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The West Must Accept Its Share Of The Blame For Paris Attacks

11/23/2015 06:37 EST | Updated 11/23/2016 05:12 EST
Roberto Machado Noa via Getty Images
NATHAN PHILLIPS SQUARE, TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA - 2015/11/14: The Toronts sign is light in the colors of the French flag. Toronto images of the vigil held in Nathan Phillips Square for the innocent victims of the terror Paris attack. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)

It's the same nonsense script after any attack or bombing in the West. The media runs the same story around the clock featuring political pundits who suggest Muslims take responsibility for the attack, condemn the attack, demonstrate against the attack and provide proof and assurance that they aren't in some way aligned with extremists.

This intellectually facile argument serves two purposes. First, it allocates blame on a minority group unjustly forced to defend its faith and loyalty to their country, and in the process, conveniently exonerates the West of any wrongdoing and complicity. The irony is that unless we in the West begin to acknowledge our governments' role in the spread of global terrorism, domestic blowback will continue unabated leaving innocents to pay for our ignorance.

The attitude of Conservative Western governments fuels this false sense of security. In 2013 after the Boston Marathon bombing, Justin Trudeau was mocked and criticized by then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper for talking about the "root causes" of terrorism. A spokesperson for former Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said, "Put simply, the root cause of terrorism is terrorists. They are evil individuals bent on barbaric actions, such as the murder of innocents."

This is exactly the kind of narrative the West has propounded over the years to justify its invasions in Muslim majority countries with impunity while, at the same time, whitewashing its role in reprisal attacks on home soil.

Breaking it down further, this logic makes little sense. Sure, terrorists are are the cause of terrorism insofar they commit terrorist acts, but they aren't the root cause. For a fuller, more sincere analysis, we have to ask the right questions. What causes the terrorist mindset? What motivates someone to take the life of innocent civilians? Why do groups like ISIS come into being? Claiming that they're just terrorists so they commit terrorist acts without contextualization is nothing more than a convenient cop-out.

Let me make this categorically clear.This is not a defence of terrorists or terrorism. France did not deserve this. Innocent civilians did not deserve to lose their sons and daughters in what was a heinous, barbaric act that must be condemned at all levels. There is absolutely no excuse for terrorist acts and everything must be done to prevent this madness from happening again.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that every action has a reaction. France is a committed member and a major contributor of NATO's aerial bombardments of its former colony in Syria. In the 2011 NATO invasion of Libya, France's played an active military key role by flying 1,200 sorties from the beginning to the end of the conflict -- the third most of all countries involved.

Just last year, France signed a defence agreement with Mali that allows Paris to maintain presence in the country after intervening in early 2013. The recent terrorist raid of a Mali hotel was fueled, in part, by Western presence in the country. The Mali intervention was also a precursor to the Amenas hostage crisis in Algeria where more innocent civilians, including a French hostage, lost their lives.

To put things in perspective, French forces are active in at least 10 African countries with 10,000 troops stationed in the continent and not just for altruistic reasons, either, according to Newsweek:

"France shares Washington's concern about militant Islam, not least because it has a large Muslim population and is close to Africa. But Paris' vigorous engagement there is also about bolstering French preeminence in a region from which it has profited hugely and hopes to profit in future.

The French economy is in the doldrums, while African economies are mostly healthy and growing. France has extensive interests in Africa, including oil, minerals, infrastructure projects, telecoms, utilities, banking and insurance. But its market share is being eroded by competition from China, Brazil, India and others."

Whether these interventions are based on goodwill or to protect geopolitical interests is irrelevant. The point here is that if you're going to play the war game in that region while your own Muslim population lives on the margins of society, getting hit isn't out of the realm of possibility. To expect zero backlash is unrealistic and naive.

It would be just as ridiculous as if someone partaking in a boxing match was shocked to receive a jab to the face. It is even more ridiculous considering the emergence of ISIS was already predicted by the U.S. in a Defense Intelligence Agency document dated from August 2012.

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ISIS was also funded and bolstered by Western-allied Gulf states with Turkey and Jordan playing critical roles. This claim is also supported by a Congressional testimony on Nov. 17, 2015 before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

It doesn't end there. Once ISIS took control of Syria's oil and gas resources, the EU voted to ease an oil embargo on Syria to allow oil to be sold on international markets from these very al-Qaeda and ISIS controlled oil fields.

In early September, the European Union's ambassador to Iraq, Jana Hybaskova, told the EU Foreign Affairs Committee that "several EU member states have bought oil from the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist organisation that has been brutally conquering large portions of Iraq and Syria," according to Israel National News. She, however, "refused to divulge the names of the countries despite being asked numerous times."

So not only was the rise of our purported enemy envisioned by the West, it was funded by our Gulf allies and then treated as a viable business partner by our European friends. This is how global Frankensteins are created.

It's also worth highlighting that when the shoe is on the other foot, a very overt double standard is at play. When a political rival such as Russia is targeted, the attack is solely a product of that country's military intervention. When the West is attacked, the discourse conveniently shifts to "evil Muslims" and nothing is made of the Western intervention and complicity itself. The hypocrisy is absolutely astounding.

It is very easy and convenient to place blame on a the primitive, brown, alien "other" who takes pleasure in the destruction of Western ideals. It's the old "they hate us for who we are" cliche that advances the farce of American exceptionalism, as well as the Eurocentrism that "absolves" the West of its moral obligations and is firmly rooted in Europe's colonial history that manifests itself to this very day.

Whether our numerous interventions are justified or not, we cannot continue to let our self-imagined grand delusions make us blind to the fact that our actions abroad can come back to haunt us here at home. The problem with this admission, however is that it forces us to look in the mirror to confront our very own imperfections. Yet until we're able to do so, peace in our times will continue to remain an elusive fantasy and the carnage is destined to continue.

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