Weekend Roundup: Paris Attacks Upend Concepts of War, Security and Alliances

The attacks claimed by the self-described Islamic State in Paris have done more than spread fear across the West. They have upended our concepts of war, security and alliances in a connected yet disintegrating world — a world in which no superpower or group of states can impose order.

As the “End of Power” author Moisés Naím notes, ISIS has breached that perimeter that above all defines strong states: a monopoly over violence. It has shifted the battlefield to the soft targets of cafes and concert halls. As Lucia Annunziata writes from Italy, “The Third World War, whether you want to believe it or not, is already underway … and Europe is its theater.” The savvy of ISIS operatives has also called into question whether we can maintain both open borders and encrypted cyberspace. They have shown that distributed networks of angry youth at the margins of European society, who bond on the Internet instead of at the mosque, are beyond the reach of the drone strikes aimed at decapitating their leadership in the Mideast. As the Aspen Institute’s Charlie Firestone writes in his analysis of the “guerilla cyber-warfare” declared by the Anonymous hackers against ISIS: “The Westphalian concept of sovereign nations dealing with each other as states has limited application to a world where networks are the dominant form of organization.”

For Ambassador Frederic Hof, who has advised U.S. authorities on the transition of power in Syria, ISIS has demonstrated a resilience that only boots on the ground deployed to destroy their home base can overcome. Philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy echoes Hof with a sense of urgency. “No boots on their ground means more blood on ours,” he writes from Paris.

The Paris attacks have further shredded the notion, as —> Read More