Non-French War Deaths Matter

We are all France. Apparently. Though we are never all Lebanon or Syria or Iraq for some reason. Or a long, long list of additional places.

We are led to believe that U.S. wars are not tolerated and cheered because of the color or culture of the people being bombed and occupied. But let a relatively tiny number of people be murdered in a white, Christian, Western-European land, with a pro-war government, and suddenly sympathy is the order of the day.

“This is not just an attack on the French people, it is an attack on human decency and all things that we hold dear,” says U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham. I’m not sure I hold ALL the same things dear as the senator, but for the most part I think he’s exactly right and that sympathy damn well ought to be the order of the day following a horrific mass killing in France.

I just think the same should apply to everywhere else on earth as well. The majority of deaths in all recent wars are civilian. The majority of civilians are not hard to sympathize with once superficial barriers are overcome. Yet, the U.S. media never seems to declare deaths in Yemen or Pakistan or Palestine to be attacks on our common humanity.

I included “pro-war government” as a qualification above, because I can recall a time, way back in 2003, when I was the one shouting “We are all France,” and pro-war advocates in the United States were demonizing France for its refusal to support a looming and guaranteed to be catastrophic and counterproductive U.S. war. France sympathized with U.S. deaths on 911, but counseled sanity, decency, and honesty in response. The U.S. told France to go to hell and renamed french fries in Congressional office buildings.

Now, 14 years into a global war on terror that reliably produces more terror, France is an enthusiastic invader, plunderer, bomber, and propagator of hateful bigotry. France also sells billions of dollars of weaponry to lovely little bastions of equality and liberty like Saudi Arabia, carefully ignoring Saudis’ funding of anti-Western terrorist groups.

When U.S. militarism failed to prevent 911, I actually thought that would mean reduced militarism. When a Russian plane was recently blown up, I think I imagined for a split second that Russia would learn its lesson and stop repeating U.S. mistakes. When people were just killed in France, I didn’t have any time to fantasize about France coming to its senses, because a “socialist” president was already doing his Dubya-on-the-rubble imitation:

“To all those who have seen these awful things,” said François Hollande, “I want to say we are going to lead a war which will be pitiless. Because when terrorists are capable of committing such atrocities they must be certain that they are facing a determined France, a united France, a France that is together and does not let itself be moved, even if today we express infinite sorrow.”

The video doesn’t look like Bush, and the French word combat does not necessarily mean war just because the Washington Post says it does. It can mean fight in some other sense. But what other sense exactly, I’m not sure. Prosecuting anyone responsible would of course make perfect sense, but a criminal justice system ought not to be pitiless. It’s a war that ought to be pitiless. And it’s a war that will guarantee more attacks. And it’s a war that France has begun.

“It is the job of thinking people, not to be on the side of the executioners,” said Albert Camus.

Please go back to thinking, France.

We do love you and wish you well and are deeply sorry for U.S. influence against your better tendencies.

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  • European

    Well said!

    The media who weigh casualties so differently and in such biased fashion, have much to answer for. Eastern Ukraine was another area where lives apparently did not truly matter. And I lived in Zimbabwe when people all around were dropping like flies from preventable causes, and yet the world was coldly indifferent.

    We have to keep things in perspective, and not allow the media to drag us into hysteria because these evils come back home at some point.

    • mulga mumblebrain

      Karma is a bitch, and the glorious West has built-up an Everest of bad, bad karma.

  • tom

    It’s strange to see Americans suddenly being on the side of the “cheese eating surrender monkeys”. Maybe the way the French joined in enthusiastically in the murder of thousands of civilians in Libya has redeemed them in Washington’s eyes.

    • Americans called the French “cheese eating surrender monkeys” when their president correctly refused to participate in a US plan to overthrow a secular Arab leader who was against Islamism.

