Gilles Kepel on Terror in the Hexagon

 

THE INTERVIEWIt’sa shame that so many news shows in France are in French, because I often find the quality of their analyses of France’s state more detailed and insightful than those of American analysts of France, and wish I could share some of the interesting discussions I can watch here with you.

This isn’t available on YouTube, but you can click here to watch a recent interview with Gilles Kepel, who’s one of France’s better-known experts on Islam and the Arab world. It’s in English. He just published a book called Terror in the Hexagon: Genesis of the French Jihad which after a decade of research was rushed into print after last month’s terrorist attacks in Paris.

Here’s part of a review of the book in Quartz, by Emma-Kate Symons:

In the often-hysterical debate over the origins of ISIL-inspired “bottom-up” terrorism seen in the Nov. 2015 Paris attacks, and echoed by the San Bernardino massacre, a leading French intellectual refuses to let either radical Islam or Western elites off the hook.

Both must share part of the blame, says Gilles Kepel, internationally recognized expert on the Arab world and the politics of Islam in Europe, for laying the fertile ground that has enabled the rise of “3G” or third-generation jihad: born alongside YouTube, and with the decline of second-generation “top-down” satellite TV-driven terror organizations, like al-Qaeda. …

“Behind the jihadist eruption, lies the entrenchment of Salafism … the most radical elements of which, their eyes fixed on Syria and Daesh, are aiming for the destruction of Europe through civil war,” Kepel tells Quartz in an interview from Paris, where he is professor of political science at Sciences Po.

Terror in the Hexagon offers probably the most comprehensive history to date of the leading homegrown Western jihadist movement. The deadly roots of “retro-colonial” jihadisme français stretch back more than 50 years to the end of the Algerian war for independence, Kepel argues, culminating in the multiple deadly attacks that rocked France this year, starting with January’s massacre at Charlie Hebdo magazine, and the Hyper Cacher market, and ending in a Kalashnikov bloodbath on the terraces of Parisian cafés and restaurants and at the Bataclan concert hall.

Between these two poles, lies the history of a society increasingly riven by “virtual and mental enclaves,” growing rejection of common values, and heightened social, political, and economic marginalization, especially of Generation Y. So it is no coincidence that far-right demagogue Marine Le Pen … is soaring in popularity, goes the Kepel argument. Almost simultaneously, the Islamic State is luring a growing radicalized fringe of “desperado” 20 to 30-somethings to commit mass murder of kuffar (“miscreants” or non-Muslims, particularly Jews), as well as “apostates” (“bad” Muslims). The two extremist phenomena feed in to each other, and are even secret or overt allies. “Behind the jihadist eruption, lies the entrenchment of Salafism.”

“They both want to create a society split into two distinct groups,” Kepel explains. “On one side, Muslims who are victims of what is relentlessly termed ‘Islamophobia,’ and on the other the extreme right.”

In reality, however, the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris and the strong showing by the National Front in regional elections (Le Pen’s party registered its highest legislative score since 2012 with close to 7 million votes) express “rejection of the French elites,” a power structure Kepel disparages as “an aristocracy increasingly cut off from society.”

“Economic abandonment and disenchantment with politics contributes as much to the intensification of Islamism as it does to the success of the National Front which feeds on the fear of terrorism,” he says.

Jihadists, for their part are jubilant on Twitter about the National Front’s success, Kepel points out, and they want it to win precisely because the party’s politics are so anti-Muslim. “That way there will be pogroms, all Muslims will be able to group under their banner of jihadism, and civil war will begin,” he says.

Kepel unpacks the Gallic jihadist trajectory and its intersection with foreign ideologies and the politics of the Middle East, but his thesis also has important implications for the United States and other Western nations struggling with the seemingly breakneck surge in locally-bred terrorists connected to ISIL.

“San Bernardino in a certain sense resembles [the Paris attacks] because it fits in with the same global trend and general logic of jihadism 3G,” he says, noting that there is still no certainty Paris attackers like Abaaoud and the Abdeslam brothers received an explicit order to attack. “Nov. 13 was claimed [by ISIL] but in reality responsibility was taken by the Francophone group of the organization.”

