Sunday, November 06, 2005

The 11th Night

Just hours after French President Jacques Chirac publicly condemned violence and rioting in Paris ... police were fired on by rioters. Ten officers were wounded ... two of them seriously, when police clashed with about 200 youths who were hurling stones and other projectiles ... The incident came only a few hours after Chirac made his first public address since the riots began.

This report from CTV could mean that certain "youths" -- to use the charming nomenclature of the press -- have decided to lead the events of the past eleven days into deeper waters. It may compel the police, firemen and rescue workers to increase their force protection measures, to travel in better protected packages, reducing the area they could cover in a more permissive environment. Although the timing of the police shooting in the immediate aftermath of Chirac's speech may be coincidental, the attacks may also be a conscious defiance, the proverbial cream pie thrown in the French President's face.

On Sunday ... business owners called on Chirac to summon the military ... before arsonists begin to attack buildings as well. ... Police said ... nearly 1,300 vehicles were burned across the country. Some 2,300 police officers were ordered into the Paris region ... on Saturday night.

What isn't known, what the public can only guess at, are the preparations the French government have made to carry out Chirac's pledge to restore order. "The law must have the last word," Chirac said, and vowed those sowing "violence or fear" will be "arrested, judged and punished." The French government must demonstrate that it can deliver, for nothing incites contempt so much as to be all hat and no cattle; to bluster and to bluster impotently.


It will be a tough challenge to shut down riots, which are not so much assemblies of unruly crowds, but small groups of operators burning property in hit-and-run attacks. My own guess is that these guerilla groups can be easily neutralized in neighborhoods where their ethnicity stands out. Once on their own turf it will be a different story. But the price of using racial profiling, whatever words are used to disguise the fact, is that profiling is a blunt instrument, prone to identify as many of the innocent as it does the guilty. 

Richard Zeckhauser is one of the few applied mathematicians of the first rank to examine the economics of racial profiling. Reading his paper I was struck by his observation that if a person could somehow capture the results of being cleared after having been profiled that clearance would have some value. ("See, I've already been cleared!") But if that information could not be captured by a profiling system -- a system that was memoryless -- then it would take on the character of harassment, because the profiling would be repeated whatever the result. What that suggested to me in plain words was that the French crackdown on the banlieus, if it is to have any significance, must be part of a larger program to take them back from the organized criminals, Islamist extremists and assorted hooligans; it has to be part of an intelligence-gathering operation to make these enclaves transparent to larger society and worthwhile places to live in.

What I am afraid will happen is that the French authorities will apply the worst possible combination: a short-term crackdown based on profiling together with an agreement to cede the governance of these ghettos to some kind of Islamic councils. That will make the banlieus more opaque while at the same time making them more alien. Yet the attraction of this policy mix is obvious. It throws a bone to the extreme right and left wings of French policy and may quell the disturbances for a moment. It kicks the can down the road into a minefield. It's a soothing gargle of antiseptic mouthwash prior to flossing with a razor blade.


It's getting real interesting. CNN is reporting that churches, schools and police stations are going up in smoke.

"In the northern city of Rouen, a police barricade was set afire and a burning car was pushed into the police station; and in Strasbourg, near the German border, a school was torched. A church was set ablaze in the southern fishing town of Sete and another in nearby Lens, Pas de Calais; two schools in the southeastern town of Saint-Etienne and a police station in the central France town of Clermont-Ferrand were torched, as was a social center in Seine-Saint-Denis, near the border with Switzerland."

Here's a Google Earth map of the French towns affected so far compiled from the Europe-based blog No Pasaran!


Blogger Asher Abrams said...

Wretchard, your command of metaphor is truly matchless.

More substantively, thanks for highlighting both the advantages and the dangers of racial profiling.

11/06/2005 10:36:00 PM  
Blogger StrategyUnit said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/06/2005 10:49:00 PM  
Blogger StrategyUnit said...


In response to:
"a short-term crackdown based on profiling together with an agreement to cede the governance of these ghettos to some kind of Islamic councils."

This sentence of yours expands more fully on what I just posted, Paris Riots: Welcome to Netwar?, on my blog.

The most likely worse case situation is goverence is ceded to Islamic Fundamentalist securing their position as mediator and as "governing" body over the ghettos, Sarkozy backs off from his “tough on crime” approach and the criminal gangs (that are likely involved in furthering the riots) secure their turf in the ghetto.

Combined with that short-term crackdown will be greater concessions to the ghettos compensated by a stronger security apparatus.

Then relationship and confluence between Islamists, Criminal Gangs and the Hooligans will then be complete.

- strategyunit

11/06/2005 10:51:00 PM  
Blogger Pixy Misa said...

Yeah, I also expect the French to worst-case this. I have higher hopes for the Danish, the Dutch, and other European nations, but France?

I suspect that they'll do whatever is necessary to put to problem off to another day.

11/06/2005 11:23:00 PM  

"The French government must demonstrate that it can deliver, for nothing incites contempt so much as to be all hat and no cattle; to bluster and to bluster impotently."

Well said. Unfortunately, bluster is all that has been delivered so far. The fact that the riots have persisted so long and now, with policement being fired upon, increasing in violence, shows that the rioters...excuse me, the "youths" have not been impressed by the French government's policy of "speaking softly, and carrying a little stick"

11/06/2005 11:25:00 PM  
Blogger The Beak Doctor said...

I wouldn't be surprised if Muslim and Arab governments are saying to the French, "Don't kill any of the Muslim youths, or we'll award that business contract to a non-French company instead."

11/06/2005 11:35:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I come to a different conclusion than Wretchard.

US counter-terrorism forces have said for years now, both prior to and after 9/11, that the French counter terror units were the most helpful, the most effective, and the most ruthless of all the foreign governments they had to deal with. Whether these riots are terror related or not is besides the point; the resources and skills required to track down terrorist within Franch are the same needed to quell these riots - sifting through profiles and makind the bad apples disappear.

