Friday, November 04, 2005

Where to?

When are the Paris riots going to end? Reuters reports that things may be dying down or just getting started.

Rioting erupted again late on Thursday despite hopes that festivities ending the fasting month of Ramadan would calm rioters, many of them Muslims of North African origin protesting against race bias they say keeps them in a second-class status. ...

Police said there were fewer confrontations than previous nights when police and fire crews were fired upon by some rioters. They said 150 vehicles had been destroyed overnight. ...

For the first time disturbances spread outside the Paris region, youths torching cars in Dijon, Rouen and the Bouches-du-Rhone area dominated by Marseille, though the extent of the unrest was not immediately clear.

An AP-sourced story quotes Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy as imputing a strategic plan to the disturbances; in which case the riots have gone beyond their original roots and are now a vehicle to advance a broader political or ideological agenda, though who is providing encouragement is not yet clear. 

Mr. de Villepin's major political rival, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said yesterday that the riots in several Paris suburbs over the previous night were "not spontaneous" but rather "well organized," Agence France-Presse reported.

"What we saw in the department of Seine-Saint-Denis overnight was not spontaneous, it was perfectly organized. We are looking into by whom and how," Mr. Sarkozy told French news channel I-Tele.


I originally thought the clashes would peter out from a combination of exhaustion and the colder weather. But maybe there's more fuel on the ground than just the local grievances in some housing estates. The disturbances are no longer about two teenagers electrocuted while fleeing the police. They are now about French presidential politics, race, jobs, immigration, multiculturalism -- with perhaps a touch of Islamic ideology thrown in. As such the riots have become national, Europe-wide and maybe even global events.

The riots have already reached 20 suburbs of Paris. The Reuters story suggests they may now be spreading to other cities. French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy is hinting darkly of conspiracies. Should one conclude even more serious developments are in the offing? I don't know. I think that neither Sarkozy nor the conspirators he refers to understand the exact potential of this thing, which is behaving like a chaotic system whose trajectory is difficult to predict except in the very short term.

Ideally, Sarkozy would be looking to simplify the situation by fixing some variables so that the remainder of the system will behave in a more linear manner; gradually damping it down until it can be controlled. But splits within the French cabinet have done the opposite: they have added more variables to the mix and now it's shake, rattle and roll.

In these situations, as most rabble-rousers know, there is typically a race on the ground to see who can 'harness' the energies unleashed to best advantage. My own guess, without any special knowledge, is that 'community moderates', ideological radicals and even gangsters are in a derby to see who can control events. The French government by contrast, seems tied up in knots and is casting around for leverage, a way to get a handle on the events of the past week. Things could stop tomorrow or zoom off in some unexpected direction. Nothing to do but watch and wait.


Blogger James Kielland said...

Even if the weather was cold, a simple wool coat can allow one to easily function all the way down to freezing temperatures and below. Particularly when the body's inner core is teeming with adrenaline and the excitement of the moment. Lots of burning cars and buildings tend to warm things up as well.

I was trying to get a grasp of the cost of this. Tonight, 150 cars were burned. Let's say in the past 8 days an average of 75 cars were burned. 600 cars. Let's say that they were each worth a minimum of $5,000. That's $3 million. The number of cars and their value could be considerably higher. Then there is the damage to the road surfaces beneath them. And surrounding buildings. And we've not even got into the cost of destroyed schools, shops, increased police and fire services, disability pay for injured public servants, and so forth.

Then there is the human damage. The subtle and dramatic shifts in attitudes of public servants and the general public who have either been directly harmed by this or know someone who has.

Reuters insists that the rioters are "frustrated at their failure to get jobs or recognition in French society."

The monetary cost of this event certainly won't help to stimulate the job market. And the human cost is unlikely to promote the kind of recognition that the rioters are apparently hoping for.

If Reuters is right (and it should be noted that Reuters provided no evidence at all for its assertions of the rioters motives) then one would be hard pressed to understand how these riots will improve the situation.

11/04/2005 03:37:00 AM  
Blogger tckurd said...

