Le Rafale

On Paris and Syria

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So last night the French retaliated over what happened in Paris by dropping 20 bombs over the ISIS stronghold in Raqqa. It’s going on right now as well, for the second day in a row, as I write this. Air strikes over Syria are extremely common and this news normally wouldn’t be something as widely reported as it was, except for the fact that France was involved in this. For a few months now American forces have been routinely bombing oil trucks, which form the main monetary supply for ISIS forces in the region. However, the French government felt the need to retaliate, as they rightfully should, in some way against the Islamic State and hence these air raids to destroy their command centre aren’t entirely surprising, if a bit unforeseen due to the French being… well, French.

Le Rafale
Le Rafale

I’ve seen the pictures of Paris. ‘The Battaclan Massacre’, as it will be known decades from now. Dozens of bodies strewn across the floor – men and women in bloodstained clothes with limp bodies lying in different directions, some in each others’ arms. Swathes of red sweeping across the floor from where the bodies were moved, glowing amidst bright stage lights and empty concert chairs. It was indiscriminate killing. Haphazard butchery on a level rarely seen. Truly goes to highlight the mindset of these brainwashed barbarians for whom life is simply a game, I assume. Except it isn’t.

The terrorists themselves are just bags of meat to the ISIS leaders. Their casualties don’t mean anything, and they probably shouldn’t if we’re not to idolise actions like that. I’m not eve going to talk about ISIS’s barbaric ideology because we probably share the same views, so let’s look at it from the French perspective. For five years the major superpowers of the world have pretty much let the Islamic State fester and grow, spreading their ideology through force and desultory cruelty. Now it’s a major problem, with Syrian refugees, people with jobs and families and kids, not wanting to be a part of a place ruled by these monsters being forced to seek refuge elsewhere in Europe. Obviously the conservative class in most of these countries like the UK, Germany and France won’t be very happy about hundreds of thousands of Syrians fleeing into their country, but that’s again a failure of their media, and politics taking advantage of this failure for far too long. Refugees are people who come to places like Paris to avoid things like Bataclan. One refugee said, “What’s happening to them is happening every day in Syria, 100 times per day for five years…”

There are people who think refugees are the problem, and I don’t blame them for that. They’re different people from a different country, and it’s very easy to lose perspective about the atrocities committed by ISIS and other militant regimes when you see a horde of refugees seemingly invading your country. Which is what’s different about the Paris attacks – there’s been a very direct refugee crisis indicating the level of devastation that takes place daily in Syria. Just last year we had the Je Suis Charlie thing, and with 11% of France being Muslim, it’s also a very volatile place for a terrorist attack; an attack like this can easily sway public opinion into an aggressive furor at the wrong people. Refugees and Muslims aren’t the problem, or the cause of the problem. It’s the Islamic State.

So is bombing their headquarters the right move? Well, France hasn’t invoked Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty yet, which created the NATO, which states:

The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defense recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

It’s a very difficult move. If France calls in the United States under Article 5 and the agreement is ratified, NATO, which includes most of the EU and the US, officially enters into war with ISIS. This, however, makes the previous US attacks on Syria illegal (as they technically were), which makes Article 5 not so insignificant. The US invoked the same after 9/11 for Iraq, and the two situations have obvious similarities.

There’s a very slight possibility that this whole thing goes nuclear, because as far as we know, ISIS doesn’t have access to nukes (they’re too busy chopping off their own heads to think about fusion reactors). ISIS will (hopefully) never big enough for countries to drop ‘cruel bombs’ on them. Which is for the better, in the long run. This situation will escalate as it always does, and insurgents will keep spawning here and there with the occasional terror attack. ISIS will fade away into irrelevancy, like most terrorist cells before them have. But these airstrikes, right after the massacre in Paris, are a sign of aggression from France that basically tells the world, “don’t fuck with us.” And I’m onboard with that.

Note: everything here is personal opinion and I’m happy to be corrected if any of my facts are wrong.

Follow Upamanyu Acharya:

IIM Ahmedabad MBA 2021. My hobbies include being vague, bending rules, time-travel, and embellishment of words. This is my personal blog where I write on topics ranging from blockchain, to leadership skills and the consistency of jam.

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