French President Blames ISIS For Paris’s Night Of Terror, Vows French Response

France's President blames ISIS, vows response, as death toll from Paris terror attacks stands at at least 127.

Paris Attack November 13-2

French President Francois Hollande, who was at the Stade de France stadium with tens of thousands of others watched a ‘friendly’ soccer match between France and Germany at the time last night’s terror attacks began, is calling the attacks an ‘act of war’ by ISIS and vowed that France would respond:

PARIS — President François Hollande called the terrorist attacks that killed 127 people in Paris on Friday night an “act of war,” and blamed the slaughter on the Islamic State.

“It is an act of war that was committed by a terrorist army, a jihadist army, Daesh, against France,” Mr. Hollande said from the Élysée Palace, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State. “It is an act of war that was prepared, organized and planned from abroad, with complicity from the inside, which the investigation will help establish.”

Mr. Hollande did not specify what intelligence the authorities had gathered to established the Islamic State’s involvement.

The Islamic State on Saturday claimed responsibility for the attacks, calling them “miracles” in a statement released by one of its publications and distributed on Twitter — a claim that could not be independently verified.

Stricken with shock and grief, Parisians rose Saturday to a state of national emergency, with public transportation hobbled and institutions — schools, museums, libraries, pools, food markets — all closed.

The authorities continued to look for possible accomplices of the eight attackers known so far, all of whom died on Friday: seven by detonating suicide bombs and one in a shootout with the police at a concert hall, the Bataclan, where gunmen methodically killed at least 80 people.

Dozens of others died in apparently coordinated attacks outside the Stade de France, where the French and German soccer teams were playing an exhibition match, and four other restaurants and bars in the city. Nearly 200 others were wounded, at least 80 of them in critical condition, French television reported.

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, meeting in Vienna on Saturday with Secretary of State John Kerry and other top diplomats to discuss the crisis in Syria, said the attacks highlighted the urgency of the talks. “It is more necessary than ever in the current circumstance to coordinate the international fight against terrorism,” he said.

The casualties, in what Mr. Hollande called an “unprecedented” assault, eclipsed by far the deaths in Paris during the massacre at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and related attacks around the French capital by Islamic militant extremists in January. His government announced sharply increased border controls and heightened police powers as it mobilized 1,500 soldiers to guard the capital.

The Friday attacks threatened to further traumatize France and other countries in Europe, elevating fears of religious extremism and violent jihadists who have been radicalized by the conflicts in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa.

And with the police still staking out the six crime scenes, France was left grappling once again for answers to a string of questions, beginning with who had carried out the attacks, whether they had accomplices who remained at large, and how a plot of such sophistication and lethality could have escaped the notice of the authorities.

“We are going to try to determine what happened, determine what the profiles of these terrorists are, find out what their course of action was, find out if there are still accomplices or co-attackers,” said François Molins, the public prosecutor for Paris.


Despite the increased border security, air travel in and out of Paris appeared to be unaffected. Officials at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport confirmed that flights had not been suspended, although security had been heightened significantly. Both departing and arriving passengers and baggage were being screened thoroughly.

Germany’s interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, said early Saturday that he had offered to send military assistance to France if requested. “I am in close contact with my French colleague and have offered assistance through German special forces,” he said in a statement.

Loretta E. Lynch, the United States attorney general, also offered help. “We stand in solidarity with France, as it has stood with us so often in the past,” she said in a statement. “This is a devastating attack on our shared values, and we at the Department of Justice will do everything within our power to assist and work in partnership with our French law enforcement colleagues.”

While the police in American cities, including New York and Washington, said they were following the events, there was no indication of possible attacks planned in the United States.

“We will not hesitate to adjust our security posture, as appropriate, to protect the American people,” the F.B.I. and Department of Homeland Security said in a statement.

American and European counterterrorism officials were reviewing wiretaps and other electronic surveillance records, but a senior American security official said there was no immediate indication that there had been suspicious chatter or other warning signs before the attack.

Hollande’s assertion of ISIS responsibility for the attack was seemingly confirmed not only after he spoke via a claim of responsibility for the attack via what purports to be a statement from the Islamic State itself, but it’s worth noting that this doesn’t settle the details of the matter by any means. The identity of the attackers has, of course, yet to be definitively established or at least released to the public, and it isn’t even known at this point if the attackers who were apparently killed during and in the aftermath of the attacks last night were all of the people in the attacks, or if others managed to escaped. Also unknown is whether these attackers were French citizens who had visited ISIS controlled areas, non-French citizens who made their way to Paris from outside the country, or some variety of home-grown self-radicalizing terror cell that didn’t really have formal connections to ISIS or any other radical group but was nonetheless inspired by them to carry out the attacks. Before I turned off the coverage last night, one expert mentioned that this last possibility seems unlikely given the apparent scope of the attack, the weapons and knowledge of explosive devices that would have been necessary to carry out the attacks, and the coordination of what were a number of attacks that began across a relatively widespread part of one sector of Paris at virtually the same time. That may or may not be the case, and it will be important to find out that answers to the questions before we can start talking about the proper response to the attacks themselves as well as measures that can be taken in the future to try to prevent them from happening again, whether in France, elsewhere in Europe, or here in the United States.

Turning back to the attacks themselves, the light of day is beginning to reveal the true level of the carnage and terror that Paris experienced last night.

As of this morning, the death toll stands at roughly 127 people, with dozens if not hundreds injured to varying degrees, but it is expected that the toll of the dead and injured will likely rise as the exact toll of the carnage is cataloged and made public. Depending on how you count them and group them together, it appears that there were roughly six separate attack areas, but as this map from The Washington Post shows, there seem to have been two main areas where the attack took place. The first was around the stadium where President Hollande was attending the Germany v. France soccer match, and where the suicide bombers apparently were. A French reporter on CNN this morning said that authorities were working on the theory that the original plan had been for the bombs to have been detonated inside the stadium among the crowd of tens of thousands watching the match and that the plan changed in the last minutes for some reason or another. That has yet to be confirmed, but if true then the change of plans likely cut down significantly on the casualties that the attacks inflicted, not to mention to panic that would have ensued among the crowd if that had happened. The second area of attacks was roughly grouped in the same neighborhood where January’s attacks on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo took place and included attacks on restaurants that involved gunmen walking in and, apparently calmly, shooting at patrons.

The bloodiest attack in this second area, though, occurred at the Bataclan, a theater that has operated in Paris since it opened in 1865, and what happened there defies both description and -contemplation: of what it must have been like for the victims

PARIS — The band had been playing to the crowd at one of this city’s most popular music venues, the Bataclan, for about an hour. The 150-year-old music hall was sold out for the show by the American group Eagles of Death Metal.

Suddenly, four men brandishing AK-47 assault rifles entered the hall. There were shouts of “Allahu akbar” just before the gunmen opened fire, and for about 20 minutes there was carnage.

Witnesses said the attackers also threw grenades into the crowd.

“When they started shooting, we just saw flashes,” a witness named Gwen told French BFM-TV. “People got down on the ground right away. It was all dark.”

In the scramble to survive, people climbed into the upper boxes of the hall, or cowered under seats. The musicians quickly fled the stage.

“It was a scene of carnage,” Julien Pearce, a radio reporter who was inside the Bataclan, told Europe 1 radio.

The music hall can seat up to 1,500 people, but it was unclear how many were inside when the attack began. Some of the spectators managed to escape out back exits, but for minutes the gunmen shot unimpeded.

Benjamin Cazenoves posted an update on Facebook from inside the theater: “Alive. Just some cuts. Carnage. Bodies everywhere.”

Mr. Pearce told CNN that he saw two of the men enter and begin to fire randomly. He said the gunmen wore black and said nothing. They simply fired indiscriminately into the crowd. Mr. Pearce said that when he walked out into the street, he saw 25 bodies on the ground.

“It lasted for 10 minutes, 10 minutes, 10 horrific minutes when everybody was on the floor covering their heads and we heard so many gunshots, and the terrorists were very calm, very determined, and they reloaded three or four times their weapons,” Mr. Pearce said.

