Nice, France, Attack: A Gandhian Response to Serial Killers

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve has extended the French state of emergency, which suspends key civil and human rights, in the aftermath of the gruesome truck attack on Bastille Day in Nice, which at this writing has left 80 dead and over a dozen in intensive care.

As with the victims in Ankara, Istanbul, Dhaka, Baghdad, Beirut and Sousse, my heart goes out to them and their friends and relatives. Longtime readers know that I grew up partly in France and have a soft spot for the country, the people, and the culture. This hurts.

Early unconfirmed reports suggested that the truck driver may have been a Nice native, 31, of Tunisian descent.

The elite Paris counter-terrorism unit has been mobilized. But the fact is that most unfortunately, this kind of attack probably cannot be forestalled. No amount of surveillance or suspension of civil liberties could stop a single individual or small cell of close friends or relatives from committing a soft-target nihilistic attack of this sort.

This crime has some resemblance to the murders of a serial killer, which are notoriously difficult to stop or solve. In an ordinary murder of the sort the detective or crime-solving mystery writers focus on, the police are said to look for “means, motive and opportunity.” But serial killers don’t have a specific motive, just a general one, that they get off on killing. A general motive is too vague and lacking in detail to provide any help to solving the case. That is why some serial killers can polish off dozens of victims over years before they are caught. They don’t know the people they kill, and have no ordinary motive to kill them. Nothing would show up in bank accounts or email files. For the victim, it is more like a natural disaster, like taking a mountain hike and running into a hungry black bear or accidentally driving into a tornado.

Just as a nihilistic criminal such as a serial killer cannot easily be prevented from striking again, so a lone wolf and small-cell terrorist cannot easily be forestalled from wreaking havoc.

I have argued that what Daesh is up to is not terrorism in the classic sense of killing civilians to accomplish a specific political goal or change some government policy. The driver of the truck made no demands. He did not hit an important piece of civilian infrastructure, but killed randomly, individuals attending a fireworks display in France’s fifth-largest city. If it was terrorism, he should have desperately wanted French President Francois Hollande to do something or not do something. What would that be, exactly? If it was terrorism, he should have hit a target of symbolic or strategic significance.

You could take the position that Daesh is protesting the French air strikes on its capital, al-Raqqah, in Syria. But France only began those air strikes last September because it received intelligence that Daesh was planning to hit Paris (the intelligence was correct). So they had it in for France before that country was much involved in the Syrian civil war. The motivation must lie elsewhere.

Since I made the argument that al-Qaeda and Daesh are ‘sharpening contradictions’ and trying to drive European Muslims into their arms by provoking white Europeans of Christian heritage to mistreat them, acknowledgment of that tactic has become a commonplace.

So what to do? Daesh wants us to be afraid, to hate, and to push Western Muslims into their arms. The only effective riposte is Gandhian. Show Muslims some love, and include them in political society. No, Muslims aren’t peculiar in the amount of violence they have generated in the past century. And no, the religion of Islam does not permit terrorism; the Qur’an decries each murder as a form of symbolic genocide.

France has a problem of slums around some of its cities, slums which are disproportionately African and Middle Eastern. Make them enterprise zones and site some factories there. Often the labor is not living where the jobs are. Social policy has to be implemented to close that gap. (The African and Middle Eastern labor often came to France in times of rapid economic expansion, when they were needed, but they got left high and dry by robotification or factory relocation.

Here is another Gandhian proposal: Vastly expand economic aid to Tunisia. I don’t mean military aid, which is problematic since it strengthens the security forces over democratic institutions, and typically has few economic benefits to the recipient.

I mean civilian economic aid and investment, which seems to be on the US side about $50 million a year right now. That is less than a single F-35 joint strike fighter jet. The US budget is $3.8 trillion, and foreign aid, contrary to what people think, is a piddling little part of it, especially once you get past Israel and Egypt.

Tunisia overthrew a seedy dictatorship and has moved smartly toward more democracy– has in fact been an exemplary country in the Middle East. And the US can’t help out on the civilian aid and investment side even to the tune of one airplane.

Why is this point important? Tunisia’s economic growth is anemic. In part, this slowing of growth derives from successful terrorism, which has harmed Tunisia’s tourism sector (5% of the economy). Its economy only grew by 1 percent in the first quarter, and the best it might do for this year is 2.5%. Last year it was 0.8%. Add in population growth, and the economic advance is zero or less. There have been massive demonstrations by youth protesting high rates of unemployment. And Daesh recruiters– guess what?– target unemployed youth.

