Western great powers' privilege

I'm still trying to understand the reactions to the Paris attacks. They were like

1. France bombs Daesh for 14 months with hundreds of tons of explosives
2. Daesh bombs France on one day with a few kilogram of explosives
3. Daesh attacked France! Everybody rally with France!

This was not exactly common behaviour in world history. The closest analogy that comes to my head was the great powers' treatment of China, where Westerners could be offensive to China at will, but the slightest hint of Chinese resistance was perceived as if barbarian thugs had massacred innocent white folks and intervention armies were shipped to China.

What's the detail that creates the perception that Daesh is free game and has no legitimate right to strike back?

Is it the fact that Daesh killed civilians directly instead of piling up even more dead civilians as "collateral damage"?
Is it the gruesome Daesh propaganda campaign?
Is it the fact that Daesh is no state?
Is it about disrespect towards Muslims?
Is it about disrespect towards Arabs?
Is it a misunderstanding about the (actually defensive) nature of NATO?

My best guess is that it's a different mix of these to different people. The outcome is the same. Step 1 gets ignored.

It is ultimately stupid to expect them to endure and not strike back (particularly since they were called "terrorists" more than a year before they attacked any Western country already).

It's also most disconcerting (at least to me) to see how the perception of NATO diverged towards a kind of 'the West bombs you united, not alone' club, away from a collective defence pact.

And then there's political correctness, of course. Hardly anyone dares to point out that France needlessly provoked Daesh for more than a year with bomb attacks as great power entertainment game, since now the only politically correct stance is to portray France as a victim of aggression that deserves our solidarity.

It's probably a Western great powers privilege to bomb other countries at will and still demand that counterattacks are considered to be illegitimate. 
Would you have perceived a Sudanese bombing attack on a factory in the U.S. legitimate after the U.S. bombed a fertilizer factory in Sudan? How about an Iraqi air attack on an Israeli nuclear reactor post-1983? An Iranian invasion of Mexico in order to turn it into a theocracy after  the U.S. attacked Iraq to (supposedly) turn it into a democracy? A Russian-enforced no-fly zone protecting Libyan civilians from "collateral damage" by Western bombardments? How about something as peaceful as Chinese navy task forces cruising all year off the coast of Hawaii and California? Iranian warships cruising 3.1 nm off the coast of Israel in a "freedom of navigation" patrol? Vietnam mining the harbours of the United States during the Iraq War without a declaration of war?



  1. People naturally support their own team. The French are our brothers and thus people rally to their defense when they are attacked, just as France rallied to our defense after September 11th (I am an American).

    This is not uniquely Western. My sister-in-law is Greek, and Greeks were outraged by the NATO attack on Serbia as they view the Orthodox Serbs as a brother nationality.

    As Western power weakens (relative to other civilizations) something like the hypothetical scenarios you posited will likely happen. Our privilege is the product of our power.

    1. http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.de/2008/09/overly-aggressive-allies.html

    2. The USA is obviously the main culprit within the West as the "overly aggressive ally", but we have our own overly aggressive allies as well:

      Traditionally Israel, and lately Japan. While Israel is indisputably more aggressive than Japan, Japan's new aggression is the more dangerous of the two as it threatens to drag us into a disastrous war with China.

      And make no mistake, any war with China would be disastrous. Any victory would simply mean the Chinese would bounce back stronger than ever...and determined to exact revenge.

      With Israel at least the enemies they lure us into foolishly fighting are at least incompetent and weak.

      Fortunately for Germany and the rest of the West (except perhaps some of our Anglo cousins, especially Australia) you would be very unlikely to join any American-Japanese war against China.

      But given the risk of America sleepwalking into an idiotic war with Russia over Syria (why do we care about this hell hole?!) or Ukraine (not even a real country), I suppose Germany is at risk anyway.

      But anyhow my comment was not related to formal alliances. Nobody in the West gives a shit about terrorist attacks in Japan, even though some such as the nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway were very serious. They're not part of our civilization and while beneficial relations are possible, emotional involvement will never be strong.

      Similarly, Russians, while white and part of European power politics for many centuries, are typically perceived as not being part of our civilization. People in the West do not get worked up about terrorist attacks in Russia, some of which like Beslan were atrocious.

  2. I am going to guess that this mess has two primary causes, one for each side:

    1. Daesh does best when Muslims perceive that the rest of the world hates them and supporting Daesh is the best way to respond. The easiest way for Daesh to cause this set of circumstances to occur is to kill a few westerners and then wait for the West to over-respond. Then Thorfinnsson's comment about people naturally supporting their own team comes into play and the Muslim population around the world (most important are the disaffected princes in the oil states) gives money, weapons, and volunteers. Which they use to improve their fortunes on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq and to sow new terror attacks.

    2. The West's motivation is even darker. I subscribe to FM's theory that the old democratic regimes are being supplanted by a new plutocracy police state (although I am not fully onboard with the large conspiracy theory, I think that it is being caused by very wealthy people doing what seems best for themselves and others following where they find success) and they are taking advantage of the crisis to put themselves in a better position through new laws (which don't apply to themselves) and new purchases of expensive munitions.

    This is similar to Stalin's use of provocation to invade Finland in 1939 and any number of trumped-up charges that let the great powers do whatever they want. But this time, the combat and strikes are not the main goal, they are the smokescreen used to increase the powers of the police state and weaken people's will to take responsibility for themselves.

    Note that the two strategies are cooperative, Daesh wants to be ineffectively kicked around and the rising police states in the West want more small-scale but scary terrorist attacks. Do not expect this cycle to end any time soon.

    1. According to that theory Hungary and Poland should rank highly on the list of countries bombing Daesh, but they don't bomb them at all.

    2. Three reasons that Hungary and Poland don't bomb Daesh.
      1. Neither country has the reach to get to Syria
      2. Both countries have gone far enough down the road that they no longer need to hide their behavior
      3. Similarly, Daesh ignores them because those countries do not have enough ties with Western media to generate the stories that will predictably cause an overreaction. In this case, less is more.

    3. Reach is no issue. Both are in NATO and could use Incirlik base.
      Poland still kinda hides its authoritarianism, only the recent affair about the constitutional court made headlines in Germany, for example.
      Authoritarian regimes - particularly if not successful economically - still need to distract their people.

      One could claim that the refugees do the latter for Hungary, though..