No, I give the French decent odds of making it through this actually. What I don't see though in the follow through. These riots are by 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants who have never been assimilated into French society, and have almost no chance of gainful employment. Working for a living is a source of self-respect, and as long as the French state denies them that opportunity, they will hate French wealth (cars), French handouts (schools), and symbols of French power (police stations).

Should you doubt France's resolve or willingness to fight dirty when their territory is at stake, remember the Battle of Algiers. Despite their protestations of being a post-conflict culture, and despite their genuflection to the UN and the ICC, they don't blink an eye about invading an African country to sinking a Greenpeace ship when they feel their interests are at stake. They are merely hypocrites, not incompetent.

11/06/2005 11:45:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

It sounds like the French managed to paint themselves into a corner with the brush of socialism and a huge unassimilated immigrant population (Islamic population). What was that old saying "Bad money always drives out good money..." finally emphasize, the French heritage -- which to me has come to mean nothing more than compulsory secularism, extreme statism, and extraordinary narcissism, and which I first saw up close 26 years ago -- may have begun to disappear in the fires of the former "red belt." What will replace it? Who knows? Some of "Christian Europe" seems to me intellectually, spiritually, and morally dead. How I wish it were not so.

"Red Belt" Riots By Stephen Schwartz

I will note if Stephen Schwartz is correct about France, then the Euro and the French stockmarket should fall. Markets tend to react quickly to bad news.

11/06/2005 11:56:00 PM  
Blogger Deany Bocobo said...

Isn't there room for some optimism though? Paris could be Europe's Pearl Harbor in the War on Terror...

11/07/2005 12:09:00 AM  
Blogger sam said...

French Leader: Restoring Order a Priority:

Police said copycat attacks are fanning the unrest but had no evidence of separate gangs coordinating. Officials said older youths, many already with police records, appear to be teaching younger teens arson techniques.

Unrest extended west to Normandy and south to Nice and Cannes on the Mediterranean coast, with attacks in and around Lyon, Lille, Marseille and Strasbourg. In all, at least 3,300 buses, cars and other vehicles have been incinerated since the unrest started Oct. 27, the police spokesman said.

Restoring Order

11/07/2005 12:16:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

DJB has a post up on the subject of events in France serving as a wake up call here.

At some point even the most somnolent are bound to wake up. Even Priam woke up that night in Troy. The trick, I think, is to wake up while there is still time to avert the worst; not only for the sake of Europeans, but for the Muslims of the world too. And the key, I believe, is to change the public's level of awareness. DJB understands what this is about. But to many, the disturbances are all about "youths".

11/07/2005 12:18:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

France, "Sick Man" of Europe, is attacked by vicious jackals, across the breadth of what should be (what USED TO BE) French, and the dogs demand "Leave us alone!"

Rule yourselves? That would mean sovereignty, self-rule, but you jackals can't even control yourselves!

"Taste ye what your hands have wrought!"

11/07/2005 12:53:00 AM  
Blogger Sparks fly said...

Dare I say the ol' Frenchys are getting what they deserve? Is that too harsh?

Now that police have been shot the officials have the cover they need to take the Islamis down hard if they want to. The French police have a sadistic streak to them. They would have a "good" time.

Perhaps this is Europe's wake up call.

11/07/2005 12:57:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

This CAN be Europe's wake-up. Quiet contemplation, however, leads me to see such an outcome as Wishful Thinking on many of our parts.

We see it as being a good thing... Well, lets see how the French deal with this.

11/07/2005 01:09:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I just don't see this as part of the War on Terror. I don't see it connected to terrorism at all, except at the most basic levels.

The rioters are Muslims, it's true. But that is not enough to conclude this is an intifada. As we've been saying for years now, although most terrorists are Muslim, most muslims are not terrorist.

The rioters are widespread and numerous. In every other terror situation the operators are few, carry out planned strikes, and hide in the general population. This IS the general population.

Al Jazeera is not spinning this. Now, the Jaz isn't the official spokesperson of all this Terror, but you can rely on them to give a feel for the situation. The don't even mention that the rioters are mostly muslim, only that they're poor. The prominently disply the fatwa issued by the French "Islamic community" condeming the violence. If we've learned anything in the past few years, it's that the terrorist playbook is to use the media to mutitply their effectiveness, not downplay it.

A European assimilation problem has been a known issue for a decade or more. Whether France is the worst offender or not I don't know, but it wasn't any kind of surprise to suddenly discover ghettos in Europe. Decades of >50% unemployment rates, endless charity, and ugly government housing have had their corrosive effect, and now the French are reaping what they've sown.

How is this connected to terrorism? Only in that terror and this frustration have similar roots. Living in French ghettos isn't as bad as living in Arabian ghettos, but the idea is the same. No jobs, no future, and no chance of making your way up in society. If the French "youth" are given another couple decades to stew and then find the financial sponsorship of a couple insane French billionaires, only maybe then would this be a terrorist situation.

Wretchard - the human mind is capable of seeing patterns where they don't really exist. The conspiracy theorist takes it to the extreme, but we are all capable of it. Your coverage of the war on terror has been exemplary, but I fear your focus on it has lead you astray in this situation.

11/07/2005 01:11:00 AM  
Blogger Howard said...

A couple of things for you to ponder: the Muslim population of France is not like our hostile Black population only because their numbers are at least twice that of our Black population. It is not possible to "put down" a rebel mob, contain it, or bribe it if that mob is twenty percent of the whole. Think of the LA riots if twice the number of blacks had been on the prowl.

The second thing is that THE WORLD HAS CHANGED in twelve days.

11/07/2005 01:24:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...


I completely agree that the hand of Al Qaeda is not evident in this situation yet. In that sense events in France are not part of the War on Terror. But the War on Terror itself is a product of the collapse of Europe and chaos in the Third World.

If France were to allow Islamic enclaves within it, that would have a tremendous effect on European and world geopolitics. And I think we are looking at fair odds that this will actually happen.