If the West can’t be bothered to proffer genuine and substantial aid to a success story like Tunisia, then it will get more basket cases like Syria, which spill over onto the West. And while the terrorist in Nice was French rather than Tunisian, the existence of a pool of Tunisians driven by marginalization, humiliation and desperation to join Daesh creates a nexus of potential recruitment.

So the answer to Nice is the opposite of what the politicians think. It isn’t to declare war on Daesh (Trump), or to do more warrantless surveillance (HR Clinton), or to get rid of the Rights of Man (Francois Hollande). On Bastille Day, commemorating the French Revolution that helped invent the very idea of human rights, we should defend it by defending them, not by emulating dictators and absolute monarchs.

Finally, the West needs to play better peacemaker in places like Syria. We have former Obama administration officials like Dennis McConough, who when he was in office thought like this:

“Mr. McDonough, who had perhaps the closest ties to Mr. Obama, remained skeptical. He questioned how much it was in America’s interest to tamp down the violence in Syria. Accompanying a group of senior lawmakers on a day trip to the Guantánamo Bay naval base in early June, Mr. McDonough argued that the status quo in Syria could keep Iran pinned down for years. In later discussions, he also suggested that a fight in Syria between Hezbollah and Al Qaeda would work to America’s advantage, according to Congressional officials.”

To be fair, McDonough took this stance so as to be able to oppose arming the Syrian rebels and getting practically involved in the Syrian civil war. But both his and the CIA policy are wrong-headed. Prolonging the war by sending in weapons to Salafi jihadis creates more Salafi jihadis, and some of them hail from or go to Europe. Syria has become an infective agent in an epidemic of nihilist violence.

And tolerating or promoting the prolongation of the war gives the militiamen more military and munitions experience, and more stockpiles, and more resources for planning attacks in the West.

So that’s my prescription. You want to reply effectively to Nice? Reject fear and reject hate. Find a local Muslim and shower that person with love and respect. Speak out against Islamophobia. Work to strengthen democracy and inclusiveness and basic human rights. Stand up for the raid on the Bastille of 1789, and the freeing of prisoners of conscience. Invest some billions, not measly tens of millions, in success stories like Tunisia, to promote democracy and economic growth. And give John Kerry the backing and the resources to bring the Syrian civil war to an end.

The standard politicians’ responses will just make things worse.


Related video added by Juan Cole:

France 24: ” Nice attack: explosives and heavy weapons found inside the truck that rammed into crowd”

37 Responses

  1. Prof Cole is well meaning. But judging from the aggressive stance of the French politicians against countries of the middle East and north Africa and also the general racist attitude of the French towards north African migrants this noble suggestion would most likely fall on deaf ears. Countries like Iraq,Syria and Libya did no harm to France in any way. Yet France was the most eager to bomb them. Muammar Gaddafi always wanted cordial relations with Europe and the UK. He reached out in friendship especially to the u
    UK when the prophet of death Tony Blair visited him in Libya pretending to be a friend. Gaddafi proved his loyalty of friendship to sarkozy by donating millions for his election campaign. Sarkozy repaid gaddafi by being the first to bomb Libya and saw its destruction along with the US and NATO. Why was Libya destroyed. Who gave the right to kill Gaddafi? Which international law gives the right to invade a sovereign state and kill its leader. It was done in Iraq as well as Syria and Libya. Fortunately despite its destruction Syria’s leadership survived owing to help from two other great powers. Sadly Iraq nor Libya did not receive such help. So France brought it upon itself. It has brought hatred on itself by unneccesarly and sadistically meddling in the Islamic countries of the Middle East as well as those of north Africa. When is Europe and the west going to understand that bombing and killing people of other lands would only invite violence on their shores. As for following Gandhiism guess the western mind is not quite made for it. So just don’t complain.

    • Syrian leader survived but millions became homeless and the country with a great civilization and a history of tolerance, love and diversity was transformed into rubble. I met a Palestinian family in Edmonton who had made their way from Palestine to Syria in the aftermaths of 1948 catastrophe in Palestine. They told me Muslims, Christians, Druze, Shia and Sunni lived together without any distinction. Such a beautiful and tolerant country has been destroyed. It hurts. No body in France can imagine the destruction of Syrian cities.

