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Notes From the Fieldby Martin Weil

January 10, 2015

Sharpening Contradictions

Historian Juan Cole was one of my must-reads in the wake of 9/11.  Had more of us paid attention to Professor Cole’s line of thought regarding what al Queda was trying to accomplish, the US might have been saved going to war in Iraq.

In response to the gruesome murders in Paris, Cole offers this analysis Sharpening Contradictions. Much as with 9/11, this attack, Cole argues, was less an act of revenge as much as yet another attempt to horrify and to provoke.   What could be a better recruitment tool to rally the vast and largely disinterested Muslim world to their cause than goading the West into taking violent and indiscriminate measures against Muslim populations and countries. These are classic agit-prop tactics, employed to great effect by Stalin during the Russian Revolution, and revolutionaries of all stripes since. See the classic film The Battle of Algiers.

Time will tell whether the recent atrocities in Paris provoke a further and violent tilt to the extremist right parties in France and other European nations.

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