In some ways, there isn’t that much to say about the Paris attacks. They’re horrific, of course. But no more horrific than the ongoing Syrian civil war. It hits home, of course, for those of us who’ve been to Paris, or who know people in Paris, or who care about Paris for whatever other reason. Paris is familiar, whereas Syria is not. But I do have a few other thoughts in the wake of this awful tragedy.
- This attack is not going to achieve what ISIS wanted it to achieve.
The one thing this attack is guaranteed to do, is to galvanize the people of France to supporting the campaign against ISIS. The French are already coalition partners with the United States, and this will just strengthen their resolve. Oh sure, there will be some outsiders who will counsel – not at all unreasonably, by the way – that France should withdraw from the coalition. But it’s not going to happen.
- If there is one country I wouldn’t have fucked with, it’s the Russians.
By now, it’s pretty clear that ISIS is also behind the downing of the Russian Metrojet Flight flying to St. Petersburg from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt last week. The Russians have no sense of humor about this kind of thing. None at all. And while they maybe in opposition to us around their support of Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad, they are now united with us around their opposition to ISIS. This is not a case of the enemy of my enemy is my friend. If there are two countries you probably don’t want to unite in opposition to you, the United States and Russia might be at the top of that list.
- I do worry about the offspring of the current Syrian refugees who will turn radical in their own time.
Right now we have the Syrian (and other) refugee crisis, which has been so much in the news. Literally hundreds of thousands of these Flüchtlinge will end up in Germany, and most of them will be very grateful at the chance for a new life. Their offspring, the next generation, not so much. Many of them will be grateful, but many others will be frustrated when Germany inevitable does not turn out to be the paradise that their parents imagined it to be. (Believe me when I tell you that the weather alone insures that Germany is no paradise. Just like England.) But worse, many of them will experience small but repeated forms of racism and other kinds of ostracism, and the more easily frustrated of them will be a receptive audience for the ISIS of the future, whoever that may be 25 years from now. It’s kind of inevitable.
- For all those frustrated Muslims longing for a return of a great Caliphate, those dreams are about to be crushed. Once again.
There were, of course, great Caliphates after the death of the prophet Muhammed. And during the crusades the Muslims repeatedly fended off attempts by the Christian Crusaders to retake the Holy Land, and particularly the city of Jerusalem. But Western technology overtook the Muslims, and now the countries of the Middle East are no match for the military might of the United States, Europe, and also Russia. While I have some small amount of sympathy with their frustration, running headfirst into a brick wall is not going to solve their problems. And that’s what Muslim Radicals are doing, metaphorically speaking, when they try to attack the West militarily.
- I have a Fantasy about the moment that these Muslim Radicals come to the end of their life.
I’ve had this persistent fantasy – which started after the September 11 attacks – that at the moment that they perish, in a burst of airplane jet fuel or as the consequence of a suicide belt, there is a short interval where these Muslim radicals discover that they did it all for nothing. There is no God. There is no afterlife. Their death was completely meaningless, in the service of a gigantic lie. I have this fantasy that at this moment of revelation time is suspended almost infinitely, and in this suspended state these assholes after come to grips with the complete meaningless of their lives. Oh the cognitive dissonance that would ensue!
Of course, it’s just a fantasy. These “martyrs” will die believing that they really are about to encounter 70 virgins, or whatever other infantile fantasies animate their belief system. “Allahu Akbar” they were heard to shout. But God is not great. God is not even good. God is nonexistent. He/she/it doesn’t exist at all. There is no God, not of the Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu or even Wicca Pagan variety. The fantasy of a God is no more real than my fantasy of a moment of revelation for all of these misguided idiots mowing down French citizens and then blowing themselves up. People think there is no harm in believing in a God. But they are profoundly wrong. It’s a great delusion to believe in any kind of God, but especially in a God who would countenance or reward the kind of thing that happened in Paris yesterday.