I join the world in condemning this horrific act of violence and devastating loss of over 127 innocent lives, with hundreds more injured. Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and communities. The Paris massacre is an attack on innocent civilians everywhere.
Sadly, this comes as we mourn the loss of nearly 50 innocent lives the day before in Beirut, and several dozen in Baghdad. And the 224 individuals who were killed the prior week in the apparent bombing of the Russian airliner in Egypt.
We grieve for the victims and their families everywhere. All life is precious. Every person killed is a tragedy that touches their loves ones as well as the broader world.
Already we are hearing calls to turn our cries our grief into a call for vengeance. But the use of violence invariably leads to the death of civilians, and drives more recruits into terrorist extremism. Vengeance is not a path to peace. Resorting to more violence in the aftermath of the Paris massacre is especially tragic because there are effective peaceful measures available to us right now to shut down ISIS.
It is critical that we not allow the voices that call for justice and peace to be silenced at this pivotal moment.
It is important to understand the attack in Paris in the context of the growing global epidemic of violence, so we can stop its continuing spread and resist the call for more war.
The violence in Paris is clearly a product of the exploding violence in the Middle East over the past 15 years. Governments have been destabilized and weapons have poured into the hands of extremists. Over a million lives, largely civilians, have been lost in Iraq alone. That carnage enables terrorists to rationalize their own horrific acts. Unleashing more death in response just continues and escalates the cycle of violence.
The callous manipulation and exploitation of the Middle East over the last half-century-plus by the US and other outside powers in their drive for oil has resulted in the deaths and displacements of millions of civilians. In the last decade, the US-led assaults to achieve regime change have created failed states in which ISIS has flourished. In the process, the US has supplied 80% of the weapons to the Middle East. Much of the weaponry used by ISIS is supplied directly or indirectly by the US and our allies.
The role of the US and our Saudis allies in fomenting Jihadi violence goes back much further than ISIS. We funded and armed the Mujaheddin, including Osama bin Laden himself as part of the effort initiated under President Carter to embroil Russia in Afghanistan.
Our promotion of civil war in Afghanistan led to the rise of the Taliban and its training camps. From our subsequent invasion of Afghanistan, to regime change in Iraq and Libya, the cycle of wanton violence has continued to grow. This violence has disasterly failed to produce peace or security. Clearly violence does not extinguish violence.
The horror in Paris shows that the horror inflicted on the Middle East is coming home to roost.
It’s time for a new approach. One that can be effective. Murdering innocent civilians – whether by rock concert massacres, drones, bombing campaigns, invasions for oil or arming dangerous warlords – is neither effective nor morally acceptable.
US and its allies created and maintain the life support systems of ISIS. Therefore we can shut ISIS down. The Saudis must stop funding them. Turkey must close its border to the jihadi militias that reinforce them. Iraq and our other allies must stop buying their oil on the black market. We must cut off the flow of weapons to ISIS by initiating a weapons embargo to the middle east.
Invasions and bombing campaigns will be no more effective against ISIS or Al Queda or Taliban now than they have been for the past 15 years. After $5 trillion dollars, tens of thousands of US killed and maimed, over a million Middle East civilians slaughtered — what more can be mobilized to “win” the battle for an occupying imperialist force?
Such battles cannot be won, as we saw as far back as Vietnam. And we see from the Paris massacre, as from 9/11, that this battle is blowing back to the shores of the West.
It’s time for a foreign policy based not on immoral wars for oil and market domination but on international law, human rights and diplomacy.