At around 10 p.m. the gunmen began rounding up survivors, holding them as hostages as dozens of police officers massed outside. For more than two hours a tense standoff prevailed, with more and more police arriving at the scene, enlarging the tense perimeter around the music hall in the city’s 11th Arrondissement.

“I saw these two crazy guys arrive — they started firing on everybody,” a witness named Yasmine told BFM television. She heard one of the men shout, ” ‘What you are doing in Syria, you are going to pay for it now.’ ”

Yasmine began to cry as she recounted what she had seen. “I’ve never seen so many dead around me.” She was shot in the foot.

With dozens trapped inside and the police massing for an assault, President François Hollande went on television to declare a state of emergency, his voice trembling.

All throughout central Paris sirens blared. At about 12:15 a.m. the police began their assault on the Bataclan. There were a few quick rounds of gunfire, several explosions, and then it was over.

Three of the attackers blew themselves up, according to French television, and one was shot dead by the police.

After the assault, television images showed hostages streaming out of the hall, some with their hands on their heads. Elsewhere, away from the venue, plastic sheeting covered bodies of some of the victims. The streets were thick with police and fire vehicles.

While there has apparently not been an official briefing from French police on the matter yet, one imagines that the reports about gunmen seemingly systematically executing the hostages inside the concert hall was a strong motivator to launch the police assault to end the siege rather than waiting the situation out as police might do in an ordinary hostage situation. It would seem, indeed, that the gunmen fully intended to kill everyone inside the hall rather than hold them hostage, especially since reports from some of the people who had managed to escape indicated that the attackers were not taking any steps to hide their identities, which suggested they either planned to get out after killing as many people as possible, or die trying to accomplish that goal. Had the police waited much longer, they might have succeeded in that goal.

At this point, there isn’t much else to say about what happened in Paris last night that hasn’t already been said. Going forward, though, it’s likely to have a profound impact around the world. Assuming that the ISIS connection is accurate, and that seems to be a safe assumption at this point, then it would appear to be the third such attack outside ISIS-controlled territory in a very short period of time. While we still don’t have confirmation, the initial reports that the Russian passenger plane that went down over the Sinai Peninsula two weeks ago was brought down by a bomb, most likely from an ISIS-sympathetic group based in the area, appear more and more likely to be true. Just a few days ago, there was a major terrorist attack in Beirut, which had largely been unscathed recently notwithstanding its proximity to ISIS territory and the Syrian civil war, that apparently has ISIS connection. And, now, we have this attack in Paris which is comparable to the London attacks on July 7, 2005 and the Madrid train attacks  on March 11, 2004, and of course bears a strong similarity in method of execution to the 2008 Mumbai attacks. There’s no indication, of course, that these attacks have been formally coordinated, or even that they are directly connected. This may all be the work of independent ISIS-inspired groups working on their own, which is actually more concerning if it’s true given the fact that such a situation becomes far more difficult to detect, punish, and even detect than something that originates from a centralized planning source. Whatever the truth behind it all ends up being, though, it seems likely that the pressure to “do something” that will be put on a number of nations around the world is going to increase. Whether that “something” is actually going to accomplish anything is, of course, another question.

Photo via Reuters

FILED UNDER: Africa, Europe, Middle East, National Security, Policing, Terrorism, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. M U N CH BOX GRad says:

    I blame the religion of islam itself. it’s sick and twisted and promotes incidents like this through its despicable text. What religion would glorify death in the way it does?

  2. Ron Beasley says:

    @M U N CH BOX GRad: How about Christianity for most of it’s existence?

  3. michael reynolds says:

    @M U N CH BOX GRad:
    What religion would glorify death? You mean, by for example wearing an instrument of execution around their necks? You know, like a cross?

  4. michael reynolds says:

    France has nuclear weapons. Pick an ISIS stronghold, say Raqqa. Give them 24 hour notice to evacuate the city. Then grow a mushroom cloud.

    I have always opposed this notion of proportionality. The only good retaliation is a disproportionate one and France lacks the strength for any other sort of major retaliation. You want this to stop, that would do it.

  5. edmondo says:

    @michael reynolds:

    You are a fkn idiot.

  6. bill says:

    @Ron Beasley: that’s the past, this is now. no need to cover for a religion that’s stifled it’s flock such as islam. these aren’t egyptians, persians,etc. anymore- they’re hateful drones who seem to hate everyone that isn’t them. they aren’t emigrating to assimilate- they bring their horrible shit with them and folks like you think it’s all fine and dandy!
    note that 2 of these scum had syrian passports……the irony may be lost on you but not to those who are dead because of white,christian guilt.

  7. michael reynolds says:


    There are 1.5 billion Muslims. How do you propose we fight them all?

    If what we need is human intel, who do you suppose will infiltrate ISIS?

  8. Mu says:

    I agree with Michael on weapon use? Boggles the mind. Of course, the target should be where it hurts ISIS, in Riyadh or Qatar. Cut off their funding and you actually achieve something.

  9. Mu says:

    BTW German police arrested a guy with a car load of weapons, including eight kalashnikovs and tnt, on the 5th. They alerted the French that he was on his way to France, but they weren’t interested, and suggested the Germans send a formal request for judicial assistance before they look into it. Bet someone there’s cleaning his desk out at the moment.

  10. michael reynolds says:

    Proportional retaliation is nothing but symbolism. Its a ‘feel good’ that accomplishes nothing. ISIS has already figured out what France is likely to do. They’ve calculated the cost and found that cost acceptable.

    We need to stop fighting wars of symbols and gestures. This is getting very serious for Europe now. They have genuine reason to be very concerned. There will be a lot of friction now between France and the UK on one side of the Syrian refugee issue and Germany on the other. The far right will profit, which will mean even more strife between Muslim and non-Muslims in the entire EU, which will spawn more jihadis and more terrorism and thus more right-wing reaction, etc… Europe is already in danger of coming apart and this won’t help.

    Europe has a right to resist. Unfortunately, they are weak. The French foreign legion is less than 8000 men. They have no long-range bombers. They have one aircraft carrier which can’t stay on-station forever, and if it sits in the Gulf or eastern Med will probably need American naval support. Europe can arm up, but that’s a labor that will take years.

    I realize my friends on the Left are appalled at any suggestion of actual retaliation, but the way to deal with attack is not to hit Freddy Krueger with a shovel and then run away, but to hit Freddy Krueger with a shovel and then use the shovel blade to decapitate him. Europe can’t cringe in the corner of the playground and it can’t rely on us always being around to deal with the bully.

    I have never accepted the idea that nukes are off-the-table in every situation. That’s the Lilliputians tying Gulliver down.

    Nuke Raqqa after a decent evacuation period. ISIS may be a death cult, but so was the Japanese Imperial Army. There’s no better proof that Allah is not with you than a big, radioactive hole in the ground where your capital used to be.

    Or waste time and money on a pointless symbolic reaction that’s already been expensed by ISIS.

  11. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Give them 24 hour notice to evacuate the city. Then grow a mushroom cloud.

    I admit to similar feelings. Attacks like this reveal that the only objective is death and misery. They don’t want territorial integrity, sovereignty, international recognition and respect. They want blood.

    And what can you do with such a creature? Feed it and its insatiable blood lust? Or destroy it?

    Long term solution? You have to destroy it.

    That being said, horrible idea. Horrible idea. This is a mostly regional conflict that occasionally breaks containment. International militarydom should only be concerned with speeding up the stalemate and setting the stage for the post-war peace.

    (Of course, some small-scale retaliation must occur. But nukes? Only in our darkest dreams…)

  12. CSK says:

    Oh, God. The Guardian is reporting that 1000 Germanwings crash volunteers were at the stadium as a thank-you gift from the airline.

    An Air France jet was just grounded at Schiphol in the Netherlands because of a threat.