Of course events in France are related to the GWOT. But that is not the same as saying they are masterminded by radical Islam, though the unrest may eventually be taken over by radical Islam.

For last two weeks the press has been trying to describe events in France as race riots or unemployment riots largely bereft of ideological motivation. Youths. Immigrants. Sarkozy and other sources are saying these disturbances are conspiracies. In the end the two may run together. The chaos of Weimar was not a conspiracy, but one eventually grew within it.

11/07/2005 01:55:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...


There is one further aspect of events in Paris which are related to the GWOT in a fundamental way. GWB made the assertion, and I know it is fashionable to laugh at it, that only by making Islamic homelands functional and free can the world find peace. This is the fundamental Bush doctrine though it is treated as a joke.

Yet there is a wisdom in it. Europe could not, even if it wanted to, absorb the flotsam of North Africa. It's not big enough to. The only way forward is to create functioning countries where there are now wastelands. That goes for the banlieus too. And it can't be done with refugee policies or welfare. It can only be brought about by bringing economic and political freedom to the world.

Newt Gingrich perceptively said that the GWOT is going to be 90% solving problems and communicating ideas and 10% dropping bombs. France's problem is that they have only pretended to do the first and avoided doing the second, even when it was necessary.

11/07/2005 02:30:00 AM  
Blogger Gandalin said...


Your map does not do justice to the extent of the trouble.

According to Le Figaro, rioting occurred in 274 communities last night, as compared with 211 the night before.

These events are not going to stop soon, or easily.


11/07/2005 03:13:00 AM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

This is truly frightening. Regulars here know that I can be rather wordy. Right now I'm just stunned and sad, looking at a situation that is currently so sad and seeing how it could spiral further if the French government over-reacts or under-reacts.

I've long been a fan of Van Creveld and his work on the decline of the relevance of the state. Looking at France right now we clearly see a state which is unable to monopolize the use of violence in its territory. And if a state cannot do that, what is it? To see this happening in a modern, wealthy, Western European country is truly worrying.

11/07/2005 03:29:00 AM  
Blogger al fin said...

The french muslims have declared war on western civilisation. Burning churches, synagogues, schools, police stations. These are not mere thugs. These are religiously motivated thugs, driven by a muslim supremacist mentality.

Perhaps there is no AQ connection, or perhaps there is nothing that happens in the ummah that is disconnected to AQ. The problem is in the timing. By attacking France at this time, while France is still one of the main critics of the Iraq war, the muslim thuggocracy in France appears brainless.

France must find herself in order to deal with these barbarians.

11/07/2005 03:30:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Villars said...

"I completely agree that the hand of Al Qaeda is not evident in this situation yet."

When Al Qaeda targeted the US, it made a stupid mistake by attacking the one power that could organize a sucessful counter-attack. With Al Qaeda unable to manufacture any significant wins, the chances of a strategy change increase. If Al Qaeda returns to a more traditional strategy of attacking the weak points first, Old Europe could find itself on the front lines of this battle rather quickly.

11/07/2005 03:45:00 AM  
Blogger Perot lo Lladre said...

The guy that drawn this map did not know much about French geography. Toulouse and Avignon, cities that are well known for various reasons, have located near the German border. In fact, they are much nearer from the Spanish border, just a few thousand miles of difference.

11/07/2005 04:03:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

Read George Washington's vision here:

11/07/2005 04:05:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"Newt Gingrich perceptively said that the GWOT is going to be 90% solving problems and communicating ideas and 10% dropping bombs. France's problem is that they have only pretended to do the first and avoided doing the second, even when it was necessary."

I would say this is right.

11/07/2005 04:07:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Brussels got hit (sorry in French) last night but the media here are playing it down. I went jogging on Sunday with my neighbor who is a senior officer in an anti-terrorism unit here and he told me it couldn't happen in Brussels! He'll be working overtime tonight.

Berlin also had a few burning cars to deal with last night.

11/07/2005 04:15:00 AM  
Blogger goesh said...

I would say passive socialists would be rather easy to murder and intimidate, since they tend to regard their murderers as victims. If I were a jihadi commander, I would continue and I would escalate the violence. Oops! I forgot, this has nothing to do with muslim ideology - it is poor V. rich, right? How do you say "burn baby burn" in arabic?? I would say as ye sowe so shall ye reap, but religious commentary is probably not welcome here.

11/07/2005 04:24:00 AM  
Blogger tefta said...

Wretchard said:

GWB made the assertion, and I know it is fashionable to laugh at it, that only by making Islamic homelands functional and free can the world find peace. This is the fundamental Bush doctrine though it is treated as a joke.

The msm has done its job magnificently well by making is fashionable to ridicule and treat as a joke the only person who's had the foresight to set and implement a policy that could bring world peace. It’s bizarre that even as rational and forthright person as yourself feels the need to explain and justify why you aren’t joining in on the ridicule, but might even agree that Bush is right.

I hope you can stick by your convictions because the rest of the world will start ridiculing you too.

If Bush succeeds in stabilizing Iraq, the rest of the Middle East will fall in line. As Bush succeeds in setting a new self-sufficient energy policy, our dependence on foreign oil will greatly decrease jeopardizing the income flow to Muslim states financing global terror. Without funding, terrorism stops.

Getting back to the topic, Muslims in Europe will continue to destabilize society for all the reasons already stated. Caving in to their demands, will result only in more and more demands. Changing the conditions in their native lands from the grinding endless poverty to the possibility of the bright new future might beckon them back. Nothing else can possibly work.

11/07/2005 04:28:00 AM  
Blogger Jeff Burton said...

The key danger, irrespective of the short-term outcome, is that France establishes (formally or informally) Islamic enclaves within its territory. The idea of territoriality is intimately connected with Islamic theology. These enclaves would provide a base from which to launch jihad. France would wind up with its own Gaza Strip (or strips).