  2. Thank you for this insightful article. Nevertheless, I would not be surprised if the motives of this Tunisian man were exactly the same as those of the Bataclan killers of November 2015: revenge for French killings of innocent civilans in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere, and for French support of regimes that perpetrate such killings.

    My Gandhian advice would thus be to stop bombing in Syria and Iraq, which is allegedly done to support the local people, but in reality only serves direct French and Western oil-related interests. And then send real help to the local population.

    Please do not tell me that those countries are bombed for humanitarian purposes. It is all about oil and geopolitics. If the humanitarian aspect was important, why isn’t the West bombing South Sudan, Congo, Israel, just to name a few? Why are there no protests agains the Saudis bombing in Yemen, the power grab of al-Sisi in Egypt, the criminal regime of Bouteflika in Algeria, of Idriss Deby in Tchad, etc., etc.

    • Oh, Daesh in Syria and Iraq has to be rolled up; otherwise it has the prestige and resources to keep provoking these attacks.

      Gandhi helped recruit Indians to fight against the Kaiser, too.

      • I agree that Daesh has to be rolled up, but I’m sure bombing is not the way to do it. Negotiations (however difficult) and economic measures will be far more effective. Let’s find out where Daesh got and getq its resources from – deserting regular soldiers and officers, I suppose, and who is buying their oil – Turkey, I suppose. Let’s do something about that first. Every bomb or drone attack merely aggravates the problem. I think it also has to be clear that the West has a very severe image and credibility problem in the Middle East, and bombing is certainly not going to change that.

      • professor cole, i am confused by how you end up with this conclusion. you are spot on and then you advocate continuing bombing, destruction, and ethnic cleansing in sunni iraq.


        how do you see the humanitarian crisis that is growing by the day in iraq playing out? what do you think the sunni youth are making of their destroyed homes and dead fathers as they suffer in refugee camps?

        what are the unstable young arab men all over the globe making of our endless war in iraq?

  3. Just like US snowbirds in Arizona and Florida, don’t many elderly Europeans also like to spend their retirement years in the warm climate of the Mediterranean?

    Since Europe has too many old people in need of care, and north Africa has too many young people in need of jobs, doesn’t that suggest that the establishment of communities in north Africa for European retirees would be an obvious way to level the demographics and kill two birds with one stone?

  4. The flaw in your argument is in your title, ” A Gandhian Response to Serial Killers”. Gandhi wasn’t responding to serial killers, he was responding to an imperial occupation.

    Your thoughts are noble but if you return to your premise about the motivation of serial killers of them not having a motive, then that implies they are unmotivatable. Your suggested solution is based on motivations.

    Sorry Juan, it is far more depressing because when you look at it, there simply is no solution to a lone wolf killer.

    • Gandhi was also responding to serial killers of various sorts, from Jallianwalla Bagh to the ethno-sectarian rioters that killed over a million people in Bengal and Punjab.

      I didn’t say the killers have no motivation. I said the motivation is to commit suicide by white people in such a way as to cause a backlash against all Muslims, thus driving the Muslims into their arms. Gandhism is suggested as a way to avoid falling into their trap. Try reading it again without blinkers.

  5. Your noble “Ghandian suggestion” of creating enterprise zones in immigrant slums and promoting democracy and growth by investment in poor nations may be educational, but of course is of no interest to the oligarchy, and the politicians and mass media they control.

    If the US had any intention of establishing democracy or aiding the peoples of poor nations, it would not have overthrown democracies and substituted dictatorships around the world, and would have a long history of humanitarian aid, when in fact US humanitarian aid amounts to less than one hamburger a year to the world’s neediest.

    If the US had spent its pointless military expenditures since WWII on humanitarian assistance, it would have lifted half the world’s population from poverty. If it had thereby built the roads, schools, and hospitals of the developing world, it would have no organized enemies, and would have truly achieved an American century. It failed to do so because infantile tyrant warmongers control elections and mass media, disgraced the United States forever with idiotic wars and a litany of selfishness, and left the US the most despised and anti-democratic nation in the world’s history.

    If we are to have a New American Century let it be one of decency, not greed and corruption. But the US people are too cowardly, tyrannized by economic slavery to fear the least nonconformity. They do not have the courage of the simple farmers and woodsmen who established the nation. And the tools of democracy, free elections and a free press, are already in the hands of their masters. They are truly enslaved, and cannot be freed without violence. So we educators gamble in despair that they can still be educated to assemble the shreds of power that remain to them into a new revolution. It is a desperate gamble, the last step before advocacy of physical destruction of the oligarchy.

