Paris bombing: after the initial reports

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Brandenburg Gate in Berlin lit with the colors of the French Flag. Courtesy of Sandro Schroeder through Creative Commons

The media has been nearly consumed by coverage of the Paris bombings since the Nov. 13. Now that the hype has faded, let’s review some important consequences, which may have been missed initially.

Retaliation

According to Reuters, searches for Islamic State members have been undertaken by Belgium, France and Turkey since the attack. France has begun conducting air strikes in Syria. The Islamic State, better known as ISIS, is an amalgamation of various Islamic terrorist groups operating around the world.

Bombings on various countries by United States forces since the attack include Libya—the day after the attack—and Syria, which had started being bombed before the terrorist attack, according to Reuters.

Reuters reports that both the U.S. and French governments have been pushing Russia to focus their ISIS attacks in Syria after a Russian plane was shot down by Turkish forces near the Syria-Turkey border.

Meanwhile, on Nov. 16, Reuters reported that the U.S. approved the sale of $1.29 billion worth of smart bombs to Saudi Arabia.

Common enemies

It seems that the terrorist strikes have actually brought together many countries that have had shaky relations in the past. It is hard to forget the anti-French rhetoric after France’s refusal to back the U.S. war in Iraq. Now the two countries have a common enemy and are certainly assisting each other in the fight.

French President François Hollande visited the U.S. on Tuesday, Nov. 27. U.S. President Barack Obama offered solidarity to France and encouraged all of Europe to increase their fight against ISIS, as the New York Times reports. Other scheduled stops for Hollande were in Russia, Germany, Italy, Canada and China, as well as with the European Union president and United Nations secretary-general in a search for allies on fighting the ISIS terrorist threat.

On a more surprising note, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the U.S. and Russian governments to work together in eliminating the terrorist threats, according to Reuters. Both President Obama and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev have made statements about how all countries should work together on this.

Nonviolent response

One Reuters story argued on behalf of counterterrorism experts that sending in U.S. ground troops was misguided; they said it would “risk backfiring by feeding the group’s apocalyptic narrative.” The experts warn that it will be a long fight and many will die in the process.

“If you look what our violence has accomplished,” said Tom Hastings, assistant professor in the conflict-resolutions department at Portland State and author of six books mostly focused on nonviolence, “every time we respond with violence, it proliferates. Even though we say we, well, you know, have to fight violence with violence, actually it produces that precise result. Now we’re down to the point where we’ve got a genocidal caliphate, beheading people, that is holding plenty of territory…. If you’re losing, change something.”

Hastings outlined four starting points to begin halting terrorism while still moving away from a “mediation with muscle” standpoint: smart sanctions, including arms sales and unilateral trade and treaties; a simple, honest apology, i.e., an admission of wrongs we have done; truth-and-recollection commissions, which would entail an organization with a goal of documenting and reporting the truth of what has been done between the involved parties, and to find solutions for the culture as a whole to move forward with renewed relationships; and finally accepting that 500 years of colonialism is over.

“I’m saying any outfit that responds with this ‘I’ve got a bigger stick,’ overwhelming, strike-fast, kick-ass violence is going to produce exactly what we see, time and time again,” Hastings said.

Refugees

The Paris attacks have hindered the flow of refugees out of Syria and into Europe, and refugees from other countries have been labeled “economic refugees” and denied travel by many countries. Among the hundreds of protesting refugees on the Greek border who were denied entry to Macedonia, six men sewed their mouths shut as a form of protest, with messages such as “just freedom” scrawled in red on their foreheads, according to BBC News.

In the U.S., house debates raged against Obama’s attempts, previous to the terrorist attack, to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S. over the course of a year, according to Reuters. This number pales in comparison to the 900,000 refugees Germany has admitted since the beginning of the year.

Cost

If studied from an economic perspective, as little as $7,500 may have been spent by ISIS to orchestrate the Paris attacks, according to Reuters. When compared to the billions spent in response to fight them, it certainly puts into question the tactics the reaction has employed and the overall cost of this war.

Muslim sentiments

Social networks are certainly touching on a more human side of things, such as a Parisian-Muslim man standing blindfolded with a sign saying, “I’m a Muslim and I’m told I’m a terrorist. I trust you. Do you trust me? If yes, hug me.”

One RT news story interviews Robert McCraw, with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who says Islamophobia and violence against Muslims has risen since the bombing.

U.S. mosques have been both threatened and attacked since the Paris incident, according to a Reuters video report. Clayton Cansler was arrested Nov. 17 for threatening to shoot up a mosque, and just hours after the Paris attack, someone opened fire on the Baitul Aman Mosque in Meridon, Conn.

Even the hacker group Anonymous has gotten involved, declaring war on ISIS and claiming to have already shut down thousands of ISIS Twitter accounts, according to BBC News. BBC interviewed a member of Ghost Security Group, made up of the former founding members of Anonymous—taking the anonymous out of Anonymous.

Conclusion

This report is just a small reminder of the bigger picture. Showing solidarity through Facebook profile pictures is a beautiful gesture, but after the initial media extravaganza, we must be vigilant of what follows.

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