Saturday, November 14, 2015

France says it is at war; Americans offer "radical hospitality" to stranded travelers from France; FPRI charts likely responsibility

This morning, the French president Francois Hollande said that France is in a state of war (in fact, he says ISIL has declared war on France, which I don't know to be legally possible with an unrecognized state), after the attack by gunmen in at least six locations, apparently driven by ISIS, as is claimed but far from proven. CNN reports in a cover story that ISIS claims responsibility. CNN’s coverage (and possibly Fox’s) is the most “alarmist”; Vox is a bit more cautious, with the other broadcast networks in the middle and letting their regular programs continue.

Pope Francis called this the start of World War III. Paris will have three days of mourning, with all businesses closed.

Today there is another raid in Belgium.

There was a Facebook post by NBC News “Stranded in US”, about people offering spare rooms for travelers from France stranded in the IS, story here (with video).  Is this an example of “radical hospitality”?

You can check with friends in Europe with Facebook Safety Check.

In the Vox video above, Ezra Klein gives a short history of ISIS.  Our own president certainly got it wrong by saying ISIS is contained (well, it is somewhat in Iraq right now).

One of the most disturbing parts of the story is the claims that Muslim young men (mostly disaffected, in European “slums” and sometimes in the US) are quickly radicalized on social media.  That could lead to calls (at least in Europe) to shut down social media (especially Twitter, which is supposedly losing money anyway) as an indirect but existential security risk for some people.  However, this particular attack seems to be well coordinated, and not simply staged by ragtag recruits, and has elements of both Al Qaeda and ISIS.   But the volume of young men who have actually gone to Syria to “fight” and then tried to return (often with forged passports, and certainly without visas) does seem shocking to a “privileged” westerner.   The moral rhetoric reminds me of the early days of Bolshevism (even if the latter was not religious). The Foreign Policy Research has an interesting chart on a blog post yesterday, here.  The visitor might want to look at the posting Feb. 15, 2015, where there is a link to Gaeme Wood's big Atlantic essay.  Clint Watts, a Fox Fellow at FPRI, has some narrative analysis here.

There were new reports early Sunday that one of the attackers found dead at the stadium has "snuck in" as a "Syrian refugee".  That can certainly dampen the call for countries. including the US, to accept more refugees or eventually personally sponsor them.  And there is talk that France with go to NATO (under Article 5) with a war declaration and ask all the other nations (the US) to be included "in" the declaration. It is not clear if this could have legal consequences within the US (like Internet use or surveillance), as well as the possibility of US participation in ground intervention in Syria (which the "enemy" seems to want to provoke anyway).

The photos are mine, from Las Vegas (2012).

Update: Nov. 17

Zack Beauchamp has an important piece on Vox, "Turning back Syrian refugees isn't just wrong, it actually helps ISIS", here.

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