Monday, July 18, 2005


This blog has been the site of much Frog bashing in the past, much of which I feel to have been well deserved but some of it apparantly not. Saije intimated as much in one of her(?) replies to a comment that I made on that site. I must say that a reading of this Daniel Pipes piece in The Australian has illustrated to me that the French are taking the War on Terror quite seriously and are doing a lot of the hard work that is necessary in order to win it:

Thanks to the war in Iraq, much of the world sees the British Government as resolute and tough, the French one as appeasing and weak. But in another war, the one against terrorism and radical Islam, the reverse is true: France is the most stalwart nation in the West, even more so than the US, while Great Britain is the very most hapless. Consider:

Counterterrorism. UK-based terrorists have carried out operations in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Israel, Morocco, Russia, Spain, and the US. Many governments - Jordanian, Egyptian, Moroccan, Spanish, French and American - have protested London's refusal to shut down its Islamist terrorist infrastructure or extradite wanted operatives. In frustration, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak publicly denounced Britain for "protecting killers". One American security group has called for Britain to be listed as a terrorism-sponsoring state.

Counterterrorism specialists disdain the British. Roger Cressey calls London "easily the most important jihadist hub in Western Europe". Steven Simon dismisses the British capital as "the Star Wars bar scene" of Islamic radicals. More brutally, an intelligence official said of last week's attacks: "The terrorists have come home. It is payback time for ... an irresponsible policy."

While London hosts terrorists, Paris hosts a top-secret counterterrorism centre, code-named Alliance Base, whose existence was just revealed by The Washington Post. At the centre, six major Western governments since 2002 share intelligence and run counterterrorism operations (the latter makes it unique).

More broadly, President Jacques Chirac instructed French intelligence agencies just days after 9/11 to share terrorism data with their US counterparts "as if they were your own service". This co-operation is working: former acting CIA director John McLaughlin calls this bilateral intelligence tie "one of the best in the world". The British may have a special relationship with Washington in Iraq, but the French have one in the war on terror.

France accords terrorist suspects fewer rights than any other Western state, permitting interrogation without a lawyer, lengthy pre-trial incarcerations, and evidence acquired under dubious circumstances. Were he a terrorism suspect, says Evan Kohlmann, author of Al-Qaida's Jihad in Europe, he "would least like to be held under" the French system.

I think that the apparant vigilance that the French have exercised as to these malevolent entities brings up an interesting point about the French and may warrent a mea culpa from this writer.

The French have long eschewed "multiculturism" in favor of keeping the French culture and language distinct and unaltered by outside influences. Conversely, Great Britain has wholeheartedly embraced multiculturism to a point that many Brits find alarming. Even the Dutch, who have been the very epitome of tolerance are now considering the fact that tolerance and multiculturism may have limits.

As an American, the French model has always smacked of "racial purity" and thusly I found it unacceptable. But the American experience is vastly different in that, by our very nature, we are comprised of many cultures. But the real trick in making America work is the assimilation of those races and cultures into what we know as a uniquely American culture. The French are the French, the Brits are Brits, Germans are Germans and so on. Each has a distinct culture and history unlike the others and there is nothing inherently wrong in the preservation of those histories and cultures. Americans, on the other hand, are all of these people and cultures - and none of them. What makes America what it is is not multiculturism, but rather the assimilation of all of these cultures into something that we call American culture. Multiculturism makes us no more than a collection of unrelated pieces, whereas assimilation arranges those peices into a rich tapestry that is far more than the sum of the parts.

Perhaps the French understood this all along and were well ahead of the curve on this one.

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