Terrorist attacks in France, and the payback for Western foreign policy

By Peter Baofu, Ph.D.

The terrorist attacks in Paris, France (which left 17 dead and 22 wounded) on January 7-9, 2015 reveal a politically uncomfortable truth not even mentioned in the Western mainstream media, in that the attacks are a "payback" for Western aggression around the world in four major forms, namely, (a) cultural, (b) military, (c) political, and (d) economic - to be explained below. To understand this politically uncomfortable truth goes a long way for the West to win back both the hearts and minds of so many in the global war on terror in our time and to contribute to world peace in the end.  


The first major form of Western aggression around the world is "cultural," in that the West has time and again indulged in imposing its presumptuously "superior" cultural values and beliefs on the rest of the world with no respect of the cultural differences in "the Others."

One of the terrorist attacks in Paris, France was targeted against "Charlie Hebdo," the French satirical weekly, which, together with other European presses, had often published "cartoons of Prophet Mohammed" to mock the "God" that so many Muslims around the world worship. The West is often quick to defend it on the basis of "freedom of expression"; for instance, British Prime Minister David Cameron even defended "free speech" as "a right to cause offense" (in his condemnation of the terrorist attacks), in an interview with CBS' Face the Nation program on January 18, 2015.

But this appeal to "freedom of expression" is a problematic pretense, because the idea of "freedom of expression" is not a free-floating (or gratuitous) concept, as it is bounded within a "right" and an "obligation," in that it is a "right" insofar as it entitles one to express a view about what the "truth" about something is (to be backed up with reason and evidences) but it also has an "obligation" insofar as it requires one to not "harm" or "hurt" others. 

These cartoons have already resulted in angry protests all over the Muslim world, and some good recent examples include those in Pakistan, Niger, Algeria, Mali, Senegal, Mauritania, Chechnya, and others, as reported by AFP on January 17, 2015. For instance, in Niamey, the capital of Niger, on Saturday, January 17, 2015, and also in the town city of Zinder on Friday, January 16, 2015, violent protests broke out, and some Christian churches were burnt in retaliation, with more than a dozen killed in the process, as reported by Al Jazeera on January 18, 2015.

With this grievance in mind, the Foreign Ministry in Qatar issued a statement published by the official QNA news agency to condemn the publication of the cartoons, because it correctly pointed out that "freedom of speech does not mean insulting others, hurting their feelings, and mocking their religious beliefs and idols," and the cartoons thus constitutes a "violation of human values of peaceful coexistence, tolerance, justice, and respect among people," as reported by AFP on January 16, 2015.

The statement also urged Western media "to respect others and their beliefs and to steer away from intolerance and extremism, and to commit to the values upon which Western civilization was built." And the Qatar-based International Union of Muslim Scholars also released a statement on January 15, 2015 to warn of "heavy consequences of continuing to insult Islam, the Koran, and the prophet," as "no sane person could accept inciting sedition under the name of freedom of expression."

The Western indulgence to insist on the right to even "hurt" the feelings of so many "Others" in mocking their religious beliefs and idols really speaks volumes of the long historical tradition of Western colonialism (and now neo-colonialism) in the "Non-West," in which the "Non-West" is looked down upon as "uncivilized," "backward," and "primitive." After all, to turn the table around, would the West be so willing to defend the "Non-West" if the latter were to insult the Christian beliefs and idols with respect to "Jesus Christ" in the similar name of "freedom of expression"? 


The second major form of Western aggression around the world is "military," in that the West has time and again indulged in carrying out countless military strikes against many (often poor and weak) countries or areas around the world whenever it feels like, in the name of "self-defense," "national security," or similar excuse.

One of the terrorist attacks in Paris, France was targeted against a Jewish (kosher) supermarket, in apparent retaliation against the "crimes against humanity" committed by Israel against the Palestinians in the occupied territories, with full Western (especially American) support. It is a shameful disguise for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to join the Paris march under the slogan "Je suis Charlie" on January 11, 2015, because Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu aptly "compared Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu to the Islamist militants who killed 17 people in Paris last week, saying both had committed crimes against humanity," as reported by Reuters on January 15, 2015.

Israel's bombardments of Gaza for weeks in 2014 had left more than 2,500 Palestinian civilians dead, most of whom were women, children, and the sick -- and destroyed the entire territory like hell. Even the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was forced to condemn it as "a moral outrage and a criminal act" and called for those responsible for this "gross violation of international law" to be brought to justice. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, made a similar point that "house demolitions and the killing of children raise the 'strong possibility' that Israel is violating international law" that "could amount to war crimes," as reported by RT on August 26, 2014.

Bolivia under the leadership of Eva Morales had formally declared (on July 31, 2014) Israel to be a "terrorist state" and "renounced a visa exemption agreement with the country in protest" over Israel's "crimes against humanity" in Gaza, because, as Morales explained, "Israel is not a guarantor of the principles of respect for life and the elementary precepts of rights that govern the peaceful and harmonious coexistence of our international community."

Yet, even after "Rights group Amnesty International had urged Washington to halt arms supplies to Israel" in light of the evidences of Israeli war crimes in Gaza, the U.S. "gave its ally the go-ahead to raid stocks of emergency US weapons stored on Israeli soil" and "had agreed to restock Israel's dwindling supplies of ammunition," so as to allow the Israeli military to continue the military strikes against the helpless Palestinians, as reported by AFP on July 31, 2014.

Worse, in spite of all these crimes against humanity by Israel, the Western powers, together with their allies, have time and again refused to support the Palestinian bid for statehood (so as to end the brutal Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories), even though more than 130 countries around the world (mostly in Latin America, Africa, and Asia) have already formally recognized the Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders. And the U.S. and its allies are now busy trying to block the International Criminal Court from prosecuting Israel for war crimes in Gaza.