“In San Bernardino, too, we don’t know what the attackers’ exact link with Daesh was,” he notes. “On their Facebook pages they pledged allegiance to Islamic State which later congratulated them for the attacks. But this attack was likely committed without an order given by the organization.” France doesn’t need more secularism. Instead it needs to be more inclusive.

Kepel presents the hopeful possibility that despite the carnage, the terrorists in the French capital and California, by targeting indiscriminate victims, have failed in their ultimate goals. In contrast, the Jan. 2015 murders of the Charlie Hebdo team, a French Muslim police officer and Jewish supermarket shoppers, inspired the blowback “je ne suis pas Charlie” (“I am not Charlie”) movement.

“There are two objectives of terrorism: to terrify the enemy and mobilize the Muslim masses,” Kepel says. “But in Paris and San Bernardino they have made what appears to be a strategic error because they have not succeeded in mobilizing widespread Muslim support.”

Before they committed terrorist acts, most French 3G jihadists found radicalism in what Kepel condemns as the “carceral incubator” of prison, left unchecked or abetted by French authorities for years. They then completed their ISIL indoctrination online, although some passed through notorious mosques and consulted imams such as in the remote Artigat region of the southwest, generator of terrorists like Mohammed Merah and his siblings, and ISIL Francophone spokesman and convert Fabien Clain.

Still, the journey to fighting for the “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq, and subsequently returning to commit terrorist acts of horrifying violence on European soil cannot be simply attributed to an adolescent crisis fueled by cyber recruiters. Scathing though he is about the failure of France’s power elites to create a more inclusive society for the children of post-colonial immigration, and young people of all backgrounds, Kepel refutes the “Islam has nothing to do with this” argument by detailing the calculated and alarming surge in radical Islamic separatism exemplified by Salafism.

This obscurantist strain calling for a return to “original” Islam was exported from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, then launched in France by its neo-purist ideologues with heightened zealotry from 2005. The “new wave” Islamists refusing to shake women’s hands, fetishizing the full-body covering veil, and banning sport and music, seized the opportunity after the conservative Muslim Brotherhood was sidelined for its perceived failure to control the spectacularly violent youth riots around public housing projects across the country.

Having documented the transformation of many banlieues into separate ethnic, religious, consumer and cultural identity spaces created by Salafist radicals, Halal entrepreneurs and colluding politicians, Kepel wades directly into a high-stakes politico-cultural battle by taking aim at this neo-fundamentalist branch of Islam and its detrimental effects on the cohesion of multi-ethnic, multi-cultural French society. …

It may not be dominant among French Muslims, but Kepel says Salafism, which is also on the rise in the US, “exercises a hegemony over Muslim discourse that stops other trends from emerging.”

The left’s historic failure to fill the void left by the decline of communism and unified working class politics is also in his critical sights. The jihadist genesis can thus be traced at least as far back as the presidency of François Mitterrand in the 1980s, Kepel writes, as translated from the French by Quartz. The socialist leader mostly ignored the grievances of immigrants from the former colonies and their children, playing a Machiavellian political game with the National Front “to the point where the extreme right is today entrenched at the heart of French political life and in a position to hit the jackpot, while the marginalization of the children of Muslim immigration has opened the floodgates to Salafization and jihadism” …

In the “suburbs of French Islam,” the third generation of French Islam arrived at the age of adulthood, around 2005, the year of the French riots. It was also the year marked by the birth of 3G jihad, with the online publication of (the late, former Bin Laden adviser and breakaway figure) Abu Musab al-Suri’s 1600-page call to bottom-up globalized holy war waged by disaffected Muslim youth, targeting the “soft underbelly of the West”—Europe.

In Feb. 2005, Kepel equally notes, YouTube was registered as a business in California. And this changed the terrorism game.

“The first jihad revolution was by fax,” Kepel writes. “With Bin Laden it was satellite TV—there is no al-Qaeda without Al Jazeera—and today it’s YouTube with its MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) of jihadism that spread the theories, and of course the social networks, principally Facebook and Twitter.”

