NetWar: The (lackluster) French Connection

Contents Letter From Paris

Contents Letter From Paris

Sunday, September 05, 2004


The (lackluster) French Connection

On Hostages, Clerics, Chirac, Osama and a load of euros.

UPDATE - 09/06
Bad, very bad news for the French government.

A statement posted on a web site by the Islamic Army in Iraq set a $5 million ransom for the release of French journalists Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, who were kidnapped near Bagdad on 20 August.

The statement gave France 48 hours to accept three new conditions:

  • agreeing to a recent truce offer by Usama bin Ladin

  • payment of $5 million ransom

  • cut all commercial and military ties to Iraq.

  • The truce with bin Ladin refers to a peace deal he allegedly offered European countries after al Qaeda’s massacre in Madrid last March. The terrorist leader called on them” to refrain from attacks against Muslims and pull their troops out of the Islamic world within three months.”

    Apparently, the kidnappers chose not to mention their former demand of the French government abroging the law against conspicuous religious signs in the schools...

    NOTE to Michele from NYC - I'm very busy to give a real good answer to your questions about the French. While you wait, here is a link to a very good article on Paris by an American reporter. REAL GOOD.

    The prospects on the fate of the two French reporters held hostage in Iraq for more than two weeks are murky, despite the French government's efforts to sound optimistic. There are reasons to believe, like I already hinted in another post, that MM. Villepin and Barnier –the French ministers of the Interior and Foreign Affairs- have been less than felicitous in the design of the strategy to cope with the kidnapping. Have they been playing the apprentice sorcerer? I think so.

    According to the daily Al-Hayat from Cairo, the group holding the two journalists, the Islamic Army in Irak, has already said that it wants al Qaeda, and if possible sheik Osama bin Laden himself, to issue a fatwa (Islamic decree) on what to do with the captives. If he graciously accepts to liberate them, President Chirac will find himself in a really awkward position...

    From the beginning, president Chirac and his ministers seemed inclined to take for granted that the kidnapping of the two newsmen was some sort of blooper of a bunch of unsophisticated savages; after all, France was the mainstay of the opposition against the intervention in Iraq, it hasn’t a single soldier there and has plainly said that they didn’t want to send any. They thought they were immune; the terrorists wouldn’t attack French citizens in Iraq. And they were, aw, so wrong!.

    The jihadists aren´t savages. Sure enough, they are cold-bloodedly cruel, perverse technicians of causing fear. Nor are they unsophisticated: they know better the frame of mind and the perimeter of maneuver of the French government than the French government has shown to know theirs. The French president and his ministers still believe –or, rather, want to believe- that the fundamental logic behind the war waged by the jihadists against “the Crusaders and the Jews” is geo-political. But they are wrong again. It’s, above all other consideraton, a war of religion, and then, perhaps, a war against democracy. In the jihadists’ eyes, France is not a European power vying for independence from the American Great Satan; it is just a Little Satan that is too coward to fight.

    I think that faulty perception of the jihadista is the reason why MM. Villepin and Barnier goofed it up so miserably when they drummed up all the support they could muster among the sort of Islamic dignitaries that the jihadists despise and perceive as corrupt and lukewarm in the best of cases, often traitors and always their enemies. Take for instance, M. Arafat or the Sunnite ulemas in Iraq, the ones who were always crestfallen in front of Saddam, the impious dictator. Those were the sort of advocates that could and probably did worsen the case of the hostages.

    Arriving in Iraq, as the French did, without even a minimum modicum of up-to-date intelligence, full of blind wishful thinking and the presumption of possessing the truth, one stands to be baffled by the panorama of some sixty-odd “resistance” groups spanning from al Qaeda proper to self-serving highwaymen and the various remnants of the Saddam regime.

    The problem, the real problem, was that the kidnappers of the Islamic Army in Iraq belong to al Qaeda. They follow orders “from above”. Therefore, they refused to meet with the delegation of Muslim dignitaries from France, who, eager to give gages of their French patriotism back home, came to Iraq looking for someone, anyone, to talk to in favor of the hostages. Nor did the terrorists show any interest in communicating with the minister either, despite Monsieur Barnier's flying back and forth in the Middle East and his staying one whole week in Amman, purportedly with an open-ended authorization of President Chirac to offer some pretty substantial ransom to the Islamic Army in Iraq. At one moment, M. Barnier was convinced that he was going to bring the hostages back home.

    And that, letting it be known that they were willing to pay a lot of money for their hostages, could be the second folly of the French in this disgraceful story. It was bound to attract a thick swarm of the profiteers, commission-hunters, intermediaries of all kinds and fixers that roam around in the region. Including, obviously, a few shoddy insurgent groups and some self-appointed spiritual leaders. It looks like some of them were able to secure a slice of the French largesse.

    A phony sounding Secret Islamic Army-Black Flag Brigade suddenly feels the urge to go public asking the ulemas to publish a generic fatwa about the question of hostage-taking. And a radical Sunnite cleric has immediately complied and asked for the hostages to be liberated… Trying to run faster than al Qaeda and in the process sparing the French government having to thank Osama for the lives of its citizens. I'm affraid that puritan megalomaniac zealots don’t like to have their arm twisted by apostate truants.

