11:25 AM, Jan 7, 2015 • By GARY SCHMITT
The Islamist terrorist attack on the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which, so far, has resulted in 12 deaths and many more wounded, should come as no surprise. The satirical weekly has been the target before, having been fire-bombed back in late 2011 after running a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed and its editor has been under police protection for some time. Even though a target of Islamist ire, the magazine has not shied away from running other stories and cartoons offensive to Muslim sensibilities. Just this week it ran a cover story on a new book that imagines a future France in which the country is led by an Islamic party and has a Muslim president who, among other things, bans women from the workplace.
Nor is the attack a surprise in the sense that the Islamist threat in France has been reaching crisis proportions in recent months. According to French president Francois Hollande, this attack follows on several more terrorist plots that French security forces had thwarted over the recent holiday season.
Fueling much of the concern is the rush of hundreds of French Muslims who have left France to go fight with the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and who are making their way back to the European continent and the streets of major French cities where Europe’s largest community of Muslims live. Just last year, French police arrested a young Frenchman who had killed three people at a Jewish museum in Brussels and whom, they believed, had been to Syria and back. French prime minister Manuel Valls called this exodus and return of trained Islamists “a phenomenon of unprecedented size.”
No doubt also worrying French officials is that, unlike the recent terrorist attacks in Quebec and Ottawa in October or the one in London in May 2013, the attack on the Paris magazine office Charlie Hebdo was, it appears, well-planned and done with skill.
But what will be something of a surprise to the French is that the attack took place at all. Since the mid-1990s, and after a decade of terrorism on its streets, Paris has not seen a major terrorist attack. As Reuel Gerecht and I wrote in 2007 (“France: Europe’s Counterterrorist Powerhouse”) and I noted in Safety, Liberty and Islamist Terrorism: American and European Approaches to Domestic Counterterrorism, France had been, especially before 9/11, in a “league of its own” when it comes to developing investigative tools, court proceedings, and laws that have allowed French authorities to stay ahead of the terrorist problem. This aggressive stance has of course upset civil libertarians of the French left and right—not unlike here in the U.S. in the wake of the Snowden leaks of the programs of the National Security Agency.
As the U.S. Congress turns this year to the issue of whether to renew, reform, or let die key sections of the Patriot Act on terrorism surveillance, it might want to keep in mind what has just happened in Paris. If a country such as France—with as strong a counterterrorism effort as there is in a liberal democracy—is still vulnerable, it should give some pause to those members who think now is the time to water-down our own counterterrorism efforts.
11:09 AM, Jan 7, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
In remarks this morning from Washington, Secretary of State John Kerry said he agreed with the French imam who called the victims of today's murderous rampage in Paris "martyrs for liberty."
"I agree with the French iman who today called the slain journalists 'martyrs for liberty,'" said Kerry.
10:19 AM, Aug 4, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
School bakes sales, that is, and the authority to regulate them. Agrarian types thought, quaintly, that authority as to the suitability of chocolate should be reserved to the states. Those who dreamed of a mightier union thought otherwise.
10:05 AM, Jul 3, 2014 • By DENNIS MULHAUPT and S. ENDERS WIMBUSH
What return on investment do American taxpayers receive for the money we pay for international broadcasting in 61 languages from the Voice of America and five other USG-funded media organizations? And is that investment effective? The answer to each question is, we believe, not nearly enough.
10:38 AM, Jun 30, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Associated Press reports:
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court says corporations can hold religious objections that allow them to opt out of the new health law requirement that they cover contraceptives for women.
10:01 AM, Jun 19, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Outgoing White House press secretary Jay Carney says he felt “liberated” when he left Time magazine to work for the Obama administration.
10:35 AM, Jun 4, 2014 • By MARION SMITH
Twenty-five years have passed since a lone man stood in front of Chinese tanks and dared to defy Beijing’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. His bold challenge to the Chinese Communist Party was one of history’s most profound reminders of the insatiable human desire to live free even in the face of terrifying state power.
How a far-out idea becomes orthodox. Aug 12, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 45 • By EDWARD ALEXANDER
In his dissent from the Supreme Court’s recent overthrow of the Defense of Marriage Act, Justice Antonin Scalia observed that the majority opinion accused the Congress and president who had enacted this law not merely of exceeding their powers but of spreading malice, encouraging stigmatization, and—above all—denying equality. “It is one thing,” wrote Scalia, “for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it hostes humani generis, enemies of the human race.”
11:11 AM, Jul 4, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The hot dog is in decline in America, writes Paul Lukas at Bloomberg, and one thinks, "What isn't?" What institution, anyway. If everything were not in decline, then what would there be for journalists to write about (see Andrew Ferguson on George Packer and Haynes Johnson) and what would politicians have to campaign about?
12:00 AM, Jul 2, 2013 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress declared independence. George Washington declared that day that “The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves....The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army.” A useful reminder for us, in a week when we rightly celebrate a Declaration, a document embodying a great idea, that speech needs to be backed up by arms, and that all still depends on the "courage and conduct" of our armed forces.
12:21 PM, Jun 19, 2013 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Today, speaking at the Brandenburg Gate, President Obama paid appropriate tribute to the brave East Germans who rebelled 60 years ago against Communist dictatorship:
10:16 AM, Apr 8, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama's statement on the passing of Baroness Margaret Thatcher:
7:00 AM, Mar 13, 2013 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
In the aftermath of Mitt Romney’s defeat in last fall’s election, and the defeat of a myriad of Republican Senate candidates (establishment and Tea Party alike) in Romney’s wake, Republicans are getting no shortage of free advice. The quantity of that advice, however, is more apparent than its quality.
8:40 AM, Jan 23, 2013 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
In his second inaugural address, President Obama made every effort to tie his political philosophy to the ideals and principles of the American Founding, even as he made clear how little he understands those ideals and principles. The gist of Obama’s speech was that only government can grant freedom. Or as he put it, “[W]e have always understood…that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.”