France simply doesn’t have the stomach for it.
David P. Goldman writes: Ignored in news coverage of the Paris massacre is the single most pertinent piece of background: A 2014 opinion poll found that ISIS had an approval rating in France (at 16%) almost as high as President Francois Holland (at 18%). In the 18-to-24-year-old demographic, ISIS’ support jumped to 27%. Muslims comprise about a tenth of France’s population, so the results imply that ISIS had the support of the overwhelming majority of French Muslims (and especially Muslim youth), as well as the endorsement of a large part of the non-Muslim Left.
“Finding a needle in a haystack is possible only when the haystack helps you find the needles. The French authorities would have to persuade its own Muslim community to turn informer against its radicalized youth.”
Reporting the survey, conducted by the polling organization ICM for a Russian news service, Newsweek’s France correspondent Anne-Elizabeth Moutet wrote, “This is the ideology of young French Muslims from immigrant backgrounds, unemployment to the tune of 40%, who’ve been deluged by satellite TV and internet propaganda.”
“Muslim community leaders would have to fear the French state more than they fear their own radicals, and this would require a large number of arrests, deportations, and other coercive actions. In this case the situation would get worse before it got better.”
After last Friday’s massacres, to be sure, the flip-it-to-them attitude reflected in last year’s poll no doubt has attenuated somewhat. Nonetheless, it is clear that a very large proportion of French Muslims support the most extreme expression of radical Islam, offering the terrorists the opportunity to blend into a friendly milieu. The problem has gotten too big to be cured without a great deal of mess and pain. In the Gallic hedonistic calculus, a massacre or two per year is preferable to a breach of the tenuous social peace. And that is why France will do nothing.
That makes counter-terrorism challenging, but not impossible. There are two successful models for suppressing terrorists who enjoy the passive support of the ambient population: the French in Algeria and the Israelis after the Second Intifada of 2002. The first is infamous for the extensive use of torture and mass reprisals against civilians; the second succeeded on the strength of superb human as well as electronic intelligence and seamless integration of military, police and intelligence organizations. Israel reduced the number of Arab suicide bombings from 47 in 2002 with 238 dead to only 1 in 2007 with 3 dead.
Unlike the French in Algeria, Israel undid the Intifada entirely without the use of physical stress on prisoners. Israeli interrogation techniques do not require physical stress; humiliation is a more effective tool than pain with Arab suspects. Prior to 1999, Israeli security forces employed mild forms of enhanced interrogation (sleep deprivation, hooding, and so forth), but eschewed the practice afterwards. By contrast, the French Army shelled and bombed villages that gave refuge to the rebels of the Algerian Front de Libération Nationale, killing tens of thousands indiscriminately and forcing 2 million Algerians out of their homes.
It also used extreme forms of torture to elicit information from captured FLN fighters. Popular revulsion against the conduct of the war brought down the Fourth Republic and returned Gen. Charles De Gaulle to the presidency. More than 90% of French voters backed Algeria’s independence in a 1962 referendum, and France voluntarily abandoned what it had won by brutal methods on the ground. Read the rest of this entry »
Sending U.S. troops to intervene in Syria is a poorly thought out strategy that is likely to backfire.
In Senate testimony on October 27th, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter indicated that the U.S. might be taking on a more direct combat role in Syria’s civil war. Later today, President Obama is expected to announce the deployment of U.S. troops to northern Syria.
“It is time for the president to forcefully state what everyone knows to be true: the United States has no magic formula for solving the Syrian conflict…Outside involvement has fueled the multisided civil war, but failed to deliver a decisive victory for any one faction.”
— Christopher Preble, Cato’s Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies
According to Cato Institute experts, this is a terrible idea.
“Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s statement…that the U.S. military ‘won’t hold back’ from engaging in ‘direct action on the ground’ in Syria is a troubling development,“ says Benjamin Friedman, Research Fellow in Defense and Homeland Security Studies at the Cato Institute. “It does not so much indicate mission creep as continuity of flawed policy. Competing objectives burden U.S. policy: helping weak rebels overthrow Assad, which prolongs the war and aids ISIS, and defeating ISIS, which aids Assad. Until we resolve that contradiction, the value of tactical gains against either foe will be limited. We should cease helping rebels and attack ISIS alone.”
“Unfortunately, there is probably little constructive the United States can do at this point to resolve the conflict in Syria and establish a stable new government. The Obama administration, therefore, should take care not to make a bad situation worse.”
— Visiting Research Fellow Brad Stapleton
Even without U.S. ground troops, the Obama administration’s policy of continuing to fund and arm Syrian rebel groups is problematic enough, especially now that Russia is more deeply involved in backing the Assad regime militarily. According to Visiting Research Fellow Brad Stapleton, this risks getting into a messy proxy war that won’t end well for Washington. “Unfortunately, there is probably little constructive the United States can do at this point to resolve the conflict in Syria and establish a stable new government,” Stapleton writes. “The Obama administration, therefore, should take care not to make a bad situation worse.”
Many commentators have proposed imposing no-fly zones or safe zones in Syria to ease the humanitarian crisis. But, as Emma Ashford, Visiting Research Fellow, explains, this is likely to backfire. “U.S. involvement in Syria displays no strategy, no boundaries and no clear goals,” Ashford writes. “The only viable long-term solution to Syria’s problems is diplomacy. But that has been pushed to the side in favor of airstrikes and limited, ad hoc rebel training programs.” Read the rest of this entry »
Hundreds of Arabs flocked to the Temple Mount on Tuesday afternoon to celebrate the barrage of rockets upon Israel’s civilian population. The video, captioned in Arabic, reads “[c]elebrations at the Holy Al-Aqsa mosque after hearing the sounds of rockets explode in occupied Jerusalem.”
Police say the protesters began throwing stones and firecrackers at a group of visitors, prompting the authorities to respond with stun grenades and rubber bullets.