In Paris last night, terrorists hit multiple locations with gunfire and bombs, the death toll now estimated at 153 people. It was truly a night of terror, a city under siege. Most of the terrorists are dead, killed by police or by suicide in the execution of their heinous acts.
As a former intelligence officer with counterterror experience, I can tell you the terrorists, even in death, have accomplished their mission. This is the beginning of a formulaic strategy used successfully in destabilizing countries around the world, by radical Islam, the old Soviet Union, and insurgencies too numerous to count.
This is asymmetric warfare, where the terrorists have a tiny force in comparison to the police and military might of France. And the effects are entirely psychological.
In the grand scheme of things, more people were killed in car accidents in the U.S. in the last 24 hours, and the property damage from these attacks is easily covered by insurance. But the psychological effects will have global implications and move masses of people to their emotional brink.
This is an approximate outline of how the strategy is succeeding.
Goal #1 – Fear. They have spread fear and insecurity throughout France. This undermines the confidence in the French government. This fear makes future reactions more emotional and less thoughtful. In other words, intelligent people will begin to behave stupidly or sympathize with stupid behavior.
Goal #2 – Backlash. This will inspire backlash against the Muslim population of France. This is essential and the primary mission of the attacks. The Muslim population of France is estimated to be 6 million of the total population of 66 million. An emotional response from individual French citizens against the Muslim population is likely. If the terrorists are particularly crafty, they will stage a backlash to play out in the media. The psychological effect works either way. A further backlash could be restrictions from the government or rough treatment of Muslim suspects by the police. This will be encouraged by taunting from radical Islam around the world. The government has already announced it is determined to get retribution.
Goal #3 – Galvinization of Moderates. Backlash will polarize France putting 10% of its population on the defensive, in opposition to the French authorities. Any incident will be used as propaganda to galvanize the Muslim population in France. They will come together as a group, begin to resist police and government. A large portion will become disaffected. They will be encouraged by radical Islam, who will establish a leadership position to a broader Muslim population.
Goal #4 – Recruiting and Entrenchment. Radical Islam will be able to recruit from the disaffected Muslim population, develop networks and move about more freely within France. More and better terrorism will follow.
Some in France will attempt pacifism and appeasement in the Muslim community. This plays well into the strategy, it will delay firm action from the government and polarize the non-Muslim population. Radical Islam will actually get unwitting support from this sector.
Other European countries may modify their laws regarding Muslim refugees (France has only about 20,000 of the wave of Syrian refugees).
This is reminiscent of Beirut, once the “Paris of the Middle East.” While this formula doesn’t always succeed, the rest of the formula is as follows:
Goal #5 – Entrenchment and Growth. Terrorists operate freely and are able to battle the police to a standstill, other terrorists are imported, they develop a public political face (like CAIR perhaps?)
Goal #6 – Destabilization and Economic Destruction. The military is called in to establish dominance, businesses leave France, the economy goes to hell, France destabilizes, borders become porous, terrorists flood into the region.
Incidentally, Beirut was not destroyed by soldiers. When I was there in the late 1980’s, the damage from fighting was almost anecdotal. The real destruction was the abandonment by businesses and banks, the subsequent economic downfall (I was there when the exchange rate went from 30 pounds to the dollar to 600 pounds to the dollar in less than 60 days) and the halt of imports. The infrastructure started to fail and could not be repaired, workers abandoned their jobs because their salaries were no longer enough to buy food. Desperation ensued.
Goal #7 – Military Engagement Insurgency follows, banks and businesses no longer able to function.
Goal #8 – Fall of the Government Takeover by the radicals of an unstable, desperate country.
Can this happen in France? I don’t know. The French will have a lot of help from the international community. We predict things will get ugly, but the success of the initial stages does not guarantee success later.