Wretchard left out an important point though, and I'm disappointed because the MSM has also left out this point: these areas are primarily muslim.

"Since then riots have swelled into a broader challenge against the French state and its security forces. The violence has exposed deep discontent in neighborhoods where African and Muslim immigrants and their French-born children are trapped by poverty, unemployment, racial discrimination, crime, poor education and housing"

This is like the Who's Who of the Muslim culture. Everywhere they go the people all complain - always poor, unemployed, discriminated against, stupid, and homeless.

11/04/2005 05:22:00 AM  
Blogger tckurd said...

I must redact my comment about Wretchard's leaving out the muslim factor - I failed to scroll down to see other new posts.

Might as well go ahead and indict me. Clearly, I KNEW I could scroll, but I failed to do so.

11/04/2005 05:26:00 AM  
Blogger Das said...

I keep reading/hearing contradictory lines: 1) Europe needs its Muslims (for low wage jobs) and 2) Muslim unemployment is high, they are idle frustrated youth, etc. What's the deal?

11/04/2005 06:39:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

I wanted muchly to say something snarky about chickens, roosts, and homecomings...

But I'll settle for asserting that, like a diseased fever, this will have to run its course AND it will get worse before it gets better.

French? Taste ye what your hands have wrought!

11/04/2005 06:45:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Everywhere they go the people all complain - always poor, unemployed, discriminated against, stupid, and homeless.

You forgot lazy. And dishonest. And woman-haters.

11/04/2005 06:47:00 AM  
Blogger Rick Darby said...

There is probably a fierce debate going on within the French governing class — they are very much a class — about the correct response. Once faction, fed up with the insurrection, will favor armed suppression, something like temporary martial law.
Another faction will advocate the ameliorative social engineering that is the standard response of the modern rationalist state functionary: programs for jobs, education, "outreach" and all that.

Unfortunately, the government will almost surely make the worst possible choice: both.

The hardliners will temporarily put a lid on the disturbances, enough so intellectuals and media can convince themselves that it was a one-off that can safely be forgotten. Like the Russian revolution of 1905, successfully suppressed … until '17.

The concessions will teach the young thugs that violence works, that French society will back down when intimidated and bribe Muslim vandals for peace.

No matter what, I suspect France is in for tough times.

Some good may come out of this: countries that still have time to re-think their immigration policies are watching. The United States, Australia, even a few European countries possibly have time to learn the lesson that France has paid so dearly for.

11/04/2005 07:38:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Riots are the essence of a chaotic system. Mass hysteria makes for strange events. What turns and ordinary citizen into a thieving looter, but the pure adrenaline of a raucous crowd and the promise of near anonymity or at least a group culpability that can be shirked off with the notion that victims have the right to lash out. The notion of victimhood is the child of the original malaise and only gains legitimacy after the left embraces the ‘new’ cause as a political foil against those they’d destroy.

The only thing to wait for now is to see who first draws the most eloquent perpetrators to their bosom and wrap their green flag around their loins.

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

#1 These are not riots. Riots don't have a start time or an end time, this is an Intifada and read their websites available at No Pasaran.

#2 These Muslims are driven by a religious ferver, while the French see it as part of a Marxist class war.

#3 We in LA have seen real riots; looting and burning at night, and when daylight comes and they can see targets, lots of guns. Riots go on and on and don't stop til the Army shows up.

I have a post on the mistaken Marxist interpretation of these "disturbances" if you want to read it.

11/04/2005 08:58:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Again you guys all see the trees. Only a few, the forest.
Of course it is part of the War. The Europeans have appaulded the Intafada, now they can be part of the play.
As to Iran, this could well be their handiwork. Or at least viewed happily from the vantage in Tehran. Paris, it is where the first Imam I'd heard of lived, in exile, before returning to Iran and taking over. Bet he had quite a network there, in France. Bet his boys still do.

A foretaste of the blow back from a military strike on Iran?.
A taste of Syrian dissatisfaction with that UN investigation?

No hard reports, no firm decisions.
Conjecture, it abounds.

