I entered Iran via land, from the Serow border. The Turkish minivan which got me there, and had promised to carry me all the way to Urmia, in Northern Iran, simply made a U-turn and let me there, on a -15C weather and a good meter of snow. I was lucky, however, as Iranians are very lovely people, especially towards foreigners, and a young bloke offered me a lift. In concordance with the tradition of Muslim hospitality, he offered me food, he helped me to find a hotel, and then he and one of his friend wanted to entertain me, and the first thing they thought that would have made me feel at home was to bring me to visit a little Christian chapel on the outskirt of the city. Imagine that, it was the first time they met a European traveler; and as a solo woman traveler I was definitely sticking out from the crowd (even though to be fair, Iran was the only country I'e been to, where I looked like a local, but it might have been because the headscarf was covering the curly hair); we didn't have culturally or politically anything in common, yet they thought, that even if our religions were different, religion would have been a good starting point for contact. In international diplomacy, and especially the Holy See's diplomacy, this practice is called interfaith dialogue.

The chapel I was talking about, in Urmia. Winter 2013.

While of course we didn't know, what we were doing was akin to what the Pope, head of the Catholic faith does in his role of Head of State of the Vatican. His latest encyclical letter, Fratelli Tutti ("all [are] brothers") is, according to him, inspired by his 2019 visit to The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb (Abu Dhabi). Notwithstanding their obvious differences, the two religious figures managed to find a common ground in terms of values and aspirations (to which at least on paper, both the Catholic and Islamic faith should abide). The document which was produced, "Human Fraternity", states:

It is a document that invites all persons who have faith in God and faith in human fraternity to unite and work together so that it may serve as a guide for future generations to advance a culture of mutual respect in the awareness of the great divine grace that makes all human beings brothers and sisters.

so we see that both a Muslim religious figure and a Catholic one seem to believe that unity and understanding is possible not only in between those who believe in (a) God; but that it should be possible to include also those who simply have trust and believe in human fraternity. But can humanity, and especially can the humanity populating Europe still grasp the concept of human fraternity? When our governments drop bombs over helpless and unarmed civilians in the Middle East, do we still feel pain and sorrow for these fellow humans?

The inside of the central mosque, Kashan, Iran, Winter 2013

Europe has always been a land plagued by war. War we brought on others, but also, if not especially, wars we called upon ourselves. A European country started both WWI and WWII. Many, way too many of those wars were religious wars. The Thirty Year War. The Crusades. The Bosnian war. The conquest of Ireland aimed at suppressing Catholicism (and we feel the effects of that war still today). Of course many of these wars happened when the Heads of Religion (of many faiths) were militant; that is to say that at those times religion actually was the expedient and the justification to start a war. But religion gradually lost its influence over society, and now Europe is a (more or less) secular continent. And in fact, our wars are waged not anymore in the name of God, they are waged in the name of Democracy and secularism. Six centuries ago the Pope would be the one calling for the Crusades; today the Pope chills in Abu Dhabi with a Grand Imam and calls for everyone to be friendly to each others. Four centuries ago, the Heads of the French Revolution were calling for egalite', fraternite', liberte'; today, the Head of France is bombing the Middle East while crying victimhood when the oppressed rebel. Such is history. Before, we had to wage war to convert the infidels to Christianity; today, we have to convert the infidels to Democracy. Everything changes, so that everything can stay the same.

The outside of the Kashan mosque. There was some celebration going on, but to be fair I cannot recall what it was. New Year's eve 2013.

Europe is under attack! This is a sentence we heard a lot in the past few days; and it all started with a blasphemous cartoon. It was blasphemous not because it insulted Mohammad himself; it was blasphemous especially because in Islam, it is forbidden to represent Mohammad's face altogether (it was decided so to avoid idolatry). In Italy, such a cartoon would have never been published; but not because we're afraid of the Muslims; because the Vatican would have hammered any Italian publication which would have engaged in such practice. In his latest encyclical letter, Pope Francis wrote:

46. We should also recognize that destructive forms of fanaticism are at times found among religious believers, including Christians; they too “can be caught up in networks of verbal violence through the internet and the various forums of digital communication. Even in Catholic media, limits can be overstepped, defamation and slander can become commonplace, and all ethical standards and respect for the good name of others can be abandoned”. How can this contribute to the fraternity that our common Father asks of us?