Intelligence services didn’t see the connection between the digital revolution and the theory of al-Suri, believing such a system and organization, which was so uncontrollable, “was going to make the jihadist machine implode.”

Meanwhile, seemingly by stealth, but repeatedly highlighted by researchers like Kepel, Salafism spread its tentacles through French society and particularly among the “retro-colonial” Generation Y, angry about their own and their forbears exclusion from the Gallic dream and in some cases, like Mohammed Merah, nurtured in Algerian families that hated France. In Feb. 2005, YouTube was registered as a business in California. And this changed the terrorism game.

During the transitional years of 2005 to 2012, the “incubation” of jihadism was underway until the Merah murders on the eve of François Hollande’s election as president, 3G jihadism burst out with a brutality that shocked French authorities. “The intelligence services were incapable of anticipating the fusion that it demonstrated between a foreign Islamist ideology spread through social networks, and the new political sociology of radicalized French Salafism,” Kepel writes.

Soon afterwards, the divorce between traditional Muslims and Hollande, who had been the beneficiary of the “Muslim vote,” was sealed with his law on gay marriage, inspiring mass protests when Catholics and Muslims “marched together under the banner of conservative values, but also because of the aggravation of the economic crisis which heavily struck the suburban ghettos.”

“This was the fertile terrain for the eruption of French jihad, in a society where the immigrant neighborhoods were caught in a vice-like grip between the resistible ascension of the National Front and the breakthrough of Salafism,” Kepel writes.

Islamist groups also brought the generations of French Islam and jihad together by offering to post-colonial youth of the suburbs “a universal projection of their social frustration’’ on to the Palestinian cause, and Hamas. This continues right up until today’s fanatical devotion to ISIL by some 5,000 French ‘’implicated’’ in the so-called caliphate’s jihadism.

Among the most controversial yet persuasive contentions of Kepel’s book, is his attack on the elevation of “Islamophobia” by Salafist leaders and associated zealots as the “cardinal sin” of the French republic.

Kepel decodes this catch-phrase as a debate-silencer. Behind it lies a sinister “victimization mentality” that he says permanently accuses the French state and the West of structural and institutional racism towards Muslims and so-called “philo-Semitism” or favoritism towards Jews and the memory of the Shoah.

The exclusionary, anti-Semitic discourse traps adherents in a fundamentalist bind that puts them on a separatist collision with broader society, and ignores or shuts down the at least five million-strong French Muslim community’s remarkable diversity. A staunch defender of the secular, pluralist model, Kepel concludes with a plea that France should not “concede victory to these zealots and entrust them with representing the Islamic community as only the fundamentalists imagine it.”

Watch the video; it’s interesting. Tell me what you think.

There are 51 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    Another solid, learned post.  Thanks.

    (got any good news to share?)

    • #1
  2. David Williamson Inactive
    David Williamson
    @DavidWilliamson

    I have just finished “Submission” by Michel Houellebecq – it nails the situation in France and, indeed, the Western world.

    We are doomed, doomed. A lost soul is offered three young, submissive wives if he Submits to Islam – what could possibly go wrong?

    • #2
  3. Eric Hines Inactive
    Eric Hines
    @EricHines

    …attack people in their neighborhoods, aim at soft targets…lead to pogroms, that Muslims would gather under the banner of the most radical, and that would lead to the implosion of Europe, civil war, and the establishment of the so-called Caliphate….

    The first part is just the ordinary guerrilla tactic.  It’s too bad the focus went to the tactic (to the extent any attention was paid) and not to the goal, which is different from the guerrilla’s goal.

    They (the authorities and intel functionalities) also missed the essential network nature of the thing–even bin Laden’s al Qaeda, for all its apparently hierarchical structure, especially in the beginning, is primarily a network entity.

    I’m also not sure bin Laden/al Qaeda had any territory in Afghanistan to lose, save what the Taliban thought useful to let him exist on.

    Gonna have to get the book when it comes out (amazon doesn’t have it, yet).

