Valdai Club Experts on Paris Attacks

Experts of the Valdai Discussion Club continue to assess the aftermaths of the bloody terrorist attacks in Paris.

Richard Sakwa, University of Kent, UK: Our heart goes out to all those who suffered in the barbarous attacks in Paris on 13 November. This is yet another sign that the trail of events unleashed at the beginning of the century has yet to run its course. Whole nations have been reduced to rubble, and now a European country has once again come under attack and innocent civilians cut down as they go about their daily lives. The wave of refugees from war-torn countries and from nations suffering from repression and developmental stagnation is placing European institutions and societies under great strain. The European Union, as we know it, may not survive. In that context, it now becomes even more urgent for responsible states, great and small, to put aside their differences and work together to avert even greater tragedies. Unfortunately, this is only the beginning. If the last century, as Osip Mandelstam put it so vividly, was that of the wolfhound, so this century is turning out to be that of the rat, eroding the foundations of civilised conduct from within. Although the very notion of “civilisation” is today sometimes questioned (and if it is used in an arrogant way, then quite rightly), but certain standards of civility are the very heart of what it means to be a modern citizen. It is this value, together with pluralism, respect and tolerance, that are now being eroded from outside and within. Nations and peoples now need to unite in the face of a common threat, not in the form of a new crusade but as a group with different views and traditions but with a common purpose."

Richard Weitz, Hudson Institute, USA: The terrorists attacks in Paris, along with the apparent bombing of a Russian civilian airplane departing Egypt and other incidents, make evident that the Islamic State (IS) has mutated into a far-reaching terrorist menace. We must take measures to align more effectively Russian and Western countermeasures against the IS, in Syria and elsewhere. The terrorist attacks would have been even more serious if the terrorists had gained access to weapons of mass destruction. Building on a rich tradition of cooperation in this area, Russia and the United States should launch a joint initiative at next year’s nuclear security summit in Washington and in other arenas to strengthen international barriers against this threat.

Tarek Heggy, political thinker (Egypt): Any student of Islamic & Middle Eastern studies knows rather well that the mindset of Wahhabism, the Muslim-brotherhood, Al Qae'da, Isis, Al Nusrah, Boko Haram and all the Jihadists is a product of the Muslim societies. But he/she equally knows that this mindset was embraced by two Western countries i.e. the UK who was behind the creation of the third Saudi/Wahhabi Kingdom, the Muslim-brotherhood & Pakistan and the USA (& KSA) who was behind the creation of Al Qae'eda in 1979. Today, this poisonous Cobra (i.e. Political Islam) could be brought about to its end ONLY if USA, Europe & Russia agree to work together to put an end to Political Islam. A mission that requires a confrontation with the KSA which is the mother of all political Islam movements and also requires an agreement that while there are millions of moderate Muslims, there is nothing on the face of earth that could be described as "moderate Islamists".

Edward N. Luttwak, Senior associate, Center for International and Strategic Studies (CSIS): Very serious problem with French security apparatus. There is much Jihadi agitation in both France and Italy. In France they follow them, intercept them, etc. Keep detailed files, sometimes full of data. In Italy once they have two indications, they arrest them for anything (failure to register their bicycle...) and unless 100% satisfied, they deport them. Result: zero victims in Italy. In France, every killer so far was "well-known to the authorities". Because I helped Italians back in 2002 to set up their system, last year French asked me to consult - useless: we could not agree. They refused to understand that it is either prevention or they can only clean the blood off the floor... In other words: Where there is prevention, the danger is not large.
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.