Saturday, November 05, 2005


The rioting in France continues on and is spreading from Paris.

Wretchard is watching events rather closely and is shocked by the tenacity of the rioters. He figured the rioting wouldn't last long but it is and is growing.

It was this last piece of news -- that de Villepin was looking for a political formula on the 9th day of the riots -- that most disturbed me, almost as if Gamelin on the 9th day of the Blitzkrieg had only then begun looking for his map. How long will it take to come up with a plan? How long to execute?

Looking back, I think de Villepin thought he could contain the riots using police cordons as bulkheads while principally relying on his Minister of Social Cohesion to get the government's tame imams and community leaders into dampening down the riots. The French government has spent a lot of money creating quasi-governmental Islamic institutions in an attempt (in my view at least) to co-opt the more tractable leadership of the ghettos. It also had an infrastructure of social workers and government funded "community groups" which it probably felt could be relied on to bank the fires. Recent newspaper stories report how imams and community "mothers" have been marching against the violence, only to have themselves stoned and jeered. De Villepin unleashed his ultimate weapon and it turned out to be a rubber sword.
Source: The Belmont Club - Once in France

Desert Rat responds:
Fox News reports yet another night of rioting. Intafada redux.
A Cruise ship off the coast of Somalia is attacked by pirates in small open boats.
Oh me oh my
After Katrina, less than 2 days for a US Federal response was considered "SLOW",
Nine days after Paris began to burn Mr de Villepin has a meeting. Mike Brown should be proud, he was only a day behind the curve, not over a week.
Now as the violence extends across France, as reports of riots trickle in from across western Europe, there is, I must admit, a feeling of smug satisfaction.

Can't wait to see how France defines Peace and Justice.
Source: Desert Rat's Commentary to the Belmont Club's Once in France

More than a few commentators are expressing feelings of schadenfreude, but we must not wallow in cheap schadenfreude, we must hope France can quell the riots and recognize what brought them on.

What brought them on? I have a hard time believing an unsustainable social safety net is blameless. Another common theme is the idea of the millet. the millet was essentially an Ottoman creation where each religious community would essentially be left to rule on its own and to settle all internal affairs as it saw fit. According to an article quoted by Wretchard (see the blog above) the areas around the major cities broke down into these millets with Islamic rule in some millets and French in others.

As the feudal system crumbled, control over such a vast domain became increasingly problematic. Because a standing army would have been prohibitively expensive, non-Muslims were assigned as armatoliks, or armed guards, of specified areas and paid from local taxes. This system was abused flagrantly by independent groups of armed men, some with official sanction and some without, who roamed the countryside and abused the peasant population.
Source: The Nature of Ottoman Rule

This time the Muslims are the armatoliks and are acting quite without official sanction. The question is how is France going to put them down and how will they prevent future riots? There are two possible responses I see.

One is going into the millets and enforcing egalite, liberte, and fraternitie as the French understand it. The second response is to dole out more unsustainable social benefits (how about a 20 hour workweek hey rioting takes a lot of time, if they are working to feed, clothe and shelter themselves they can't riot) and to extend more autonomy to the millets.

I fear those in France who favor the later response are gaining the upper hand.

Believe it or not France is generally with us in the GWOT and having France turn into Francistan would make things much worse.