    • “left the US the most despised and anti-democratic nation in the world’s history.”

      The above statement is not only irresponsible, it represents ahistorical hyperbole. Those who know something about history could easily satirize it by comparing the “most despised and anti-democratic” U.S. with history’s paragons of virtuous love and democracy: Medici Florence, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, the Stalinist Soviet Union, communist Eastern European tyrannies, China under Mao, North Korea, and others throughout history.

      Moreover, I doubt you could convince many present-day countries that the U.S. is “the most despised and anti-democratic nation in the world’s history.” Certainly the 27 European and Canadian members of NATO who have chosen to ally themselves with the U.S. do not think so. Nor do the countries of Southeast Asia–Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, and the Philippines–who want the U.S. presence in their waters to offset Chinese adventurism in the South China Sea.

      Nor do Japan and South Korea, who have longstanding alliances and friendly relations with the U.S., and who appreciate the U.S. shield protecting them from North Korean and Chinese adventurism.

      But of course all of the aforementioned countries have an understanding of history. Moreover, they understand that the U.S. has provided balance and protection for a world order that since 1945 has provided for increased trade, freedom of navigation, economic benefits, and relatively free societies within most of them. Not a bad record, on balance.

      • Your rosy gloss of global appreciation of the US is quite counterfactual.

        Certainly Naziism/fascism/Stalinism were more despised while they lasted, and the central European dictators locally resented, but the world has never known a power more broadly and consistently anti-democratic than the US. While the US “defended” democracies in WWI/II, it let the USSR defeat 95% of fascist resources, has never established a democracy, has overthrown many democracies and replaced them with dictators, and since 1952 has done nothing for anyone, merely propagandizing for the benefit of domestic tyrants.

        So far there is no evidence whatsoever of “Chinese adventurism”: a contest of territorial waters does not compare with the US constant secret wars of hegemony in the Americas. It is the US that provokes China and NK with exercises that it would never tolerate on its own boundaries. and it plainly is spoiling for a fight in hope of creating a war pretext for domestic tyranny. This is ancient anti-communist propaganda.

        You are also wrong that NATO thinks well of the US, in any area beyond military aid. They are plainly embarrassed by US aggression in Ukraine. As always, the US buys “coalitions of the willing” for its military provocations. Eastern Europe entrants to NATO get money from the US and NATO, that is all. It is not plausible that they seek to be used like Napoleon’s conquered armies there, as advance forces to fight Russia for no reason, and they will turn on the US as they turned on Napoleon when the battle goes against us.

        The idea that the US has provided “balance and protection” for a beneficial world order since 1945 is propaganda. The US has done nothing for world order since then, merely pretending that its endless wars on socialism and democracy somehow must advance that goal. It was believable in the McCarthy era, for those who dutifully swallowed the “containment” line, but no more.

        The tyrants who have subverted US democracy since WWII cannot take credit for technical advances or economic progress since then.

        • Your statement that the U.S. has never established a democracy is what is counterfactual. The U.S. occupation of Japan and the Joint U.S.-British-French occupation of Germany led to firmly established democracies in those countries. More recently, the U.S. led the effort to create an independent Kosovo. And the present-day democracies in Central and Eastern Europe were largely the result of the U.S. and the West applying the Containment policy against the Soviet Union, which had them under its totalitarian hegemony.

          China is most definitely asserting its illegitimate adventurism in both the South China and East China Seas. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague just found China in breach of international law in a case brought forth by the Philippines. China’s claim with their “nine-dash ling” encompassing practically the whole South China Sea has no basis in history or international law and has practically all of Maritime Southeast Asia welcoming continued U.S. presence.

          Of course there are disagreements within NATO from time to time, but the 28 members of NATO have held steadfast since 1949, a remarkable period of time. The U.S. didn’t “buy” NATO members off; they willingly participate.

          You would do well to steep yourself in a little history and not automatically fall for the knee-jerk anti-U.S. screed. The U.S. has made mistakes, but just imagine what the world would be like had the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, or Maoist China been the hegemonic power for the last 70 years. I guarantee that you would not have survived writing your screed above without suffering prison or worse.

        • The greatest crimes of any capitalist empire in terms of the number of people enslaved and killed would have to be those of the East India Company of Britain.

        • I think the Dutch East India Company may have been worse, and the Portuguese Empire certainly was far more brutal.