      When France turned Neocon under Sarkozy and then Hollande (and the British parliament didn’t play ball with the plan to bomb Assad because Al Nusra had staged a false flag chemical attack in Syria), then France suddenly became “America’s oldest ally”.

      Should France see sense (doubtful under the current leadership) and refuse to participate in US efforts to fight Islamic terrorism by overthrowing secular leaders who are fighting Islamic terrorism, France will be demonised again.

  • awb22

    It’s a false position to apply western standards to the islamist state. From a standpoint of decency, what was the military target in Paris?

    The author doesn’t condemn the killings in Paris, except to say the perpetrators ought to be brought to justice. The inconvenient truth here is that isn’t how wars are prosecuted.

    Those who refuse to condemn the acts of terror committed by the islamists, can stop condemning the west.

    • Guest

      I condemn terror whether it’s perpetrated by a state or non-state actor.

      “It’s a false position to apply western standards to the islamist state.”

      Where have we heard that before?

      That’s right – over the last 500 or so years. Just insert “Christian” in place of “Western” and “savages” in place of “Islamists” and that sums up the West’s justification of its world tour over the past half-millennium.

      “From a standpoint of decency, what was the military target in Paris?”

      There was none. This act of terrorism was a major crime, not an act of war. But radical Islam wants France to consider it an act of war so that it could sway more moderate Muslims to support the jihad.

      “The author doesn’t condemn the killings in Paris, except to say the perpetrators ought to be brought to justice.”

      That’s good enough for me.

      “The inconvenient truth here is that isn’t how wars are prosecuted.”

      Because this isn’t a war. (See above.)

      • awb22

        Where is the condemnation for this attack? The fact is, there is a war against all humanity, with willing accomplices as agents of satan. Why be defenseless?

      • awb22

        Where is the condemnation for this attack? The fact is, there is a war against all humanity, with willing accomplices working as agents of satan. Why be defenseless?

      • mulga mumblebrain

        ‘Western Standards’? Oh, yes-Auschwitz, Hiroshima, My Lai, Guantanamo, ‘rendition’, the ‘Salavador Option ‘in Iraq, Gaza, Dahiya, Deir Yassin, the Nicaraguan Contras et al, ad infinitum.

  • Skip V. Patel

    Let’s not forget those who funded and trained Syrian terrorists since
    2005. (Hint: The same folks who trained & lionised Osama bin
    Laden’s gang as the Afghan “Freedom fighters” )

    Some folks never learn.

    20 Yrs. Ago: “Praise for Osama bin Laden”

    • Guest

      I still remember an American newspaper from the mid-1980s showing pictures of the Ayatollah and Saddam Hussein next to each other.

      The Ayatollah, as usual, looked menacing.

      Saddam, on the other hand, looked affable.

      The U.S. was on good terms with Iraq at the time.

      But it was also selling arms to Iran behind Iraq’s back, which was a result of Iran-Contra.

  • Nofearorfavor

    Thank you David — a truly hard hitting piece and for the discerning, spelling out and reflecting the terrible state our world, which through the hopeless lack of responsible, caring and strong decisive leadership, has been allowed to journey to where we find ourselves today — at the brink of a bottomless abyss and if I may add — an abyss so cataclysmic, that it may not afford us any option to ever claw ourselves out of again — even to where we were before we plunged headlong into what could be the darkest pits of hell.

    What has gone so desperately wrong with humanity, that our system has become so heinously corrupt, that we are not even allowed, by our God given right, supported by a fair and just, transparent electoral system, to choose our individual countries’ leaders? What say, do we, as the ordinary people have, in a world which supposedly, belongs to us all EQUALLY? Would we be at the horrific crossroads we stare in the face all over the world, if ordinary men and women had continued to be the backbone and the healthy and the wholesome pulsating hearts, of each and every country globally?

