French President Francois Hollande >YouTube/Sky News

Paris and the Post-9/11 Cycle to Nowhere

Not long after the Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the worst attack on French soil since WWII, President Francois Hollande vowed to wage a “pitiless” attack on the group, whose crime he called an “act of war.” As of writing, at least 129 people were killed in a coordinated string of attacks Friday the 13th, including over 80 concertgoers who were held hostage in a sold-out hall. Witnesses say the gunmen sprayed bullets at the crowed and took time to re-load twice. All seven attackers involved are dead, but it’s harder to think of a bloodier episode of wanton murder resulting in so many deaths in such a short span of time.

French President Francois Hollande >YouTube/Sky News
French President Francois Hollande makes a statement to the people after Friday’s attacks. >YouTube/Sky News

That the attacks happened with France being on high alert for months since the Charlie Hebdo attacks earlier this year can’t look very good on Hollande, which is probably why he chose to speak to his constituents so hawkishly, promising to destroy and kill terrorists without mercy. None of this rhetoric sounds new. Hollande sounded an awful lot like George W. Bush in 2001, when he, much like the French president, called 9/11 an “act of war.” Al-Qaida, a ragtag group of semi-coordinated, cave-dwelling extremists were thus upgraded to “warrior” status, much like how ISIS is often referred to as a “state” that represents pure evil just like how the Nazis used to do it.

Yet the era of conventional warfare has come to a close, and the West is facing a strategic conundrum that manifests not just on the battlefield, but in the form of ideologies, sentiments, grievances, and, on occasion, terrorism. Ideas and states of affairs can’t be fought on the battlefield, just like “terrorism” (a tactic) cannot be fought against through war. But when this kind of rhetoric is carried out literally through invasions and interventions, a cycle of bloody vengeance and strategic blunder always ensues. This seems to be the political and global pattern of the post-9/11 era. If France cobbles together a coalition of willing allies (an unlikely scenario) to step up the war against ISIS, she’d be following the same formula that has only helped exacerbate violent Muslim extremism.

How to get rid of ISIS isn’t the same thing as how to get rid of Muslim terrorism. ISIS is but one manifestation of a broader spectrum of violent behavior. Yet this behavior is not without a genealogy or a regional context. The Syrian uprising, which has by now turned into a bloody war of attrition, helped to galvanize Sunni violent extremism in the region. Al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) needed a new lease on life after the U.S. began to draw down its presence in Iraq, and a war against the Alawi Bashar Assad fit the bill just fine. Furthermore, there was hardly any organized Sunni extremism in Iraq/Syria before 2003. One hardly needs to point out the obvious here. The U.S. invasion of Iraq under Bush eventually led to the infamous marriage between Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a known terrorist in the region, and Osama bin Laden. Together they gave birth to AQI, which is more or less the precursor to ISIS.

Bush probably didn’t think he was helping to bring about ISIS when he and his advisers decided to invade Iraq, but the post-9/11 era is littered with similar unintended consequences. In fact, virtually every single post-9/11 war or intervention in the Middle East was aimed at (officially, anyway) bringing about a more stable and just society (led by someone who’d do the West’s bidding). Instead, the opposite has happened almost every single time. Every country, from Iraq to Libya to Afghanistan, having gone through some kind of U.S.-facilitated makeover, is now characterized by a fragmented society in a violently adversarial relationship with an incompetent central government.

The fact is that the Middle East region is now tied together by a web of complex political relationships, antagonisms and realities. If it was almost impossible for the Bush administration to impose its will on the region in 2001, Hollande and Co. will have zero chance of doing so in the Middle East of today. The post-9/11 military-first paradigm (the “war on terror”) of defeating extremism has failed to bring about anything other than instability. Sometimes, as in the case of #Paris, that broiling instability likes to spill into the rest of the world, where things are presumably more “civilized.” Yet the world of disaffected minorities and disenfranchised underclasses make it easier for ISIS’ rhetoric to resonate, especially when such talk is so good at hijacking a huge list of historical grievances.