Do I mean that the Vatican would have prohibited the cartoons? Of course not. No, what they would have done would have most likely been to explain that such hostile behaviour doesn't help the fraternity within people, and that what we need, in between Islam and Christianity, in between Europe and the Middle East is reciprocal respect, not blind insults. And as an agnostic, I would have agreed with the Vatican. Leaving aside all idealism on freedom of speech (which is ridiculous in a continent which is literally banning foreign media and calling it disinformation, a continent where torturing journalists who uncover war crimes committed towards Muslims is considered respectful towards freedom of press) what happened was a glaring example of bad European diplomacy and the internal issues of one country being elevated as a European problem (or worse, as a "Muslim" problem). It is a failing of European diplomacy, why? Because Macron's first response was to gaslight the Muslims. "We're a secular state, and Islam is a religion in crisis"; they're the problem, not us. While he could have very well thought that in private, one needs to ask if those are appropriate words to utter when one is the Head of State of a country which more often than not throws bombs over the Muslims, isn't it. It was on a Franco-American lead that Libya was plunged into civil war after all. After two weeks (during which we have seen French flags burning, a general boycott over French products and some seriously inflammatory rhetoric coming from Turkish president Erdogan) he realised the mistake he made, and he went to Al Jazeera (the Qatari news outlet) to declare "By the way, I actually understand that you were offended, the cartoons were not so nice, after all". Well, couldn't he have said that since the beginning thus avoiding the diplomatic row to grow bigger than it already was? No, of course. European leaders all ran to "defend" the Great freedom of press of Europe, and telling the Muslims that indeed, they were the uncivilised ones, who don't get how good it is to be a free journalist in the West (except if you're Julian Assange I guess).

Was the cartoon worth the diplomatic incident? Hardly.

And then following this row, these series of completely avoidable tensions, which stemmed more from France's own social inequality and class / race divisions rather than from Islam, we got the terrorist attacks. "We will fight and stop terrorism", all of the European leaders ran to say. "Wouldn't it be better if you stopped creating them instead?" I would ask.

Oh yes, because while we're blaming the Muslims for being dangerous and aggressive towards Europe, it is Europe herself who helped creating ISIS. And thanks to hacker collective Anonymous, we have proof of that. Ladies and gentlemen, today we're dwelling into the Business of Regime Change.

Now, some other reporters have made excellent analysis and published their own analysis of these documents (independent news-outlet The Grayzone analysed the propaganda network in Syria and Russian RT published an op-ed piece where the material in relation to the White Helmets "humanitarian" association were analysed) but me, I'm the Basic Bitch of the situation I guess, so I will go back to basics and explain the business model and the unique value proposition of these companies. Because I have the feeling that people might not grasp what "bringing democracy abroad" entails, especially in terms of revenues and business activities for the corporations and the organisations who are operating in this market.

Ben Norton and Aaron Mate' discuss the leaks and the propaganda network managed by Western corporations in Syria

For the scope of this piece, I will concentrate on Adam Smith International, because they seem to be the company with which most European governments participating in regime-change are involved.

An infographic detailing the network around ASI. Courtesy of Anonymous.

You see all of the little flags? While Whitehall was managing the project, other European countries (and EU members) were involved in it as well. Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands in this case.

What is regime-change, and why it is bad?

Before we dwell into the actual business of regime-change, we need to outline what it is, exactly, and why it is bad.

In simple words, regime-change wars are wars the West wages in order to substitute a foreign leader they don't like with a leader they like. To the population, these wars are presented as "wars of democracy" and "wars to give freedom to the population of this and that country". Take for example Libya, which is an easy example to understand (as it was a "successful" regime-change).

Gaddafi (who was himself helped to power by France) was pursuing policies which were detrimental to the United States (especially an economic policy, as his objective was to sell oil with a new currency called "gold dinar" rather than in dollars); and moreover Libya had much natural resources upon which corporations wanted to put their hands. Western countries have been trying for a couple of times to take down Gaddafi, but the golden occasion arose in 2011, when some protests erupted in Libya. Western governments told their own populations that they were going in to "save the population" and "free them from autocracy" but what they really did, was to foment the riots, take down Gaddafi and abandon the country to her destiny. So Libya was a "successful" regime-change, because the West managed to take down the leader they didn't want with ease. They obtained two objectives: one, they stopped Gaddafi from enacting his policies; two, by not securing the weapons' depots they ensured weapons would flow southward, foment terrorism there and thus they "had" to increase their military footprint in the Sahel area. These were their objectives - they didn't give a royal f*ck about the population. They cared so little that nine years later Libya is still engulfed in a civil war. And quite often regime-change wars just end with the instalment of a "transitional government" which inevitably just grows roots under the chair, and never leaves power and neither gives way to free and fair democratic elections (with the West's blessings).

