a “refugee” from Syria but only 24 hours before the attack Trump materially dialed up his anti-ISIS rhetoric and stated that he would bomb the hell out of them. Of course this statement was received with great derision by the media, and now????
  • Finally, I want to say this: I am not sure if the events in Paris could have been avoided in a pre-Snowden world. Some are suggesting that is quite likely. I do believe that the damage he’s done is huge and I feel justified about my very controversial call in my post of the same name to execute him as a traitor.

“May you live in interesting times” is purported to be a translation of a traditional Chinese curse. I am not sure if it comes from Chinese lore, but it is definitely a curse and we are living it.

P.S. Between the time I wrote this posting and when it was finalized, two of the comments I made above received major “support.” The president spoke again, this time in the G-20 summit in Turkey. He was so flat-toned and weird in his emotionless response to what happened in Paris that he got unanimous criticism from all sides about it; welcome to my world.

And if there was any doubt that the response to the events will be exactly as I described it above, then rest assured. The president made it clear that there will be no change in US strategy (I keep asking what strategy…).

What will he do if we have a Paris event in the US?