    Aside: the Quartz link takes me to an Airbus and jet lag piece.

    Eric Hines

    • #3
  4. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    I’m sorry, tldr the whole thing. I have a bad case of cognitive whiplash after reading the three-quarters I read.

    The French elite are at fault for not creating a more inclusive society? Really? Is he talking about multicultural Europe? And does anyone believe that the elite can “create” any kind of fill-in-the-blank society?? Or that they “left a void” because of the decline of communism?? Pheh. The Left is still communist at heart, it just packages it in squeezably soft socialism. The proof of their central control mentality is in the underlying assumption that the elites “create” society. Right?

    No, the French elite are like all western elites, including the American left wing variety. They’re so busy dismantling traditional Judeo-Christian western values, they don’t have any time left in the day for building Utopia.

    There are two main reasons we find ourselves in our current position wrt to jihadists: 1) Islam has core tenets fundamentally incompatible with western civilization, and 2) western leftists have convinced/indoctrinated a lot of westerners to believe their own civilization is wicked and not worth defending, let alone confidently asserting its superiority.

    Until enough westerners figure that out, the situation will continue to deteriorate.

    Soft underbelly indeed.

    • #4
  5. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Those bastards. They probably just do it in French to piss us off.

    • #5
  6. Sandy Member
    Sandy
    @Sandy

    Eric Hines:…attack people in their neighborhoods, aim at soft targets…lead to pogroms, that Muslims would gather under the banner of the most radical, and that would lead to the implosion of Europe, civil war, and the establishment of the so-called Caliphate….

    The first part is just the ordinary guerrilla tactic. It’s too bad the focus went to the tactic (to the extent any attention was paid) and not to the goal, which is different from the guerrilla’s goal.

    They (the authorities and intel functionalities) also missed the essential network nature of the thing–even bin Laden’s al Qaeda, for all its apparently hierarchical structure, especially in the beginning, is primarily a network entity.

    I’m also not sure bin Laden/al Qaeda had any territory in Afghanistan to lose, save what the Taliban thought useful to let him exist on.

    Gonna have to get the book when it comes out (amazon doesn’t have it, yet).

    Aside: the Quartz link takes me to an Airbus and jet lag piece.

    Eric Hines

    Try this.

    • #6
  7. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Western Chauvinist: The French elite are at fault for not creating a more inclusive society?

    The more I think about this, the more irritated I become. The idea that western societies aren’t inclusive enough of Muslims is especially insulting in light of events close to home in San Bernardino. Those jihadists were “integrated” into American society enough for him to have a job with the state — and to be attending a Christmas party prior to slaughtering his co-workers and neighbors. Bastard.

    We have two enemies in this struggle — jihadists and western leftists. I’m not sure which is the more dangerous.

    The real concern isn’t “inclusion.” It’s assimilation. We will not assimilate Muslims youths if we can’t confidently assert our own values, from which western leftists have become estranged. You can’t fight something with nothing.

    • #7
  8. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Well, at least M. Kepel is aware that the terrorists are unlikely to be carrying ISIS membership cards.

    We shouldn’t expect to see orders from ISIS Central HQ to its operatives anytime soon.

    • #8
  9. Eric Hines Inactive
    Eric Hines
    @EricHines

    Sandy:

    Eric Hines:[snip]

    Aside: the Quartz link takes me to an Airbus and jet lag piece.

    Eric Hines

    Try this.

    That works.  Thank you.

    Eric Hines

    • #9
  10. Koolie Inactive
    Koolie
    @Koolie

    Kepel, seems to me, overly provincial, analyzing France alone. I wonder if he were to stretch himself whether he might also think that the Thais have not been inclusive enough, the Filipinos have not been inclusive enough, or even the Indonesians, Muslims all, have not been inclusive enough.

    Hell, even the Muslim-majority Malaysians might not have been inclusive enough since I have heard they keep a sharp check on what can be preached at their mosques.

    • #10
  11. derek Member
    derek
    @user_82953

    In this rather rambling text two thing caught my eye.