11/07/2005 04:49:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

The map seems to have Marseilles named where Paris is. Marseilles is on the southern coast, above the Cote d'Azur, on the way to Toulon, where there has always been a large Arab population. Seems like the Riviera should be hot, too.

11/07/2005 05:03:00 AM  
Blogger goesh said...

Thank God for the 2cd Amendment, eh? What is the french policy on citizen ownership of guns?

11/07/2005 05:04:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Again, it is not aQ that is the challenge, aQ is nothing, in and of itself. A few middle aged reactionaries, border bandits with a good PR man.
Syria, Iran, Sudan... these are terrorist STATES.
The UN moves seriously on the Syrian issue, Paris burns.
Sanctions are seriously discussed against Iran, Paris burns.

Syria and Iran are allies.
Paris burns.

In my younger days our CIA was blamed, accused & triumphed, depending on perspective, for destabilizing Iran, Laos, Chile etc using AGENTS. Small numbers of operatives that, with deniability, tried to change the World. In most cases they used disaffected Natives to do their dirty work,
But, of course, the Mohammedans are much to irrational and inept to do the same.

11/07/2005 05:50:00 AM  
Blogger Dimitar Vesselinov said...


11/07/2005 05:59:00 AM  
Blogger Papa Bear said...

The objectives of the rioters seem to be clear: they want independent enclaves that they will rule, and which the French police will not enter. And they want what all children want: independence from responsibility (the welfare checks must continue)

Once they have the enclaves, the behind-the-scenes leaders of the rioters will be the de-facto rulers of the enclaves. They will be able to control criminal gangs while themselves being immune from arrest

The French have a number of problems if they decide to crack down. First is that the Muslim population of France is very large, and it will be a civil war. Second is that if it turns into a civil war, they will not necessarily be able to use their military. I've seen some accounts (nothing authoritative but I'm still looking) that 10-15% of the French military is Muslim. In any civil war, there would be fears that Muslim troops would defect to the insurgent side (taking as many weapons and as much ammo as they can)

Also, if a general civil war breaks out, France (and French businesses) will be boycotted (if not targeted) by the rest of the Muslim world.

There would be great temptation for the French politicians to try to make a deal for "peace in our time": letting the insurgents have their independent enclaves in exchange for a temporary truce (time enough for the elites to bug out)

11/07/2005 06:03:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

To say, as sone here have, that because the Mohammedans are using different tactics in France then are used in Sudan, the actions are unrelated. That if Arab TV does not announce the Paris riots are part of the Jihadist meme, it is not.
That because the Mohammedans do not use IEDs in France they are unrelated to Iraqi Insurgents.
Give it a break.
Two weeks of nightly violence is not spontaneous.
Violence spreading to Mohammedan communities across Europe is not spontaneous.
No more than either of the WTC attacks were spontaneous.
The powers that be do not want our public to know the scope of the challenge. So when Mohammedans attack El Al ticket counter at LAX, it is unrelated. When Malvo & Mohammed go on a Beltway killing spree, it is unrelated. When the Sudanese kill African Christians, it is unrelated. When bombs go off in New Delhi, it's unrelated.
When Paris burns, of course, that is unrelated, as well.

11/07/2005 06:07:00 AM  
Blogger Sophia Phoster said...

If it were not so danged serious, watching the culture war unfold real-time in the MSM would be the entertainment highlight of the era. i would love to have a comparison of the column inches and broadcast minutes of the first 11 days of Cindy Sheehan vs. the French Infitada. Whoops, can't say Infitada because it implies something other than an expected and rational response of the socio-economic victim to his oppressor.

The NYT has yet to acknowledge the possibility of Islamic overtones, so the WaPo gets the prize for sugarcoating the shooting of 10 policmen because 'they were only little bitty birdshot pellets' and 8 of the cops weren't hurt too badly anyway.

What to expect from Chirac et al? After the 11th day of insurrection the national police are getting around to asking Chirac to impose a curfew in the worst areas! Heaven forbid that the "youths" be so inconvenienced.

11/07/2005 06:07:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

It appears to me that the major reason for the lack of action by the French authorities is that they are desperately searching for someone within their homegrown Muslim population to negotiate with. And there is no such entity.

They set up that Council for Muslims several years ago, to make the Muslim population feel important and accepted but if that was supposed to be a substitute for the Catholics and their Pope it has failed miserably. There is no one single Muslim authority, either in France or in the Middle East, who can slap these punks upside the head and with authority tell them to "knock it off!"

Re: Al-Queda influence, I'm being reminded elsewhere on the blogosphere that there have been reports for some months now that A-Q has been recruiting in France and then shipping froggy Muslims to Iraq for terrorist training.

There is further note being made that the rioters are communicating via cell phone and text-messaging with the question asked how they got each other's phone numbers all across the country without prior planning and training from SOMEone.

(see Captain Morrissey for links to the above concepts)

11/07/2005 06:56:00 AM  
Blogger tcobb said...

For those of you that take the position that this is really just all about poverty which arises from racism, how is it that giving these enclaves autonomy will cure this? This is going to create jobs and opportunities for them? How?

I'm sorry, but when all the basic provisions of life such as food and shelter are provided to you, you are not impoverished, no matter how many people insist on twisting that word to mean something that it does not. I have no sympathy for any immigrants who fail to take advantage of the free educational benefits which France (as well as all Western countries) offers or to even learn anything other than the basic rudiments of the language of the country in which they reside. If they are "marginalized" it is because they have done it to themselves.

11/07/2005 07:06:00 AM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

Please dear france, do not feed the cycle of violence and use force to quell these misunderstood children...

after all all they are doing is expressing their sincere political beliefs.

ha ha aha ha ha hah a ha aha ha ha

can we say karma sucks?

11/07/2005 07:06:00 AM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

Messr Stein of course adds that the French intifada has actually been going on for years, but as long as the affected wore yamulkas and went to temple, the French could ignore the attacks. Which begs the question, how will we know the intifada has ended, because point in fact it has been going on for some time?

