Remember the mood in America just after 9/11? The surge of super-patriotism (dare we say jingoism)? The pall of political correctness (you’re fired, Bill Maher). The phrases that so resonated: “Let’s roll.” “You’re either with us or against us.” “Bring ‘em on.” Something like that is taking hold in France right now after Friday night’s horror, one of the worst terrorist attacks on Western soil since that terrible day 14 years ago.
You could see it in the grim visage of Francois Hollande, socialist-turned-avenger, when the French president declared, “This is an act of war,” pledged a “ruthless” response, and called in effect for a global counterattack against the Islamic State. The frighteningly coordinated attacks that left more than 120 people dead in the heart of one of the world’s most cosmopolitan and beloved cities were, Hollande said, “an act committed by a terrorist army, Daesh, against France, our values, who we are, a free country that speaks to the entire planet.”
Hollande is likely to get a great deal of such support. Because in one night of slaughter, the attacks in Paris have caused the tectonic plates of geopolitics to shift sharply rightward, and no one will be unaffected. The new axis of opinion in the U.S. and Western European countries is plainly going to be harsher, more interventionist and less tolerant of, well, tolerance. Americans were already beginning to lose their post-Iraq war squeamishness about intervening overseas: a November Quinnipiac University poll found that American voters, by a 54-38 percent margin, backed sending U.S. troops to fight the Islamic State in Iraq. It’s safe to assume we’re about to grow more even more interventionist in mood, and Obama, as is his wont, may well follow the public temper, stepping up the minimalist approach he’s taken to countering Islamic State in Iraq and Syria so far.
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