On Friday night the unthinkable happened. An unprecedented act of terrorism stunned the French capital, and now the world awaits some clarity and stability in the wake of utter carnage. French President Francois Hollande has declared a national state of emergency. With the French military mobilized, it would seem “caution” should be the tone this morning.
Details of this a horrific attack on citizens at France’s Stade de France, where Germany and France were playing a football match. Additional reports of violence at other sites are still sketchy. What is known is that at least one suicide bomber attack, the automatic weapons assault on the Bataclan music hall, and other scatters acts of terrorism have brought the country to a standstill. A so far unknown number of terrorists and conspirators have killed many dozens of innocent people, and have wounded countless others. The sound of sirens filled the night in Paris, and the city’s hospitals could scarcely keep up. Paris’ head of police, Michel Cadot told reporters 8 assailants had been shot dead by his officers, but no one yet knows how many accomplices those attackers had. Mr. Hollande beefed up security on France’s borders, and the scene in Paris and across France is unprecedented.
American President Barack Obama was quick to respond with offers of assistance and sympathy, and other world leaders chimed in to condemn the attacks. Already the suggestion ISIL is responsible take shape. Witnesses describing the perpetrators’ weapons (AK47s), the fact suicide bombers were involved, and other hazy accounts are being used by media to try and frame the situation. The New York Times seemed to take special care in painting the grim scene in Paris with Islamic colors. Adam Nossiter and Rick Gladstone took note:
“Other French news media reported that Kalashnikov rifles had been involved in the shootings — a favored weapon of militants who have attacked targets in France…”
Something strange is happening, my instinct tells me. Though I know not what the incongruity of this event means, it’s as if the sequence of recent events of late has led to this. And a media the world is now reticent to mistrust, it’s suspiciously consistent on the Paris catastrophe already. The tide of New York Times and other reports, they contain a harmonious plot perhaps? We’re left stunned, and somehow wondering things like; “Why now?” As I read the NYT texts, the video next to the articles shows the sirens, tells the awful tale, and then the American president’s speech washes by… Obama’s statement was opportunistic – militaristic from the onset. At least this was my impression. Using rhetoric like “going after the terrorists,” Obama’s appearance, right behind Mr. Hollande, somehow it did not fit. And neither did Mr. Hollande’s failure to divert flights or the influx of tourists into the city, how could he not, being in the midst of what could have been a days long assault on people in Paris? Strange, it’s so strange how this event is unfolding.
With French sentiment already tipping toward expelling foreigners, and with fears of Syrian refugees growing here in Germany, this horrendous tragedy bears the signs of a much bigger potential tragedy. TIME’s video report begins with the reporter describing the “terrorists” and their weaponry, before anything else. USA Today leads into the story with this:
“Terror tactics that have become sadly associated with the Middle East were brought to the streets of the French capital Friday in multiple attacks that employed seven suicide bombs and left scores of people dead…”
A short time after the attacks ABC rounded up so-called “counter-terrorism Czar” Richard Clark to discuss the standoff at the theater, where the assailants eventually detonated themselves. In the auto-video at ABC, Clark tells us the perpetrators were “most likely” ISIL. The former insider with the Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush, and now the Obama administration goes on to suggest for ABC to American viewers, the seeds of “home front” fears over ISIL. It’s as if the tail is wagging the dog all over again, this is what I am saying.
With millions of people across France in utter disbelief and grief this morning, a story is playing out that feels like a prelude to something. We’ve seen this before, only not nearly as horrendous in the capitals of Europe. But the “story” taking shape is not just an American media one, Euronews carries the same “message”, first the victims are portrayed, then Barack Obama appears to speak of France as, “our oldest ally”, that nation standing “shoulder to shoulder” with the United States many times, and “going after any terrorist networks that go after our people.” Whether Obama meant to or not, his bringing up the G20 meeting which Mr. Hollande was scheduled to attend, seemed a Freudian slip and inappropriate. Furthermore, Mr. Obama speaks more about France as an ally at anti-terrorism, than he does about the American people’s feelings of sympathy etc. It’s eerie, and the White House Twitter feed resonates like a call to arms. The same US president who failed to even say two words about over 200 murdered Russian tourists in Egypt, seems ready to launch a full scale mobilization against….”whoever” perpetrated this attack?
Vice President Joe Biden via Twitter; “Our hearts are with Paris tonight. As we learn more about these tragic attacks, we stand together. We will never bow. We will never break.” Of the two dozen western media outlets I skimmed for information on this Paris nightmare, only The Guardian seemed to report simply what happened so far. Almost every other channel has taken on the tone of Obama and the fear and retribution angle. This brings me to the dual purpose of writing this report. First and foremost, we should all be ready to express our sympathy and condolences for those poor people in Paris. Once again a great many lives have been shattered; the peace we all seek has been torn in half. All I can say here is, “May God bless each and every one affected by this.”
Secondly, this event is as Mr. Hollande suggested, “unprecedented.” It seems we’ve seen many unprecedented things these last 14 years or so, and I feel we are living in a time where extraordinary “caution” should be practiced by governments, and by we the citizens. Whether these events in Paris are a straightforward act of IS terror, or the most dastardly provocation any of us can imagine, caution the only reaction that will ensure any justice for those killed and injured in Paris. The media cannot be trusted, we all know this now surely. These leaders we see playing their roles, they cannot be trusted either. We’ve civil wars raging, a new Cold War underway, terrorists and killers called satanic in one breath, and “moderates” in the next, we cannot even know what to think as I type this. The next actions we witness, those will tell us the meaning of these horrid killings. And I pray you accept my humble counsel on this, right at this moment. For I fear something really awful may happen, if we do not act with caution here. We live in a time where the enemy becomes an ally, and where friends become foes overnight.
“Things are not always as they seem; the first appearance deceives many.” – The philosopher Phaedrus.
Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.