Criminal looters or the next generation of terrorists, that can be decided.

11/04/2005 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger Steven said...

An enforced curfew with military assistance is about five days overdue at this point. The announcement of a shoot-on-sight policy for looters and arsonists is about three days overdue.

Betting on how long until Le Pen is President of the Sixth Republic shall now commence.

11/04/2005 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

We're looking at the Muslim Brotherhood whose aim is as bad as its propaganda.

11/04/2005 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

from radicals link

"...A national police spokesman, Patrick Hamon, said there appeared to be no coordination among gangs. But he said youths were communicating by cell phone text messages or e-mails _ arranging meetings and warning each other about police operations ..."

High tech commo, but no coordination, who you tryin' to kid. Until they show up in uniform the Police will continue to speak in tongues.

11/04/2005 01:15:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

Once France decides to act, they will have much less problems due to being "PC" than we do here. Their police have much more power than ours do, and (once they decide to go forward) they won't hesitate to use violence for political means. Just ask Greenpeace. So it will be very interesting to see what happens if the rioters don't stop very soon.

11/04/2005 02:51:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Interesting to consider the simularities between the French and Argentine rioters.
Ignorant people complaining that a higher power exists while simulataneously calling for some higher power to to make things their way.
I think that it more closely resembles the wife who calls the cops to her noncompliant husband and then complains when they take him away than it does organized movements with a message.
Or perhaps it is more like teenagers who knock down mailboxes for fun.

11/04/2005 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

By the way, Desert Rat, I just found out there is a B-17 with that same name being restored in Illinois.

11/04/2005 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

The trouble with the french is the same problem we have.

We try to talk a problem to death.

Well, soon the "problem" will be our death.

Papa Ray
West Texas

11/04/2005 04:34:00 PM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

Oh, in case you don't understand my cryptic post.

Victor Davis Hanson will explain it to you.

Papa Ray

11/04/2005 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

Oh, just found this.

You guys are going to love it.

Papa Ray

11/04/2005 04:42:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

"I originally thought the clashes would peter out from a combination of exhaustion and the colder weather. But maybe there's more fuel on the ground than just the local grievances in some housing estates...".


"...One argument for derogating the Islamic factor has been the absence, so far, of any direct link to terrorist masterminds." -Wretchard

That argument may not stand. There could be a link. This rioting seems to be mostly happening at night and in asymmetrical in nature. On the surface the MSM paint the riot as a garden variety riot based on "economic conditions" but the French may have struck a nerve in the terror game. This may explain it's length and intensity (The French may have captured some real bad apples and the "Irreconcilable Wing of Islam" is striking back - and hard). Lets take a look at a few facts:

[Anti-terror operation in France]

Annoy Mouse notes:

US and French intelligence has set up a counter part to al Qaeda, called Alliance Base.

"…a top secret center in Paris, code-named Alliance Base, that was set up by the CIA and French intelligence services in 2002, according to U.S. and European intelligence sources. Its existence has not been previously disclosed."…"Such joint intelligence work has been responsible for identifying, tracking and capturing or killing the vast majority of committed jihadists who have been targeted outside Iraq and Afghanistan since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to terrorism experts."..."To play down the U.S. role, the center's working language is French, sources said

See: Annoy Mouse 10:05 AM, 75% down thread

[Russian SA-18 Grouse missiles in France]

...Islamic terror cell has smuggled two surface-to-air missiles into Europe in a plot to shoot down planes at one of France's main airports, it was claimed yesterday... French and Algerian extremists with links to al-Qa'eda bought the Russian SA-18 Grouse missiles from Chechens in 2002 and smuggled them via Georgia and Turkey, according to French anti-terror sources quoted in Le Figaro.

See: Terror cell 'smuggled missiles into Europe'

[Terror organization targets France]

...An Algerian Islamist organisation, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), has issued a call for action against France which it describes as "enemy number one", intelligence officials said Tuesday.

