September 29, 2005

Why Not Paris?

The 7/7 bombings were all about the Iraq war, right? Ah, but alas the French don't appear to get a pass as a result of their noble non-interventionist policies...

Nine Islamic militants arrested outside Paris on Monday were plotting a terrorist attack on the Paris subway system, an airport or France's intelligence headquarters, an intelligence official said Tuesday, raising fears that the capital could face bombings similar to those that killed more than 50 people in London in July.

"The moment that there is a verbal threat, we have to act," the intelligence official said, adding that the nine suspects had been under surveillance since the beginning of the year. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official's organization requires it.

France has stepped up surveillance of its subway system in the wake of the London attacks and updated its emergency response plans to take into account multiple bombings.

On Monday, the Interior Ministry warned that France was facing a "high level threat" of attack.

Posted by Gregory at September 29, 2005 04:54 AM | TrackBack (2)
Comments

GIA and GSPC have it in for the French since the mid-1990s. They also seem to be branching out, as they planned to boom the Russian embassy in Paris back in late 2002-2003.

Al-Qaeda and its allies don't recognize our quaint little inter-continental political squabbles except as a tactical measure.

Posted by: Dan Darling at September 29, 2005 07:37 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

GIA and GSPC have had it in for the French since the mid-1990s. They also seem to be branching out, as they planned to boom the Russian embassy in Paris back in late 2002-2003.

Al-Qaeda and its allies don't recognize our quaint little inter-continental political squabbles except as a tactical measure.

Posted by: Dan Darling at September 29, 2005 07:39 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

France has been facing serious problems with islamic terrorists since a long time. Terrorism has existed in Europe before 9/11 or US adventure in Irak.

I don't agree with you: French foreign policy is interventionist (first war in Irak, Afghanistan, former colonies in Africa), much more than other "medium-range" countries, like Germany or Japan. You must have made a mistake with Switzerland.

Posted by: gil at September 29, 2005 10:36 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I agree with Dan. The French are being targeted by the GIA and GSPC for their support of Bouteflika and the Algerian military coup against the FIS. this has been going on for well over a decade. As for French "non-interventionist" foreign policy, just ask the people in Cote-D'Ivoire.

Posted by: DC Loser at September 29, 2005 12:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

well by 'non interventionist' i was really just referring to the noble paeans circa '03 at the UNSC...not French foreign policy over the decades guys.... but yeah, i agree this is prob rather bouteflika-centric in origin...though bhurka-related disputes have appeared to offer up rationales too of late...

Posted by: greg at September 29, 2005 02:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The French still believe that By burying their collective heads in the proverbial sand that they can escape the wrath of the jihadists. The terrorist know full well that any attack they carry out on France will go without retailiation. What is the down side for them? Possibly a serious French tongue lashing followed by a threat they are unwilling to follow through with. Having skirted the muslim ghettos in France it is obvious that there are major problems bubbling just under the surface, even though there has been some integration into society by many Algerians it still leaves the impression of two "distinctly" different cultures operating in the same sphere. Somethings gotta give and Im not betting its the terrorist who give in.

Posted by: Lanceredstaterant at September 29, 2005 06:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

in defense of the French, I dont think their govt has ever said they thought they had a pass because they opposed the Iraq war. Theyve been if anything, more vigilant than UK since 9/11. Its rather certain folk WITHIN the US and UK who said the London bombings were about Iraq.

Posted by: liberalhawk at September 29, 2005 07:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I wouldn't be surprised if they were attacked for OPPOSING the Iraq war. The vast majority of Iraqis say removing Saddam was the right thing and resent the French for propping him up so long.

Posted by: Darwin Finch at September 29, 2005 08:42 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Depends whether the Muslims in France are Sunni or Shiite, doesn't it?

Posted by: Banjo at September 29, 2005 08:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Many of us here, of course, are making the all too common mistake of assuming that terrorism is in any sense a reaction to our behavior.

They only behavior of ours that can affect terriorists is killing them and eliminating their support networks.

Posted by: byrd at September 29, 2005 09:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

kudos for making this point, which is often overlooked in the din.

there is an additional but equally important factoid: the french are very helpful to us in the matter of terrorism. that intimate cooperation is part of the professional system, civil servants in both countries working with each other. it doesn't matter who the political chieftain of the moment may be, they work together to advance our common interests, which remain substantial.

that obviously goes for other countries, too, but there's lots of francophobia in the wind these days and we should note the areas in which we work well together. some day chirac and W will be gone, and the cooperation will continue with greater ease.

Posted by: michael ledeen at September 29, 2005 09:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"some day chirac and W will be gone, and the cooperation will continue with greater ease"

would it be inappropriate to say "faster, please"? ;)

Posted by: liberalhawk at September 29, 2005 09:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think the larger point here is that there is no safety - in the eyes of our (the West's) mutual enemy we all are infidels who deserve to die. Terrorists don't need much off an excuse. The problem with the French - despite their being arguably more helpful in some ways since 9/11 than the Brits - is that they creat so much dissonance within the West with their egotistical grandstanding. Can anyone seriously doubt that their machinations give terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere hope?

Posted by: Mike at September 29, 2005 10:24 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

thanks, hawk, hoHO

Just, uh, be careful what you wish for...

Posted by: michael ledeen at September 30, 2005 02:01 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The terrorist know full well that any attack they carry out on France will go without retailiation.

If that's what they think, they are very wrong- the French are very good at holding grudges, and have a long memory. Their limitation is power- where the US would invade, France can only assassinate.

Don't mistake intransigence for actual malice- the French do cooperate on counter-terrorism issues, they just keep their mouths shut about it.

As Dan said back at the beginning- Al-Qaeda and its allies don't recognize our quaint little inter-continental political squabbles except as a tactical measure. Everyone needs to remember that.


‘We would have preferred to hit a US frigate, but no problem because they are all infidels.’
-spokesman for the Islamic Army of Aden, after the attack on the French tanker on Oct 6, 2002/

Posted by: rosignol at September 30, 2005 12:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think that it would be very premature to say that France can only assassinate. They might not be able to hold certain countries but I have little doubt that they could decapitate the government of any Islamic country they chose to at will. It doesn't take that many men to do such an operation, after all.

France's nuclear arsenal should also not be ignored. I have no idea what their doctrinal response would be to the loss of a major city via private/terrorist forces. Do any of the analysts here care to speak up on that issue?

France is a 2nd tier military player. I think that we're seriously misunderestimating how scary the 2nd tier can be. It is a lack of will that restrains them, more than anything else.

Posted by: TM Lutas at September 30, 2005 03:10 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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