    First was the reference to Hollande getting the muslim vote. The way this works anywhere it does is community leaders vie for position as the best to deliver goodies from on high. Goverment money, benefits, jobs, etc. The price is delivering the votes. The only way to keep it going is to maintain a distinct group held together by necessity. Keep them stupid and poor, dependent on government largesse, and keep them segregated and controllable. Islamophobia is great for this, seeing a threat under every bush keeping your client population hostile and afraid.

    This is an old game played very well by leftists, and the reason why immigration doesn’t work. The segregated banlieues are by design, not a mistake or failure. It is the desired result, and has been the building block of every long lasting political machine.

    Second is the constant refrain about the National Front. National Front this, National Front that. They don’t have a large base of support,, and are far away ftom the seat of power. The two major parties have been indistinguishable except to who they shovel money and how many courtisans they maintain. The fixation on the National Front tells me that even this seeming serious discussion is still delusional.

    • #11
  12. R. Craigen Member
    R. Craigen
    @

    Western Chauvinist:I’m sorry, tldr the whole thing. I have a bad case of cognitive whiplash after reading the three-quarters I read.

    The French elite are at fault for not creating a more inclusive society? Really? Is he talking about multicultural Europe?

    Soft underbelly indeed.

    Very much my take, WC.  While a few sound points are made it strikes me that Kepel, or Symons, or perhaps both, one intensifying the other through the lens of “review”, are more enamoured of their worldview and pet political theories than of facts on the ground.  The slur against M Le Pen as a harmonic “opposite extreme” necessitated by some Cartesian social symmetry is just facile, smacks of ivory towerism, and doesn’t resonate with the history of le Pen and her party, which has come a long way from its extremist and racist past under her father, who has been essentially excommunicated for these things. This is a pet model of reality by an oldworld political theorist who has trouble reading the news papers.  There seems a lack of comprehension about the very deliberateness with which Saudi-based Salafism has dominated the education of 3rd Gen Western Muslims; it’s not a historical accident.

    The one favour this analysis does is to peg “islamophobia” as a bludgeon to end discussion, or rather to make certain thoughts unthinkable.  But anyone with their eyes open these days already knows this … it’s low-hanging analytical fruit.

    • #12
  13. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    Marc Perelman… smart, and a good interviewer, but if you look in the dictionary under “supercilious” you see his picture. It’s instructive to watch the game of microaggression tennis between two Paris Po products, isn’t it?

    Kepel is describing how the the original spread of Islam among tribes of robbers and thugs has been adapted to prisons and urban “tribes.”

    However, if the Quartz piece is accurate, he is describing only part of the picture: as the Taliban’s renaissance and AQ’s ongoing metastasis indicates, though, it’s not a matter of ISIS instead of AQ and other hierarchical organizations, it’s both/and.

    Furthermore, at least in the interview, Kepel does not seem to be able to transcend the “customs of his tribe and island.”  This intellectual barbarity leads him to miss the key connection: susceptibility to antisemitism, and a carefully inculcated sense of entitlement.

    It may be that in France the disaffected youth with a carefully inculcated sense of entitlement are Muslim and (especially in the south) right wing, and that some on the right want civil war.

    But in the USA, antisemitism was pretty much purged from the intellectual right and is today found on the fringes and on a small far right populist fringe that does look like Jacques Le Pen’s peeps.

    In the US, though, the Left is increasingly overtly antisemitic, and the street entitlement movements (BLM and the like) use jihadi and antisemitic slogans and images openly.

    [cont]

    • #13
  14. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Koolie:
    “Kepel, seems to me, overly provincial, analyzing France alone. I wonder if he were to stretch himself whether he might also think that the Thais have not been inclusive enough, the Filipinos have not been inclusive enough, or even the Indonesians, Muslims all, have not been inclusive enough.”

    Well, he’s a French leftist, so he only needs to weaken France. The rest is not his job.

    • #14
  15. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    [continued from #13]

    The root problem (in France and here) is the trahison des clercs. A prime example in France is Sarkozy’s inclusion of the UOIF into the France’s CFCM. At least two of the CFCM’s twenty five regional councils are overtly linked with the Muslim Brotherhood and the UOIF is a jihadi organization which three years ago the tried to have Qaradawi speak at its annual conference.

