Why Have Civilians Become Primary Jihadist Targets?

Why Have Civilians Become Primary Jihadist Targets? November 16, 2015
We should all dread the inevitability of terrorist organizations acquiring nuclear weapons and using them preemptively (Atomic cloud over Hiroshima, taken from "Enola Gay" flying over Matsuyama, Shikoku, 6 August 1945; Source: Wikimedia Commons, PD-US-Government-Work).
We should all dread the inevitability of terrorist organizations acquiring nuclear weapons and using them preemptively (Atomic cloud over Hiroshima, taken from “Enola Gay” flying over Matsuyama, Shikoku, 6 August 1945; Source: Wikimedia Commons, PD-US-Government-Work).

There is nothing more heinous than the military targeting of innocent civilians like in the Paris Attacks.

It goes against the venerable Just War tradition, which originated with St. Augustine.

Just War ritualized war in order to prevent impure blood from watering furrows (generally with little success).  The French Revolution was one of the first major explicit rejections in rhetoric and practice of this commendable (in theory) tradition.

Dupuy argues there is no escaping Girard, especially in our present political moment.
Dupuy argues there is no escaping Girard insights, especially in our present political moment.

The Girardian theoretician Jean-Pierre Dupuy really sticks out his neck with regard to this topic at the start of the sixth chapter of his tome The Mark of the Sacred. There he says:

One of the most remarkable theoreticians of the human sciences in our time was a man named Osama bin Laden. His ideas, which have only recently been made known, deserve to be carefully considered.

If that doesn’t get your heart pumping and thoughts racing on Monday then coffee and uppers will be of no avail.

Dupuy goes on to cite portions of an ABC interview with Osama Bin Laden from 1998 to support his claim. I reproduce that interview here more in full and more in context (see also: the video at the end of the post):

Through history, America has not been known to differentiate between the military and the civilians or between men and women or adults and children. Those who threw atomic bombs and used the weapons of mass destruction against Nagasaki and Hiroshima were the Americans. Can the bombs differentiate between military and women and infants and children?

Winright's volume asks the question du jour.
Winright’s edited volume asks the question du jour.

The Mark of the Sacred then explains why what Bin Laden said is so theoretically and historically significant:

Osama bin Laden usefully reminds us of something that many people in the West would rather ignore, namely, that it was the West that did away with the principles of just war. These include the principle of discrimination, which requires that fighting be limited to enemy combatants, sparing people who are considered to be innocent, in particular women, children, and the elderly; and the principle of proportionality, which requires that the degree of violence be calibrated to suit the political and strategic objectives in view. These principles–meant to convert war into a ritual that is both violent and measured in its effects, a ritual that contains violence by means of violence–died a gruesome death at Hiroshima, and their remains were vaporized in the radioactive blast that then leveled Nagasaki. It is true, of course, that these same principles had already suffered great harm only a few months earlier, with the fire bombings of Dresden and Tokyo.

In light of this, as you shall see, there is terrible irony in the world joining hands and singing Le Marseillaise in response to the terror of the Paris Attacks.

I come from a strong nationalist Polish tradition, so I am acutely sensitive to questionable uses of the Church in the service of the nation, even if it is a mostly oppressed nation.

The irony was almost unbearably pungent when the organs of Notre Dame the Paris exploded to the tune of Le Marseillaise yesterday:

The irony might be lost on you because the victors get to write history. The biggest losers of the French Revolution, who provided the most blood for the furrows of Revolutionary France (and the first modern genocide), were the Catholic loyalists of the Vendee region.

Or, perhaps this musical gesture, most certainly approved by the Archbishop of Paris, was an act of forgiveness towards the state, and, at the same time, an ironic revelation of the violence all of humanity (not just the terrorists) irrationally employs to combat violence?

I doubt it, but why not pretend that is really what is going on?

CLEARLY none of this is meant to justify or celebrate the Paris Attacks, but rather, as Timothy Snyder with the Holocaust, it is meant to explain (the meaninglessness of the title question).

Some questions are ill-formed.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjXGOluWSR0

For more on French history as it relates to the Paris attacks see the following:

1. Spreading the Blame: The West’s Exporting of Jihad

2. A French Genocide and Salvation Outside the State

3. From Napoleon to Bin Laden: France and Modern Terrorism


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