Archive for the ‘France’ Tag

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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: But first here’s my take. Once again an ISIS murder leads to fears that it is winning and calls to do more. FOX News’ Bret Baier captured the mood like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Horrific and barbaric, as well as calculating and skilled at high-tech propaganda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: The general feeling is that ISIS is gaining ground with its diabolical methods. But is it really? The video of the pilot’s killing was slickly produced, but it might have been a fancy cover to mask an operation that had gone awry. Remember, it began as a moneymaking scheme to get a ransom for Japanese hostages, then turned into a hostage swap for a forgotten failed suicide bomber, and finally ended with the emulation of the Jordanian pilot.

Certainly ISIS could not have imagined the response its actions have triggered in the Middle East. With Jordanians united against it, clerics across the region loudly and unequivocally condemning the emulation and with Japan ready to provide more aid and support against it. Meanwhile news on the battlefield has not been good for ISIS. Brookings Institution scholar Kenneth Pollock describes this stunning reversal it has faced in Iraq.

“The Washington Post” has reported on the growing discontent within its territories. All this might help explain the brutality of the latest murder video. The group well understands that the primary purpose of terrorism is to induce fear and overreaction. When modern Middle Eastern terrorism first appeared on the scene in the 1960s and ’70s, the historian David Fromkin wrote an essay in “Foreign Affairs” that is perhaps the best guide to understanding this phenomenon.

Fromkin provided two examples of terror tactics that worked and have important lessons. He recounted a meeting in 1945 with the leader of the Irgun, a group of about 1,500 Jewish militants in Palestine, which was then part of the British empire. The Irgun knew that they could not defeat the mighty British Army so they decided to blow up buildings and create the appearance of chaos.

This, the Irgun leader told Fromkin, would lead the British to overreact by garrisoning the country, join forces from across the empire, and that would strain British coffers and eventually London would have to leave Palestine. Fromkin noted that the Irguns, seeing that it was too small to defeat Great Britain, decided as an alternative approach that Britain was big enough to defeat itself.

ISIS’ strategy is surely some version of this. The targeting of America and its allies. The videos, the barbarism are all designed to draw Washington into a ground battle in Syria, in the hope that this complicated, bloody and protracted war would sap the super power’s strength.

Fromkin offered another example, the National Liberation Front, the group of nationalists trying to break Algeria free from France in the 1950s and ’60s. The Paris government argued that Algeria was not a colony but part of France, with all of its citizens treated as French men and women. So the FLN began a campaign of terror in order to provoke an overreaction from the French government, getting them to regard all Muslim and Algerians as suspects.

Quote, “The French thought that when the FLN planted a bomb in a public bus, it was in order to blow up the bus,” Fromkin noted. But the FLN’s true aim was to lure authorities into reacting by arresting all the non-Europeans in the area as suspects.

The many recent acts of terror committed in Europe can’t be said to have a strategy but they could make European governments and people treat all Muslims in Europe as suspicious and dangerous, and then the terrorists will have achieved an important goal.

Now these things do not have to happen. Fromkin concluded his essay by noting that, though terrorism cannot always be prevented, it can always be defeated.

You can always refuse to do what they want you to do.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1502/08/fzgps.01.html

 

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Bill Maher “Hey, who’s ready for a little free speech in America?  Because, I tell you something, if there was a theme to the news in the time we were off, it would be no joking.  No joking.  There are people in the world who just don’t like you joking about them.  You know, North Korea, they don’t like it.  These bleeps in Paris who shot cartoonists this week, they don’t like it.  And as a jokester, I just have to say, the world needs to stand as one and, to quote the immortal Dick Cheney, say go bleep yourself.  And, let me tell you something, the incredibly courageous staff of this French magazine, Charlie Hebdot, they said that loud and clear this week ’cause they announced yesterday not only are they going to put out the next edition on time, but with a million extra copies.  Yea, I mean, my heroes.  compare that to Sony who pulled The Interview after one online threat.  Congratulations Sony, you put up less resistance than the French.  Wow, oh they’re scaredy pants, they also shut down production on the next Guardians Of The Galaxy movie because raccoons complained about their portrayal.”

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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST:

But, first, here’s my take: The revelations about the National Security Agency and its spying on foreign, even allied leaders, has been embarrassing for the Obama administration at a time when it hardly needs more bad news.

But is it more than an embarrassment? Should it raise alarms abroad and at home?

At first glance, this is a story that is less about ethics and more about power, the great power gap between the United States and other countries, even rich European ones.

The most illuminating response to the revelations came from Bernard Kouchner, formerly the foreign minister of France. He said in a radio interview, “Let’s be honest, we eavesdrop too. Everyone is listening to everyone else.”

Kouchner went on to add, “We don’t have the same means as the United States, which makes us jealous.”

America spends tens of billions of dollars on intelligence collection. It’s hard to get the data to make good comparisons, but it’s safe to assume that Washington’s intelligence budget dwarfs that of other countries just as it does with defense spending.

It has seemed particularly strange that this rift should develop between the United States and its closest allies in Europe. But it was predictable and in fact, in a sense, predicted.

In 2002, the British diplomat Robert Cooper wrote an influential essay in which he argued that Europe had become a “postmodern” international system in which force was no longer a serious option.

Instead, economic interdependence and cooperation were the governing ideas of statecraft. And certainly when one looks at the European Union, this does seem to describe its reality. The prospect of war between France and Germany, which had gone to war three times between 1870 and 1950, seems utterly impossible.

But outside of Europe, the world is not post-modern. Cooper argues that the solution is “double standards.” Within Europe, one set of rules. Outside it, he recommends “rougher methods of an earlier era, force, preemptive attack, deception, whatever is necessary.”

“Among ourselves we keep the law, but when operating in the jungle, we must use the laws of the jungle,” he wrote.

This is what was violated by the NSA activities. Washington was playing by the laws of the jungle, but inside Europe’s “postmodern” system. Partly this is because the distinction is not easy to maintain. What if you’re looking for terrorists within Europe, that is, people who still play by the laws of the jungle or even worse?

You see, America as a global power is operating all over the world, trying to tackle some of the nastiest threats out there. Perhaps it doesn’t have the luxury to retreat to a garden and renounce nasty tactics.

If it did, it’s not likely that China, Russia, Iran, not to mention al Qaeda would follow suit. But precisely because Washington has to get its hands dirty, it should be smart about this.

You don’t stop terrorists in Europe by listening in on Angela Merkel’s cell phone. The rewards of spying on friendly heads of government are probably outweighed by the risks.

And most troubling, it’s not clear that many of these specific activities were clearly thought through and directed by the White House. Nor do they appear to have been vetted by Congress.

In the wake of 9/11, America got scared and dropped any sense of constraints on its intelligence activities. It is not an accident that the eavesdropping on Chancellor Merkel began in 2002.

But the fact that technology now allows the NSA to do anything doesn’t mean it should do everything. We need a better and clearer set of rules for intelligence activity. And we need confidence that these rules are being followed and observed.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1311/03/fzgps.01.html