  6. Thankyou for a rational response to the irrational action in Nice and the irrational reäctions elsewhere.

  7. “And give John Kerry the backing and the resources to bring the Syrian civil war to an end.”

    John Kerry, even with backing and resources, is in no position to bring the Syrian civil war to an end. Bashar al-Asad is in a relatively strong position vis-a-vis the various rebels (a few legitimate, most salafists or worse). Moreover, Russia is in the driver’s seat and has been since Obama and Kerry abdicated any real American role and the Russians stepped in.

    Kerry’s mission to Putin and Lavrov (executed much as a supplicant) with a plan to share intelligence and coordinate air strikes will suit Putin as long as it knocks out al-Asad’s opponents. But don’t expect anything that impinges on Russia’s interests, such as bringing al-Asad to the table to negotiate his own demise. What’s more, I don’t know why it would be in the U.S. interest to get rid of al-Asad, given the strong possibility of the chaos or worse that likely would follow. Do we want another Libya? Iraq? Yemen?

  8. Prof Cole writes….’ Work to strengthen democracy and inclusiveness and basic human rights.”

    Didn’t we hear Bush and his henchmen use that ideology as a rallying cry prior to the invasion of Iraq? Fact is…this country is not very good at convincing allies, Egypt, Iraq, Israel and or Saudi Arabia…to be inclusive much less Iran, Libya or Syria.

    One reason for our lack of success in this region is that, unfortunately, our motives and policies are never purely altruistic.

    Maybe McDonough’s thinking is not that far off the mark.

  9. “The common thread in the literature of the existentialists is coping with the emotional anguish arising from our confrontation with nothingness, and they expended great energy responding to the question of whether surviving it was possible. Their answer was a qualified “Yes,” advocating a formula of passionate commitment and impassive stoicism. In retrospect, it was an anecdote tinged with desperation because in an absurd world there are absolutely no guidelines, and any course of action is problematic. Passionate commitment, be it to conquest, creation, or whatever, is itself meaningless. Enter nihilism.

    “Camus, like the other existentialists, was convinced that nihilism was the most vexing problem of the twentieth century. Although he argues passionately that individuals could endure its corrosive effects, his most famous works betray the extraordinary difficulty he faced building a convincing case. In The Stranger (1942), for example, Meursault has rejected the existential suppositions on which the uninitiated and weak rely. Just moments before his execution for a gratuitous murder, he discovers that life alone is reason enough for living, a raison d’être, however, that in context seems scarcely convincing. In Caligula (1944), the mad emperor tries to escape the human predicament by dehumanizing himself with acts of senseless violence, fails, and surreptitiously arranges his own assassination. The Plague (1947) shows the futility of doing one’s best in an absurd world. And in his last novel, the short and sardonic, The Fall (1956), Camus posits that everyone has bloody hands because we are all responsible for making a sorry state worse by our inane action and inaction alike. In these works and other works by the existentialists, one is often left with the impression that living authentically with the meaninglessness of life is impossible.

    “Camus was fully aware of the pitfalls of defining existence without meaning, and in his philosophical essay The Rebel (1951) he faces the problem of nihilism head-on. In it, he describes at length how metaphysical collapse often ends in total negation and the victory of nihilism, characterized by profound hatred, pathological destruction, and incalculable violence and death.”

    link to

    I can’t help but consider the explication of nihilism offered by the above encyclopedia unfortunately philosophically very apt to the case of the most recent horrific and terroristic events in Nice, France.

  10. Being “nice” to the Muslim people won’t hurt. But the issue is: insulting, desecrating, killing the Muslim people.
    There is always a reason for human behavior. In order to know the reason one has to look at the thing.
    Our politicians refuse to look at things that may be inconvenient to them. No even with the help of many well qualified, courageous American political critics such as Juan Cole, do our politicians look at things. Neither our politicians nor the USA’s MSM recognize those critics, willfully.
    The increase of police action plus the suppression of political discourse is a sure formula to tragedy. Who profits from it? The answer is somewhere. Our leaders better get the courage to look at it before the world get even more on fire.

  11. excellent column. your critics put things like “libya” into one camp, as though there were not a “libya” in those who opposed ghaddafi. anyway, i am off to france tomorrow, as i go every summer, and your assessment strikes me as just. the detractors to your view want too much to put this into an all or nothing scenario, and just as the french are divided, so too are the syrians and libyians etc.

