You would think the murder of three Christian worshippers in Nice — a 60 year-old woman, the 55 year-old sexton and a 44 year-old Brazilian-born mother of three — coming on the heels of the beheading of a schoolteacher in a Parisian suburb, would convince American and British journalists and opinion writers that France really has an Islamic terrorism problem, and it’s not a figment of President Emmanuel Macron’s imagination.
Emmanuel Macron is the most liberal president France has had since the 1970s, when Valéry Giscard d’Estaing legalized abortion and made contraceptives commercially available. Yet there has been a tendency on the left to blow every hint of Macronist illiberalism out of proportion.
Macron did not, on balance, cut public spending. He raised welfare benefits, extended unemployment insurance to the self-employed and penalized companies that made excessive use of short-term contracts. But he also liberalized labor law, to make it easier for firms to hire and fire workers, and abolished a wealth tax few millionaires paid, which earned him the moniker “president of the rich”.
Police largely tolerated the so-called Yellow Vests protests against Macron in 2018, but left-wing critics seized on a few instances of police violence to argue the president couldn’t stand criticism.
Now that Macron is taking a harder line against Islamic extremism, following the beheading of a French teacher who showed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to his pupils, John Lichfield reports for Politico Europe that the same tendency is rearing its head on the (American) left.
The New York Times claims Macron has ordered a “broad government crackdown against Muslim individuals and groups.” The World Socialist Web Site, in a widely retweeted story, accuses Macron of “whipping up … anti-Muslim hysteria.” An American sociologist who researches white supremacists laments that French officials “respond to violent extremism with violent extremism.”
What is this “broad crackdown”? Macron’s government has closed a mosque, which was run by a radical imam. A number of arrests have been made. “Anti-Muslim hysteria”? 51 more Islamic organizations are being investigated for alleged extremist sympathies. What about “violent extremism”? There are plans to take away the French passports of 231 foreign-born criminals.
Some of this may be an overreaction. Expelling dual citizens will be difficult if their countries of origin refuse to take them back. The rhetoric of Macron’s interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, has not been helpful. He believes France is fighting a “civil war” against Islamists.
But — the convictions of the woke American left notwithstanding — words are not violence, and anyway Macron himself hasn’t gone so far. Read more “Criticism of Macron’s Islam Policy Is Over the Top”
David French wonders why the defeat of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (or ISIS) isn’t a bigger story.
Remember how debates about ISIS dominated the presidential primaries? Remember how Donald Trump and Ted Cruz ratcheted up their rhetoric until they both seemed to promise that they’d commit warcrimes, like carpet bombing and torture, to defeat the deadly threat? ISIS was often the most important and most prominent story in the world.
Now that the wannabe caliphate lies in ruins, though, Americans no longer care. Read more “Why There Is So Little Attention for the Islamic State’s Defeat”
The Western-backed effort to drive the Islamic State out of Iraq is making headway. The self-proclaimed caliphate has lost two-thirds of its territory. The battle for Mosul, Iraq’s second city, is well underway.
But there is a dark side to the coalition’s success in Iraq. We’ve seen it in the streets of Paris, Nice and London: The more the Islamic State is cornered, the more of its sympathizers commit terrorist attacks in the West. Read more “Dark Side to Coalition’s Success Against Islamic State”
This could have gone a lot worse. The speech Donald Trump gave on Islam and terror in Riyadh on Sunday was surprisingly intelligent.
According to his prepared remarks, the president rejected the clash-of-civilizations paradigm some of his fanatical underlings, like Steve Bannon, have promoted.
“This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects or different civilizations,” Trump told an assembly of Muslim leaders.
This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it.
That is quite right — and a reversal from Trump’s previous rhetoric. Read more “Trump Gave a Surprisingly Intelligent Speech to Muslim Leaders”
As David Downing reported here on Sunday, Mosul could make a quick economic recovery once it is entirely liberated from the self-declared Islamic State by Iraqi government forces.
Not only is the city, once Iraq’s second largest, a hub for northern Iraqi industry and trade; it’s also situated close to major oil and natural gas reserves. The potential for further economic expansion could be close at hand.
The battle will not be over quickly, though. It has been estimated it will take another three to five months to rout the Islamic State from eastern Mosul.
Once the militants are defeated, internal and sectarian divisions could resurface. A Shia-Sunni divide seems inevitable. Mosul being a Sunni majority town doesn’t help the cause for peaceful settlement. Friction between religious groups can hurt reconstruction efforts, especially with the involvement of Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi’s sanctioned Shia fighters. We are looking at a “game of thrones” mentality where a balance of factions in this enclave becomes quite a task. Read more “Defeat in Mosul Will Not Eliminate the Islamic State”
Last week’s terrorist attack in Berlin does not appear to have had a major political impact in Germany. Few blame Angela Merkel and her immigration policy, even though it was a Tunisian man who killed twelve people by driving his truck into a Christmas market.
A Forsa survey conducted for the magazine Stern found that only 28 percent of Germans believe there is a connection between the attack and Merkel’s decision in 2015 to allow in more than one million asylum seekers from the Middle East and North Africa. Read more “Germans Refuse to Panic After Berlin Terrorist Attack”
There will be few who will miss 2016; perhaps fewer still that will miss 2017. Americans despair their electoral choices (choosing cancer or a heart attack, to some). Brits have quit the European Union. Turkey, post-coup, is also mid-purge. Islamic State’s lone wolves butcher and bomb. Even the pope is using the “w” word to describe the state of planetary affairs.
Yet if we step back, draw our heads out of the bleeding and leading trenches of 24/7 news and glance upon the supposedly pock-marked battlefield of our world, we see not vast burned out cities or massed firestorms sweeping upon us. The picture is much better than they say.
A lot has been written about Omar Mateen this week, the man who killed 49 people in an Orlando, Florida gay club on Sunday morning. Let me share two pieces that I’ve found the most illuminating.
The first is by Adam Garfinkle, the editor of The American Interest and one of the best-informed analysts of Middle Eastern affairs and Islam that I know, who makes several points. Read more “Islam, Sex and Masculinity: What Motivated Omar Mateen?”
A highly individualistic culture like the United States lends itself quite readily to bursts of emotion; citizens feel compelled, rightly or wrongly, to show that they feel as much as anyone else, if not more.
In the wake of the massacre in Orlando, this pattern reasserts itself once again in America.
But succumbing to anger or depression or any extreme emotion while trying to decide on policy is always a mistake. Here’s how to stay rational — and support good geopolitical decisions — in the wake of murder. Read more “Staying Rational in the Wake of Orlando”