J'aime Paris, city of love and light, and I was stunned to wake up to news of the attacks on Saturday morning. I live in a place where suicide bombings and terrorist attacks are commonplace; we expect to hear devastating reports almost daily. Still, news of violence in places I know intimately affects me differently and much more deeply than violence here. It's not because it's any less tragic to learn about the beheading of seven innocent Hazaras in Zabul or the deaths of forty three in Beirut. It's because I'm an American who considers Western Europe a second home, and those ties bind.
I have been arguing for intervention in Syria for humanitarian reasons since the onset of the civil war, but like many foreign policy analysts, I too was surprised that ISIS was capable of such a strong, coordinated attack. Large-scale, professional attacks of the kind we witnessed in Paris were once the province of Al Qaeda alone. I don't know what the appropriate response is, but I do know that the "war on terror" hasn't been very effective in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
Maybe sometime soon I'll address the debate raging on Islam and Islamism, but for now I leave you with this lovely scene from Casablanca and a passage on the little things France epitomizes:
La joie de vivre par une myriade de petites choses: la parfum d'une tasse de café et des croissants le matin, de belles femmes en robe souriant librement dans la rue, l'odeur du pain chaud, une bouteille de vin que l'on partage entre amis, quelques gouttes de parfum, les enfants qui jouent les jardins du Luxembourg, le droit de prendre des vacances, de lire n'importe quel livre, jouer, rire, se disputer. . .