  13. Argon says:

    The purpose of these attacks are to induce polarization so as to drive wedge between populations. It’s a classic maneuver that we’ve seen in Northern Ireland and Czechoslovakia. Creating more people with opinions like ‘M U N CH BOX GRad’ are what they want.

    Contrary to the troll with the first comment in this thread, the ‘them’ aren’t Muslims but assholes who want to encourage divisiveness. Grow up folks: Respond with your minds and not your emotions.

  14. bill says:

    @michael reynolds: i don’t care about fighting them, we shouldn’t be opening our doors so they can flee the shit they can’t deal with. they bring their garbage with them per se, the irony is that the msm show all these idiots fleeing in sinking boats and kids drowning so we all feel bad for them- i do but i don’t want them coming here with their f’d up lifestyle and inbred hated of our values. sure, maybe flip some who actually got an education and keep them in the mountains or something, but what we’re doing isn’t really working, at least over there.

  15. WR says:

    @michael reynolds: “I realize my friends on the Left are appalled at any suggestion of actual retaliation, ”

    Thank you, Pinky, for you usual astute level of criticism.

    Oh, wait — you’re not Pinky, are you?

    Then why are you trolling this despicably. You want to talk seriously about retaliation, let’s do it.

    But to suggest that those who lived through the Cold War under the threat of nuclear annilhation refuse to consider the use of nuclear bombs by anyone simply because we’re pussies… well, sorry, although I think of you as my friend — as far as this kind of relationship goes — there is no answer that doesn’t contain words the spam filter will block.

    You want to agitate for the normalization of atomic weapons, be my guest. But don’t pretend that makes you the only real man out there, or the only one brave enough to call for a difficult truth. This is not only genocide, it’s the first step on the road to global destruction.

  16. Scott says:

    The purpose of terrorism is to elicit a response, preferably an irrational and emotional response. To go off half-cocked for revenge will accomplish nothing. It may be emotionally satisfying in the short term but you got to be smart about it. In the big scheme of things, a terrorist attack is pretty small potatoes, we’ve had them though out histo

    A terrorist attack in 1914 set off a series of events that led to the death of millions and the destruction of empires. All pretty much preventable.

    ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, is not an existential threat and never will be.

  17. Franklin says:

    Of course the instant emotional/primitive/reptilian response is to look for an easy solution. Bomb them all. Or destroy a specific religion (or all religions … for some reason this choice depends mostly on your side of the political aisle). I most certainly have these urges as well, but there are no easy solutions.

    Fact: something like this will happen again.
    Very likely fact: something like this will happen in the United States.
    Another fact: you and your family and friends are very very unlikely to be directly affected by any of these incidents. (Indirectly, sure: Stock markets are affected. Taxes go up for war machines. Maybe your kids get sent off to war, etc.)

    The “easiest” solution I can think of is to educate women worldwide. This is most difficult in the places that need it most, like the Middle East. But it must be done, because it will reduce the birthrate. There are too many poor people over there with nothing to do but lash out at everyone else. (Note: educate them, and give them free birth control while you’re at it.)

    Oh, and this is where I get controversial: stop efforts to grow more food. It will never end hunger. It will only cause a rise in population, while the fraction of people starving will always stay roughly the same. We don’t need more people fighting over dwindling resources, so stop enabling more people.

  18. Tillman says:

    @Argon: This is a response to the refugee crisis. Once Syrians began entering Europe and encountering open arms welcoming them*, it put ISIS’s worldview into existential jeopardy. They rely on the otherness of Europeans and the West in general to propagandize and agitate for Armageddon. The moment that is exposed as a lie, they have nothing but barbarism left.

    * Well not in Hungary so much.

  19. CSK says:

    @Franklin: @<a href="#comment-

    How do you educate women when young girls are butcher/burned alive for the crime of attending school?

  20. Tillman says:

    @michael reynolds:

    ISIS has already figured out what France is likely to do. They’ve calculated the cost and found that cost acceptable.

    They also don’t give a damn about human life, so their calculations are de facto skewed. Relying on their math as an impetus to unleash nuclear weapons is sloppy reasoning unless you share their presumptions.

    I realize my friends on the Left are appalled at any suggestion of actual retaliation, but the way to deal with attack is not to hit Freddy Krueger with a shovel and then run away, but to hit Freddy Krueger with a shovel and then use the shovel blade to decapitate him.

    No, the thing to avoid doing is equating ISIS with a boogeyman. That muddles your thinking, oversimplifies it into the kind of worldview they want to impress. Their entire plan is to bring about Armageddon. Dropping nukes plays into this plan, not to mention all of other reasons using nuclear weapons is a fool’s idea of retribution. Maybe when we reach the kind of numbers dead (or estimated dead) that prompted Hiroshima and Nagasaki, maybe we can consider nuclear weapons. Nuking ISIS over a hundred dead is ludicrous; inflicting atrocity in repayment of atrocity has never worked.

  21. michael reynolds says:


    I got the same appalled reaction when I said (repeatedly) that if we were going to invade Iraq we’d need a large and very determined occupation force willing to place boot on neck and keep it there for years. And everyone assumed it was macho bluster or emotionalism or Muslim-bashing or whatever.

    I said a half-assed occupation would make things worse and more people would die in the end. Was I wrong?

    I don’t do emotion in foreign policy. Emotion is saying “Okay, well, we’ll drone them an extra week.” That’s nothing but emotion. It’s a feel-good, feel like we did something reaction that kills to no effect whatsoever.

    France has very few options. They are in great danger as a society because they have a large and disaffected Muslim population – a legacy of Colonialism and more recently of liberal immigration. France is not the United States, they do not have our talent for assimilation, and they don’t have our military might. They literally cannot hurt ISIS. They can round people up, they can degrade civil liberties, they can let Marine LePen take over and send the spiral accelerating downward, that’s their reality.

    The Pope is right: this is WW3. It’s not what we expected, it’s very different from previous world wars, but you have to fight the war you’re given. France can either sit and take it, and take it, and take it, and surrender liberties and veer hard right and isolate itself from the rest of Europe as the EU fails. And five years from now when LePen is running France and the French Muslim community is in effective lock-down, like Palestinians in Israel, and the borders of all of Europe are closed to Muslims, and attacks on Muslims are escalating dramatically, you can again lecture me on what a nasty troll I am for suggesting the ruthless but winning move.

    I am sick of people who want to lose well. I know we’re all mesmerized by the notion that Iraq was the single greatest foreign policy mistake in US history, but in reality it’s only the third. The first was not having a serious capacity to project military power prior to WW1. Had we gotten into that war earlier it would not have lasted as long, it would not have become the trauma it was, the Bolsheviks might never have gotten off the ground, and literally tens of millions would not have died. And the second biggest mistake was repeating the first mistake in 1939.

    On this the Right is correct: Western weakness equals death. France let itself grow weak and now it can only launch impotent and irrelevant symbolic retaliations, or go completely postal. They will of course do the impotent and symbolic thing, which you will approve. And then the right will come back to power in France and the European experiment that has kept the peace for 70 years will come apart. But hey, we’ll feel good about how restrained we were.

  22. Tillman says:

    I blame the religion of islam itself. it’s sick and twisted and promotes incidents like this through its despicable text. What religion would glorify death in the way it does?

    Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors.

    Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:32

    ISIS is to Islam as the KKK is to Christianity.

  23. michael reynolds says:


    Maybe when we reach the kind of numbers dead (or estimated dead) that prompted Hiroshima and Nagasaki, maybe we can consider nuclear weapons.

    In our case that was 2500 people at Pearl Harbor. And it wasn’t just Hiroshima and Nagasaki, those cities were targeted because they were among the few Japanese cities we had not already obliterated.

    You guys all act as if there are no negative consequences for inaction. You’re wrong. What is starting to play out already in Europe is infinitely worse than blowing Raqqa to kingdom come. A 70 year peace is fraying. The social fabric is fraying. Religious bigotry and racism is on the rise. Nativism is on the rise. Europeans are horrified that their leaders are allowing Syrian refugees into their countries. You could have conditions approaching civil war in France and Germany.

