Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Ten Thousand Maniacs

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  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Henry Barnard,

    I found these reflections from across the Tasman by Ghassan Hage useful about thinking about this issue in the context of living in New Zealand.

    Irfan Yusuf is also worth reading, when he gets round to writing stuff. No Twitter presence so far, but he's probably not missing much.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5426 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Russell Brown,

    breathing together...

    Are you hinting at a conspiracy? No.

    Though you would have to wonder what these guys chatted about in the Green Room at the second annual public conference on national security, "The Ethos and the Profession of Intelligence" in Washington a coupla weeks ago.

    Yaakov Amirdror - Anne and Greg Rosshandler Senior Fellow, Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies; Distinguished Fellow, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, Israeli National Security Advisor (former)
    Bernard Bajolet - Director, French Directorate General for External Security (DGSE)
    John Brennan - Director, CIA
    John Sawers - Partner and Chairman, Macro Advisory Partners; Chief, Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) (former)

    Here's what they said on-stage

    ..and now

    The United States will work with France to intensify air strikes against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, U.S. Deputy National security adviser Ben Rhodes said on Sunday.

    That found passport bothers me - for a group obviously engaged in the 'theatre of fear' the stage properties are always as important - and that passport/person plays a (very useful) linchpin part in the direction of the unfolding response and narrative...
    </cui bono>

    We live in dynamic times, anything can happen...
    dismiss nothing!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7896 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    That found passport bothers me –

    Bothered our household too....

    I'm told there is a bit of a fightback against the French Flag overlay on fb...

    There is talk counteracting the promoted narrative.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    The found passport bothers me too. If you were going to go and carry out an attack like this, why would you have your passport with you? I didn't think it was compulsory to carry ID in France any more?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 580 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Attachment Attachment Attachment

    …your last image there should be credited to Jean Jullien.

    Black Cat bounce?
    I have to say I find it a mixed graphic message – I get the Eiffel Tower making a peace symbol – though I am of an age that first sees the CND symbol …
    - but mostly it looks to me like a modified French Anarchy symbol…
    via V for Vendetta

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7896 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    I'm told there is a bit of a fightback against the French Flag overlay on fb...

    There's certainly been a bit of selectivity in how Facebook responds to these kind of events.

    Strange, considering that it appears to have a huge and highly sophisticated user base in the Arab world. This from the Egyptian Hani Abbas.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    That found passport bothers me – for a group obviously engaged in the ‘theatre of fear’ the stage properties are always as important – and that passport/person plays a (very useful) linchpin part in the direction of the unfolding response and narrative

    I think it's appropriate to be wary about that. Some reports suggest that the passport may in fact have belong to an audience member – the other named attackers are older and French-born. Also, it is apparently very easy to obtain false Syrian passports.

    Stories yesterday reported that two attackers may have posed as refugees arriving via Greece, but the Greeks have flatly denied a second man passed through. So we've got the name of one teenager who is listed as having entered via Greece as a refugee, but who may not be an attacker and is of quite a different background to the known attackers.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22761 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Attachment

    This series posted to Instagram by Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Joann Sfar is worth any number of #PrayforParis hashtags.

    This one reads: “The people who died tonight were out living, drinking, singing. They didn’t know they had declared war.”

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22761 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    Er, my french is a bit rusty, but I think that last sentence should read “They did not know that war had been declared on them”. It’s a rather different meaning, so would be nice to have a proper francophone confirm either way?

    ETA: I have checked with the francophones I know, and they also say it is “They did not know that war had been declared on them”. An example of the risks, but also the poetry, of Google translate, because the incorrect translation seems to me at least as meaningful as the actual translation.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 580 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    it is apparently very easy to obtain false Syrian passports

    and handy to leave one at the scene to stir up French sentiment against recent refugees.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19697 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R,

    Totally affected by the fact that I've walked down some of those streets, and I have much sympathy for the people of Paris, but Francois Holland's speech about having war declared on them made me a little uneasy.