  12. Cynthia Mahmood, a scholar who studies militants, says that “they are more ‘regular’ human beings than we would like to admit, and that we purposefully isolate and exoticize them because we don’t want to think they are anything like us [nor that] we are [likewise] capable of terrible behavior… In fact, we know that the suicide bombers in Paris were French or Belgian citizens; they were people’s neighbors and schoolmates.”

    “[W]e need to recognize that part of the reason that militants do what they do is because of the asymmetrical power structure that differentiates us from them. We are powerful, they are not….We need to ask the question, what brought them to the point where they think that they are so powerless that they need to amplify their voice through atrocious acts, like beheadings, to get attention? It’s an extreme alienation…They have a way to get our attention and inspire fear in us.”

    “[W]e have to play the long game, and [accept] that a solution will only come when we engage the Muslim community in a positive way….By shedding the concept of ‘terrorism,’ and looking at the driving forces behind specific militant acts, we can get at root causes and address them.” link to

  13. Thank you, Juan. I live in France and am not impressed by Hollande’s “we are at war” attitude. This time, the killer seems to have personal reasons for his horrific behavior, rather than the “no doubt an Islamic radical” immediate comment from Zionist PM Valls and former Pres. Nicolas Sarkozy. I cannot see how this sort of act (except maybe the truck entering the Promenade “to deliver ice cream” excuse) could have been foreseen or prevented except in a real police state, which is what the radicals probably want to force on us all.

  14. I agree that economics and opportunity are at the heart of the problem, but I don’t have any confidence that a Western Marshall Plan would have much lasting benefit. Aside from oil or tourism in select regions, there just isn’t any underlying industry that could be built and sustained. Also, we can’t trust the governments of most of these states to steward outside contributions. Look how much wasted money we poured into Iraq. I’m afraid such good intentions would merely end up being permanent welfare subsidies.

    • Tunisia is fairly highly industrialized, moreso than most countries on that continent. Sfax is an industrial city.

    • I think you’re close to an insight as to the problem. The Marshall Plan, I believe, was meant to solve the problem of profitable imperialism by industrialized countries unable to make a peaceful living through trade. I say this because FDR’s people also pushed free trade and fixed exchange rates and the revision of the International Law of military occupation. The idea of all of these is that a country poor in resources but rich in skills should always have a decent chance to export goods rather than wage war. Of course that perfect described Germany and Japan and their situation during the Depression. The Marshall Plan made great sense there and in the other destroyed industrial states.

      But does it work in a country where the oil under the citizens’ feet is worth far more than the citizens? The rich and the government both will treat that oil as having more rights than the people. It’s not that anything is wrong with the culture, it’s that the oil will constrain the ability of that culture to adapt and the rulers don’t give a damn.

  15. I agree with you wholeheartedly. Also when you write: “Invest some billions, not measly tens of millions, in success stories like Tunisia, to promote democracy and economic growth.” It worked with modern Germany and Japan, didn’t it? Although the analogy is imperfect, supporting Muslim societies and actively supporting economic development in the Muslim world, whether Marseille, Amman, Sana’a or Tehran is likely the fastest way to greater peace–disarming Daesh’s strategy. Unfortunately, Western European and US demagogues are richly profiting from this strategy as well. Daesh is having a deep makeout session with Trump, LePen, Boris Johnson, and Pegida.

  16. the last time I drove round the U.S.A. it seemed that ‘building enterprise zones and siting factories around slum areas’ would be a good idea Juan…

  17. I was bothered by the sentence, “If it was terrorism, he should have desperately wanted French President Francois Hollande to do something or not do something.”
    I first became aware of terrorism when the French were still fighting the First Indo-China War. I think it was about 1958. The most common tactic that year was bombing restaurants. Set off a bomb inside a popular restaurant, and have a second bomb in place ourside set to go off maybe ten minutes later to get any onlookers and first responders. The purpose wasn’t to force any specific action or policy, the purpose, as explained by the many manuals of revolution that were available then and in years after, was to instill a feeling of insecurity in the populace and show them that no matter how oppressive they became the government could not protect them.
    In this case Daesh has a somewhat different goal in that they do want a particular response — they want the governments and especially the population in general, to impose harsh sanctions on people who so far have not supported Daesh. They want them to be forced to Daesh’s side by harsh oppression.

  18. My reading has convinced me that Gandhian economics, an economic system based on non-exploitation, local production (swadeshi), and fair value for all, is at least as much a necessity as Gandhian or non-violent politics.

    My notes on my readings in Gandhian economics are at if anybody is interested.

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