The violent extremists who misappropriate scripture to kill innocent people have not hijacked Islam. They’ve hijacked Muslim grievances. Dealing with these grievances in an effective and fair manner will go a long way in disrupting the narrative with which Muslim extremists sustain themselves. This means giving those who are vulnerable to ISIS’ seduction an easier path to investing in society. Those who don’t have much to live for will die for a distorted version of the world, since their own lives are so distorted. For France, rather than going to war, giving its community of 5 million Muslims more opportunities to better their lives would be a good place to start.

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    Steven Zhou

    Steven Zhou is a writer and journalist based in Toronto, Canada. Read his work at and follow him on Twitter at @stevenzzhou

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    • O. Locke

      more justification from moslem apologists.

      REFORM the islamic death cult. what is so hard about this? bush did not make some murderer go to a crowded place and open fire.

      it is shameful that the authors at the “islamic” monthly keep justifying this violence!


      • Samir Kabir

        Perhaps a different publication would be more to your liking. Just a suggestion.

        • O. Locke

          this one is just fine.


          obfuscation won’t change the necessity, pal.


          • 1DrM

            You’re the one in need of reformation, but I’m afraid it’s too late for the white death cult. How can a cancer be reformed? Grow up subhuman, the vast majority of terrorists are white western males
            from North America and Western Europe. Proof? Overwhelming empirical
            evidence, 500 years and counting from the glaciers of Europe to the sands of Iraq.

            • O. Locke

              look, pal.

              making ridiculous statements won’t change the fact that islam must be reformed. no matter how many attacks on a race you make the facts will remain.

              islam MUST reform. the alternative is a confrontation with the other 5-6 billion people on the planet that will never practice the islamic faith.

              thanks for your input and the exchange, pal.

            • 1DrM

              Wrong, fool. You’re one to complain about “ridiculous statements” eh? Who do you think you are, subhuman? You can barely speak for yourself, let alone for 6 billion people. You must be a product of the broken American school system to utter such nonsense. Western extremists and terrorists and the fantasy world of lies and deceit you’ve built for yourselves fool no one. It is not Islam which is need of reformation, but white western fanatics who are hell bent on world domination. You seek confrontation and then pretend to be victims. When you’re directly engaged in terrorism you do it through proxies like Al-CIA & ISIS. Your bloody history is testament to your criminality. Pick up a history book when you’re done feasting on FOX feces. Over 500 million murdered in the last 5 centuries by your lot, a record of killing unmatched in history. Nothing to do with race, just facts.
              Get back to me when you find those mythical Iraqi WMDs,14 years and 1.5 million dead Iraqis and counting. Chew on that “pal.”

            • O. Locke

              look, bud.

              making up conspiracy theories won’t take away from the fact that reforming islam is very necessary and past due.

              although I should tell you that many western muslims have ALREADY reformed the way they practice islam. they don’t read the quran, they don’t fast, they don’t pray, they don’t pay zakat, they will never go to hajj, and they don’t really make any sort of declartion of their faith.

              those individuals are still muslim. they like having their girlfirends, their beer, and watching their porn on the internet (god forgot to mention by the way). YOU Don’t speak for them.

              but thanks for your input and the exchange, bud.

            • 1DrM

              Wrong again, white extremist. The only conspiracy theories are the ones you believe in, you pathetic clown. Historical facts are not conspiracy theories. it’s not my problem that you’re too much of a ignorant coward and liar incapable of civilized debate. Are you a kindergarten drop out? So the “reformed Muslims” as you call them are carbon copies of yourselves? LOL! You are clearly delusional and engaged in wishful thinking. You know nothing about Islam and Muslims. The vast majority of Western Muslims are observant, and you sure as hell don’t speak for those that aren’t. Projecting your lies and insecurities onto Muslims will not help you get past your inherent inferiority. Fact it “bud,” you are the product of a failed violent society, a white western death cult. Where are the moderate white westerners I wonder? I suspect they don’t exist? How’s that for generalizations?
              I repeat get back to me when you find those fictitious Iraqi WMDs 14 years and 1.5 million dead Iraqis and counting, satanic hypocrite.

            • O. Locke

              look, “1DrM”.

              wmd was found in iraq. but more than that George W. Bush will be known as the father of the islamic reformation and will be repsected by muslims around the globe.

              muslims in the west have already reformed. it’s already happened. you might not like it but the facts will remain the facts.

              thank you for your conspiracy theories and demented negativity, “1DrM”.

