Whilst there is no confirmation yet of the motives for the attack in Nice, all the facts point to it being another case of Islamist jihadi terrorism.
The method used – driving a large lorry into a crowd – was apparently discussed on jihadi websites. What is known about the individual involved – his North African background and his criminal record – also fits the profile of a jihadi terrorist.
As is always the case following attacks of this kind, the intelligence and security services of the country involved – in this case France – are roundly criticised for not preventing it. Though obviously it is impossible to reach any definite conclusions so soon after the massacre, in my opinion that criticism is unfair. It is simply unrealistic to expect the intelligence and security services of any state, least of all one like France with a large immigrant population, to keep a constant track of every possible terrorist and to anticipate their every action. Whilst it is both possible and necessary to take precautions – as is now routinely done in airports – there is a limit to what can be done in a modern state without making normal life intolerable.
Rather than criticise the intelligence and security services the focus should instead be on criticising the West’s political leaders. Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks they have had 15 years to get on top of the Islamist jihadi terrorism problem and they have utterly failed to do so. There are now many more jihadi terrorists than there were in 2001, those terrorists now control whole territories the size of countries, and they rule over tens of millions of people. In Iraq and Syria some of the militant amongst them have even set up in the form of the Caliphate an imitation state.
All of this has happened despite the fact that the actual number of terrorists is very small, despite militant jihadism being attractive to only a small minority of Muslims, and despite everything the Western Alliance – supposedly the most powerful military alliance in the history of the world led by the US, the world’s first and only supposed “hyperpower” – has thrown at them.
A more catastrophic catalogue of failure it would be difficult to imagine, and if the Western powers really were as open to debate as they pretend to be the causes of that failure would now be the primary topic of discussion in the West.
It requires no great foresight to say that that discussion will not take place, and that in its absence nothing will change, and that after Nice the West will continue to fail in its ludicrously misnamed “War on Terror” as it has done before.
Moreover it is not difficult to see why. It is because the leaders of the Western powers – and that includes people like US President Obama, French President Hollande and German Chancellor Merkel – refuse to deal with the world as it is. Instead their actions are determined for them by a neocon ideology that has them all in its grip, and which is focused not on protecting Western publics from real threats such as Islamist terrorism but rather in pursuing fantastically overambitious geopolitical objectives as part of a grand strategy to make the world supposedly safe for what they call “liberal democracy” by imposing it and the unlimited hegemony of the US on the whole world.
That this is the problem was already obvious at the time of the 9/11 attacks. Instead of doing what it said it would do – focusing all its efforts to destroy Al Qaeda – the US under the Bush administration instead invaded Iraq, sought to use Afghanistan as a base to extend its influence into Central Asia, extended NATO further into Eastern Europe and into the territory of the former USSR, scrapped the ABM Treaty, and fomented colour revolutions in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrghyzia, whilst attempting unsuccessfully to do the same in Belarus.
The same pattern continues to be followed by the US under the Obama administration. Instead of focusing on defeating Al Qaeda and the Islamic State (Daesh), the US has attacked Libya, is trying to overthrow the government of Syria, is pursuing confrontations with Russia in Ukraine and with China in the South China Sea, is deploying troops closer to Russia, is “pivoting” its navy closer to China, and is installing ballistic missile interceptors in Eastern Europe.
Nor is there any sign that any amount of terrorism by groups like Daesh or Al Qaeda will ever cause Western political leaders like Bush, Obama, Hollande or Merkel to change their objectives or re examine their priorities.
Contrast this disastrous record with the results achieved by the one country that has made defeating Islamist terrorism its priority. That country is Russia.
It is now almost entirely forgotten but in the 1990s – as Putin has just pointedly reminded the French – on top of all the other immense problems Russia had to suffer, it was also the primary victim of jihadi violence.
Violent jihadis for a time controlled Chechnya, one of Russia’s constituent republics. They used Chechnya to expand their terrorist campaign throughout Russia. Though their focus was the Northern Caucasus their terrorist actions reached as far as Moscow. Moreover in conducting their terrorist campaign against Russia the jihadis used all the same methods of indiscriminate violence targeted at civilians they have repeatedly used since. Russia was in fact the original testing ground for these methods. One of these methods – the most terrible of all – the specific targeting of children as happened in Beslan, has so far not been used anywhere else.
Not only was Russia the main victim of jihadi violence, but the well-nigh universal consensus of the Western “expert” community was that it would be unable to defeat it.
In the event, when following the political crisis of 1998-1999 Russia once again had a functioning government, it acted decisively to root out jihadi violence on its territory. Jihadi terrorism in Russia today is reduced to a flicker. This success – which is in such contrast to the abject failure of the West – goes completely unreported, though it is the only example of a non-Islamic state confronting and comprehensively defeating jihadi terrorism to date.
The Russians succeeded because the Russian government post 1999 – in contrast to the ideologically blinkered governments of the West – made defeating jihadi terrorism on its territory its overriding priority, single-mindedly bringing all the resources of the Russian state to bear on the problem.
The Russians have brought the same clarity and singleness of purpose to the task of fighting jihadi terrorism in Syria. That is why their intervention in Syria has been so effective whereas the actions of the West in the same region previous to the Russian intervention were so entirely unsuccessful – to the point where according to the West’s own intelligence agencies Daesh last year was on the verge of capturing Damascus before the Russians intervened.
As the Russians have shown it is possible to defeat jihadi terrorism. What that however requires is realism, clarity of vision and singleness of purpose. That is what the leaders of the West lack, which is why all their efforts have failed and why more atrocities like the one in Nice are bound to happen.