I wish we could be certain that our political leaders would always react to dramatic events only after thoroughly analyzing the situation to determine the most adequate and commensurate response. The United States reacted to 9/11 by the war on terror, exactly as President Francois Hollande reacted by declaring war on ISIS. George W. Bush took the most inadequate and political decision to support the neocon push for a war in Iraq that is and remains responsible to this day for the turmoil in the Middle East that has cost hundreds of thousands of lives.
Why did France attack ISIS early October? The decision by President Hollande to bomb ISIS in early October came out of the blue. Up to that point, France had been very ambiguous in its attitude towards ISIS, protecting its "special relationship" with Qatar and Saudi Arabia who have been financing terrorists for a long time. Hollande followed in Sarkozy's footsteps. The French attack was out of frustration (because of their ambiguity) and not part of the coalition against ISIS.
Had France acted as part of the coalition, the country may not have been singled out.
France is in a difficult election phase The solemn declaration by President Hollande in Versailles at a joint meeting of the House of Representatives and the Senate took place only a few weeks before the regional elections. It allowed the Socialist President to take the "right" opposition on the wrong foot by being more conservative than they are. Furthermore, the "etat d'urgence" that the President wants to use for more than three months could help the Socialist Party to retain some regions that are expected to go with the opposition.
France is not at war with ISIS: terror is a permanent state of the world The variable geometry of French politics that opposed the inclusion of Iran on behalf of the Sunnis, was ill conceived. Now, the government has declared that France is at war. The same criticism that the French expressed about the use of the "war on terror" of George W. Bush could now be said about France.
We need to stop fooling ourselves: terror is a permanent state of the world. The fight against Hezbollah or Hamas, the attacks of Palestinians on Israel and vice-versa, the Kenyan bombing, the fight against Boko Haram in Africa, the 40 plus dead of Beirut last week -- they all demonstrate the existence of a fundamentalist undercurrent that uses religions for criminal purposes.
Anti-terrorism is a different art and action than war. It sounds good to talk about war, but in this case, it does not make sense.
Most of Europe has chosen the wrong path to integration There are two models for integration. The first model is one that accepts pluralism and therefore, creates clusters of communities like Molenbeek in Belgium who apply their own laws and principles, without consideration of the laws set by the country in which they live. Most European countries have chosen this model.
The second model is for the country to impose, by all legal means, the law of the land. In France, the law of the Republic should apply even to minorities.
The cultural integration has, in fact, improved: the current French culture is as populated and lively with non-French artists living as it is with French artists. Many universities have excellent professors from Maghreb and other Middle Eastern countries.
However, France needs to gradually work toward a new model of integration that is respectful of the laws as well as of the differences by enforcing the laws of the Republic. Excision, women's rights, burqa, polygamy are against the law.
Is France a victim? Yes, ISIS is instrumental in what happened in Paris. But, the attacks have been executed by Belgian and French citizens of Middle Eastern origin. While politicians in public debates would like to "export" the responsibility of the country (even to Belgium), they refuse to focus on the internal changes that must be made. The outside enemy is the weakest and most convenient finger-pointing of governments.
The real problem is inside France itself. With a population of almost 5 million Muslims and secularism as fundamental to French values, it is essential that the solutions must also be found internally.
In fighting terror, nobody can externalize responsibility.
US Governors are using the Paris attacks as an excuse. It is always a challenge to accommodate migrants. The rebellion of 24 US Governors against possible Syrian migrants is hypocritical. The Paris attacks aim to destabilize France, and so far seem to have boomeranged against the perpetrators.
The number of migrants in the US represent less than one per thousand of the population. They cannot be a real threat. The excuse that Syria is not an American war is also unacceptable, particularly since the turmoil in the Middle East has been the result of misguided US politics.
There is an urgent need for consensus that integrates the humanitarian aspect of immigration. As far as I am concerned, the "jury is out" on the reaction of France to the Paris attacks. They have certainly created a debate in France that has opened Pandora's Box on issues which politicians had chosen to ignore. Now is the time for wisdom and courage, not revenge.