One of the great advantages to this guerrila warfare (or whatever) is that you can't shut it down eaily. Granted. The big disadvantage is that you can't control it, no one can, not even the most powerful actor in the movement. This type of violence becomes only more violent, whether you fight it or appease it. Ask the Palis.

BTW, anyone taking bets on Turkey's accession to the EU?

11/07/2005 07:12:00 AM  
Blogger ricksamerican said...

Interesting comment from a socialist mayor from just outside Paris

Le maire socialiste de Noisy-le-Grand (Seine-Saint-Denis) Michel Pajon:

"Donc, à un moment donné, il faut se demander s'il y a encore un Etat dans ce pays. . ."

"A time comes when you have to ask yourself if there is still a State in this country. . ."

That really seems to be the question. Calls for military intervention, from a socialist!

"Pour un socialiste, dire que l'armée doit intervenir est un constat d'échec absolument inimaginable. Mais ce que je peux vous dire, c'est qu'on ne peut pas laisser les gens comme ça.

Torchings in Belgium and Germany last night. Clearly, there is a reluctance to confront this challenge. More seems to be at stake than anything I had imagined.

11/07/2005 07:21:00 AM  
Blogger Peter UK said...

There are constant references to the inhabitants of the Banlieus as unassimilated and that this lack of assimilation is somehow the fault of the French,racism being the prime reason.
Assimilation is a two way street,there also needs to be a desire to be assimilated.The important point to grasp is they don't want to be like us,they want to retain their culture and their religion.
Since we do not wish to adopt their culture,although the politically correct have been busy elliminating the icons of western culture so as not to offend,they are not willing to relinquish one iota of their identity.
The Banlieus were given de facto autonomy crime spilled out from there to an extent that something had to be done.Those that control an area must also rule in such a way as to be able to co-exist with surrounding territories,otherwis it is ultimately war.

Contrary to statements that France is bad at integrating immigrants,they have been doing so successfully for centuries,negros married into the aristocracy,thousands of people of mixed parantage had prominent positions in society.
The difference was,they wanted to be French,adopt French culture and mores.Many of the Algerians despies French culture,anathemsize liberal freedoms,especially sexual,do not subscribe to the concept of democracy.There is also another deeper hatred,the bitter brutal war that France waged in Algeria has embittered generations of Algerians....this is payback time.

11/07/2005 07:28:00 AM  
Blogger ricksamerican said...


"It appears to me that the major reason for the lack of action by the French authorities is that . . ."

they are terrified of the people in the cites. The police don't even respond to reports of crime in these "sensitive areas"--haven't for years.

They are not doing anything because they don't know what to do. Dealing with the realities would be admitting that their entire political lives have been a joke--or worse, a demented fantasy. The French and other Euros actually invited Arabs in to enrich and enlighten their moribund cultures with the brillant and sophisticated epiphanies of Arab civilisation. Now, that is sad, but funny, perhaps, too, ne c'est pas?

Helas! Quel dommage!

11/07/2005 07:32:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

The Muslims don't just have a European assimilation problem, they have a world assimilation (into the modern world) problem. What is happening in France right now is just a microcosm of that.

11/07/2005 07:40:00 AM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

GWB made the assertion, and I know it is fashionable to laugh at it, that only by making Islamic homelands functional and free can the world find peace. This is the fundamental Bush doctrine though it is treated as a joke.

In his book The Case for Democracy, Natan Sharansky argues (citing an essay by Andrei Sakharov from which he gained courage and inspiration) that scientific and economic progress cannot be divorced from human freedom. He notes that once people realize the virtues of freedom they will not willingly return to a state of enslavement.

Why is this fundamental proposition such a hard thing for the intellectual elite of a liberal society to accept or comprehend?

11/07/2005 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

Many people have noted that despite the massive amount of arson there has been relatively little violence. There has apparently been only one death, an unfortunate 60 year old man named Jean-Jacques Le Chenadec, and a few police hospitalized. This could clearly escalate quickly.

Furthermore, something I've not seen much discussed is that this kind of activity is the perfect smoke screen for a more serious attack to occur.

As I'm writing this, I'm being messaged via MSN by a close friend in Paris... he's not french but is a student there. He's looking for advice... beyond the obvious "get out!", what would people here suggest to those stuck in Paris? My first advice was to stock up on food and water and have essentials ready to go in a backpack. Services such as electricity and transportation and water could go....

In an effort to keep things positive and helpful for those in France, I'd like to solicit suggestions from any of you...

BTW: my friend reports that he's fine where he is but that everyone is quite concerned, very much on alert, and very much feeling that this is just the beginning.

11/07/2005 07:46:00 AM  
Blogger Common Cents said...

Cardozo: "Working for a living is a source of self-respect, and as long as the French state denies them that opportunity, they will hate French wealth (cars), French handouts (schools), and symbols of French power (police stations)."

This statement facinates me. Why is it the state owes anyone work? I think one reason I am sucessful is I never felt I was owed anything.

Although I am a white male, I had enough strikes against me that I should not have made it.

I have had to educate myself, reeducate myself and then change my area of expertise in my second profession each time taking dramatic near crippleing pay cuts.

As low as I have been I always knew I could work/think my way out.

IMHO one major cause of the riots is the French welfare system pays these people to be idle malcontents.

11/07/2005 08:17:00 AM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

James, Dominic DeVellipin is going to speak tonight, so I'd tell your friend to leave before that...and I'm only half-joking. Make sure he knows the location of the American Embassy, and has a reliable plan to get there in case things get very, very bad.

Depending on where he's at, things should stay calm for him. However, if any landmark French monument, such as the Lourve or some such (there are hundreds in Paris especially) is damaged, all bets are off. The French ARE sublimely brutal and will respond harshly (probably quicker to a cultural loss than for any deaths tallied).

