THE PARIS ATROCITIES: SOME HOME TRUTHS ABOUT WAR

Paris Blood

The entire world was shocked by the horrendous atrocities of last weekend. Appropriately, they were followed by tears, laying of wreaths, moments of silence, prayer vigils, and singing of La Marseillaise before football games and other public events.

France’s President Hollande evoked sympathy when he correctly declared the attacks “an act of war.” No one disagreed.

However, Mr. Hollande was not correct in his implication that the killings in Paris somehow began a war that France and its partners have now self-righteously resolved to “finish.” Rather, the Paris massacre is part of a much bigger picture that includes conflicts the West has been part of since 2001.

To fill out that picture, consider the following “home truths” about war. Uncomfortable as they are, allowing them to sink in might help uncover alternatives to the violence that stupefies everyone.

Begin here:

  • War is hell.
  • In modern warfare, 90% of casualties are civilian.
  • The casualties include refugee migrations.

_____

  • The West’s response to 9/11/01 was to declare war.
  • It began a campaign of bombing and extra-judicial assassination in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, and elsewhere.

_____

  • According to a study by Lancet (one of the oldest scientific medical journals in the world), since 2003 the U.S. war in Iraq has caused more than one million deaths – again, most of them civilian.
  • Meanwhile, the U.S. has supplied weapons to Israel and Saudi Arabia for their own bombing campaigns in Gaza and Yemen.
  • In Gaza alone (with complete U.S. support) the Israeli Defense Force fired 50,000 shells, carried out 6000 airstrikes, destroyed 3,500 buildings, killed 2250 Gazans, including 551 children.

_____

  • In wars there are always at least two sides.
  • All have the right to attack and counter-attack.
  • It is insane to be shocked when counter-attacks occur.
  • Counter-attacks often mimic attacks.
  • So if one side is perceived as attacking defenseless civilians, the other side will likely respond in kind.

_____

  • France itself is at war.
  • President Hollande is a founding member of the U.S.-led coalition that has recently dropped 175,000 bombs on Iraq and Syria killing at least 600 civilians in the process.
  • Therefore no one should be surprised when “in kind” counter-attacks occur. (To repeat: that’s the way war works.)

In view of such home truths, instead of responding to the Paris massacre with more bombings, the U.S., France and their allies should:

  • Realize that the West’s enemies experience many “Paris Massacres” each day at western hands.
  • Accordingly and on principle reject the atrocities of war that on both sides justly horrify everyone.
  • Announce a cessation of all bombing campaigns.
  • With allies including the United States, France, Russia, Iran, and others, call a Summit (appropriately) in Paris to meet with the leaders of the Islamic State to seek a negotiated settlement to the conflicts the West has initiated.
  • Open western borders to the refugees inevitably produced by the U.S.-led wars over the last 14 years.
  • In churches and other principled fora, specifically condemn all Islamophobic statements of politicians and other public figures.

Only actions like these can release the world from massacres that are the unavoidable consequences of the wars we rightly recognize as hell.

Published by

Mike Rivage-Seul's Blog

Emeritus professor of Peace & Social Justice Studies. Liberation theologian. Activist. Former R.C. priest. Married for 40 years. Three grown children. Four grandchildren.

5 thoughts on “THE PARIS ATROCITIES: SOME HOME TRUTHS ABOUT WAR”

  1. The USA is the greatest source of terrorism and atrocities in the world. Until we admit this, all our verbiage and watered down half truths will only serve to perpetuate the suffering the American Empire is inflicting on the peoples of the world. Let’s also remember that the USA is the number one destroyer of the world ecosystem on which we all depend. The comfortable middle class church goers who would rather not face the truth and act to change it are worthless to follow the gospel preached by Jesus and other truth tellers. They have betrayed the Truth, and we are living in the hell that their cowardice has helped to create.

    I would like to hear Pope Francis tell the members of the Catholic Church that they can no longer be members of that faith unless they really hear his message of reform and show evidence of that by taking concrete actions to make his recommendations become actualized. Otherwise he should tell them that they will have excommunicated themselves from that body, whether any formal action is taken by church authorities or not. In other words, if you want to be known as a Catholic – begin to act like it, or quit pretending to belong to something you do not follow.

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  2. Nice one Mike. I have a feeling that more and more people are taking the same view. I would place the blame for Paris squarely on Messrs. Bush and Blair. As ye sow…

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