    Maybe you might wonder what my second paragraph has to do with the terrible tragedy in Paris, but does it not all boil down to the fact that for many, many decades, the world has and continues to be governed by less than 1% of the global population, in whom, we the ordinary people must invest our trust to make wise decisions on our behalf and lead us into the future with integrity and the commitment that should at minimum reflect that of a dearly loved brother or sister or a leader we elected, based on his/her inherent capabilities, qualifying him/her to lead us. My dad always said, that unless a house is strong, has been built on a sound foundation, it will not withstand the onslaughts of strong winds and storms which will come and eroding the structure, will end up beating it down — our lives were built on these words — it encompassed everything — from our daily tasks, to our educational endeavours, to our treatment of others, and most importantly gave birth to who we’d grown up to be, because it began at home with the personal relationships we had with each other — so these words had very deep meaning. Yes, we had disagreements, but they cut deeply and because love was nurtured between us from the day we came to be — we couldn’t wait to say we were sorry for whatever misunderstanding we’d had.

    Is a government then not the people’s Big National Family House? — The house, which forms the very heart our nation, it too must be strong enough to protect us all — even the least among us? The place where decisions are made for the benefit of all — that the ones we elected to work in our national family house, we had entrusted to acquit themselves well of the tasks they’d perform on our behalf. Was that not the honest way in days gone by, or was it never like that –? Did conceit, lies, duplicity and greed quickly erode the foundations of the nation’s family house? It cannot be, that w got too big a nation too quickly — the leaders we trusted, betrayed us! — which made most of us feel powerless and lead us to becoming indifferent, while amongst us, many turfed their own principles out the window and as servile puppets, joined the ranks of what now, was no longer the nation’s family house, but a place many of us had come to view with utter distaste and a great measure of sadness and finally — with a great, unmatched, rightful anger!

    Sadly, the good and wholesome lifestyle, which I described above, although from a very limited perspective, today is rarely practiced — not so much in private family homes and never in what now have become, empty heartless Government Houses all over the world. The whole bloody lot — the whole bloody world has virtually fallen apart all around us — we bystanders, mostly watching indifferently how the fabric of what we all celebrated as life, is being rented bit by bit, while pieces of it, sometimes torn and ripped from our grasp, are borne away by the winds of change and so fiercely, that for a short while, we’re stupefied and at times even bereft, that it had happened so suddenly — “How the hell could that have happened!”, we then ask, benumbed with shock. Still, a few days later, we put it behind us, shrug our shoulders and move on with our lives — WTF! Cannot believe that once human beings were in fact sweet minded and actually had a pure and honest innocence — compared to the empty shells we have journeyed to become — caring not even for our own kind — never mind the fact that once, long, long ago, we cared for everyone, no matter their race, creed or culture! What in the Holy Name of God happened to us?

    No David, there is no hope for this world, unless by some incredible miracle, God takes pity on us and again awakens in us what is honourable and kind — kick starts our capacity to reach out to others and care for them without thought of self! Have we no idea that our lust for the transient good life, our bugger you Jack attitudes, have all but destroyed our inner psyches? Do we not believe and hold our souls immortal and sacred anymore? — when few of us believe we even have souls?! Our arrogance only superseded by our ignorance!

    If the aware among us don’t stand up against the evil bent on destroying all we hold dear and genuine in our world – whether in the USA or Africa, or anywhere in our world — when we don’t urgently begin to care for this delicate ball we live on and call home, we are lost! Is it not our responsibility to again wake up to assist the many among us — neglected, robbed and abused for countless decades, by the rogue leaders who’d long since, by way of cronyism elected themselves to “lead” us — ? Can we achieve any of these things, if we unite and rid ourselves of the filthy dross illegally occupying our National Family Houses all over the planet? Yes we truly can and it is our human duty to at least throw everything we have, every morsel of our beings, behind the most important global human effort of this century!!

    I ask what is there to live for, if we allow things to remain as they are? — everyday sliding faster down the slippery slope we’re on? We each have a life still — let’s stand together and serve each other with whatever we can each bring — energy supported my more energy creates a tsunami of unstoppable energy!