My slap-dash prediction is that Vellipin gives the speech of his life and gives up the ship to the rioters. The raicalles will be completely unable to stop all the rioting (which seems extremely likely, even if they wanted to) which will cross a redline. The police respond and riots go hotter and faster.

And have your friend stay away from the Bastille, it seems to be that time of season, the Best of Times and the Worst...

11/07/2005 08:17:00 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Fred has a comment on the issue worth reading:

11/07/2005 08:31:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/07/2005 08:33:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Perot lo Lladre,

Thank you for pointing out the misplacement of towns on the map. It has been corrected.

11/07/2005 08:35:00 AM  
Blogger Papa Bear said...

Anybody in France who is just there as an American tourist should leave immediately.

Anybody in Paris who has someplace else to go, that is far from the "estates", should go there.

Anybody in France who could possibly have bought a rifle or shotgun, should have already bought one (because the shelves will now be bare). In this brave new world, anybody, anywhere, who does not own at least one firearm, and at least one thousand rounds for it, is a fool.

I have no idea how this is going to play out. Once shots are fired, events go beyond the control of people who deluded themselves into thinking they could control events

11/07/2005 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

I can't imagine that the initial reaction of the masses was coordinated beyond the decentralized links of family and cell phones. But I don't think we can say that any longer.

Desert Rat made a point that has been in the back of my mind for a few days. Is it merely a coincidence that the riots are happening concurrently with France's confrontation with Syria? Or following the EU-3's referral of Iran to the IAEA and the UNSC? How far should we stretch reason and avoid what seems more and more obvious?

Arafat's movement didn't start as an Islamonuts jihad, it started as a Marxist, secular insurrection. The mantle of Islamism just proved to be the better motivator. Belatedly did jihad supplant the original raison d'etre for the Palestinian cause.

I think that is the underlying global story. Islam and "muslimness" are coopting the grievances of a billion people and uniting them under one, belligerent banner of inevitable victory. It is an angst-filled movement, and whether today sees riots of the poor or tomorrow sees terrorism by the rich, I think we must acknowledge the interelatedness of these phenomena. The riots in Paris are only a particular manifestation of the overall problem of Muslim angst.

Of course, the Muslims are not acting upon automata. A lion in repose is still a lion. Forgotten is the underlying ruthlessness of the French. France didn't even blink when told to liquidate their Jewish assets. I doubt her citizenry will stir itself over the eradication of a less docile and less assimiliated group.

11/07/2005 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger Sophia Phoster said...

For the record Arafat was always a dues paying member (so to speak) of the Muslim Brotherhood, the bedrock organization of al Qaeda and almost all the world's other explode-a-dope organiztions.

11/07/2005 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...


You noted:

"I think that is the underlying global story. Islam and "muslimness" are coopting the grievances of a billion people and uniting them under one, belligerent banner of inevitable victory."

That's why the incidents in Paris are both more and less than they appear to be. At one level it is perfectly accurate to say "these are nothing but riots over race, jobs and discrimination". Yet it is important to note that mundane grievances underlie every political movement. The first task of any agitator is to raise a banner under which the discontented will march. Once the Left could do that on every occasion. But not any more. There's a new kid on the block.

11/07/2005 09:16:00 AM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

Padre Oso, points taken.

Other points: The sheer extent, the breadth of the riots across the nation and beyond the borders of France into Belgium and Germany (and Denmark earlier) makes this uprising huge. It cannot, will not, dissipate overnight.

Even reducing the span of the 'intifada' (if possible) might not reduce the intensity of it: In fact, as merely turning the riots back will require some sort of forceful intervention somewhere, sometime, odds are good that the violence will escalate in at least one of the 300+ (!!!) towns the intifada has encompassed.

And, assimiliation is a two way street. Racism and poverty don't cut it as explanatory models for this. The clannish inability of the banlieu sensibles to assimiliate into French society does, does alot. Hopefully they will become dismantled and Europe will either reform so it doesn't need immigrants or shop for better ones that will actually work, or both.

11/07/2005 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Eric Hoffer once wrote that mass movements "can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil...The ideal devil is a foreigner."

By sequestering her immigrant populations away in concrete cites, France has inverted reality. The French are now foreigners in their own land.

A double whammy since her Muslim immigrant population already has the insider-outsider dichotomy bred into their belief system. Looked at this way, does it matter whether it was the match or the kerosene that started the fire? Whatever started it, it is the composition underneath that keeps it going.

11/07/2005 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger chsw said...

The next big question for the European Intifada will be:

Will the Israelis advise Denmark, France, Germany, Sweden et al to act with restraint?


11/07/2005 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger vogz said...

Same song, fourth verse.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

11/07/2005 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

James Keilland,

The best advice for your French Friends is to set up road blocks and check points and man them with men with guns. Organize your neighborhoods.

11/07/2005 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Those are some powerful images Dimitar. The Gendarmarie look like they're kitted out well and can dish out some serious nastiness if allowed.

Ya got to try the 'ol surprise visit with these droogs.

11/07/2005 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Anyone know what French law regarding personal possession of firearms is like? Also, to what extent the law extends protection to those who use deadly force in protection of their property?

I just can't help wondering who's cars are being burned, while simultaneously thinking that after the first day of such activity here in the US, vigilante-ism would have greatly reduced the porperty damage.

11/07/2005 11:13:00 AM  
Blogger Solomon2 said...

strategyunit said:

"The most likely worse case situation is goverence is ceded to Islamic Fundamentalist securing their position as mediator and as "governing" body over the ghettos, Sarkozy backs off from his “tough on crime” approach and the criminal gangs (that are likely involved in furthering the riots) secure their turf in the ghetto.

I agree. This will happen if France decides to approach its "ghettos" as a "colonialist military occupation" problem rather than a domestic "law-and-order" issue. Everything I have read about how the French military operates abroad in the past (ex: China) and today (ex: Bosnia, Afghanistan) boils down to one policy: find the biggest, strongest, thug in the area and be his ally. This permits criminals and terrorists free reign in areas nominally under government control, while allowing French "authorities" to pad their pockets with bribes and the feeling that their own personal safety is assured by supporting the strongest gang on the street.

