The Way Ahead for France, Europe and America

This is a shocking time for France, Europe and the world overall. My motherland has not seen such bloodshed since the Second World War, even if it has a history of terrorist attacks, be them from religious extremists (ISIS now or the Algerian GIA in the 1990s), Basque separatists or communist urban guerrilla organizations. The West has adopted the right attitude. The reaction to the November 13 attacks has been appropriately swift. Drastically increasing security has been long overdue. Many poor, suburban areas became gradually lawless over time, and a breeding ground for hate speech and radical Islam. And perhaps the country of human rights suffered from an excess of human rights: under the pretense of free speech, how did so much anti-France discourse take place, and how did so many dangerous mosques stay open? And as the world's mightiest country, we in America have a duty to keep the Middle East stable. That has not been done under the Obama administration, what now has repercussions all across the world. How did we let ISIS grow, or even appear? France has been right to promptly declare state of emergency for 3 months, and to go to war in Syria -and against terrorism within European borders. The French constitution was swiftly changed, and last week's Versailles emergency congress organized by François Hollande can only remind one of the 1789 Estates-General summon, at the start of the French Revolution. There are still glimmers of hope in the avalanche of news that followed the Paris attacks. When looking well enough, the terrorists and their networks are of limited sophistication. They tend to be mostly homegrown, lost and hopeless souls involved in petty traffics and crimes. In a laughable TV interview during Wednesday's raid, their Saint-Denis host was arrested in front of cameras and became the subject of viral memes online. So now that the Western world is unified against them, they should be no match for the hundreds of thousand, well-funded, well-equipped and well-intelligenced security forces and armies. There are an estimated 23,000 jihadis in Syria, 6,000 of European citizenship. They should experience rapid defeat now that serious opposition is activated for the first time. But Syria is only one part of the issue. The online extremist propaganda agitates the other, larger aspect of the problem: the weak and desperate spirits which are to some extent the product of European societies -and France the first- that have not been able to properly give opportunities to its youths, and especially the large swath of those of immigrant descent, oftentimes Muslims. The overall discontent is nothing new, and at least an issue 30 years in the making. It is the result of a mix of failed social, housing, economic and immigration policies. Numerous poor suburban areas have gradually become ghettos, with rampant unemployment estimated at around 40-50% for towns like Saint-Denis. While the action in the Middle East should lead to both terror attacks and fears leveling off over time, an equally important part of the fight is within French borders. There is no justification in the world for terrorism. But if these areas are not given hope, some of its residents become tempted by radical Islam. The economy needs to be liberalized in order for jobs to be created, as well as for French coffers to be replenished. No easy feast after an already lackluster French economy slowed in the wake of the attacks. Finance minister Emmanuel Macron, a former Rothschild investment banker, has begun addressing the labor market's inflexibility. Empowering security forces and intelligence, as it is done now, if not more, might need to become permanent. And reversing the downward spiral on which poor neighborhoods are will imply investments in both social and integration programs, along with employment initiatives and significant investments in infrastructures. Implementing this will take a strong, badly-needed leader, with a bold vision to lay out over 20 or 30 years. The state of emergency measures are a start. But wider action is necessary. And as France goes through dealing with both multiculturalism and terror, November 2015 is an opportunity for the United States to join efforts with its historical European ally in leading the fight for Democracy. The United States are the ultimate example of communities of extreme diversities living successfully together. Vive la France, and God Bless America.