    Many here won’t agree with me and will call me naive — yes, last thing we want is war, but we DO have the power to unite — by signing the largest global petition the world has ever had! We have PEOPLE POWER!! — I don’t think many of us realize just how massively powerful, people power is! I don’t — but I know nothing can stop us, if we stand united all over the planet!

    That is where you come in David Swanson! I sign all your petitions — now you have to create and launch the BIGGEST, most GRAND SLAM petition you ever have in your life! You can organize it — you have the contacts — yes I know its possibly a ginormous amount of slog as well as global organizing, because its never been done before — But you sir, can DO IT!

    Together, with the help of people from all over the world, we can set the world alight with a such an ongoing drive that we cannot but attain SUCCESS! Can you imagine for many years committed to our world, us all moving ahead, getting stuck in and reversing as much of the damage we have done, as possible. Maybe we will even end up changing the hearts and minds of the global bankster gangsters and they will get stuck in with us! We only need to consider that when we remove the I and the M from the word IM-POSSIBLE — everything is possible for a united humankind to get done!

    Thank you David, for reading, what is the most desperate appeal, I have ever made! You can catch me on my email if and its a big if, someone like you needs a few suggestions of how we can take back a world, which — contrary to the Big Shots who view it as their sole property and us their serfs –belongs to each soul on the planet.

  • Gomer




  • MrLiberty

    Let us also not forget that the modern state of Syria was a French Mandate from the League of Nations following WW1. The cobbled together nation was occupied by the French until 1945 and since that time violence has been the norm. Much like the artificial nation of Iraq that resulted from the same western colonial power “redrawing” of the former Ottoman Empire, Syria was as much about drawing lines around disparate factions in order to create a nation so at war with itself that it would not unite against the French (Syria) and British (Iraq) colonial overlords. Much like the violent response by Algerians in response to French colonial oppression of the past, Syrians (of both the terrorist and non-terrorist type) have more than sufficient reasons to hate the French government (regardless of their participation in the violence committed by the US in the middle east since 9-11. Additionally, Syria was routinely occupied by British, Italian, French, and German crusaders during the crusades so the animosity likely goes back over a thousand years.

    Those of us who understand the realities of “blowback,” can stand apart from the jingoistic war cries from the usual suspects, and who can objectively look at the TRUE role western nations have played since especially the end of WW1 in exploiting the natural resources, overthrowing governments, propping up brutal puppet dictatorships, and otherwise inflicting violence upon these nations MUST speak out with these truths.

    The usual suspects are pushing us towards WW3. A proxy war between the US and Russia has already been waging for years in the country. The fact that this “peace” conference was already underway in Vienna when this happened is likely no coincidence. We all know how this goes in today’s modern world. If war does not happen on its own, it is often provoked or created by those who always profit. Meanwhile, the citizens always lose.

    • goingnowherefast

      Very astute comment. I concur that there are no coincidences in situations such as this.

  • justus

    When a family member gets attacked it is different from the house down the street. It is senless and wrong on all acoounts. Support France with help, words, lawyers, and money. Please don’t divert this into a socital debate on ethics.

  • MrLiberty

    Is in not worthy to discuss why the attack happened so as to prevent another? I can guarantee that those who profit from war will seize upon this crisis to benefit themselves – with more state terrorism against middle east peoples. Should there not be some sane voices trying to stop them? Was it wrong to stand up and oppose the criminal Patriot Act that was pulled out and pushed through without being read, debated, etc.? Sorry, the cries for MORE OF THE SAME behaviors that provoked these crimes are now being called for ONCE AGAIN. Common sense and people speaking out and turning the discussion into a “societal(sp?) debate on ethics (whatever that means) might have kept our entire military out of Afghanistan and kept them from destroying the nation, might have kept us out of Iraq – who had nothing to do with 9-11, and might have set in motion a more responsible foreign policy that merely sought out the accomplices rather than destroying two nations and laying the foundation for the explosion of terrorist organizations we now are facing. You help those who have been hurt, but you do whatever you can to keep them from making the same mistakes again.

