November was an eventful month and may go down as a fateful chapter in the US history.
First was the IS attack on Paris. The calculated, cold-blooded violence shocked and horrified the world. The realization began to sink in that fanatical Islamic acts of terrorism isn’t limited to the Middle East but can strike anywhere. IS even boasted that Washington, DC would be next.
Obama finally and grudgingly joined France’s Holland and Russia’s Putin to direct their full attention on IS and defer Syria’s Assad from immediate liquidation—as if merely railing from Washington was going to topple him.
As more information about the terrorists became available, it became known that the attackers of Paris were home grown, either having been native born from France or Belgium.
Their connection with IS in Syria were actually skimpy. Some of the attackers may have visited Syria for training under IS but none were natives originally from the Middle East. This is not quite the same as the threatening impression that IS has been dispatching teams of terrorists to cities in the West.
The homegrown terrorists were typically young, unemployed without any decent prospects of a future. They lived in ghettos, suffered from low self-esteem as they were surrounded by disapproval and disdain. Their suicide vests and AK-47’s represented their last statement to the world.
As a matter of fact, whether the media and politicians deign to label them acts of terror, America is already numb from random acts of violence on a scale far in excess of what took place in Paris.
Hundreds were killed and wounded in Paris whereas in the US, there were more than one shooting per day and more than 30,000 died in a year from gun violence.
But according to folks of the gun lobby, Americans were not supposed to be traumatized by the daily acts of terror because these perpetrators were merely exercising their 2nd Amendment rights. Some presidential candidates even suggested that the targets of violence, such as the Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, were to blame.
Never are we to blame the NRA and the gun lobby. The latest shooting rampage in San Bernardino, California by a Muslim couple may even shift the focus away from prevalence of guns in America as a problem to fear based on bigotry.
In fact, the shooters in America have a lot in common with the terrorists in Paris. The American terrorists were also disenfranchised in some way but the difference is that they can express their grudge and rage easily with guns and automatics they can buy legally in the open market and then go hunting for innocent lives.
The Obama administration has shown that they are not capable nor willing to resolve the crisis in Syria or root out the cause of IS. Letting Putin take the lead can’t be as bad as not doing anything.
Whether Obama can stop the jihadist from crossing international borders to wreak havoc in America remains to be seen. Even stopping the more urgent matter of domestic terrorism—yes, if the shooter is as terrifying as any terrorist, then he’s a terrorist—is in question.
That’s because a significant part of America is obsessed about the right to bear arms even against the interest of his/her own safety and the safety of the public. America’s fanaticism about guns is just another form of religious extremism.
If the latest incidences of gun rampage won’t convince American public to impose gun control and to deal with the reality of domestic terrorism, it would become another tragic piece missing from Obama’s legacy.
Dr. George Koo recently retired from a global advisory services firm where he advised clients on their China strategies and business operations. Educated at MIT, Stevens Institute and Santa Clara University, he is the founder and former managing director of International Strategic Alliances. He is a member of the Committee of 100, the Pacific Council for International Policy and a director of New America Media.
The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Asia Times.
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