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Foreign Policy Essay

We Were Wrong About ISIS

Editor’s Note: For over a decade, the Islamic State and its predecessors focused almost exclusively on Iraq, Syria, and their neighbors. The downing of the Russian airplane over the Sinai Peninsula and especially the recent killing spree in Paris suggest that the Islamic State is now going global. Jennifer Williams, long my Lawfare colleague and now at Vox, explains why I and other terrorism experts may have missed this change.


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State of Emergency: How the Paris Attacks Expanded France’s Police Powers

On Friday night, as attacks now attributed to ISIS unfolded across Paris, French President François Hollande declared a nationwide state of emergency. This marks the first time since the Algerian war of independence in the early 1960s that France has assumed broad police powers over the entire country. It remains unclear to what extent these expanded powers will affect France’s legal regime after the worst terrorist attack in the nation’s history.

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Will France Turn to International Institutions in Response to the Attacks?

In the wake of yesterday’s terrible Paris attacks, will France turn to NATO or the UN Security Council for support? In the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks, those were the two most significant international organizations to react. France has incentives to turn to both, though its situation right now is dissimilar in important ways from the U.S. situation 14 years ago.

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La France-des-Cavernes

The only photograph that hangs in my attic office is that of René Char, the poet and World War II Resistance fighter. Trying to find an appropriate expression of solidarity with the French people in the wake of the Paris attacks, it seemed right to look to Feuillets d'Hypnos, the wartime diary Char kept during his years of fighting in the Resistance and then edited and published after the war. The diary consists of short poems, aphorisms, epigrams, and brief accounts of Hypnos' (Char's nom-de-guerre) experiences; I've selected a handful that seemed to say something to this moment.

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Terrorist Attacks in Paris Tonight

Anyone reading this site probably already knows about the horror unfolding tonight in Paris. But just in case not: Dozens are dead at multiple locations, and there appears to be a Beslan/Mumbai-style hostage crisis underway at this time at a Paris theater. There are reports of at least one suicide bomber. The government has declared a state of national emergency, and the borders have been closed. In the days ahead we likely will learn the identity of the perpetrators and, perhaps, their organizational ties.


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