Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Paris Terror Attacks 2015 : The Media and the Uses of Terror

'...the attack becomes all the more tragic and absurd: two young French Muslims of Arab descent have not assaulted the numerous extreme rightwing newspapers that exist in France (Minute, Valeurs Actuelles) who ceaselessly attack Arabs, Muslims and fundamentalists, but the very newspaper that did the most to fight racism'-Olivier Tonneau.
The entire point of murdering 12 radical leftists journalists for 'insulting' Islam and caricaturing Muhammad, instead of those associated with French far-right journals, cannot be termed 'absurd' or 'tragic' unless the assumption is that such an attack would appear to have been more 'logical'.

On the contrary, the strategy of polarising French society between defenders of the secular republic and enlightenment values and those who would be associated with Islam as a 'reactionary' dogma was precisely the intended consequence of the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo.

The Koauchi brothers were not intelligent enough to really grasp what their mission was beyond 'avenging the prophet'. They were 'foot soldiers of God' and carrying out their task on behalf of Al Qaida on the Arab Peninsula as part of a campaign to grab global media attention away from ISIS.

It is the idea that the terror actions of two 'useful' idiots could constitute a genuine threat to the entire basis of the French Republic that is absurd, as is the attempt to portray the dead journalists as martyrs for free speech as opposed to rather boring and tasteless provocateurs.

There is something deeply weird about incorporating the Charlie Hebdo magazine into a defence of France's long tradition of free speech by state sponsorship from the French Ministry of Culture, as though the satire tradition was so weak it needs government subsidies just as French farming does.

If France was so fearless, it would simply carry on with business as usual without the need for the state to defend its satire heritage with people on rallies proclaiming 'We Are Not Afraid'. The emphasis would be on the criminal murder investigation and why known jihadi-terrorists were not monitored properly.

The terror attack is being exploited, as Tonneau suggests as 'an opportunity to create a false unanimity' but not primarily because of supposed threats from the French Front National. It is being used to justify France's universal mission to liberate the globe from evil 'reactionary' forces such as jihadists.

Tonneau criticises Manuel Valls for stating France was 'at war with terror' because it sounds like George Bush. He clearly is mentioned to give the impression that France should not fall for the inane rhetoric of a stupid American. Yet it was repeated consistently by President Hollande after the attack.

The response was rally cry for a cosmic battle against planetary evil. Hollande said the outrage should last forever. Prime Minister Manuel Valls said “It is a war against terrorism, against jihadism, against radical Islam, against everything that is aimed at breaking fraternity, freedom, solidarity”.

This is basically a call to arms, a format for permanent war across the globe. That is something that comes in handy if the aim is to intervene militarily in lands stretching from sub-Saharan Africa through to the Maghreb where strategic resource interests dictate drone ops and army deployments.

Far from being merely an 'insular' question of France's identity and so on, the French revolutionary tradition is being conscripted and packaged in the age of the consumer, to provide the ideological pretext to intervene in lands such as Libya in 2011 or Mali in 2013 to 'promote democracy'.

Those who question the wisdom of these military interventions, therefore, can easily be maligned as 'not caring' about the human rights of those being threatened by what Valls termed 'radical Islam' or jihadists. This has been the routine position of posturing windbags such as Bernard Henri-Levy.

A few days before the Paris attacks Hollande had said France was ready to strike at fighters carrying weapons out of the southern border of Libya. He then said France was 'at war' in Mali. So the prospect of getting drawn into intractable conflicts, in sectarian and civil wars abroad increases.

Ultimately, France's vulnerability to these terror actions has little to do with the defence of freedom of speech against Islam, though clearly Islamists do not care much for it. This was clear in the shameful attempt to charge Houellebecq with 'inciting racial hatred' in 2002 for criticising Islam.

The Paris terror attacks are ultimately blowback from a shoddy foreign policy in which France was prepared to align with regional powers in the Middle East sponsoring Sunni jihadists from Libya to Syria. Until 2013, little was done to prevent western jihadists going to Syria as Assad had 'to go'.

A free press and journalists with integrity ought to be asking these sorts of hard questions about France's cynical and bungling foreign policy. That tends not to be happening. Columnists such as Natalie Nougayr├Ęde are even portraying the Paris terror attacks as part of Europe's 'existential crisis'.

( To be Continued later )

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