    Given that the French have been bombing ISIS in Iraq since September 2014, why are they surprised that ISIS fought back? Since ISIS doesn't have an airforce that could bomb Paris, this is exactly the sort of attack they must have been expecting. I'm uneasy at the implication that "it's OK for us to bomb their cities and hospitals because any civilians we kill are collateral damage, but it's not OK for ISIS to shoot civilians in our country because they're intentionally shooting civilians."

    To be clear, I'd really rather nobody killed civilians, but that's not an opinion followed by countries with big airforces...

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard, in reply to Stephen R,

    Except that even the military doesn’t think it’s OK to bomb hospitals (though of course does by mistake), and really prefers and tries not to kill civilians when it’s trying to take out military targets. There is a difference between treating civilians as people you try to avoid killing, and treating civilians as the people you are trying to kill.

    There may not be much difference to the civilians who are dead, or their families, but there is still a difference.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 580 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I think it’s appropriate to be wary about that. Some reports suggest that the passport may in fact have belong to an audience member – the other named attackers are older and French-born. Also, it is apparently very easy to obtain false Syrian passports.

    Yes it is, and here’s a good piece from The Guardian’s “Migration correspondent” Patrick Kingsley explaining exactly why.

    Not least this statement of the bleeding obvious:

    Investigators still need to verify the Syrian passport was carried by an attacker rather than a dead bystander (one Egyptian passport-holder initially believed to be an assailant turned out to be an injured victim). They will then need to be certain that the passport’s carrier was the same as the passport’s legitimate owner.

    Has New Zealand so quickly forgotten this? Identity theft is an growth industry.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    The found passport bothers me too. If you were going to go and carry out an attack like this, why would you have your passport with you?

    Well, yes – when we were in Europe three years back, I always (securely) carried my passport because it’s the only internationally recognized form of photo ID I have. Given that the attacks were in places full of foreign nationals, it makes perfect sense to me that a lot of people would be carrying their passports.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Kay,

    I was a young teenager back in the 1980s when the Cold War was in it's last major flare-up. There was a saying I picked up from somewhere (maybe one of the armageddon movies?) "No-one knows how WW3 will be fought, but WW4 will be fought with sticks and stones." The implication was pretty clear, even for a teenager. I'd forgotten it until the morning of 9/11 and the endless terrorist attacks attacks, and general mess in the Middle East since then, the amount of countries involved and now the French president's talk of an act of war- do you believe that we're in a world war, even if not in the conventional sense?

    Wellington • Since Apr 2014 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald,

    And so it begins....

    http://i.stuff.co.nz/world/paris-attacks/74060047/french-jets-attack-islamic-state-stronghold-of-raqqa

    "The raid ... including 10 fighter jets, was launched simultaneously from the United Arab Emirates and Jordan. Twenty bombs were dropped," the defence ministry said in a statement.

    The operation, carried out in coordination with US forces, struck a command centre, recruitment centre for jihadists, a munitions depot and a training camp for fighters, it said.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    ETA: I have checked with the francophones I know, and they also say it is “They did not know that war had been declared on them”. An example of the risks, but also the poetry, of Google translate, because the incorrect translation seems to me at least as meaningful as the actual translation.

    Thanks Lucy! I had added that image to the original post, so I've amended the translation there accordingly.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22761 posts Report Reply

  • simon g, in reply to Kay,

    do you believe that we’re in a world war, even if not in the conventional sense?

    I don't. The terrorist atrocities are so horrific, and the media coverage so extensive, that it can feel that way. It is hard to say "this is bad, that was worse". It sounds callous, so soon. But historical accuracy means we have to make those comparisons as dispassionately as we can (if only to counter those who now want to nuke the desert).

    Post-WW2, conflicts with appalling death tolls have become a footnote in (Western, or Anglo) history. Indonesia in the 1960's. The French in Algeria. Iran-Iraq war. Too many more.

    I have no idea how/when this will end. It is a wretched mess. But it isn't a world war.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1324 posts Report Reply

  • kiwicmc,

    Attachment

    Sent to me by a friend in Paris...

    Auckland, New Zealand • Since May 2008 • 88 posts Report Reply

  • Kay, in reply to simon g,

    Thank you for your comment Simon. Very good point about the media coverage, which of course has been more previlant and accessible (and partisan) from so many sources over the past 20 years. So any major tragic event is now in our face immediately and around the clock, but it's also impossible to know which version of the "truth" we're getting at times. propaganda is still alive and kicking.