    In the US, it’s at least as bad.

    Take the conclusion of Andrew McCarthy’s latest piece at NRO:

    The Blind Sheikh insisted his incitements to jihad were simply a case of faithfully applying sharia principles, which, according to his lawyers, the First Amendment gave him the right to do.

    So I asked the jury a simple question: Is there any obnoxious, insulting, infuriating thing I could say to you, or show to you, that would convince you to join up with mass-murdering terrorists? To become a terrorist yourself?

    Of course, a dozen commonsense New Yorkers did not need to be asked such a question. They laughed the defense out of the courtroom. Alas, in the 20 years since, the defense they laughed out of the courtroom has become the bipartisan government policy of the United States [emphasis added.]

    Go figure.

    • #15
  16. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    derek: This is an old game played very well by leftists, and the reason why immigration doesn’t work. The segregated banlieues are by design, not a mistake or failure. It is the desired result, and has been the building block of every long lasting political machine.

    Sort of why I oppose the GOPe on immigration.  I’m a multicultural-diversity kind of guy, but am not in favor of isolating immigrant cultures to make them dependent on the national government, which is what our left does.  So GOPe gets cheap labor, and can sit in their gated communities, isolated from all the problems created by blocking access to opportunity for newcomers as well as oldcomers.  Isolated for another generation or two, maybe.  And the left gets the voting blocks they want.  Win-win, for the GOPe and the left, in the short term.  Lose-lose, for the immigrants and the rest of us.  (Even though we think the immigrants and the rest of us are the ones at each others’ throats.)

    I’m not sure, but I think that’s what Kepel is criticizing when he says the French elites have failed to create a more inclusive society.  Another way of saying it is that they have failed to create an opportunity society. At least that’s what I’d like him to have meant.

    • #16
  17. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    The Reticulator: I’m not sure, but I think that’s what Kepel is criticizing when he says the French elites have failed to create a more inclusive society. Another way of saying it is that they have failed to create an opportunity society. At least that’s what I’d like him to have meant.

    That is the thing that bothered me the most too.  The only way to be more “inclusive” is to submit to the all-to-simple demands of the jihadists. Is that what he was truly proposing? I kept waiting for him to make even one concrete proposal to achieve his “more inclusive” society, but I must have missed where he did that.

    • #17
  18. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Does anybody know the mechanism by which the banlieux become segregated?

    If they consist of public housing estates, how are places there filled? Is it entirely by applicant choice (so self segregation, with an element of the white flight that resulted in segregated Northern cities in the US) or is there Government discretion as to who gets housing allocated where?

    In Singapore, where most of the population lives in publicly built housing, there is no segregation because it’s Govt policy that each building reflect the country’s demographics – with Chinese, Indians and Malays in the relevant proportions.

    • #18
  19. derek Member
    derek
    @user_82953

    The problem is the ‘concrete proposals’.  People can’t be managed, the only thing governments can do is to stop doing things. Stop building barriers which drive the desire to improve your lot in life either underground or parasitical. Stop supporting with tax money and access to power those who ‘represent’ some group or another.

    Of course that isn’t possible, so the situation will simply become untenable, leading to either a continuation of the breakdown at the edges of much of society, or prompting a reaction that ends up being evil.

    • #19
  20. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    The Reticulator: (Even though we think the immigrants and the rest of us are the ones at each others’ throats.)

    I think you’re overgeneralizing. That should be some immigrants, not the immigrants. For example, over 10% of Syrian refugees have a “positive” or “somewhat positive” view of ISIS.

    Over 30,000 people from over 100 countries have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight for ISIS. Many of the citizens of western countries who have gained fighting experience in Iraq and Syria (and in a problem more relevant to Europe, in North Africa) have returned “home;” see Paris, November 2015 for details.

    The San Bernadino jihadis were ideologically committed (her nom de guerre was a [CoC] you, America in itself, but not experienced fighters.