            • 1DrM

              Wrong again, “O.Locke.” Predictable and stupid to a fault. Why am I not surprised? NO WMD was ever found in Iraq. PERIOD! For you to believe otherwise after 14 years demonstrates that you are delusional and reliant on conspiracy websites. FYI your rectum is not a credible source. Further adding to your psychosis you believe that a mass murdering war criminal like Bush is a “the father of the islamic reformation and will be repsected by muslims around the globe.” LOL! Laughable and ridiculous in the extreme. You probably believe global warming is a myth as well. Nothing you bloviate at this point can be taken seriously.
              Face reality “O. Locke” you are a sad, pathetic, delusional, idiot without any connection to reality. Keep believing that Western Muslim are carbon copies of you losers like yourselves. You are a typical member of the white death cult incapable of being reformed(you can’t reform cancer). No facts, no figures, no future just delusional of grandeur. Stick to stocking cans on isle 6, chewing FOX feces and leave the real world to the adults, you sorry inbred maggot.

            • O. Locke

              look, pal.

              the fact is that wmd WAS found. you might not like those facts but the NY times reported on it. you can read about it if you’re not to afraid to have your warped worldview challenged.

              george w. bush isn’t a war criminal. george bush is the father of the islamic reformation. here again we have a westerner doing the job for muslims who won’t or can’t do things for themselves.

              And we can be sure what the quran’s position on global warming is. somehow god forgot to tell that part to the angel gabriel so that he might mention it to humanity.

              and I want to say thank you for your personal insults, pal.

              very loving and islamic.

            • 1DrM

              You’re like a boring broken record. Nothing remotely intelligent or related to reality. You can repeat the lies as many times as you want boy, it won’t make you anything less then a laughing stock. Iraq had no WMDs. You don’t have a shred of evidence from a single credible source. Your ridiculous comments about Bush(who had shoes thrown at him in his final days in office) are enough to dismiss you for the paranoid delusional clown that you are. I doubt the white death can be reformed, sterilization would be a great start. Thus I declare myself the father of the effort to reform white western extremists and terrorists. lol
              I have no regrets about insulting you since you came here to insult us in the first place, you hypocritical bastard. You have my sincere pity for the spiritual poverty of the culture you had no choice in being born into.Now slither along back to the latrine you were conceived and leave the discussion to the adults.

            • O. Locke

              very adult and very islamic of you.

              facts will remain facts.

              thanks, pal!

            • 1DrM

              Yawn, still babbling the same old refuted nonsense? Disrespect others and expect to be treated with kid gloves? How very adult and white of you. I’m treating you for what you are: a low life, lying Nazi cockroach. No facts, no figures, no credibility whatsoever, just weak wishful lies, that your wasted life in a nutshell, O.Locke. Facts will remain facts no matter how much you whine, kick and scream against them.

              Your utter stupidity and humiliation are a delight to behold. Piss off, “pal.”

            • O. Locke

              who did I disrespect?

              saying that a religion that has become a death cult should be reformed into what muslims in the west already do is disrespect?

              I’m not sure where you’re getting your criticisms from. one can debate whether or not GWB will be considered the father of a reformation that is actively taking place but you’ve verbally abused me.

              I haven’t been rude to you at all, pal. questioning my humanity. you should be ashamed of yourself if you indeed consider yourself a muslim.

              the facts remain. islam MUST reform itself. your verbal abuse will not change that fact.

              thanks for your input and the exchange.

            • 1DrM

              zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz repeating and recycling the same set of refuted boring lies common among inbred members of the white terrorist death cult wont make them palatable to human beings.
              Kill yourself, Nazi vermin.

            • O. Locke

              read this and weep for your human brothers and sisters in the middle east:


            • 1DrM

              ZZZZZZZZZZZ. Nobody takes the British created, American run Saudi Kingdom and it’s phony “scholars” seriously. Want me to pull out the daily stories of well respected western lunatics and extremists issuing ridiculous statements? For an idiot who doesn’t believe in global warming but conspiracy theories you’re one to point fingers eh? No crocodile tears of the millions of victims of white Anglo-American terrorism in the Middle East and beyond, Nazi hypocrite?
              Slither back to your hole, vermin.

