In this past week Beirut, Bagdad, Paris and most of Syria were the epicentres of yet another gruesome chapter of the war on terror. The images of a blood-stained Paris echoed the images of the Lebanese bloodbath that had followed the day before, but as one served as an echo chamber for the whole struggle against terrorism and radicalism the other was almost practically omitted: “after all,” some said, “it happens over there all the time!”
This gap in solidarity became much more than merely your routine ethnocentricity. Some have put forward the argument that it’s “normal” to feel more proximity to France, and this argument and the debate in general is in many ways the highest manifestation of how the war on terror is fuelled and perpetuated.
One of the best examples of this occurred in the wreckage of the Paris attacks on the On n’est pas couchés (ONPC) set–a renowned French talk-show rebranding itself On est solidaires for the occasion. During the televised debate where several politicians, artists and philosophers were invited, the discourse was the same–except for the notable exception of Jean-Luc Mélanchon (leader of the French left Parti de Gauche) and the philosopher Raphaël Glucksmann.
The drums of war were the same. The actors and the scenery had changed but the script was the same, the same one handed out in the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks in the United States.
The journalists in charge of orchestrating the whole affair reminded the audience time after time that the message the show was promoting was one of solidarity and peace but there was a cognitive dissonance, it seems, between the message of peace they were promoting and the “clash of civilizations” speech that came out of their mouths. The “us” against “them” was reformulated time after time, “they hate us because we love life,” “they hate what we love, music, art, gastronomy”… with every passing sentence the arguments became ever more void.
In the conversation that lasted more than two hours, the fact that the totality of the eight assailants who ravaged Paris last Friday were all Europeans, born and raised, was never brought up. So much for the racists and xenophobes among us for whom the prospect of one of them being a refugee birthed in them a pleasure of orgasmic proportions.
Yet the conclusion François Hollande and the majority of the panelists reached, which now seems a Cannon Law, was that these young men weren’t French, they were Daesh. Once Hollande uttered those words in his speech to the French people, real debate and reflection upon how to put an end to all of this nonsensical bloodshed was silenced.
Once Hollande uttered those words, France’s foreign policy and interventionism, its interior policy with regards to the Muslim minority, and the utter failure of France’s “integration” policies and the state’s relationship with its invisible and silenced minorities were exempt from any criticism.
And thus in the days that followed, just like every time a Western city or capital is the target of a major terrorist attack, the mystification of the terrorist, of terrorism becomes the phantasmagoric object of all our hidden and deeply buried fears, a sort of blank sheet used as a deflection, to absolve us of all our sins.
This has become a routine affair in the past decade. Regardless of what country the attack might happen in, the drill is the same. It was same here after the attacks in Ottawa last year. Thus the real debate never really surfaces, the real question never really comes up: with all the anti-terrorism measures –le plan vigipirate in France, C-51 in Canada, the Patriot Act in the United States– do we feel safer?
Today Syria is engulfed in a brutal and gruesome conflict that has millions of refugees fleeing for their lives and, if anything, the attacks in Paris should be the wake-up call for Europeans to understand why. Iraq has been torn apart for the past decade and apart from Kabul in Afghanistan the Taliban pretty much control the stretches of territory that were in their possession before the invasion of 2001.
So instead of bombing Raaqa and swearing for more retaliation and pinning everything on the cosmic evil that is terrorism, it is our duty, while upholding the memory of the hundreds of thousands that perished in the past fifteen years, in this war on terror, to ask ourselves – hasn’t all of this become a self-fulfilling prophecy?
Scores of innocent civilians laid lifeless in back to back attacks in Beirut and Paris and today, as I write this article, scores more will perish in Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya because of wars that were not of their doing, caught in the crossfire of a war without end, that strengthens its grip with every attack, with every bombing, with every passing of “anti-terrorist” legislation.
We must ask ourselves the questions: “Who profits from this? What companies gained points on the stock market? Who has an interest in perpetuating the constant state of fear and hate?”
To use the terminology that Podemos has employed in Spain there is a caste, a transnational caste that has every interest not only propagating such terror but also in stabilizing and maintaining perpetual terror. This is the same caste that rails about refugees and yet on the other hand rants and criticizes “Western values.” It’s the same caste that authorizes airstrikes in the guise of retaliation and yet on the other hand guns down innocent civilians in the streets of Beirut and Paris.
On the chess board that is presented to us by the media, all of these different bloodthirsty actors are portrayed as enemies, Islamists versus Western forces, the bad guys versus the good guys, us versus them, when in fact their resolve and objective is the same, when in fact what links them all together is that they are fuelled by grief, destruction and death. From this vantage point, the us and them is a fake dichotomy, a rhetoric that only finds some sort of grounding in the clash of civilizations doctrine that is their lifeline.
In reality it has never been about us and them, Arabs and Westerns. It’s about a military-financial-complex. The vicious tempo of its ever expansionary cycle has pushed more areas to be colonized by terror and in the wake of its passage deadlier and more gruesome attacks will be symptomatic. For as long as some profit off of war, others will have to die.
In the aftermath of the terrible events of the past week, in the memory of all of the victims of this never-ending war on terror, the victims of Kabul, of Baghdad, of Damascus, of Beirut, of Mosul, of Kenya and Yemen, of Bali, of New York and Washington, of Paris, of London, of Madrid, of all of the victims of this horrible war, it is our duty to honour them, to put an end to the false dichotomy and thus an end to this war!
Vos Guerres, Nos Morts!