By: Madeleine Teele, Expert Access Participant
Friday the 13th is an unlucky day in the lives of superstitious Americans as it is, but what the world saw on November 13th, 2015 was on another level of terror, tragedy and loss. One hundred and twenty-nine people lost their lives and hundreds more were critically injured in a series of mass shootings, suicide bombings and hostage crisis in Paris, France. For France, these were the deadliest attacks since World War II. For the world, they represented a substantial threat to Western power. Buildings and monuments from across the globe demonstrated their solidarity and light up in France’s national colors from the Pyramids of Giza to the Sydney Opera House.
France remains under a heavy police presence and a somber feeling washes over the French nation. In the wake of the attacks, public protests are prohibited in Paris and some of the surrounding departments until this coming Thursday. This removal of a basic right under French law has shocked the nation. Citizens have been advised to stay indoors, but that did not stop the public from coming together to mourn the loss of their fellow citizens.
France’s president, Francois Hollande, believes ISIS was responsible for these deadly attacks. American officials have not disputed the French President’s opinion on the matter. Additionally, ISIS claimed responsibility for twin suicide bombings in Beirut, as well as the crashing of the Metrojet flight 9268. It was a unanimous decision among all world leaders that ISIS must be stopped as quickly and swiftly and possible. However, for the presidential candidates, the degree to which the United States is involved in this fight is hotly contested. Hillary Clinton stated in the most recent Democratic Presidential Debate that addressing the threat of terrorism “cannot be an American fight” while Martin O’Malley disagreed and urged the US to “stand up to evil” and lead the fight.
What do these attacks mean for the United States? President Obama maintains that his foreign policy strategy is effective, even in the face of these recent attacks. President Obama declared that he will intensify targeted airstrikes and assistance to ground forces in Syria and Iraq. He realizes, however, that this is not an overnight solution and that it will take time to bring the terrorist group down.
President Obama’s Republican critics, on the other hand, do not agree with his handling of the situation. Many Republicans are urging the President to block the entrance of Syrian refugees to the country, in hopes of preventing the entrance of terrorists. President Obama has responded by stating that closing the entry to refugees is un-American and will not happen as long as he is president. “We do not close our hearts to the victims of such violence and somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism,” President Obama said. “The people who are fleeing Syria are the most harmed by terrorism.” In other words, the United States will not block the entry of Syrian refugees simply because that is not what America stands for.
This tragedy brought about a new agreement between the United States and France to share more intelligence information, saying that the new arrangement would allow personnel to pass threat information to France in a more efficient and quick manner. Additionally, the attacks and their threat to the safety of Western nations have brought back to the forefront America’s fight against global terror and the organizations that propagate it.