            • O. Locke

              oh so now the moslem death cult is the west’s fault.

              got it!

              thanks for the illustration of the moslem apologist that can’t seem to understand islam needs a reformation.

              you’re removing yourself from the discussion with your hate and ignorance, pal.


            • 1DrM

              zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz Pick up a history book and read about it, you retarded wanker. I’m not doing your homework for you. Did you graduate kindergarten, boy/ You mentally ill white death cultists and Nazi liars & hypocrites are boring and repetitive.

            • O. Locke

              if I pick up a history book I notice that islam makes delusional ridiculous requirements of its adherents. so much so that people can’t even follow it. but more than that I see that islam has reduced to a death cult and MUST be reformed.

              thanks for your input and the exchange, pal.

            • 1DrM

              You’ve never read a history book, you ridiculous sewer rat. What could be more ridiculous then you claiming the white terrorist George Bush is “the father of Islamic reformation”? IYou’re a boring delusional loser living off welfare spending all your time online arguing with your superiors, most likely a product of white inbreeding, how else could you be so idiotic? A troll who who can’t come to grips with reality, and wasting my time. A member of the Nazi white death cult which MUST AND WILL be exterminated. It’s only a matter of time. Now back to back to your medications, cockroach.

            • O. Locke

              look, pal.

              you know I’m right that George W. Bush is the father of the islamic reformation. we shouldn’t even need to debate that point. the conversation is not about GWB anymore. the conversation is about reforming islam.

              I will say that it is tellign you use the precise words of the bigot to advance your point. you’ve verbally attacked me and I have never attacked you personally. you should be ashamed of yourself.

              I will say thank you for the illustration of the moslem apologist to angry to examine their position on the facts.

              thanks, pal!

              you have my permission to take the last word.

            • 1DrM

              Lying bastard, this post was never about “reforming Islam.” You came to a Muslim website to provoke and disrespect, and unfortunately for you..I cleaned your clock. This isn’t FOX news and you exercise no power here. You attacked all Muslims and expect me to show you courtesy, you low life POS? Not happening, boy. You are a mentally ill white western Christofascist American lunatic. Your support for Iraq WMD lies and Bush, the mass murdering war criminal shows how unhinged you are. You are not sure of any such thing. You are, in fact, lying and delusional. You have elevated the strawman argument to a trollishly hellish level. You simply pick things out of your fantasy land mind, and project them onto Muslims, without any concern for truth whatsoever. Your relentless misrepresentations indicate something very unhealthy about your mental life. I know very well you like the typical Republican conspiracy theorist also believe Obama is Muslim, support Trump, along with denying global climate change etc. Now the question is what can be done about white western extremists like you? Nothing but sterilization and euthanasia. In conclusion, Muslims will NEVER change Islam to make you or any other fascist white terrorists happy. It’s that simple. Your lies are weak and impotent while our religion is strong and resilient. Islam will keep growing even in your own backyard and your grandchildren will confirm that they are Muslim when they visit your grave. And there’s not a damn do about it.
              As the father of the white reformation, I’d tell you to go to hell but we all know that’s where you and the rest of the white death are headed for anyway.

    • Joe M

      If Islam is a peaceful religion, then prove it. Muslim leaders appear on talk shows to air their grievances; that they are being villified by Islamaphobists. They are probably right, but they don’t see the cause. I can never remember seeing a Muslim leader exhorting his followers to drive these terrorists from their midst.

      If you’re not with us, then you’re with the terrorists. Where is the “Million Man March” against terror? Have one of these, and watch antipathy against Muslims dissipate.

      • 1DrM

        Another white western extremist moron with the same set of failed barking points. “If you’re not with us, then you’re with the terrorists”? Sounds like that mass murdering terrorist George Bush. Grow up fool, the vast majority of terrorists are white western males from North America and Western Europe. Proof? Overwhelming empirical evidence, 500 years and counting.

        • Hjaðningavíg

          Shit skin.

          First Trump. Next bomb Iran!

          • 1DrM

            Settle down, generic swine skin. Let the adults do the talking.

            • Hjaðningavíg

              I wipe my shitty anus with pages torn from the koran and post the shitty pages to a random mosque.

            • Hjaðningavíg

              When re you going back to curry land, fat boy?