    Combat veteran, police officer, and writer Chris Hernandez has this to say:

    Al Qaeda’s decades-old threat has been supplanted by ISIS, an organization with tens of thousands of adherents and funded by forty to fifty million dollars per month in extortion, oil and tax money. ISIS has declared war on us, and someday we’ll figure out that war doesn’t require agreement from both parties. When war is declared on you by thirty thousand religious fanatics with weapons, combat experience, hundreds of millions in capital and a burning hatred for anyone who doesn’t agree with their beliefs, you’re at war whether you like it or not.

    RTWT. Actually, read whatever he writes: novels, commentary, whatever. Here’s another example:

    hernandez predix

    • #20
  21. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Ontheleftcoast:

    The Reticulator: (Even though we think the immigrants and the rest of us are the ones at each others’ throats.)

    I think you’re overgeneralizing. That should be some immigrants, not the immigrants. For example, over 10% of Syrian refugees have a “positive” or “somewhat positive” view of ISIS.

    Yeah, it is quite a bit of generalization, and it doesn’t mean I don’t favor stopping that category of immigrant until we can figure out a better vetting process. But we should work on it.  Probably won’t happen under Obama.

    • #21
  22. Joseph Eagar Member
    Joseph Eagar
    @JosephEagar

    Western Chauvinist:I’m sorry, tldr the whole thing. I have a bad case of cognitive whiplash after reading the three-quarters I read.

    The French elite are at fault for not creating a more inclusive society? Really? Is he talking about multicultural Europe? And does anyone believe that the elite can “create” any kind of fill-in-the-blank society?? Or that they “left a void” because of the decline of communism?? Pheh. The Left is still communist at heart, it just packages it in squeezably soft socialism. The proof of their central control mentality is in the underlying assumption that the elites “create” society. Right?

    I think you’re getting distracted by the Islamic element.  The European elite’s problem with social inclusion go far beyond Islam.  The “dual labor market,” the oppressive secularism, the anti-Semitism, the xenophobia covered with a straitjacket of PC—these are all serious problems in the West.

    • #22
  23. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Percival: I kept waiting for him to make even one concrete proposal to achieve his “more inclusive” society, but I must have missed where he did that.

    While I don’t know for sure what he proposes, what I’d guess — and what I’d absolutely agree with — is reforming the French labor market so that there are fewer barriers to employment. The 2014 Macron Law was a good start — a cut in employers’ social insurance contributions (down to zero for employees paid on minimum wage)  and a scheduled fall in France’s high corporate tax rates (down to 28 percent by 2020). But these aren’t nearly enough. The 35-hour work week was a disaster. (The idea originally was that it would boost employment by forcing employers to hire more people. It did not.) They need to completely change the labor law so that the cost of hiring an extra employee is worth the risk — in other words, so that if it doesn’t work out, you don’t have to spend years and a fortune to fire him; so that you don’t have to pay huge social security taxes for each extra employee, etc. France won’t solve its structural unemployment problem unless it does this. And in the sense that low-skilled workers have been disproportionately affected by these laws, and that low-skilled workers have mostly been immigrants, I think that the charge that France hasn’t done enough to include them in their society is correct. Likewise, if you’re unemployed, your only option will be public housing, which is a recipe for ghettoization.

    France has many Muslims. Most are very well-integrated and as French as Gilles Kepel. The ones who wind up in Syria or on “Fiche S” or — God forbid — coming back and killing people are usually lowlifes. They’re drug dealers, people who grew up in the projects. Empirically, there’s a strong connection — albeit not a perfect one — between “lack of integration” and “radicalization.”