  • Tannenhouser

    Beware any country who dare’s oppose empires agenda. France was upset about TPP, France was interested in a cogent reaction to the ‘Russian’ aggression myth. France is now onboard with all of the above. Bring on the blue screen of death.

  • Brockland A.T.

    I’m not sure why the author would conclude that the loss of a civilian airliner would be interpreted by Russia as repeating the mistakes of the United States, as opposed to reinforcing the need to put down DAESH with the sharp end of a big shovel.

    Its like when a kid is routinely beaten up by the school bully, and the teacher arbitrarily punishes both for fighting irrespective of who started it or who realistically is even fighting, because violence is bad. Then the bully and victim are sent to share time alone in detention because that’s how the system is structured… Any kid can see there’s something wrong with this picture. The grown up author might not.

    Russia has been trying for some time to gather a genuine anti-DAESH coalition that respects indigenous Syrian sovereignty and negotiate an end to the conflict. One could cynically point out, they are looking out for their national interests, but those national interest have resonance with the Syrian people and their leadership. The Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, by contrast, are generally despised by all except the opportunistic Kurds and only welcomed for guns and money.

    • Steven Hunt

      Brociland, I caught the false comparison as well.

      France, as well as the US and its allies have been supporting mercenary jihadists that have been infesting urban areas and have spread across Syria.

      Russia was invited by the Syrian government to repeal and destroy these imperialist-backed jackals that were on the verge of destroying the entire Syrian state. If this would have happened there would be many millions rendered refugees, and millions threatened with jihadist genocide.

      But this deluded joker, Swanson, declaims Russia for helping secure the Syrian state by US backed jackals!

      This argument is destructive because it confuses what has been happening in Syria. It is the US that has been fomenting terrorism in naked contravention of international law and order.

      More, this guy’s narration elides France’s support for mercenary terror against the government of Syria–asserting that France only has been bombing ISIS.

      This is gross distortion.

      While claiming to be for peace–this guy’s narration confuses the actual dynamics of how this terror in Syria has been unfolding.

      First–secure the Syrian population and the viability of the state institutions by destroying the jackals funded are armed by France, the US, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia and Quatar. These are the jihadist groups that have infested the largest cities (the absurdly named ‘moderates’).

      The final phase involves going after ISIS in the hinterlands.

      This is exactly what the Russians and Syrians have been doing with considerable success.

      How totally deluded and feckless the political left has become in the US: fuzzy narratives that cover for and distort the nature of the criminalty that their country has been promulgating for years in Syria.

      But this gross distortion has been the norm among this sector of US society. Pathetic.

      • Brockland A.T.

        Going after DAESH in the hinterlands isn’t going to work to well; as long as NATO and the GCC keep pumping in guns and money, there will be DAESH takers.

        Russia has been pursuing a negotiated peace for so long, for just that reason. The military intervention was needed, but the plan likely to just buy Syria time. Russia won’t expect to win militarily, but diplomatically. Or maybe economically if the West runs out of cash to throw into that bottomless foxhole.

  • mulga mumblebrain

    It’s Chomsky’s old formula of ‘worthy victims’ ie us, the glorious West, or untermenschen whose deaths serve Imperial purposes, and ‘unworthy victims’ those killed by the West, eg the one million dead Iraqis since 2003, or our stooges. If an Imperial psychopath is feeling generous they get classified as ‘collateral damage’. We weep and wail over the victims in Paris, as is fit, but ignore the 2000 dead in Gaza, or blame them for their own deaths. Likewise the 200 dead Russians in Sinai were ignored, or snide references made to MH17, or, from the remaining inmates of the Charlie Hebdo sewer, mocked in two typically filthy ‘cartoons’.