The third major form of Western aggression around the world is "political," in that the West has time and again indulged in carrying out covert operations to change foreign regimes so as to make them serve Western interests.

For instance, the U.S. has a notoriously long history of covert operations (often with the involvement of the CIA and the State Department) against governments around the world in the past decades, and good examples include Syria (in 1949), Iran (in 1953), Guatemala (in 1954), Tibet (in 1955-70s), Indonesia (in 1958), Cuba (in 1959), Iraq (in 1960-63), Democratic Republic of the Congo (in 1960-65), Dominican Republic (in 1961), South Vietnam (in 1963), Brazil (in 1964), Ghana (in 1966), Chile (in 1970-73), Argentina (in 1976), Afghanistan (in 1979-89), Turkey (in 1980), Poland (in 1980-89), Nicaragua (in 1981-90), Iraq (in 1992-96), Venezuela (in 2002), Iran (since 2005), Syria (since 2012), and so on, as reported by Wikipedia.

But the most telling example here concerns the U.S. support of Afghan radical Islamic militants known as "mujahideen" during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1970s and 1980s, and they were later transformed to become "Al-Qaeda." Now, a branch of "Al-Qaeda" called "Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula" (or "AQAP") claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks in Paris, France (two weeks ago), and it "was named for al-Qaeda," because "it is subordinate to that group and its now-deceased leader Osama bin Laden, a Saudi citizen," as reported by Wikipedia. This long treacherous history of the U.S. dealing with al-Qaeda reveals a "payback" for its political interference in the region.

The major disillusion of Al-Qaeda with the U.S. political involvement in the region is best explained by bin Laden himself in his letter to the American people in 2002, when he wrote that the U.S. support of corrupt authoritarian regimes in the region has caused much suffering to Muslims: "Under your supervision, consent and orders, the governments of our countries which act as your agents, attack us on a daily basis," "These governments prevent our people from establishing the Islamic Shariah, using violence and lies to do so," and "These governments give us a taste of humiliation, and places us in a large prison of fear and subdual," so "the removal of these governments is an obligation upon us, and a necessary step to free the Ummah, to make the Shariah the supreme law and to regain Palestine. And our fight against these governments is not separate from out fight against you."


And the fourth major form of Western aggression around the world is "economic," in that the West has time and again indulged in imposing economic sanctions on those groups or countries which dare to oppose Western interests.

For example, "Executive Order 13224," which was signed by President George W. Bush shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, was used to impose economic sanctions on terrorist groups (like "Al-Qaeda"), so as to block "terrorist property" and to prohibit "transactions" with them. In addition, over the decades, the U.S. has imposed economic sanctions on countries which challenge Western domination in their own backyards, like Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Syria, Burma, and, now, Russia.  

But "there is controversy over the effectiveness of economic sanctions in their ability to achieve the stated purpose"; for instance, in a study by Robert A. Pape, the "success rate" of economic sanctions over the decades is about "4%," and "Jeremy Greenstock suggests that the reason sanctions are popular is not that they are known to be effective, but 'that there is nothing else between words and military action if you want to bring pressure upon a government,'" as cited in Wikipedia. 

As if shooting oneself in the foot, "it also affects the economy of the imposing country to some degree. If import restrictions were made, the consumers in the imposing country would have fewer choices of goods. If export restrictions were made or sanction prohibited businesses in the imposing country from doing business with the target country, the imposing country could lose markets and investment opportunities to competing countries," as cited in Wikipedia.

In fact, on December 17, 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama finally admitted the failure of the U.S. policy of imposing sanctions on Cuba in all these past decades: "And though this policy has been rooted in the best of intentions, no other nation joins us in imposing these sanctions, and it has had little effect beyond providing the Cuban government with a rationale for restrictions on its people. Today, Cuba is still governed by the Castros and the Communist Party that came to power half a century ago."  

It is thus no wonder that, in spite of the economic sanctions which often cause financial hardship on ordinary folks with limited incomes, these governments and terrorist groups are put in a corner and become hardened to fight back against Western interests, and the very fact that "Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula" (or "AQAP") claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks in Paris, France (two weeks ago) proves this very point.


To say that the terrorist attacks in Paris, France (which left 17 dead and 22 wounded) on January 7-9, 2015 are a "payback" for Western aggression around the world in its four major forms -- namely, (a) cultural, (b) military, (c) political, and (d) economic -- can cause mental discomfort to those who are the "captive audience" of Western mainstream media. 

But there is a redemption in this mental discomfort, because to understand this politically uncomfortable truth goes a long way for the West to win back both the hearts and minds of so many in the global war on terror in our time, and a good beginning to do just that is to reverse the Western aggression in its four main forms around the world, which could do so much more to bring world peace to this planet Earth in the long run (than bombs, insults, sanctions, and regime changes).

Peter Baofu 


Dr. Peter Baofu is the author of 77 books and 79 new theories, all of which provide a visionary challenge to conventional wisdom in the social sciences, the formal sciences, the natural sciences, and the humanities, with the aim for a "unified theory of everything" -- together with numerous visions of the mind, nature, society, and culture in future history. For more info about his visions on the future of global affairs, see some of his 77 books, such as "The Future of Post-Human War and Peace" (2010), "Beyond the World of Titans, and the Remaking of World Order" (2007), "Beyond Nature and Nurture" (2006), "Beyond Civilization to Post-Civilization" (2006), "Beyond Capitalism to Post-Capitalism" (2005), "Beyond Democracy to Post-Democracy" (2004), "The Future of Capitalism and Democracy" (2002), the 2 volumes of "The Future of Human Civilization" (2000), and so on.  

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov