Perhaps the biggest absurdity, at the moment, is the continuing, somewhat distracted response of the international media -- especially the French media -- to the revolution that has begun in France. They persist in characterizing the revolutionists as “disadvantaged French youth”, and pretend their uprising has only incidentally to do with Islam.
I see Dominique de Villepin -- the French prime minister who, as foreign minister, was so generous with advice to the U.S. and Israel -- has now prepared the rewards package for the rioters. Lots of new spending on social services and "opportunities" programmes in the 751 “sensitive urban zones” -- which is the official state euphemism for Muslim ghettoes. Also, special favours for the imams who agree to sign limp-wristed fatwas against rioting after curfew. This is a joke, I refuse to report it seriously.
And part of the joke is that, since long before they were born, the Muslim young raised in these ghettoes were in fact prevented from getting the usual sorts of jobs, and thereby insinuating themselves into bourgeois French society. And this because the powerful, leftwing unions of France -- themselves quite willing to riot for results -- have long since achieved 30-hour weeks, high pay, and perpetual employment for three-quarters of the labour force. It is an arrangement, secured in a form of “social contract” with the French state, that shuts out everyone else. Tamper with THAT, and the rest of France will be back on the streets.
And, to his credit, Warren does not minimize the unfortunate effect of French racism ("racialism") on the catastrophe:
For anyone not yet aware of his writing, I recommend Thomas P. M. Barnett's The Pentagon's New Map and his follow-up book, Blueprint for Action. Both volumes lay out a strategy for enlarging what Barnett labels the "Core," and shrinking what he labels the "Gap."
[The Arab / Muslim youths'] ostracism from French society is completed by overt racialism. The contrast between the hypocritical liberalism of French public speech, and the overt racialism of private behaviour, is such as no North American will fully comprehend. We come from the society of the melting pot. The European melting pot froze and hardened -- quite literally, more than a thousand years ago. And that racialism is mutual. What the Muslims feel for their aging French “hosts” -- whom they consider to be perverts, by every Islamic standard -- is expressed by the way they torch their cars.
The joke is completed because, except for the odd media-savvy poseur, the rioters aren’t asking for improved welfare arrangements. They are asking e.g. for Nicolas Sarkozy’s head. They want French policemen dead. They are demanding that the French state recognize that parts of France are “Islamic territory”. They want French laws replaced with Sharia. And their chant, in each of the many hundred locations where the rioting continues every night, is “Allahou Akhbar! Allahou Akhbar!” It is impossible to imagine a more complete disconnect between them and the French society that is now looking for ways to appease them.
And they will not be appeased -- any more than the Palestinians will be appeased, by anything short of the disappearance of Israel. I do not even think de Villepin’s extravagant offer to hurl money will make things worse. It will have no effect whatever. The rioting will stop and start, for the rioters’ own tactical reasons, like the West Bank Intifada. It is not “senseless”.
Until recently, France had clearly been a part of the Core.
It may be falling into the Gap.