Columnists discuss reactions to Paris attack

On the third day of national mourning, the Eiffel Tower was lit in the national colors after going dark on Nov. 16, 2015 in Paris.

Over the weekend, the city of Paris was rocked by a number of terrorist attacks. Hundreds were killed or injured, and France declared a state of emergency. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has claimed responsibility for the attack and has cast away any doubts about its capabilities.

With such an attack on the peaceful city, the world has come together to mourn with France. The attack renewed discussion of terrorism and how it is being contained.

As with every tragedy, some people will use it as an opportunity to play the blame game. People on the left will put the blame on President George W. Bush’s invasion, and people on the right put the blame on President Barack Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq.

The issue poses the risk of polarizing the public, instead of uniting them to face ISIS. Playing the blame game only hinders efforts to stop ISIS and allows the terrorist organization to expand.

Instead of playing the blame game and dwelling on past mistakes, the United States should work with its allies to eradicate ISIS. Blaming Obama or Bush is not going to make ISIS magically disappear. The United States and members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization ought to coordinate their ISIS strategies.

ISIS is no longer just a Middle East issue, and it requires international cooperation. It would be ill-advised for any country, United States or France, to go in alone. Once NATO has developed a common strategy, they should try to get other countries of the world on board.

Building coalitions to solve a problem is not impossible; President George H.W. Bush, in 1991, assembled a global coalition to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. Going forward, Obama or his successor should follow in those footsteps.

France, the United States and other countries that have suffered attacks at the hand of ISIS can use their experiences to come together. Coming together will increase the chances of creating a unified plan to tackle ISIS.

A unified front is essential in eliminating ISIS. With a unified front, the countries of the world can break up the monumental task of combating ISIS and ensure that another crisis will not emerge from its ashes.

For example, NATO may provide heavy firepower, the Gulf States provide financial and humanitarian assistance and the local governments take on ISIS.

A unilateral action does not account for the aftermath. Actions taken in Afghanistan in the 1980s were taken unilaterally and secretly by the United States, and had a role in training Osama Bin Laden, for example. With a large collaborative effort by the world’s countries, the conditions that could create another terrorist organization can be mitigated.

What happened in Paris was a tragedy. ISIS showed the world that it was capable of acting outside the Middle East. The world now needs to come together and develop a strategy to take on ISIS.

Playing the blame game will only distract from solving the problem and allow ISIS to grow stronger.

The United States and France were the first countries to experiment with freedom and democracy in the modern world. With these perceived liberties under threat from a rogue group that decries some freedoms as abominable to god, the United States, France and other countries, including Middle Eastern countries, should come together to defeat this rogue group.

Only together can the world defeat ISIS, and together they can prevent the next threat from emerging from the ashes of ISIS. Winning the war is in vain if the peace is not won.

The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch. Contact Hunter Balczo at torchnews@valpo.edu.


Every year, Americans remember the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Every year from this day forward, the French will remember Nov. 13, 2015 as the day Paris fell victim to a terrorist attack.

Much like the 9/11 attacks on the United States, the outpouring of international support for the victims of the Nov. 13 attack has been inspiring; but, as the dust settles, I am afraid we will soon see genuine concern for people, regardless of nationality, color or creed, replaced with the politicization of loss and the specter of conspiracy.

On Sept. 12, 2001, the popular French newspaper “Le Monde” published the headline “We are All Americans.” Soon afterward, cries of “inside job” replaced “God Bless America,” and the need for therapeutic revenge spurred two wars in the Middle East, both met at the time with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Commendable in the world of proportional response, the French military has already conducted airstrikes on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria capital of Raqqa. As North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies from the United Kingdom to Poland decide how to aid their ally, they, as members of the European Union, also struggle with the implications the Parisian attacks have for immigration, firearm and safety policymakers throughout Europe.

To be sure, politicization of this crisis will come to our shores as well. Recently, Rand Paul made a spirited attack against government spending on the expansion of the military. Combined with his filibuster against the Patriot Act earlier this year, his libertarian message will surely meet opposition from presidential contenders on both sides, who will rightly recognize these attacks as positive proof that ISIS is a threat to global security, and by extension, personal liberty.

A group of pundits and politicians in the United States may also use the tragedy in France to drive home the need for intensified border control. Perhaps necessary, this may prove to be a bad example. EU border policies are much more relaxed than those currently implemented in the United States, as are their refugee policies, a special issue for many in the U.S.

Americans pride themselves on their charity and alertness to international crises. The Syrian refugee crisis has been no exception. When news sources made public the Syrian refugee status of one of the 11/13 attackers, this caused panic and reservations among even the most refugee-friendly Americans.

Rather than give a sea of people a yea or nay on the merits of a few cancerous personalities, presidential hopefuls and party leadership in Washington should be working on a comprehensive refugee assistance program which allows the “poor, huddled masses” solace and sanctuary, while protecting them and every American citizen from “threats both foreign and domestic.”

The unfortunate double-edged reality of the 24-hour news cycle and a presidential election means that, at least for the foreseeable future, stories of love and heroism will be negated with whispers of blame and the hope of peace tortured with rumors of war in the Middle East. Lest I sound overly pessimistic, a few quotes I’ve come across over the last few days have given me hope for this perilous situation.

The first reminds us that the first concern in these times is not an enemy in need of justice, but friends, allies and countrymen in need of assistance.

Indian politician Oscar Fernandez proclaims, “Terrorism should be seen in the light of the country's security, and not from the narrow perspective of caste, creed and religion.”

In the months ahead, it will be easy to gear up for war against ISIS. It will be much harder, but much more righteous, to choose to heal, rather than fold under the pressures of racism and islamophobia.

The second comes from a musical centered around the French Revolution, “Les Misérables.”

The chorus goes, “Do you hear the people sing…it is the music of a people who will not be slaves again.”

Let us not be slaves to our fears, insecurities or doubts, but rather messengers of hope where there is none, administrators of justice where it is needed, and proclaimers of peace throughout the world.

Vive la liberté et vive la France!

The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch. Contact Jacob Schlosser at torchnews@valpo.edu.

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