    I've seen the suggestion of WW3 raised a few times on assorted blog sites, though not in the MSM so far. One person suggested it's been going on since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1980.

    Of course since WW2 we've had Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Balkans (the ones I can think of off the top of my head that involved mutiple countries) and which had the potential to become so much worse.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2014 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The Guardian editorial:

    And yet even if Isis did mean this night of slaughter to be a declaration of war, that does not mean France – or the rest of the world – needs to return the compliment. And a compliment it would be. To declare war against Isis is to flatter it, to grant it the dignity it craves. It accords it the status of a state, which Isis claims for itself but does not deserve. It confronts that murderous organisation on terms of its choosing rather than ours.

    What’s more, rhetoric of that hue has a recent and unhappy history. In 2001, George W Bush similarly hailed 9/11 as a declaration of war. But the rubric of war, with its implied permission for the most extreme measures, saw the US and its allies make several disastrous decisions. Their impact is felt even now, nearly 15 years later. That category surely includes the forced collapse of Iraq and the subsequent incubation of Isis itself.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22761 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    It's certainly shaken us, partly because the location of most of the attacks, up above Place de la Republique is only 3 blocks from the apartment we stayed in on Rue du Temple back in 2008. Was a beautiful spot and that neighbourhood remains close to our hearts. So much so that we're going back there next July, flying Air France and will be in that neighbourhood again, on Bastille Day 2016. We were all very excited about it, but this weekend has made shit seem a lot more real all of a sudden. I have to say it has made me a bit nervous, but at the same time I can't imagine a better thing to do than going to Paris, and for people to keep on going there and celebrating what a great city it is.

    One thing I've thought of, the Marais, right next door to the attacks has historically been both the Jewish and gay quarter of Paris. Did this play a part when locations were selected? I hope not, either way it's all really bloody sad.

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 948 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Russell Brown,

    What’s more, rhetoric of that hue has a recent and unhappy history. In 2001, George W Bush similarly hailed 9/11 as a declaration of war.

    The Decider back then, doing domestic damage control in his stocking feet.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Russell Brown,

    a declaration of war, that does not mean France – or the rest of the world – needs to return the

    Too late, war was declared 5, 10, 50, 500 years ago.

    This isn't good vs bad, this is peace vs war. And war is winning.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1201 posts Report Reply

  • Jason Kemp,

    Hard to get through all the analysis but so far it looks like the obvious military response would be exactly the wrong one. ISIS want a showdown.

    Instead of victory or death - it seems like many of them want to die in a holy war.

    Jon Snow writes in Paris attacks: Middle East’s wars arrive in Europe

    Where does this end? How does it stop? What is fuelling this? Certainly the fight between Sunni and Shia fought between Iran and Iraq in the eighties casts a long shadow. It’s been continued by proxy ever since, funded and encouraged by Iran and Saudi Arabia, and is seen right now in Syria, Yemen and Lebanon. Iran supports and arms and funds its proxy armies, and Saudi Arabia matches it in each country, but there is a fundamental difference. Isis are now a threat on a different level, either by deliberate plan or inspiration.

    The causes of this spread of terrorism are complex, but one aspect we have to tackle head on — its ideological roots in Wahhabi Islam, the official religion of Saudi Arabia. The House of Saud rules at the mercy of the clerics, some of whom see jihadism as a legitimate method of advancing their religion. The state in Saudi Arabia may not directly fund Isis, but the fundamentals of the Saudi state and society mean many of its people do.

    My understanding is that the Saudi's have huge influence over the supply lines but how to stop that when British, U.S, French and other military vendors are selling arms to the Saudi's...

    I read the Graeme Wood piece in the Atlantic. To most of us the ISIS thinking is crazy but it has its own logic to the true believers.

    A follow on piece by Wood The True Believers
    Sam Harris and Graeme Wood discuss the Islamic State

    Wood: I take your point. But since what they say they believe in is the goodness of slavery, crucifixion, and public executions of street magicians, as shorthand I will continue to call them “crazy.”

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 366 posts Report Reply

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