    Now, would I suggest we nuke Raqqa? No. We have other tools. We haven’t let ourselves get quite that soft. The French don’t have other tools, so if Hollande really means “pitiless” then guess who has to deliver that pitilessness? You want us to do the job for him, thus exacerbating European weakness and America’s role as mercenary for the west?

    So, take nukes off the table. That leaves Hollande not so much pitiless as pitiful. And ISIS sees there is absolutely no down-side, nothing but up-side to murdering Frenchmen. And in their turn, Germans, Brits, and Americans die, the religious hatred grows, and in the end we’ll have our war of civilizations and it’ll be the real thing.

  24. Slugger says:

    Americans need to plan out a contingency for Hollande being serious with this war talk. If he invokes NATO article five, it will be hard to say no. When the US invoked article five, the Legion got involved in Iraq. Personally, I would have some very serious talks with Putin, who has been fighting ISIS and lost an airliner recently, about tabling the Asaad controversy and coordinating actions. The biggest problem will not be killing ISIS fighters but avoiding increasing the refugee flood. Any war plan that worsens the refugee situation runs a real risk of creating more unrest and violence.

  25. michael reynolds says:

    No, ISIS is not to Islam as the KKK is to Christianity, the KKK are homegrown, strictly domestic terrorists, they don’t blow people up in foreign countries.

    ISIS is to Islam as the Templars perhaps were to Christianity. The average Christian peasant raising pigs in the Black Forest did not give a damn about Jerusalem, but the Crusaders sure as hell did, and they were the ones fighting in the name of Christianity.

    That doesn’t make Islam any more pernicious than any other intolerant, rigid, monotheism, but it doesn’t exonerate the faith, either. ISIS is being tacitly supported by Turkey, financially and ideologically supported by the Saudis, and winked at by large percentages of Muslim populations in Europe.

    Muslims are not our enemies, but Muslims sure do manage to grow our enemies and finance them and give them ideological cover. To deny that there is a problem with Islam today is like telling Arabs in the 12th century or Incas in the 16th century that they aren’t experiencing a problem with Christianity.

    There’s a difference between rightly insisting on religious tolerance and resisting notions of collective guilt, and pretending that these terrorists are somehow completely divorced from their religion.

  26. Scott says:

    The first was not having a serious capacity to project military power prior to WW1. Had we gotten into that war earlier it would not have lasted as long, it would not have become the trauma it was, the Bolsheviks might never have gotten off the ground, and literally tens of millions would not have died. And the second biggest mistake was repeating the first mistake in 1939.

    Not to sidetrack the main topic but there was a real debate prior to WWI on whose side we should intervene. There were huge number of German-Americans that still had ties to Germany. We still have the family bible with the Kaiser and his family in the front. As for WWII, there were quite a number of Fascist sympathizers (and Jew-haters BTW) on the right (especially among the weathy) that prevented us from entering early. It was far more than just policy choices.

    There is not a long term military solution to ISIS. Sure,we could go in and blow things up, even carpet bomb and nuke them. That would not solve the problem. They will just metastacize even faster. They are a problem to manage out of existence. It is not wishful thinking or weakness to view it this way but reality.

  27. Scott says:

    @michael reynolds:

    ISIS is being tacitly supported by Turkey, financially and ideologically supported by the Saudis, and winked at by large percentages of Muslim populations in Europe.

    Now you are getting to the heart of the problem. It is the West being played by the players in the MIddle East. And it is one branch of Muslims, the Sunnis, not all of them.

  28. R.Dave says:

    The “nuke Raqqa” suggestion won’t accomplish anything. On the contrary, given the stigma against nukes, it would likely just radicalize many others in the region. If you want to toss proportionality aside and use mass casualties as a strategy, you have to go all the way here: a full-scale nuclear attack on the entire region. Reduce everything from Morrocco to Pakistan to a radioactive wasteland. That’s right – genocide. Not up for that? Then stop wasting everyone’s time with the nuclear nonsense.

    Now, if you want to talk about disproportionate response with a chance to achieve our actual aims, then France should invoke Article 5 and NATO should go back to war in Iraq, this time with Russia and Iran as full allies if possible.

  29. michael reynolds says:


    The funny thing is we could have picked either side in WW1 and saved the world a whole lot of grief.

    As a historical fact massive retaliation has not typically spawned greater resistance, rather the contrary. Haven’t had much trouble with Japan or Germany lately. A lot of city-states and regions and peoples stood up to the Mongols and the we don’t hear much about how well they came back because they didn’t come back. It’s not a reality that paints a nice picture of humanity, but the application of crushing power tends to crush. The application of proportional power merely encourages them.

    You know what the French and Brits should have done with Germany after WW1? Not crushing reparations, because reparations could only be paid by a unified and financially capable German government, which meant Europe actually profited from a rising Germany. Instead they should have reversed Bismarck and taken the rather new German state apart, put puppet governments in power in a a dozen or so competing German states.

    That would have been the winning move, which would of course have been denounced by the bien pensants of the Left as overly harsh. And would have saved 40 to 60 million lives.

  30. michael reynolds says:


    Oh, that’s absurd. We nuked Hiroshima, we didn’t annihilate the entire population of Japan.

    As for NATO, that’s a better idea? Hundreds of thousands of US and a few dozen Europeans once again sitting in Iraq? And doing what? And for how long? To what end? Why? Isn’t that exactly how we got here? You think that will be less inflammatory than wiping out a single evacuated city?

    This discussion reminds me of a weirdly funny video the Army put out at the start of WW2 called Kill or Be Killed. The essential point of the film was to convince American soldiers that they could not play fair with Nazis or Japanese soldiers.

    You can’t play tit-for-tat with ISIS. You can put a box around them and wait for them to die, which is our current policy and one I support. But that’s ISIS in Iraq and Syria. This is ISIS metastasized. ISIS there isn’t such a big problem, ISIS in Paris (and London, Berlin, New York) is a very big problem.

  31. BrooklynDave says:

    @michael reynolds: Not quite helpless, but not the U.S. either. In 2012 France successfully used a force of 5,100 troops in Mali to stop a drive by Islamist forces to topple the government. Total military forces for France are approximately 215,000 which includes strike aircraft, according to Wikipedia. I suspect France will increase efforts to eliminate ISIS in concert with other nations, such as the U.S., and that may include limited ground action similar to Mali, which could prove effective. I do wonder if this action wasn’t the result of ISIS starting to worry about their future.

    As to your idea of using nukes, I notice you suggested giving them 24 hours to evacuate Raqqa. I don’t think you quite understand that giving them 24 hours would likely be taken as a sign of weakness. If you want to intimidate them you have to be as blood thirsty. That means no warning, you simply obliterate the whole city including civilians. I’m not sure you’re quite ready for that.

  32. Modulo Myself says:

    @michael reynolds:

    ISIS is being tacitly supported by Turkey, financially and ideologically supported by the Saudis, and winked at by large percentages of Muslim populations in Europe.

    I suspect they are probably more frightened of ISIS than anything else. Secret societies operate like that. A little respect and a whole lot of fear…

    Also, it’s worth pointing out that the Crusades were not a huge event for Islam. The invasion of the Mongols was serious; the Crusaders were minor irritants who managed to capture a symbol for some time. And Western Europe, relative to the Caliphates and the Byzantine Empire, was a backwater. You could say the same about Iraq, and most of the Sunni Wahhabist governments. For all of the money in Saudi Arabia, they are basically brutal rubes who believe a bunch of dumb theocratic things.

    I think if we want to stop ISIS or whatever genocidal maniacs follow them, we either have to copy the Islamic Empire and take over the Middle East and create an colony that is not completely awful and exploitative, or we have to kick the legs out of Saudi Arabia and Israel.That is if we want to stop them. I’m not so sure that we do.

  33. michael reynolds says:


    Nah, a big smoking hole in the ground is pretty effective all by itself. Besides, what fun seeing who in Raqqa actually wants to be a martyr. That alone would discredit ISIS.

