Manuel Valls: the French PM taking a hard line against terror – Angelique Chrisafis in Paris Wednesday 25 November 2015 00.00 EST

François Hollande declared France is at war, but it is the uncompromising Valls who is overseeing the country’s response to the Paris attacks

Manuel Valls

Inside his heavily guarded official residence on the left bank, Manuel Valls, the tough-talking prime minister who has orchestrated France’s hardline security response to the Paris terrorist attacks, was uncompromising that the country’s war on terror would last a long time amid a “permanent” threat of more attacks.

If François Hollande has declared “France is at war” and set out to travel the world this week in search of an international coalition against Islamic State (Isis), it is the straight-talking “strongman” Valls who has crafted and pushed tough security measures at home and set about explaining them to a fearful and grieving nation.

Valls has spearheaded the nationwide state of emergency that will last at least three months, giving special powers to police to act without judicial oversight, and he has gone further than Hollande in his heightened language warning of the risk of a chemical attack. French radio even reported that at one point during crisis meetings about the Paris attacks on a stadium, bars and the Bataclan theatre – in which 130 people were killed in three hours – an impassioned Valls walked up to Hollande and shook him.

At an informal meeting with a handful of foreign media outlets, including the Guardian, Valls said France’s war would be long and lasting but “we will win on all fronts” abroad – against Isis – and at home, against the radicalised young people taking up arms against their fellow French. He believed Europe was “facing its destiny” and must prove it could deal with both the terrorism threat and the refugee crisis if voters were not going to turn towards populism. He said France would take no more refugees beyond the 30,000 already agreed for the next two years.

Manuel Valls speaking to François Hollande.
Manuel Valls, seen speaking to François Hollande, has gone further than the president in his heightened language warning of a possible chemical attack. Photograph: Reuters

Valls, a reform-minded social democrat whose pro-business, unorthodox socialist politics have seen him likened to Tony Blair, and whose uncompromising stance has drawn comparisons with Nicolas Sarkozy, said France was facing a new era in terrorism: a form of multiple and coordinated attacks on civilian targets organised from outside the country and within.

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How US policies to stop terrorist financing end up hurting innocent families abroad – Vox – Updated by Dylan Matthews on November 18, 2015, 1:00 p.m. ET

A Western Union receipt. Remittances are particularly in danger from derisking. Matt Cardy/Getty ImagesOne of the most significant, but least covered, parts of the war on terror has been the Treasury Department’s effort to shut down al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups’ access to financial institutions. It’s an attractive way of tackling the problem: Freezing accounts here isn’t as expensive as sending in troops or airstrikes, and no civilians get hurt.Except the second part might not be true. A report released last week by the Center for Global Development, authored by a working group chaired by visiting fellow Clay Lowery and senior fellow Vijaya Ramachandran, argues that laws meant to counteract money laundering and terrorism financing are encouraging broader “derisking,” in which Western banks cut off ties with financial institutions in the developing world so as to reduce the odds that they’ll run afoul of regulations. The result is that developing-world banks, money transfer organizations (which handle remittances), and nonprofit organizations are losing access to the financial system as a whole.That can have real human consequences. People in countries like Somalia or Nigeria who rely on remittances from relatives in rich countries like the US could see fewer transfers or higher fees. NGOs doing health programs or cash transfers could see programs scaled back due to lack of banking. Foreign investment in developing countries could decrease due to fewer big international banks dealing in those countries.

Source: How US policies to stop terrorist financing end up hurting innocent families abroad – Vox

Paris Attacks Present a New 2016 Test

A photo taken on November 17, 2015 in Paris shows the Eiffel Tower illuminated with the colors of the French national flag in tribute to the victims of the November 13 Paris terror attacks. AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG        (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

The ghastly terrorist attacks in Paris and ensuing debate about how the U.S. should fight the Islamic State group present the 2016 Republican presidential front-runnerswith their largest test to date in maintaining their dominance of the primary campaign.

Donald Trump and Ben Carson have monopolized the contest since late summer largely by force of personality, biography and their unique outsider status. But with growing calls for more aggressive U.S. military engagement in the Middle East and alarm bells ringing at the possibility of similar terror strikes at home, the slog for the nomination has abruptly entered a gravely serious phase that could make voters re-evaluate whom they would trust most as commander-in-chief.

[READ: Rubio Hits Cruz For ‘Weakening’ U.S. Spy Programs]

Candidates are now being forced to field a complex series of questions about what type of military strategy they’d employ in Syria and Iraq to target the diffuse terror group, how they’d handle thousands of refugees desperate to flee the chaotic region and what security measures they’d implement stateside to protect against a domestic assault.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich delivered a national security address in Washington Tuesday, calling for NATO to immediately invoke Article 5 – the mutual defense clause – to assist France. Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, will speak about “the path forward in our war against ISIS and radical terrorism” in a speech at The Citadel in South Carolina on Wednesday.



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Obama’s biggest terrorism struggle: how to sell “Don’t do stupid shit” as a strategy – Updated by Matthew Yglesias on November 18, 2015, 7:00 a.m. ET

What do you do when the moral and emotional stakes of an attack seem to call for war but there is no war that can be constructively fought?

That’s a question Barack Obama’s national security advisers have grappled with for months, if not years, as I understand from conversations with them dating to before Friday’s Paris attacks. Many senior administration officials at this point are part of the permanent national security apparatus, but the core group of real “Obama people” has a surprisingly dovish self-conception, where they see themselves operating in a world in which demands for military intervention are constant and endless— from the media, from congressional Republicans, from foreign governments and their allies in Washington, and from the permanent security bureaucracy itself — but America’s actual ability to engage in non-counterproductive interventions is quite limited.

In that context, the administration is faced with a nightmare. And it’s a nightmare that looks a lot like what played out in Paris on November 13.

Not the shooting but the aftermath

The nightmare is that in a country where we know it is relatively easy to obtain guns and ammunition and we know that mass casualty shootings are a frighteningly regular fact of life, someday soon a mass casualty shooting will be perpetrated by someone with ties to international Islamist terrorism.

When that happens, it will, of course, be a tragedy, just as the shootings in Sandy Hook and Charleston and elsewhere are tragic crimes. But the real nightmare is what comes next. As the scale of the carnage became evident in Paris, major newspapers leapt toward declarations like “war in the heart of Paris” (la guerre en plein de Paris) and “this time it’s war” (c’est fois, c’est la guerre) that are, of course, reminiscent of the post-9/11 declaration of a “war on terror.”

But a war against whom? And with what purpose in mind?

Public policy wars are at times metaphorical (war on poverty, war on drugs) but given that terrorism is a matter of hard security, a literal military war is clearly what the media and the political system desire. But it’s far from clear that extended control over physical territory abroad is necessary for orchestrating violent acts in Western cities.

Foreign conflicts are likely counterproductive on many levels — creating new generations of widows and orphans who resent the West, deepening ideological polarization between Islamists and liberals, and opening up new venues for jihad. Worst of all, once you’ve decided that the enormity of an attack requires the use of a military hammer, the temptation becomes strong to seek out hammerable nails — as when Donald Rumsfeld told Richard Clarke that the response to 9/11 had to be an invasion of Iraq because there weren’t enough good targets in Afghanistan.

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