Friday, September 4, 2015

Can the French Combat Islamic Terror in their own Backyard?

The recent attack on a French publishing house in the heart of Paris raises disturbing issues. Along with this a spate of further terror attacks have been reported. The terrorists may be caught and sentenced to life in prison,but that will be small consolation to the next of kin of the men killed in the attack. This is because the French have done away with the death penalty and the terrorists know that whatever happens they will be spared the noose or the guillotine in France. Another disturbing feature of this episode is the complete failure of the police – military establishment to counter the terrorist attack.

There is no doubt that the French security apparatus was caught with its pants down. The threat from Islamic militants was well known as well as the fact that the magazine and its editorial staff were on the hit list. Its hard to imagine that the French police were not prepared for this attack. Why were not sand bags piled with strict entry exit procedures followed? One must see how American buildings are guarded in Delhi replete with sandbags and machine guns to understand what giving security cover means. Considering that France has a sizeable Muslim  minority, such terror attacks were expected.

This approach of the French is rooted in history. Many times in their history, the French have accepted the easy path out and accepted defeat.It happened in India when the French lost to Robert Clive. They just packed up and left leaving India to the English. In modern history the French conceded defeat to Hitler in 40 days in what is known as the Battle of France in 1940. The French also threw in the towel in Indo-China against Ho Chi Minh and his communists. They also packed up and left in Algeria.

The past history of France does not inspire confidence. They also failed along with other NATO powers in Afghanistan. The question that arises is whether the French will be able to counter an Islamic terror threat? This will require a sea change in thinking. Firstly France is no longer the power it was. It has limited capability to strike an enemy some distance away. Unless the French strike at terror havens in Pakistan and Iraq, victory against the Islamic terrorists will remain a dream.

It is thus important for France to convince the United States think tank that striking at terror hubs in countries considered as friends like Pakistan, Libya, Iran and Iraq is of paramount importance. Like in ” Harry Black and the Tiger” the tigers( Islamic terror Groups) must be cornered in their own den. Unless this is done, I am afraid victory will remain a mirage