    And I consider that kind of action less problematic than re-invading the middle east as you suggest. Because it won’t be the French – Mali is one thing, this is Syria and Iraq – so it’ll be us. Us and the usual suspects, the Anglo-sphere and the French and the Saudis will send a force of Filipino house maids and Bengali gardeners.

    Just because a thing seems moderate and reasonable and proportional does not make it smart. Sending NATO ground forces in there is nuts – been there, done it, didn’t work. You either have to raise the price to a point where they can’t afford to pay, or you engage in empty gestures and hope the Muslim world sorts itself out, and if it doesn’t sort itself out you end up with a real war in five or ten years, and that will be a genuine disaster.

  34. Lit3Bolt says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Maybe France can split the difference drop Sarin bombs on Raqqa instead? Talk about “salting the earth…”

    I’m torn, but after a lot of thought I think you’re right. We can’t be so ideologically dedicated to a free and multicultural society that we can’t defend ourselves, or be so dedicated to the preservation of life that we cannot allow for ruthlessness in any situation, because some rights might be trampled or some innocents could die. At some point, the survival instinct has to kick in. The sooner liberals get in front of this issue, the better it will go.

    If the EU builds up its military, that would be an ideal situation all around. The US would be delighted with a stronger NATO, the EU can defend their society with more than just rhetoric, and it would be a better economic hole to throw money at instead of financial paper profits.

  35. R.Dave says:

    @michael reynolds:

    What is it you think would be accomplished by nuking Raqqa (or any other limited nuclear strike)? Do you think ISIS – a movement whose guiding ideology is to fight a war with “Rome” that initiates the apocalypse – would decide it was best not to mess with France from now on? That radical Muslims outside of ISIS would likewise decide that attacking the West is a bad idea? I doubt it. Quite the contrary, in my estimation – I think France would become public enemy no. 1 in the Muslim world, and they’d be the target of numerous terrorist attacks in retaliation. Hence my point that nuclear half-measures will just backfire; if you want to go with nukes, you have to go all the way.

    Since we’re (thankfully) not going to do that, the next best option is to take ISIS out through conventional means. Their ideology and their “inspirational” appeal to other radicals is based on the fact they nominally hold large swaths of territory and the West appears unable or unwilling to do anything about it. But we can do something about it relatively easily. We can end ISIS’ control of the territory almost entirely from the air. How we handle the aftermath is tricky, but yes, it will involve boots on the ground for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, I just don’t think there’s any other alternative. It sucks, but that’s the world we live in.

  36. Modulo Myself says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Or you create many groups of radicals who seem to believe, oddly enough, that a country that casually deploys a nuclear device after losing 150 of its citizens in a terrorist attack is cowardly and begging for death. Some of them go out and blow themselves up anywhere where Americans might be, others go underground and try to develop more serious weapons. They have nothing to lose. What is America going to do? Hit another city or two more when someone blows up in downtown Houston? Your entire plan relies on the Middle East surrendering to a concept after a city gets nuked.

  37. michael reynolds says:

    BTW, summarizing the thread, we have three options presented:

    1) Empty symbolic retaliation that ISIS has already expensed.
    2) Re-invade not just Iraq but Syria and occupy them for decades.
    3) Annihilate one evacuated city.

    Option 1 encourages and empowers ISIS. It leads in all likelihood to a radicalized Europe where borders go back up, civil rights are sacrificed and right-wing parties set the agenda.

    Option 2 results in trillions spent, thousands of our people dead, and eventual retreat. And still results in borders and rights violations and the rise of the Right with all the nativism and racism that means.

    Option 3 results in tens of thousands of dead locals, and no dead Americans or Frenchmen, and would probably work. Worked pretty well on the Japanese, and they were not wimps.

    Do people here seriously not understand what the hard Right in Europe is capable of? Do you think Frenchmen in the Midi or Brits in Essex or Germans in Bavaria are going to sit passively with large populations of Muslims close at hand while suicide bombs go off in Paris, London and Berlin? If the Left looks weak, the Right will rise. Those will not be blasé Parisian cafe regulars, those will be Vichy-style Frenchmen, and soccer hooligan Brits and f–king Nazis. How safe and assimilated do you think Europe’s Muslims will be then?

    But by all means, let’s do the pointless, ineffectual things first. And when Marine LePen is the French PM and UKIP controls Parliament and Golden Dawn is shooting at refugees and skinheads are a large voting bloc in the German Bundestag, and the EU is dead, and European Muslims are living in terror, we can all congratulate ourselves on our moderation.

  38. Tillman says:

    @michael reynolds:

    In our case that was 2500 people at Pearl Harbor.

    No, it was Operation Downfall I was referring to when millions, military and civilian, would have died as an alternative to nuclear weapons. Pearl Harbor was a drop in the bucket compared to that, or compared to Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

    You guys all act as if there are no negative consequences for inaction.

    No, we act like you’re crazy for suggesting nuclear weapons (or demolishing an entire city otherwise) are the action to take, for France or anyone else. Stop strawmanning your critics.

    What is starting to play out already in Europe is infinitely worse than blowing Raqqa to kingdom come. A 70 year peace is fraying. The social fabric is fraying. Religious bigotry and racism is on the rise. Nativism is on the rise. Europeans are horrified that their leaders are allowing Syrian refugees into their countries. You could have conditions approaching civil war in France and Germany.

    That’s the same intolerance you rant against on ISIS’s part. You prize the fidelity of a failing supranational project (and it was failing long before the migrant crisis) over the lives of hundreds of thousands in another part of the world. What part of your rant can’t be reversed on you just as rightly by extremist Muslims agitating to destroy the West? You’re reacting the exact way ISIS wants you to react and validating their tactics. You think they haven’t bothered calculating a military response in their theater after attacks like this? You think bombing the Middle East more is somehow going to change things?

    @michael reynolds: You know dick about the Crusades. Based on your valuing European unity, you should be a great fan of them. The Crusades ended internecine European warfare that had dominated for centuries. You think them uniquely religious acts when they were also a product of Europe’s lack of available land with a booming population and new ability to export violence abroad. The irony is you’re essentially agitating for a new crusade only you think stripping religion off and replacing it with “European unity” is somehow better, morally or practically.

  39. R.Dave says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Why do you think nuking one partially evacuated city will accomplish anything? Do you honestly think it would decrease Muslim support for terrorism? Or let me put it this way: if ISIS set off a nuke in New York, do you think the West would be more or less likely to embrace a hardline, racist ideology and respond with increased violence?

  40. BrooklynDave says:

    @michael reynolds: I’m pretty sure the leadership of ISIS does not fancy martyrdom, that’s for the suckers … errr … ground troops. Giving them 24 hours lets leadership escape to wail about an American crime against humanity and continue their life’s work.

    I have no appetite for ground operations in Syria, but I’m afraid its coming. The politics of an attack like Paris makes it much more likely. I suspect it would be small units taking out the hard targets and then giving the area to our local “allies,” thereby attempting to limit Western involvement. Somewhat similar to what the French did in Mali and why I think they could be involved. The idea isn’t to completely pacify the area, that’s too much to hope for, but simply to replace a group of nihilistic religious thugs with garden variety thugs. Welcome to the Mid-east.

  41. MikeSJ says:

    While I like the idea of nuking an arab city I don’t think it would accomplish anything.

    Unfortunately I don’t have any idea how to practically deal with this problem. There are stop gap measures that will help but they won’t prevent these types of attacks from occurring over and over.

    We can ally with Russia and Iran and with some U.N. cover go to Iraq and Syria clean out ISIS. That doesn’t change the fact we have a not insignificant number of Islamist terrorists in our countries. Numerically I think it’s a small % of the muslim population but look at what those two a-holes in Boston did with home made explosives. The Paris attacks were committed by how many? 20?

