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Paris Thoughts

Islamic terrorism has been a part of western life since I was a little kid. I still remember people assuming the Oklahoma City bombing was the work of Muslim terrorists as well as the attacks in Kenya that took place in 1998. While many people like Salman Rushdie or Bill Maher are taking the opportunity of a horrible terrorist attack in Paris to make sweeping generalizations of religion, I think it'd be more constructive to look at how terrorist groups become so bold and "coordinated," a word that was used to describe the terrorist attacks who attacked the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris, France.
I don't think there is an intentional goal to enhance Islamic terrorism on the part of Washington elites. Nevertheless that is exactly what policy from supporting mujahideen in Afghanistan against the Soviets in the 1970s to arming the groups that later became ISIS in Syria has done. I have given alot of thought over the years to what the goal of U.S. policy is to that part of the world and it seems that keeping energy resources free of control seems to be it. Muammar Qaddafi and Saddam Hussein were not at all allies of jihadists and had clashed with them many times. In fact, the clash with Kuwait should be counted as one of those times - it is gulf countries like Kuwait that often are the ones funding these extremists.
Making sure oil resources stay accessible is such a forthright need of the United States and other Western countries in the region that it trumps any consideration of what Chalmers Johnson has called "blowback." President Obama has expressed very bluntly that this is concern numero uno, as I illustrated in an article for the Hampton Institute. It didn't matter if Bashir Assad was fighting hardcore jihadists - armed lunatics who allied with Al Qaeda and filmed themselves eating people - we gave arms to them and Barack Obama campaigned to launch a war to oust him as he got closer to Russia. When Obama backed down, Assad signed a pipeline deal with Russia. It's really that simple to figure out.

The so called "war on terror" has not at all been against jihadists but to keep oil resources accessible. Jihadists have been able to spread their ideology like never before as various regimes and power structures have been removed and replaced with nothing discernible. They now control much of Iraq and Syria through ISIS, while the Taliban remains influential in Pakistan and Afghanistan and they grow in influence in Libya, a country that has been without a government since the U.S. helped armed insurgents to kill Qaddafi.

The sort of instability that all these interventions cause makes people more susceptible to extremism, as do funding extremists as we have many times, giving them weapons and support and killing their enemies for them. We can go around talking about how all religions are extreme, a sentiment we all know is as incorrect and incomplete as it is free of nuance and maturity, or we can recognize how our behavior contributes to continued terrorist attacks. This was an act of war, not simply a group of people upset with a cartoon, and became as coordinated and terrifying as it was because we have given extremists the resources to be thus. The dynamic that is going on is right out there in the open and there are a few politicians who have brought it up, like Rand Paul of Kentucky, but Paul has had an uphill battle in expressing reality to some and it will take alot of policy changes to get out of this cycle.


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About Radical Second Things

Michael Orion is a blogger, writer, artist and photographer based in the Bay Area. Besides his maintenance and promotion of Radical Second Things, he contributes to the San Francisco newspaper SF Western Edition, where he writes about local non-profit organizations.

Mark Cappetta is a practicing Catholic and active LGBT activist. He has been instrumental in keeping Radical Second Things and updates the Facebook account almost daily.

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Jordan Denato is a professional artist based out of Iowa. He took the initiative to illustrate both Jennifer Reimer's story and Michael Orion's Oscar Romero work. He has his own art studio, Tar and Feather Studios, and is a critical part of Radical Second Things.

Radical Second Things is a liberation theology themed blog that has clear cut goals - we see the structural decline of the United States and much of the west and hope to present alternatives that will offer "a preferential option for the poor" as more become vulnerable.

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