We saw this in Bosnia, when French forces would "save" citizens only to turn them over to the Serb militias; we saw this in Afghanistan two years ago, when a French NATO officer allowed a local gang to store weapons on his territory; we saw this decades ago in Shanghai, when the chief detective of the French Concession was none other than the leader of China's most powerful triad.

As Churchill said, "the French aren't like us" -- functionaries survive by obeying the orders of their lawful superiors, not necessarily by obeying the lawful orders of their superiors. French citizens undoubtedly know that the enarques who rule them are biased by education and experience to be self-interested, rather than value their political party or France as a whole. Thus, any such accomodation will trigger first capital flight, then a fearful flood of non-Muslim migrants - religious refugees - out of France.

11/07/2005 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger StrategyUnit said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/07/2005 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger StrategyUnit said...

I updated my blog to include excerpts from today's WSJ article, "Muslim Groups May Gain Strength From French Riots":

"While gangs of disaffected youths, mostly from Muslim families, continue to rampage, burning thousands of cars and ransacking entire neighborhoods, some of these organizations are positioning themselves as mediators who can bring back the order the government has been unable to restore.

These groups don't preach violence, but they do advocate something that is troubling Europe's secular democracies: that Muslims should identify themselves with their religion rather than as citizens. Effectively, they are promoting a separate society within society and that brand of Islamist philosophy is seeping into many parts of Western Europe. Countries from France and Germany to the United Kingdom and the Netherlands haven't succeeded in integrating their Muslim minorities -- and Islamic organizations have carefully positioned themselves to fill the breach.

The riots "are a blessing for them because it gives them the role of intermediary," says Gilles Kepel, a scholar who has studied and written extensively about the rise of Islam in France. That, in turn, puts them in a stronger position "to force concessions from the state," such as demanding a repeal of the law France passed last year banning headscarves from public schools, he says."

More excerpts at my blog:

11/07/2005 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger Das said...

It would be interesting to superimpose Wretchard's map with any number of other statistical regional maps, say, Muslim immigrant population map, the arrest rate by city of jihadi cells map, number of kids in public schools map, number of mosques map, etc...

11/07/2005 11:52:00 AM  

If the Muslims pushing for self-governing enclaves get their way, or anything resembling it, someone should ring up the House of Hapsburg and tell them the Austro-Hungarian Empire is back in business.

The administrative, legal, and social nightmares associated with such a system far more resemble that of the late Hapsburg Empire than that of the Ottomans. And the end result will be the same as well.

11/07/2005 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

On Wretchard's map, Tours is in the wrong location.

Tours is actually southwest of where it appears on the map, on the other side of Paris, in the Loire river valley (le Val de Loire).

So I wonder if the pin is in the right spot, and should be labelled with the name of another town -- or is Tours really one of the cities under attack?

11/07/2005 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger Solomon2 said...

Update: the French will try to impose a curfew under the authority of the Interior Minister.

This is a big risk, for if it doesn't work, France will not have a government worthy of the name; such failures are how French governments fall. Then it will be war, and not a law-and-order issue. Welcome to New Chechenya.

I myself do not think it will work: as in 1940, government forces seem to be spread thinly, rather than concentrated. The manpower, organization, and readily available hideouts of the rioters appear to give them a great advantage. It is difficult, if not impossible, to capture and convict large numbers of masked rioters. How will the authorities prove anything?

I see only one course: to cordon off and then expel entire communities. Perhaps that's because I'm ignorant and don't know enough to proffer a less forceful course of action. For now, I'm glad I'm not a Frenchman, and I don't have to be responsible for such decisions.

11/07/2005 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...


You're quite right about the mislocation of Tours on the map, however, it is one of the cities involved as per No Pasaran.

11/07/2005 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Also, there's another map of the riot locations at, via Glenn Reynolds. You can compare the two and I think they are about the same.

11/07/2005 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

i don't see how these riots can continue for much longer unless the "youth" get some outside funding or the french do something really stupid like continue paying their monthly dole.

11/07/2005 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Map of France sans pushpins

11/07/2005 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger DSDunlap said...

Someone mentioned that these are second and third-generation Muslims who have never assimilated. THERE YOU GO! Just about EVERY immigrant group in the US gets itself assimilated by the second generation *Africans prior to 1965 notwithstanding, but that was more by not being allowed to than by the choice of Africans and African-Americans. Even then, black culture became an integral, if unrecognized, component of the American cultural ethos*.

In France, the Muslims have been encouraged in their REFUSAL to assimilate.

11/07/2005 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger dirty dingus said...

You still seem to have Cannes in the wrong place. Something that rather jumps out to me since i live near there.

Lots of other relevant commentry at my blog FWIW

11/07/2005 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger Sophia Phoster said...

I've been in Hurrican Wilma induced electronic limbo the past couple weeks but has any commentator made the link between the French/European riots and the promise of the Great Ramadan Offensive? This is one link and if you Google the phrase there are many more.

The timing seems about right. The length of time this has been going on and the similarity of the nature of events in so many different locations suggest planned communication if not coordination. In a preverse way the relative absence of homicides is also suggestive of command and control. It's difficult to believe that the gaggle of "youths" running amock in 300+ locations would spontaneously all stop short of the act that would trigger massive, armed response from the state across the country.

11/07/2005 02:38:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I myself do not think it will work: as in 1940, government forces seem to be spread thinly, rather than concentrated.

Isn't France one of the countries that's been telling us for three years now that we went into Iraq with too few soldiers? And how stupid our government was not to have foreseen that and provided for having enough boots on the ground to secure peace?