    A small number of people can do tremendous damage in a modern society. I foresee more attacks like this across Europe since they are too easy to do and too hard to stop. The response will be an increasing police state. Muslim populations will be under far stricter regulations and monitoring. The far right will, even in Germany, eventually rise to power. The left will have lost all credibility due to their abdication of responsibility to their citizens.

    Obviously the Wahhabi schools, and mullahs should be kicked out of europe. One positive action would be to find and kill the arab financiers of jihad – even some of the Saudi royals.

    Merkel’s decision to let in a tidal wave of people from the Middle East and Africa – a violent dysfunctional part of the world – will be looked back in time as one of the worst decisions a head of state has ever made.

    Most likely Europe will become more Arab, more dangerous (for women and gays certainly) and more repressive.

    Will seeing their countries becoming home to vast arab slums cause a backlash in Europe? I think that’s going to be the main question facing Europe in the future.

  42. michael reynolds says:


    You prize the fidelity of a failing supranational project (and it was failing long before the migrant crisis) over the lives of hundreds of thousands in another part of the world.

    This goes directly to the difference between us. You think this is about being morally right, and I think it’s about winning. Yes, war is about placing a higher value on your own people than you do on “them.” Yes, it’s morally indefensible. And yet, there it is.

    Remember the bumper sticker? “What if they gave a war and nobody came?” Sounds sweet. Unfortunately, someone always comes. 10,000 years of human history, and someone always comes. And when they do, it’s war, and some survive and some don’t.

    War is like an opportunistic infection. It goes where resistance is weak and right now Europe is very weak. And getting weaker. And yet, they’ve got 300 million people and a 14 trillion dollar economy and all the same tech we have. So, sooner or later, Europe will start to push back. Given the proximity, the history, the domestic Muslim populations, the long trail of nativism, anti-semitism and racism, that’s not going to be a good war.

    If you think the French are going to sit passively by and let their domestic Muslim population gun people down in the center of Paris, you’re not facing reality. Sooner or later they will be hunting Muslims in the street. I guarantee you the flow of Syrian refugees into Europe is coming to a quick end.

    And the effects will reach us. The American reaction to being threatened is to veer right. You see something like this take place in New York and you’ll be complaining about President Cruz. As it is any liberal fantasy about reining in surveillance just went out the window.

    It is absurd and illogical for the West to decide to fight asymmetric warfare with proportional retaliation. It is absurd and illogical to charge only the price you know your enemy is willing to pay. It is suicidal for the Left to be seen as so impotent that people turn to the fascists. If the Left won’t fight this war the Right will and it will be a hell of a lot worse for absolutely everyone.

  43. Stan says:

    I would be surprised if the Obama administration and our allies weren’t considering a de facto alliance with Russia, Iran, and the Assad government in Syria. They’re awful, but they’re to Isis as Stalin was to Hitler. I realize Nixon and Kissinger are anathema to liberals, but in the present crisis I would welcome their brand of realpolitik. It would certainly be better than our present muddled policy in which we’re at war with both Isis and its enemies.

  44. Tony W says:

    To paraphrase Michael in other threads with respect to guns, the only permanent solution to this problem is to discredit religion as a whole – for society to ostracize anybody who believes in that which is not provable through science.

    Defining Muslims as the enemy, Christians or Jews as good or evil, Hindus as peaceful, etc. simply perpetuates the core problem. Fighting on behalf of one’s religion gives credit to the idea that acts of violence are justified by our invisible friends.

    Religion is evil. All religion. Until we redefine religious people across the globe as naïve pawns of leaders who would have their bidding done under the auspices of ancient texts, we will suffer attacks like these and countless others over the ages.

  45. Davebo says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I don’t do emotion in foreign policy.

    That’s BS Michael. It was your emotion in foreign policy that lead you to support the war with Iraq.

    The fact that you advocated for a level of force that was never, ever going to be brought to bear doesn’t change the fact that it was an irrational and emotional response.

  46. MikeSJ says:

    @Tony W:

    Religion is evil. All religion.

    Really? How many Buddhists participated in these attacks? How many Baptists? How many Jews?

    You (and I mean the collective “you” who say things like this) seem unable to call a spade a spade.

    Their is a subset of the population of Muslims that are violent and anti-liberal. Not Buddhists. Not Jews. Not Baptists. Muslims.

    You need to wake up.

  47. gVOR08 says:

    @BrooklynDave: Exactly. If we don’t warn them, we kill mostly civilians and deserve the approbation and counterproductive consequences that would follow. If we do give warning, the bad guys mingle with the march out of town. In either case we will have smashed a blob of mercury.

  48. Tillman says:

    @michael reynolds: I’ve agreed with you about civil liberties and surveillance since Snowden came to light, but it’s been clear to me for some years now that law enforcement is the proper response to terrorism, not the military. Hell, it was mentioned earlier in this thread by CSK that the Germans notified the French something was going on, like a lesser version of the CIA spending the better part of 2001 trying to convince the rogue state-obsessed Bush administration that there was a threat from terrorism.

    But what’s going on in Syria and Iraq is war, and what’s happening here and in Europe is terrorism. These are not the same thing, even if they have similar roots, and solutions to one will not suffice for the other. There are many practicalities tied up in this: where to allocate resources, what fights to prioritize, etc. It’s not just a moral question. Taking into account lives lost is a practical matter as we have proof that lives lost contribute to radicalization and create more enemies.

    It is absurd and illogical for the West to decide to fight asymmetric warfare with proportional retaliation.

    The thing about proportional retaliation, however, is that’s not close to what we (Europe or the West in general) have been doing in the Middle East for a century and some change. 150 killed in Paris (you can throw in the fatalities from Madrid and London) doesn’t brush the surface of [innocent] dead from drone strikes, much less the Iraq “mistake” and the many civil wars/insurrections that have popped up from the Arab Spring, and we’re not even counting the dictatorships we supported that oppressed their populations to keep them in line decades before. We haven’t been playing with kid gloves in the region for a long time. Pretending that what we’re debating is the difference between a proportional response and all-out war ignores history.

    We can’t, like Republicans with 9/11 often do, pretend history started on one day and not the ones before it.

    It is suicidal for the Left to be seen as so impotent that people turn to the fascists.

    I think this is where we really part ways. I agree completely on how wars should be prosecuted, I just don’t see Paris as the start (or another battle) of a war. To me, the left abandoning its convictions to multiculturalism (as suggested by Lit3Bolt and implied elsewhere) and turning into the “less terrible” version of a fascist is weakness. It shows belief in multiculturalism is only convenient at points in time, and a left (or anything) that has only convenient principles is no better than and just as easily tripped into folly as any right-wing fascist. Further, a left-wing politics that co-opts some fascism to prevent it all will inevitably cede the ground to fascism elsewhere as circumstances permit, rendering the original reasons for the turn pointless.

    If anything is going to be done, and it certainly will be, it will probably be the final death of civil liberties after a long period of breaking them on the wheel. I honestly don’t think most people will miss them.

  49. Tillman says:


    Their is a subset of the population of Muslims that are violent and anti-liberal. Not Buddhists. Not Jews. Not Baptists. Muslims.

    Buddhists: take a look at what’s going on in Myanmar.

    Jews: The ultra-orthodox in Israel and their sway on Israeli affairs.

    Baptists: It is called the Westboro Baptist Church. Weak, sure, but Baptists have long had dominance in the South. I don’t think I have to illustrate further.

    Muslims don’t subscribe to a uniquely violent religion. I disagree heavily with Tony that religion itself is evil (I’m sure the deaths caused by the US would motivate revenge killing without religion involved, it doesn’t take a religion to calcify one group against another), but you’re just straight wrong to think Islam is particularly violent.

  50. WR says:

    @michael reynolds: I agree with you on the need for real force in Iraq, if Iraq were to happen. That’s one of many reasons we should never have done it — we don’t have the stomach to be Nazis, and that’s the only way to invade a country like that.

    But now you’re escalating to dropping atomic bombs, which blasts open a door the world has managed to keep shut since 1945. If we start nuking civilian populations simply because we can, how do we possibly keep India and Pakistan from blowing each other up? And then China gets into the act, because they’re right there.

