Special Report

Fear in the Other Camp

Our gallant French allies engage the West's enemies on two fronts.

By 7.21.14

French PM Manuel Valls and President François Hollande at Bastilles Day, 2014 (UPI)
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French prime minister Manuel Valls and Bernard Cazeneuve, the interior minister, did the right thing, outlawed anti-Israel demos in the streets of France, and what else would you expect? Socialist though they may be, these are hard boys in the tradition of Guy Mollet and Robert Lacoste, men — leaders of a SFIO (Socialist) government of the Fourth Republic — who said of the terrorism in Algeria, Il faut que la peur change de camp, and they made bloody sure fear did change sides.

The only thing better would be for them to swoop down on the Islamist fifth column that is eating live whole neighborhoods across France, swoop down, sweep them up, ship them off with one-way tickets to Gaza, since they love it so. This is war. In solidarity with Israel, which is on the front line of this war and was called worse than Hitler by the prime minister of Turkey, we — and any other country that still thinks of itself as belonging to the West — ought to recall our diplomats, expel theirs, tell them to go to hell and, just to make sure they get the message, cut off trade, stop issuing them any visas, and send teams of SEALS to mine their ports. They want war, they should get a taste of it.

An Israeli military spokesman called “all of Gaza” an underground city of bunkers, weapons caches, tunnels leading into Israel. They place rocket launchers in schools, hospitals, homes, mosques. They have zero respect for their own civilians, whereas the IDF operates under a code called the “honor of arms” which demands a soldier always endanger himself to prevent civilian loss of life.

Morons and fifth columnists demonstrating in the streets of northeast Paris and other European cities call the bombardments indiscriminate slaughters of civilians. If you use people as hostages, they will get hurt: that is what Hamas — and all other Islamic terrorists — have done for decades, since the beginning, when they put civilians in harm’s way during the war of independence, 1948.

A few hundred Gaza residents killed under the bombs and the big artillery and the naval guns are a few hundred too many, but the blame is Hamas’s, not the IDF’s. In the aerial assault on a large town called Shijaiyah, the Gazans reportedly took heavy civilian casualties. These have yet to be confirmed by impartial international observers, but it should be known and broadcast that the IDF warned residents by phone and social media 48 hours before the attack that it was coming, urging them to get away from the fighting. In contrast, Hamas told everyone to stay put, and who is to say, absent investigation, that it did not warn people they would be shot on sight if they tried to leave?

This town is, you can read this in any newspaper, about a kilometer from Israel, and sort of an exurb for Gaza City to the west. Without the slightest concern for the locals, in fact very happy to have them as shields and PR “martyrs,” Hamas turned the place into a combination bunker, rocket launcher, base of infiltration tunnels, and, of course, target. They want a target that is easy for the international (i.e., Western) media to have access to. You can stand on the border, under the protection of the IDF, and see the town, see the smoke, see the rubble. This is what Hamas wants. It wants its tunnels, through which it sends killers into Israel, it wants its mosques and schools and hospitals, from which it sends missiles all the way to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and, when all that fails, it wants photos of its dead children in the papers.

Manuel Valls backed his interior minister when the latter forbade any more demonstrations of support for the Hamas strategy of getting as many noncombatant as possible killed. He justified this by referring to the violence, including attacks on synagogues, that took place in a demo a few days earlier. The reasoning is solid, public safety is the government’s responsibility. But Valls knows there is more, which he apparently feels it would be impolitic to mention, though in fact the case can be made this is the best time to mention it. Now is a good time to explain that, much as we in the West, not only France, want to forget it, we are at war, and even if you share the view that we were not well prepared for the difficulties we encountered after our initial battlefield success in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The president of France, François Hollande, sent his support to his ministers from Chad. Chad? When there are riots in French cities? He is in Chad to support the French military mission in that country, part of an overall strategy of containing the Islamist hordes trying to break out of the Sahara desert into black Africa. In a sense, he is picking up the pieces for the half-witted Libyan campaign that his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, launched in 2011. An argument could be made for that campaign, but it was conducted with no thought to its aftermath, which includes the spread of instability and war in the Sahel, where France has long-standing relationships — and commitments — dating from colonial times.

François Hollande is unpopular. Surely his low standing in the eyes of his countrymen is largely his own doing. He promised too much, delivered, essentially, zero. But on the security issue, he has been clear and consistent. The message is as clear and as consistent as the policy that has been followed: French soldiers and policemen will fight, in the deserts of Africa and the streets of its own cities, to insure the safety of its citizens and its national interests. It will fight until fear fills the other camp.

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About the Author

Roger Kaplan, a Washington-based writer, covers the Middle East and Africa (and tennis) for The American Spectator.