PHYLLIS BENNIS – France is in mourning and in shock. We still don’t know how many people were killed and injured. In fact, there’s a lot we still don’t know—including who was responsible. The ISIS claim of responsibility tells us virtually nothing about who really planned or carried out the attacks; opportunist claims are an old story. But the lack of information hasn’t prevented lots of assumptions about who is “obviously” responsible and what should be done to them. Already the call is rising across France—“this time it’s all-out war. But we do know what happens when cries of war and vengeance drown out all other voices; we’ve heard them before.
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TOM ENGELHARDT – The United States has been at war—major boots-on-the-ground conflicts and minor interventions, firefights, airstrikes, drone assassination campaigns, occupations, special ops raids, proxy conflicts and covert actions—nearly nonstop since the Vietnam War began. That’s more than half a century of experience with war, American-style, and yet few in our world bother to draw the obvious conclusions. Given the historical record, those conclusions should be staring us in the face. They are, however, the words that can’t be said in a country committed to a military-first approach to the world, a continual build-up of its forces, an emphasis on pioneering work in the development and deployment of the latest destructive technology, and a repetitious cycling through styles of war from full-scale invasions and occupations to counterinsurgency, proxy wars, and back again.
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