    Nuclear war has to remain a complete taboo, or we face the obliteration of the planet. And that means it can’t be a Republican taboo — that is, it’s forbidden for those guys, but okay for me. It means the people who are most able to use them don’t. Ever. Except in retaliation for a first strike.

    You call yourself a realist in war, but right now you just seem to want to kill as many people as possible thinking that this will solve the problem. You’re smart enough to know that it won’t — or that if it does solve the immediate problem, it will create thousands of worse ones.

    There were plenty of smart people post WW2 who felt that since war with the Soviets was inevitable we should just launch the missiles and hope for the best. You sound just like them right now — except that you’ve started to cloak your call for genocide in the notion that if we don’t drop atom bombs in the Middle East, then Ted Cruz will be president. If we start dropping nukes, then Ted Cruz may or may not be our next president — but whoever is will probably be our last one.

  51. Gustopher says:

    Anything that normalizes the use of nuclear weapons is a much, much worse outcome than these pinprick attacks.

    And, 150-200 dead is a pinprick attack. It’s not an existential threat. It’s messy, it’s ugly, and it’s infuriating, but it’s still a pinprick. The price of a free and open society is a vulnerability to these pinpricks. This is what freedom sometimes looks like.

    There will be a modest, feel-good, ineffective military response. I mean, there pretty much has to be. But at the same time, France, the EU and even the US should be bringing pressure onto those who have been providing funding and support to ISIS (likely Turkey with its selectively porous borders, and the Sauds because they have too many damned meddling princes and one or more are bound to be involved), and putting off plans to get rid of Assad.

  52. Gustopher says:


    If anything is going to be done, and it certainly will be, it will probably be the final death of civil liberties after a long period of breaking them on the wheel. I honestly don’t think most people will miss them.

    Depends on the particular liberties being lost, I would expect. Privacy is already pretty much gone, but the government is far behind the private sector there. And, so long as the government is discreet about it, and doesn’t use it to prosecute minor crimes, I don’t think most people would care.

    It would be like we are all living in an apartment building with thin walls. You have a sense of the comings and goings, and you overhear things, but you have the common decency to not care if your neighbor is banging a different guy every night. Privacy can come from anonymity and apathy.

    That said, I can also imagine the government using this to send out arrest warrants for three quarters of American men as it turns out that some of the models on adult video streaming sites aren’t actually 18, and also they know you bought pot.

  53. Lit3Bolt says:


    Thanks for consistently engaging. As I said, I’m not sure what the appropriate response will be, but it looks like the panopticon is here to stay, because whereas terrorism used to be more localized in targets and aim, ISIS is using social media to basically subvert young Muslim men around the globe. The West will need agencies like the NSA to vacuum up everything with an Arabic hashtag and target these morons through anything they use that has electricity.

    The frustrating thing about ISIS is they don’t really have a goal other than “Come at me, bro.” This makes formulating a response difficult because you don’t want to give the enemy what they want, especially in a way that they can turn it into a propaganda mill.

    Now, I agree with MR than some ruthlessness should be summoned and liberals need to get in front of threats like this. We can’t simply chant “Liberty, Fraternity, Equality” and expect our society to NOT change in response to these threats. We should be able to compromise on principles in a pragmatic, measured way, and that’s what the state of emergency is allowing police in Belgium to do right now.

    At the same time, Michael’s fantasy for France to summon their inner Mongol and ruthlessly nuke Arab cities until the attacks stop is merely that…a fantasy. Like it or not, Michael, but the days of crucifying your enemies up and down the Appian Way are over. The endgame for ruthlessness is killing EVERYONE who could be a potential enemy. Once we nuked Raqqa, Damascus would be next, then Ryadiah, then Tehran, and then we’re playing nuclear whack-a-mole with any population of Muslims larger than 10,000 people, because we justified a nuclear response, which would result in tens of thousands of casualties at the very least, and poison the land for decades, because “they” killed 130 people of our people. So by your calculations, Michael, 9/11 should have been 30 Arab cities nuked?

    The other thought I have is that multiculturalism is convenient too, for the terrorists. These guys are throwbacks that are refusing to assimilate, and are using our multiculturalism against us. So now we have to target a population (young Muslims) without seeming that we’re targeting them, because we have to give them a path to assimilate but also pick out the bad ones and throw them in a hole somewhere….whatever, this is beyond my pay grade and I’m tired. But this international terrorism has been going on for 40 years. Something’s going to give eventually, whether it’s our lives, civil liberties, our belief in multiculturism, or belief in international apocalyptic death cults.

  54. PJ says:

    @michael reynolds:

    France has nuclear weapons. Pick an ISIS stronghold, say Raqqa. Give them 24 hour notice to evacuate the city. Then grow a mushroom cloud.

    ISIS/Daesh would spend the 24 hours making sure that most of the city wouldn’t be allowed to evacuate and also capture as many civilians as possible outside the city forcing them to the city.

  55. Tony W says:

    @MikeSJ: Yes. I said all religion is evil. You identified a single attack as evidence that Jews, Baptists and even Buddhists are innocent, while ignoring a long history of evil perpetrated by people waving the banner of religion.

    When innocents are killed because of irrational beliefs, those beliefs must be ridiculed.

    To quote the great Jon Stewart:

    “Religion – giving us hope and comfort in a world torn apart by religion”.

  56. WR says:

    @michael reynolds: Killing people is always satisfying, and it lets you feel tough. I suggest you reach Charles Pierce on the subject, though. He points out that the real source of the problem is the rulers of Saudi Arabia and other wealthy countries that fund these radicals to keep them off their own backs. So we can bomb the hell out of ISIS all we want — meanwhile, we’ll keep shipping money and weapons to our great friends, who keeps funneling it all to our sworn enemies.

    Fighting is fun. Being smart is hard. Sometimes the hard thing is the right thing.

  57. WR says:

    @michael reynolds: “If the Left won’t fight this war the Right will and it will be a hell of a lot worse for absolutely everyone.”

    Right. Because an atomic bomb dropped my a liberal is so much better than an atomic bomb dropped by a conservative.

    I guess that’s why the American soldiers killed in Vietnam under Johnson were so much less dead than the ones killed under Nixon.

  58. Stonetools says:

    I see that the non interventionist option pushed by Doug and popular on OTB has now been discarded. Remember Doug’s post just a couple of days ago about incoherent Obama’s strategy of attacking ISIS was? Turns out Doug was the incoherent one.
    It seems clear now that a more robust strategy is needed against ISIS. As usual, some liberals are going the overreach route ( nukes? Seriously ?) We can start by wholeheartedly supporting our best ally in the region, the Kurds. They are actually making progress against ISIS. THe French meanwhile are not quite the cheese eating surrender monkeys right wingers make them out to be. I expect that they will be joining the Americans in the skies over Syria. They might be doing what the US won’t do and put troops on the ground as well.
    As to refugee situation? It’s pretty clear that the bars are going to start going up. This is just the excuse that the countries who don’t want refugees need. Never mind the reality that the refugees are fleeing precisely this kind of violence.
    Ultimately, although ISIS is now Priority One, something will have to be done about Assad. Order has to be brought to Syria, or else the chaos will continue.

  59. michael reynolds says:


    That’s just rhetoric. You want Obama or Ted Cruz fighting a war with ISIS? You want Cameron or UKIP? You want Hollande or LePen?

    If this goes on, the Right will rise in Europe and in this country. Your concerns about a surveillance state will be tossed aside. Your concerns about civil liberties will go out the window. If this had happened in New York people would be yelling for more torture. And if it becomes a regular feature of life in the West we will be altered in ways that may be irreversible.

    If this sh-t goes on it will be impossible for Western countries to protect their Muslim populations, which will mean more polarization, more extremism, more police state, more big brother. That’s not prophecy, that’s inevitability and a loud chorus of “How dare you!” isn’t going to get the job done.


