The French 9/11

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by b. traven
Dec 14th, 2015

We participated in the following dialogue with members of the French news source Lundimatin, comparing the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States with the situation in France today. This interview is available in French on their site.

Bonjour, France, and welcome to team War on Terror! For fourteen years, you’ve looked askance at us across the Atlantic, raising your eyebrows at US foreign policy. Now you get to have your own state of emergency, your own far-right party in power, your own warrantless wiretapping and waterboarding scandals and Department of Homeland Security. Where will you put your Guantanamo Bay? (Finally, French fries and Freedom fries will mean the same thing!) For maximum effect, consider starting a new war that has nothing to do with the cause of the attacks, so you can destabilize another region and draw additional populations into the conflict.

We Americans know all about this stuff. For decades now, the US has been the policeman of the world, while social democratic France has been its comfortable bourgeoisie. But in the 21st century, everyone has to take part in policing. To preserve France, the liberal alternative to the US, it is now necessary to copy the US model of anti-terrorism. Permit us to show you the ropes.

“Because we are at war, we’re taking exceptional measures. We will strike in France but also in Syria and Iraq and we will respond on the same level as those attacks with the determination and will to destroy.”

Within a few days, France was bombing Syria. This war rhetoric is coming back again and again. However, and this is even more palpable two weeks later, this war (outside and inside the country) doesn’t imply a general mobilization of the population. Or, on a minor level (no enlistment campaign, no war efforts): be watchful, tell on your neighbors, let us handle this, endorse our security measures. “Be cowardly,” to sum it up. Of course, there’s a slight rise in enlistment in the army, but in a general way, the “Bataclan Generation” is left powerless.

On a TV show, the day after the attacks, a dandy Parisian writer speaks: “It is no longer possible to be indifferent. I have absolutely no solutions. So we have some sort of drive for violence that grows within oneself… Just like the Marquise de Mertueil puts it: ‘So it will be war.’ So here it is, it is the war of our generation. I spoke about 9/11 but the second time is in my town. And I have no idea of what could be a solution. I feel powerless…”

Of course, it reminds us of Bush’s speech on 9/11: “We’re united to win the war against terrorism.” What did it mean for American citizens then to engage in a war against terrorism?

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