A different kind of travelogue. As an avid young traveller I often wondered what would it would be like when I got older, gathered commitments, created children and accrued debt. This is what it's like.
I am against violence. I’ve lived and worked in countries experiencing civil wars. I’ve visited others. I’ve been affected by terrorism campaigns. I’ve been “racially profiled”. I have been targeted by security forces personally and I have repeatedly been questioned. I have seen people beaten by bigots, beaten by zealots, beaten by security forces. I have seen violece perpetrated by “protesters” at protests that were meant to be peaceful. I have seen police attack protesters that were being peaceful. Violence does not work. I reject violence.
Then there is travel. There’s plenty of valid questions about travel to less developed countries, to countries experiencing conflict, to countries perpetrating violence upon others.
I travel. I’ve visited many places that have raised these questions. But questions are good. Fundamentalism is not good. I do not distinguish between different forms of fundamentalism.
I lived in the UK when they illegally invaded Iraq. I have visited China while they continue to occupy Tibet. I’ve been to India while the Kashmir conflict was simmering in the north. I was in Haiti while the UN Mission in Haiti was still there in the late 1990’s. And much more.
Every colonial power has trampled innocent peoples under foot. Every dictator has done the same. Every external power that supported a dictator is complicit. The Cold War and the greed for hydrocarbon derived energy is responsible for countless and uncountable deaths.
Anyone who thinks this is simple essentially debases their own argument to the extent that they have no argument.
I am no expert. It does not require an expert to see that violence begets violence.
The events in Paris are completely unjustifiable. Completely.
Violent acts causing loss of life are unjustifiable. Violent acts causing loss of life in response to the events in Paris are also unjustifiable. People will try to justify dropping bombs and launching missiles on Syria. I will not be swayed. I have yet to see anyone profit from the sort of “air campaign” that is likely to rain death upon Syria. Apart from arms manufacturers of course. Who will benefit from further chaos in Syria? Will this lead to “boots on the ground”? French boots?
The french have occupied Syria before. In the aftermath of World War 1, from 1920 to 1946, in what was known as the French Mandate. It was not the aim of the the French High Commissioner, General Henri Gourard, to create a stable coherent state of Syria. It was their aim to maintain divisions that “required” the ongoing presence of France.
The further you go into it the muddier it gets. There is no simple fix because it is not a simple problem.
It’s hard to write about having fun in France at the moment. So I will not. We have actually left France. We were not in Paris on Friday 13th of November when multiple attacks on the capital took place. We had moved on.
Paris will move on. The phenomenon of religious fundamentalism, unfortunately, will not.