At The Financial Times: Three views of Paris, November 13, 2015, Part One

The Financial  Times responded to the attacks in Paris with these three essay:

Philip Stephens’ essay of November 14, 2015 titled ‘There is no hiding place from global disorder‘ Subtitle: ‘Syria’s civil war transfers almost casually to the heart of one of Europe’s great cities’

A November 15, 2015 editorial titled ‘Time for engagement, not fearful retreat‘ Subtitle ‘Solidarity and thoughtful action are the only means to defeat terrorism’

And Gideon Rachman’s November 16, 2015 essay titled ‘Do Paris terror attacks highlight a clash of civilisations?‘Subtitle ‘Multiculturalism is not a naive liberal aspiration — it is the reality of the modern world’

Mr. Stephens presents this argument in his second paragraph :

The refugees making their way across the Balkans to Germany and Sweden are running from violent sectarian chaos. The murders in Paris show once again how easily this violence can reach deep into the European continent. After this year’s attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket perhaps the latest crimes should not have been a surprise. The sense of shock this weekend is no less for that.

The empirical  failure of the National Security State apparatus to detect and foil the operations of ISIS terrorists is  glaringly absent from his essay. His attack is upon ‘global disorder’ a capacious looming monster of the title. ISIS is a real existential threat, as the Paris attacks make clear.

Mostly likely, there will be more such moments. The hard fact is that we live in an age of systemic disorder.

A departing European colonialism, Globalisation, identity politics, and technology are identified as the historical actors in  this melodrama of the ‘global disorder’ phenomenon. What remains off stage is the history of Western egregious political meddling that didn’t end with the departing colonial powers or with the post WWII emergence of the American Imperiam. Hollande’s declaration of war, the demand for answers and action and more foreshortened history. But surprisingly in his last two paragraphs Mr. Stephens offers something like what political wisdom might resemble, despite its bellicose rationalization :

The case for a more ruthless assault on Isis is a powerful one. Destruction of its strongholds in Iraq and Syria will not wipe it out — just as al-Qaeda survived the US march into Afghanistan — but you have to start somewhere. This time, though, the west must remember what it forgot after the attacks of September 11 2001. There are no military solutions.

Ending the Syrian civil war, and thus depriving Isis of its organising mission, requires a political agreement. Most probably it will be an ugly one. Almost certainly, it will require western leaders to retreat from past rhetoric. But Europeans will feel safer in their cities only when there is a settlement of sorts in Iraq and Syria.

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About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.'
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