    I think it makes sense to focus on the way this happens country by country, because while it’s true that in every place there’s one thing in common — jihadi-Salafist radicalization — the demographic cohort of Muslims who are attracted to it and the process by which they’re radicalized is often quite different. For example, as Koolie points out above, the South Thailand insurgency is completely different, so it makes sense to study it in a different way. That was going on 25 years ago when I lived there (it began in 1948) and it was always a low-level, background thing. It’s become much more violent since 2001. Why? It began as a local Patani ethno-religious insurgency in reaction to the centralization of the Thai state (kind of like the Kurdish separatist movement in Turkey); but since 2001, it’s increasingly been taken over by hardline, transnational jihadis who’ve been influenced by the global jihad. The old insurgents had flags and leaders; they claimed responsibility for attacks; they issued demands. The new insurgency is far more vicious and they’re no longer separatist: They’ve signed on for the global Caliphate. That’s a different situation from France’s. It’s also part of the 3G jihad, as he puts it, but it has different roots.

    • #23
  24. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    David Williamson: I have just finished “Submission” by Michel Houellebecq

    Man, you actually finished a whole novel by Houellebecq?

    I find him so pretentious and unreadable. Is it better than his other books?

    • #24
  25. Tedley Member
    Tedley
    @Tedley

    I think WC hit the nail on the head with this comment: “The real concern isn’t “inclusion.” It’s assimilation. We will not assimilate Muslims youths if we can’t confidently assert our own values, from which western leftists have become estranged. You can’t fight something with nothing.” The left spends so much time questioning the West’s heritage, so why should newcomers assimilate into it?

    • #25
  26. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Joseph Eagar: The European elite’s problem with social inclusion go far beyond Islam. The “dual labor market,” the oppressive secularism, the anti-Semitism, the xenophobia covered with a straitjacket of PC—these are all serious problems in the West.

    I agree, although again, it varies from country to country. France is a secular country, to be sure, but unless you want to wear burqa, I don’t see that it’s oppressively secularist at all.*

    I’m hearing stories from you guys about the cultural war on Christmas that I find really shocking — because the last time I was in New York at Christmastime, four years ago, I saw no sign of that. Nothing at all like that in France: My neighborhood is full of Christmas decorations that are in no way watered down to “Seasons greetings” — the store windows everywhere are still full of crèches showing baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph; angels and the Magi — I’ve been wished a Joyeux Noël in all the stores, and as far as I know, no one has ever suggested that this should be replaced with some other kind of greeting.

    *It’s true that women who wish to cover their faces in public have complained that France is oppressively secularist. I have zero sympathy for that argument.

    • #26
  27. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    derek: econd is the constant refrain about the National Front. National Front this, National Front that. They don’t have a large base of support,, and are far away ftom the seat of power.

    That’s not true anymore. The second round of the regionals showed that yes, they’re still far away from taking power, but they got way too close for comfort in the first round.

    • #27
  28. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    R. Craigen: which has come a long way from its extremist and racist past under her father, who has been essentially excommunicated for these things.

    It really hasn’t. It’s lipstick on a pig.

    • #28
  29. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Ontheleftcoast: However, if the Quartz piece is accurate, he is describing only part of the picture: as the Taliban’s renaissance and AQ’s ongoing metastasis indicates, though, it’s not a matter of ISIS instead of AQ and other hierarchical organizations, it’s both/and.

    Of course he’s only describing part of the picture — it’s obviously a very big, complicated picture. I think the key point (or at least, the one that’s most interesting to me) is the way the picture has changed with the introduction of YouTube and social media. This, for what it’s worth, is a fascinating interview. And though the source is anonymous, from everything I’ve seen, it’s absolutely right — we haven’t even been thinking about counteracting their ability to exploit this in a useful way. I don’t know if we’re able to, institutionally: Alberto Fernandez obviously meant well, but it sounds as if he received no support. (It’s amazing how consistently frustrated everyone is with the White House about this.) But I doubt any team of dullard bureaucrats in Washington could counter this; it requires huge creativity and an ability to think in a way that’s entirely antithetical to the way people in a Federal bureaucracy think.

    • #29
  30. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: It began as a local Patani ethno-religious insurgency in reaction to the centralization of the Thai state (kind of like the Kurdish separatist movement in Turkey);

    I would take this to mean that the root of the problem is very similar to what you described for France.  Both are problems of centralization.  But yes, it’s best to study each case and not assume that the very same thing is going on everywhere.

    • #30

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.