Dominique de Villepin, a foreign minister of France best known in the United States for his U.N. Security Council opposition to the 2003 Iraq invasion, has written this impassioned plea to the French people not to embrace a mindset of war in the struggle against Islamist terrorism, and not to renounce the country’s democratic values amid concerns for security. In the pages of Le Monde, he calls into question a slew of recent Western interventions, arguing that without knowing it, the West has ‘succeeded in a singular result: the emergence of an elusive jihadist enemy and the collapse of states and civil societies.’
Mr. de Villepin, who is out of office at the moment and is aligned with the fast-rebounding Nicolas Sarkozy, is concerned that in battling the terrorists, France could lose it soul, and he cites passage of the USA Patriot Act in the wake of 9-11 as a cautionary tale for his people to ponder. His key point: beware the traditional reflexive military response, which has made matters worse each and every time it has been used:
“We are today stupefied by the outburst of cold, calculated violence that killed twelve people and seriously injured so many others, which was aimed at silencing an organ of the press and liberty itself through the methodical liquidation of its staff. They died because they were journalists; they died because they were free; they died for what they represented. Our security forces have paid a heavy price to protect the security of our citizens. The country is coping with, united, the most murderous terrorist attack in almost two centuries with spontaneous demonstrations of solidarity. The temptation is great in such moments to resort to military formulas. Emotions are intense, but intelligence about what is happening is indispensable.
France is gradually slipping into a climate of war; a strange war that dare not speak its name; a war that wipes away the boundaries between inside and out. On the inside there are images, postures and the logic of a nascent civil war. The face of terrorism is changing. The networks of bombers seem to have given way to lone wolves who themselves are ceding the stage for further violence to commandos using Mafioso methods and military equipment focused on the goal of eliminating symbolic targets representative of democracy and liberty. This is no longer chaotic terror. This is organized fear, constructed stone by stone to enclose us all.
On the outside, from one month to the next we see the crystallization of a nightmarish frontline of a war of civilizations between the West and Islam, and with the deformed and monstrous features of Islamism. Western interventions are systematic: they appeared to be independent operations driven by various ambitions, but they have succeeded in a singular result: the emergence of an elusive jihadist enemy and the collapse of states and civil societies in the region.
We now know some of the operations that heralded all this: the operation in Libya in 2011 and its implosion since that date has transformed the country into a terrorist landmark in the Sahara; and in the Sahel, in particular in Nigeria bordering Cameroon and Chad where Boko Haram is extending its barbarous grip. But these wars always nourish new wars, each time larger, each time increasingly impossible. They nourish terrorism among us with promises of eradicating it. [The truth is] we will only overcome jihadism there and terrorism here by bringing concrete solutions to the crises in the Muslim world, which are at the same time territorial, social, political and economic – conflicts that we simplify by seeing only the Islamist symptom.
The spirit of war is a trap. It is a cycle that is driving us every day toward a war that is out of control. In the name of our democratic values our duty is to resist the spirit of war. The only victory the fanatics could hope for is to convince us that we are carrying out a total war; to lead us into a cul-de-sac of force we believed to be a short cut.”
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William Kern, founder of www.worldmeets.us, is the inventor of trans-copyediting, a system for checking the accuracy of translated copy into multiple languages. Since 2005, managing a team of dedicated volunteer translators, Kern has edited, packaged and posted thousands of columns of news and opinion about America from publications around the world and from every major language, including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Polish, Swedish, Spanish, Hungarian and Farsi. From the height of the Iraq war to the annexation of Crimea right up to today, Kern and his team have provided intelligence to the American people by opening up a whole new media world.
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