    There is a big risk that al-Qaeda will try to optimize, one way or the other, what is already a political victory for them. Now they must humiliate the Little Satan beyond repair, say demanding that the France gives a public apology for its treament of Muslims in the past or something of the kind, and then, for the record, launching a pitiless attack on all "false and trecherous" Muslim leaders who deared to tell al Qaeda what it had to do.

    So… just wait for the most wanted man in the world to speak up to little Satan.

    Winds of Change

    An example: this analysis of the March 11th attacks in Madrid, written 5 days later! Imposing.

    Inspiring, passionate and decent

    Iraq, the Model
    A very goodview of what is going on in Iraq by Mohammad and Omar, two brothers... Check it out if you're fed up with the EuroPress

    The Patriot Debates
    Many provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act will expire at the end of 2005. This forum is devoted to civil and informed debate about these provisions and whether they should be renewed.

    A serious visit to jihadist ideology

    Michelle Malkin
    Her column appears in nearly 200 US papers nationwide. Pretty conservative AND very articulate. I like her.

    From Barcelona. I like it! And, by the way, it's getting better every day.

    Across the Bay
    Very good blog by Tony, an expert in in Ancient Near Eastern Studies with focus on Semitic Linguistics, Ancient Levantine history, religion....

    Allah Pundit
    It's quite consevative, but really funny!

    Bjørn Stærk's blog
    In the NetWar since 2001, this norwegian wonderkid is just worth reading.

    Norman Geras's blog
    I mean, READ HIM. He's bright, insightful and knows a lot about Marxism and la condition humaine... Yeeees! (thanks Stygius).

    Dan Darling
    Excellent Open Source analysis of al Qaeda!

    Bilingual (FR&EN) and passionate!

    The Politburo Diktat
    Forthrightly, frankly, fully funny, comrades. Neo-Komintern Urgh.

    Insults for use by the ideologically informed
    Nice page of Real Socialist Nostalgia. Check it out, comrade!

    Letters From New York City
    Michele tells it from the place where the world changed three years ago.

    Alphabet City by Robert Stevens
    Very well informed "from the perimeter of Manhattan ;-)" Impresive collection of links.

    Colt's Eurabia
    If you want to know and follow politically incorrect debate, red it!
    His motto is:"...the only secure basis for oligarchy is collectivism." George Orwell

    Monitoring Media Coverage of the War On Terror

    Political Correctness Watch
    John Ray, a former university teacher gone blogger monitors political correctness around the globe. When you needthat cheering information that somewhere else it's even worse than in your home town...


    Free Lance Corner
    Emilio Alonso, madrileño sin pelos en la pluma, liberal y extremadamente sensato.

    Guerra Eterna en Oriente Medio
    Reportero español polí­ticamente correcto, buena gente y suavemente partisano

    Español residente en Parí­s, liberal, vasco, polí­ticamente incorrecto, reflexiona sobre la situación en Euskadi (Paí­s Vasco)

    Carmelo Jordá
    Otro español, buen analista y políticamente incorrecto. Pertenece a la nueva ola de jovenes liberales (en el sentido europeo) que empiezan a poner en cuestión todo en Europa

    Una Temporada en el Infierno
    Interesante blog de Juan Pedro Quiñonero, escritor y periodista español que merece dos lecturas.

    Location: Paris, France

    I have been a journalist since I was 22. For a (long) while I worked as a reporter for the Swedish, Spanish (I was born in Spain) and American media, covering international affairs... After 1991 I recycled myself to the business press.

     A Must Read!
    Note that on the above page you have BOTH a link to buy the book (US$ 20) AND
    the links to all the 6 chapters in PDF for FREE.

    Contents (PDF)
    Chapter One: Introduction
    Chapter Two: Conceptual Outlines
    Chapter Three: A World in Flux - Ripe for Netwar Chapter Four: Varieties of Netwar
    Chapter Five: Challenges for U.S Policy and Organization
    Chapter Six: Implications for U.S. Doctrine and Strategy

    And, by the way...
    I love NYC French Hostages "Social Capital" "King Juan carlos" Barcelona Stockholm Iraq Bagdad Basora Volunteer shia Muqtada al-Sadr Islam Chirac Iraq Ossama Osama Bin laden Markawi Colin Powell London President Bush Paris Tony Blair Blog Allawi Geopolitics Iraqi police "Foreign Affairs" John Kerry campaign Policy Poll Bush Kerry Kofi China Madrid Japan warfare Sun-Tzu Unrestricted asymmetric strategy Survey Bush Kerry perception management Hispanic voters Sarkozy Chalabi oil for food Lebanon Donald Rumsfeld Beirut Pentagon marines Robert Kagan weapons neocon ideology neoconservative Alamut White House preventive Congress Washington Chicago New York Los Angeles Miami San Francisco Seattle California Illinois Massachussets Portland Aznar Zapatero Moratinos Saddam Syria