"The only way to teach France to behave is jihad and the Islamic martyr," the group's leader Abu Mossab Abdelwadoud, also own as Abdelmalek Dourkdal, was quoted as saying in an Internet message earlier this month. "France is our enemy number one, the enemy of our religion, the enemy of our community," he was quoted as saying. France was mentioned 15 times in the text... the officials said.

See: France Enemy #1

[Acts of violence far more grave than burning cars]

...A handicapped woman was doused with petrol and set on fire by youths during another night of rioting in Paris... Witnesses said a youth poured petrol over the woman and then threw a Molotov cocktail on to the bus she was travelling on in the suburb of Sevran.... Other passengers were able to flee but she was unable to escape because of her disabilities.

See: Women set on fire

[VDH take on the overall problem]

...It's past time that we quit worrying whether a killer who blows himself up on the West Bank, or a terrorist who shouts the accustomed jihadist gibberish as he crashes a jumbo jet into the World Trade Center, or a driver who rams his explosives-laden car into an Iraqi polling station, or a Chechnyan rebel who blows the heads off schoolchildren, is in daily e-mail contact with Osama bin Laden. Our present lax attitude toward jihadism is akin to deeming local outbreaks of avian flu as regional maladies without much connection to a new strain of a deadly — and global — virus...

The plague of Islamism keeps on spreading

11/04/2005 05:02:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Ledger: As VDH also likes to say, even as John Kerry and his ilk complain bitterly that we have alienated the French, Germans, and Spanish all three of the countries just keep busting Al Queda cells and locking up terrorists.
As for the report on the attack on the handicapted woman in France, I recall reading an account where before the invasion our troops watched as an Iraqi Army solidier did the same thing to a Kurdish woman who had crossed out of the protected zone to sell fuel so she could buy food for her children. I am afraid if I had been the officer in charge there the invasion of Iraq would have started a few days earlier than planned.
Curious how the people we are fighting use the same tactics everywhere, isn't it?

11/04/2005 05:53:00 PM  
Blogger xwraith said...

One thing I've wondered is why the rioters have not attempted to head in towards the center of the city. I guess for one thing it would be moving off of their own home ground and onto terrain that would probably be much more hostile. On the other hand you have a chance to seize some of western europe's cultural treasures. I assume they probably think the French would fight tooth and nail for the city center, but the shock at having your capital city under seige? I mean when is the last time a major European capital was under the threat of complete loss of control by the central government? Its insane, and only seems to herald much more tribulation.

11/04/2005 09:00:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

I do NOT appreciate gutter language, but I didn't write this, I just let you know that is awash with snarky, insightful and first-hand observations of the most-recent defeat of the Fwench.

11/04/2005 09:21:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

What occurred to me are the comments made by France and Germany et. al when we had that big power failure in N.Y. in 2003. They said this was proof of the final and utter breakdown of American society.
In reality everyone just went outside and walked home. And that was about it. No riots. No burning buildings.
And even the L.A. riots did not spread outside of a very localized part of L.A. By the way a Korean USAF officer I know told me that he went down to the Korean district at that time and joined an armed group protecting the stores and neighborhoods. They put out stacks of bags of rice as revetments and returned fire at any drive-by-shooters that came by.
There, the problem ended before it started. And that was in flaming liberal L.A....

11/05/2005 04:53:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

the most likely reason they have not left the ghetto is lack of numbers. They are not, most likely, that organized, yet. Nor perhaps ready. The Mohammedans do seem to be incrementalists, both by paln and action. If the can achieve, as dan posts, a defacto Princeapality just outside of Paris, well, that would be enough, this month.

The French Police methods are far beyond those allowed here in US. Exampled by the French legal system being inverted, guilty till proven innocent. If the French Police cannot put down the rioters, LAPD's finest would be ill equipped to handle it.
In American Riots of similar scale, the Military (NG)is often summonned to restore order.

There are handbooks to Revolution, anarchists cookbooks that detail tried and true methods of mayhem.

Repeat after me

Economics are the root causes of riots.
Mohammedism is a Religion of Peace and Love.
Say that 100 times each day and soon the World's problems will seem more distant and eventually will just "go away"

11/05/2005 05:18:00 AM  

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