I just love all the different poetic justices and chickens coming home to roost that are coming out of the burning of France. It's almost like God kept count and is dishing them back out again one by one, except that in France, God is dead because they killed Him. I wonder if Allah has as delicious a sense of humor.

11/07/2005 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...


Have fixed Cannes.

11/07/2005 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger Sophia Phoster said...

Interestingly the link I provided in my preceding post is from a Jihadi viewpoint website.

11/07/2005 03:01:00 PM  
Blogger jim said...

Charges of racism leveled at the French and other Europeans may be accurate as far as they go, but much of the (self-segregating) Muslim immigrant community is even more racist and separatist in its outlook than its European hosts, playing the race card more for sympathy and concessions. In all likelihood the French will exacerbate ethnic-racial tensions by giving them what they want, separate but equal, maybe preferential treatment, instead of forcing integration and assimilation; they're long past finessing same at this point.

From Melanie Phillips: "The Arab European League, a Muslim advocacy group operating in Belgium and the Netherlands, states as part of its ‘vision and philosophy’ that ‘we believe in a multicultural society as a social and political model where different cultures coexist with equal rights under the law’... ‘We do not want to assimilate and we do not want to be stuck somewhere in the middle. We want to foster our own identity and culture while being law abiding and worthy citizens of the countries where we live. In order to achieve that it is imperative for us to teach our children the Arabic language and history and the Islamic faith. We will resist any attempt to strip us of our right to our own cultural and religious identity, as we believe it is one of the most fundamental human rights.’ AEL founder Dyab Abou Jahjah, who was himself arrested in November 2002 and charged with inciting Muslims in Antwerp to riot..., has declared: ‘Assimilation is cultural rape. It means renouncing your identity, becoming like the others."

11/07/2005 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger jim said...

Even Greg Djerejian argues for "ensuring that moderate Islamic tenets are allowed a place at the [negotiating] table in modern France." Apparently, because of their "profound alienation", the Muslim youths "must lash out in anarchic fashion to get attention and communicate..." One has to wonder what moderate Islamic tenets would be, other than having the right to practice one's faith in private and the mosque and in accordance with civil society, not forcing women to wear the hijab (hijab is not part of traditional Islamic teaching) and being tolerant of other believers of the Book, but these are already allowed by law and wouldn't seem to satisfy the immigrants, many of whom already identify with immoderate fundamentalism. Calling for moderate Islamic tenets that are not currently permitted by law in modern, secular France is a contradiction of logic and good sense, but there are true-believers who think allowing a somewhat separate justice for Muslims or constraints on the rest of society so as not to offend would bring tired modern France into the 21st c.

Beleaguered and ever pragmatic French officials will probably accede to a degree of Muslim separatism (and North African post-colonial resentment) in a face-saving way. They'll give a show of law and order and effect some deportations, but there'll be no confrontation with community leaders and demands that their criminal and fundamentalist subculture change or else; on the contrary, civilized concessions, such as permitting headscarves once more, will be made on account of the Muslims' "belief system" (and riot power). The French are not cowboys, after all.


11/07/2005 03:35:00 PM  
Blogger aidan maconachy said...

Trying to make social inequities the excuse for this outbreak of orchestrated violence in France is far too simplistic. There are a great many communities of indigenous Europeans (of Christian lineage), that suffer high unemployment rates, discrimination and isolation from the mainstream, but I don't see these people organizing campaigns to burn down their nations.

The reason for this violence is rooted in deeper ground than economics and a lack of job opportunity. The fact is, France has been an active partner in the establishment of virtually autonomous Islamic enclaves that owe little or no allegiance to their adopted country. The residents of these enclaves identify with the Islamic umma and their countries of origin, not with the French Republic.

The European Union went along with the Arab League's demands that Muslim immigrants should not be required to adapt the customs of the European host society. Such thinking underpins the social situation in France and encourages millions of Muslims to live in what can only be described as a national sub-culture.

The residents of these Muslim enclaves exist in satellite communities with their own indigenous world view. Many view the society around them as "the enemy" and would sooner spit than call themselves "French".

This is a recipe for disaster, and talking about economic disparities completely ignores the truth that many Muslims choose to be distinct and are rioting for reasons that are a lot more complex than the lack of a job.

11/07/2005 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger The Wobbly Guy said...

I hope the French government's relutance to take decisive action is due to the need for a certain 'trigger' point, at which stage they'll unleash their full force upon the rioters. In some respects, I think Chirac is still wary of any possible backlash from the Left. He needs a really polarising event in the conflict before he can take decisive(and probably extremely brutal) action that'll vindicate him in the eyes of the Left without costing him their support.

I really, really hope that's the case.

11/08/2005 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger vbwyrde said...

Unfortunately if the sitatuation goes the way the Islamo-Fascist Terrorists want France will be quickly Balkanized and begin to resemble a third world country war zone. It would be a good idea for us to stop that before it goes that far. One thing that we could be doing is interupting their communications networks with hacks, misdirecting them toward instead of away from police, and more importantly causing them to lose confidence that they are actually communicating to whom they think. This would certainly be possible, and could make the difference between urban war and a drizzling out of riots. Of course I don't mean by 'we' that hackers engage in this, but that the authorities do so, in a well organized and efficient manner. Intercept communications, discern patterns, and then establish methods of deteriorating and confusing their ability to communicate with each other. Right now it seems they are exercising wanton disregard simply because they are getting away with it. They may be using technology cleverly, but their group-think can be destroyed by more-clever usage. Just a thought. I doubt it will be picked up on, but I thought I would offer the suggestion.

11/08/2005 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger demosophist said...

I thought I left a comment here, last night, about sigmoids as trifurcated functions. Was it removed? And if so, why??? Are discussions about sigmoid functions forbidden for some reason?

11/08/2005 05:05:00 PM  
Blogger demosophist said...

Sorry, it looks like I was taken to the wrong comments page. I commented on "Trends." Not sure how that happened...

11/08/2005 05:06:00 PM  

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