    So France drops some ordnance. Like I said, an impotent gesture from a county that does not have anything like the capacity to project meaningful conventional force. They’ll fly some missions. Big deal. You think ISIS will then cry bitter tears of regret? They know perfectly well what France can do and it obviously does not worry them.

    You don’t beat people by exacting a price they’re willing to pay. That’s not war, it’s a transaction, a trade.

    But you know what, people, call me all the names you like. Maybe ISIS goes away on its own. But right now you’ve got a death cult with thousands of adherents in western countries and they’ve been shown that we cannot stop them and the best anyone can come up with is, “Let’s keep doing what hasn’t worked so far.”

    F–king China with the Mongols. Let’s bribe the savages, let’s co-opt them, let’s trim our nails and powder our hair, let’s do anything so long as it’s nothing. There are suicide bombers in the heart of Europe and the liberal answer is to let the French fly some missions over Syria, accidentally kill a few civilians and retreat.

    Talk to me in five years and tell me how much worse things would have been if we’d dropped the hammer.

  60. michael reynolds says:


    Michael, but the days of crucifying your enemies up and down the Appian Way are over.

    You think they’re over for German skinheads and UKIP bully boys and LePen’s crowd? You think they’re over in the GOP? They’re over until they’re necessary.

    We’ve had 70 years without a major war – much of that time espousing a policy which involved annihilating the human race if necessary. MAD was doctrine in this country until about 25 years ago. 70 years ago we were burning cities full of civilians. You think we’ve somehow evolved into a different species than what we’ve been for the entirety of human history up to this point? Civilization is a veneer, it peels right off when things go bad.

    A little ruthlessness now could save us a hell of a lot more later. Unfortunately the only ruthlessness of which the French are capable is nuclear. We have other options, though I’ll be damned if I see why round-the-clock B-52 raids are better than a single nuke.

    We are going to end up back in that sh-thole in a ground war. And yes, that’s worse than wiping out the ISIS capital. Because it won’t work, so we’ll have a ground war and be right back where we are now. And this is the rational alternative? Rinse and repeat?

    It’s nonsense to talk about having to nuke city after city. It took two for the Japanese to fold. It was standard policy through thousands of years for kings and conquerors to annihilate a city pour encourager les autres, and it worked. Wipe out one and ten surrender peaceably.

  61. DrDaveT says:


    i don’t care about fighting them, we shouldn’t be opening our doors so they can flee the shit they can’t deal with [… ad nauseem…]



    You have no idea who your enemy is, nor how to distinguish that enemy from victims at least as innocent (and as deserving) as you… and you don’t care. You blame them for being victims, and smugly believe that you could never be in that position because… why? You’re not brown? Your religion is the One True Religion? You happened to be born elsewhere?

    You’re an embarrassment to civilization.

  62. Lit3Bolt says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I don’t think we’ve evolved. But it’s a matter of not hemming yourself in with your own rhetoric and your own options.

    Like people have said above, 130 people dead is a pinprick. A train crash. You’re willing to drop a nuke over that? What about the next attack? And the one after that? What if one gets caught before he can kill a bunch, but just kills 10 people instead? He could have killed a hundred people; maybe we should nuke his city, too. What if they just kill someone really important, like the President?

    And again, what if ISIS is claiming the work of al-Qaeda members? Or they’re just random d-bags? They pretend to be some Muslim version of SPECTRE, but I bet they’re bluffing a lot. Are they really an existential threat, so great it’s worth opening the nuclear genie bottle and a bunch of international ill will (to say the least, it’s not like nuking a random city will make disaffected Muslims go home and grow radishes).

    Treating ISIS like a city-state, with monolithic actions and intentions, is a mistake and WHAT THEY WANT. They would cheer and tweet images of nuclear fireballs as infinite proof that the Zion Elders of France want to end ISIS because they see it as a threat. Thousands of more young Muslims would buy cheap US guns and use them on US citizens. Unless they use the internet or phones, we cannot track them.

    I don’t necessarily disagree with your main point. The West will have to have a reckoning with radical Islam, and it will be messy, and lots of people will die. There will be other wars at some point. I want the vast majority of deaths to be on the ISIS side. But there has to be room for someone to take a knee. To submit. Nuclear weapons, by their use, remove the possibility of submission for the enemy. We’re already dealing with a suicidal enemy. I don’t want to see them become desperate as well.

  63. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    As a historical fact massive retaliation has not typically spawned greater resistance, rather the contrary.

    Yes, which is why the French, Polish, Jews, Greeks, Norwegians, Russians, Czechs, Chinese, etc. didn’t resist German and Japanese invasion and occupation. Once the Germans and Japanese instituted a policy of massive retaliation for resistance, the occupied settled down and didn’t form resistance movement…wait, what?

    Seriously, that’s a stupid stupid thing to write. It’s not a historical fact, it’s plainly wrong, and it betrays a fundamental ignorance of warfare and history.

  64. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Instead they should have reversed Bismarck and taken the rather new German state apart, put puppet governments in power in a a dozen or so competing German states. That would have been the winning move,

    No, that would have been the impossible move. After the battle of Tannenberg in August 1914, until the armistice on November 1918, not one Allied army ever fought on German soil. At the time the war ended, the German Army, in fact, was still on French soil, not all that far from Paris. The reason that the war ended by armistice, and not by invasion, was that the Allied armies were militarily incapable of invading Germany. Germany was not beaten in the field and was still entirely capable of repelling any foreign invasion.

    The idea above is a fantasy. A childish fantasy by someone ignorant of the actual facts and history of the war.

  65. Tyrell says:

    @michael reynolds: We certainly do not want to get bogged down in a no end, no win war. And presidents do not dare get caught with a war on their hands.

  66. Grewgills says:

    @michael reynolds:
    Daesh is not imperial Japan and the conflict with them and other Islamic terrorists bears next to no resemblance to WWII (or any other conventional war). Daesh will not react the same as imperial Japan and the terrorists coming from other countries will not react the same as Japanese soldiers in the aftermath of WWII. It is ridiculous to think that parallel will play out in anywhere near the same way. The non-Daesh international aftermath on France, or any Western power, dropping a nuke in the middle east is predictably far worse than the status quo.

  67. Franklin says:


    How do you educate women when young girls are butcher/burned alive for the crime of attending school?

    Yup. That’s what I meant when I said it was most difficult in the places that need it most.

  68. Stonetools says:

    Frankly, we are not going to use nuclear weapons on ISIS, not now and probably not ever. Michael’s suggestion is a total nonstarter. But ISIS does have to be dealt with. It does seem that when a jihadist group gets to have something like a state , with territory and resources, they organize and carry out major strikes against the “far enemy”‘ the West. Remember the many posts and comments about Syria being a purely local conflict that poses no threat to the Weat? Seems pretty silly in hindsight, doesn’t it?
    I’m not sure what the West can do apart fro an intensified bombing and drone campaign and strong support of the Kurds. I expect talk of Obama’s recklessness in putting advisors on the grounds to subside. It’s clear now that ISIS poses a clear threat to US interests and has the power to strike at those interests. I expect it’s only a matter of time before we see at least an attempt at such a strike.

  69. Matt says:

    @Tillman: There’s also the lord’s resistance army and more in Africa that claim to be Christian but commit massive amount of atrocities.

    Every religion has some sort of radical terrorist group claiming it.

  70. Guarneri says:

    Is Michael done advocating vaporization and incineration yet?

  71. Lit3Bolt says:



    Dude’s swaggering like one of his own fantasy characters. It’s amusing really.

  72. WR says:

    @michael reynolds: “Your concerns about a surveillance state will be tossed aside. Your concerns about civil liberties will go out the window. If this had happened in New York people would be yelling for more torture. And if it becomes a regular feature of life in the West we will be altered in ways that may be irreversible.”

    In other words, the only way to keep the Republicans from destroying all civil rights and freedoms is to destroy them ourselves before they get the chance.

    No, thank you. Even in the face of Scary Brown People and Scarier Republican People, I choose to find a way to uphold the principles on which this country was founded.