To summarise, we can say that regime-change is BAD, because in primis, it goes against the UN Charter; and in a second instance, it is BAD, because it only brings misery, death, and destruction to the people of the countries we want to "democratise". You cannot force a country to change their government based on the economic interests of other countries in a peaceful manner, thus even more so you cannot just bomb to oblivion countries in order to force them to enact policies which benefit you. There is no such thing as a "war for democracy": wars are waged for political or economic reasons.


Syria, however, is a bit more complicated than Libya, because while Gaddafi was taken down relatively quickly, Bashir Al-Assad is more resistant; hence throwing some bombs wasn't enough, and the Western governments had to hire a bunch of companies who deal in the business of regime-change. What happened, in simple words: the West didn't like Assad, who was the legitimate leader of Syria. When some protests, as part of the Arab Spring, erupted, the West didn't let the crisis go to waste; they called for Assad to step down from power. Assad refused. The West then started fomenting the riots, arming and training "moderate" rebels (many of whom then became part of terrorist groups, possibly). Thus, terrorism grew in Syria. As a matter of fact, there were then a multitude of groups fighting, some against Assad, some against each other, some against Western forces. At some point, when terrorism started to become a serious problem, Russia was asked to help with taking down the terrorists, and so they did. With the cooperation of Russia, Assad managed to keep the situation in check; and he had won the war, but the West was not pleased with that; so they had to fabricate some proof, with the help of a now corrupt international organisation, to trigger some more bombings and foment some more violence. Syria is now completely destroyed, physically and economically.

OPCW ex-Chief Bustani expresses doubts about the organisation's impartiality and shadowy scientific practices. This statement was blocked at the UN Security Council by the United States and his allies, in between which Germany, France, Estonia (all EU members). He also mentions how he was told by US officials "We know where your children live". Not even the Italian mafia behaves like this anymore. No comment.

But let's get down to business. Literally. As for any standard contract with the Government, the UK Government opened a tender. That is, the government asked for bids (=proposals) for companies to participate in this regime-change operation.

Courtesy of Anonymous.

As you can see, the aim is clear; the UK government wants to foster a "political transition" by "empowering moderate armed opposition" = we want to get arms and training to the rebels so that they can overthrow the government and then we can put up whoever we want. So their idea, which to be honest sounds quite naive, is that, if we give some weapons and training to the armed "moderate" opposition (if I would go down the street brandishing a rifle and calling for the Government to step down, would they call me "moderate"?), they will manage to conquer some areas of Syria. We'll also give them some basic training in governance ("just don't kill the civilians, you twats!"), so that they'll possibly be able to demonstrate that they can govern, and we'll give the idea that the armed opposition is a valid alternative to the legitimate Government of Syria. This is like a disaster waiting to happen, isn't it? I mean haven't we learnt anything from Afghanistan?

At this point one is definitely asking - but wait, which kind of company would offer services like that?

Adam Smith International homepage, screenshot.

You see the irony here? A company which arms and train rebels in order to overthrow legitimate governments claims to work to make "societies more stable", and "economies stronger". Syria has been in a disastrous civil war for a decade, the economy is probably beyond repair. And about the whole "governments more effective" - yeah, arming and training rebels to fight against the government sounds exactly like "making the government more effective". This is a joke, seriously.

Let's see how do they present their operations in Syria.

Let's compare this with the bid they presented to HMQ's Foreign and Commonwealth Office:

Courtesy of Anonymous.

Yeah, sounds just about the same, doesn't it.

But the logic on how they are going to make Syria more secure and stable, we have to look at it, because this is beautiful. I couldn't even believe what I was reading. Let's see:

Courtesy of Anonymous.

So they have this "theory of change"; according to them, and to the European Governments who pay them, the better military competences and training they give to the rebels, the more the rebels will fight off the government, and the more communities will feel safer. Because I betcha civilians are feeling safer, when outside governments pop in to distribute weapons to everyone. Sounds totally logical. The Talibans they tell me, where enlightened leaders as well, or were they? They could for sure control areas efficiently, couldn't they?

Courtesy of Anonymous.

But worry not! They have a full blown model to ensure that the Rebels they train will be behaving like they want. In four weeks, the Heroes of Stability will transform a Syrian everyman into a perfectly functioning war-machine, but who also knows how to govern civilians in a respectful manner. In four weeks, we will teach them how to use weapons, we will provide the weapons and the logistic, and we will completely change their attitude.

Courtesy of Anonymous.

Like in a Summer language camp, we'll divide the rebels in different classes, based on their skills. You've never held an AK-47 in your hands? No problem! We'll teach you how to do it, just please don't shoot civilians (and don't run away with it!).

Courtesy of Anonymous.

The risks connected to the business are of course great. They are worried that "extremists" would start fighting them because of a (sic) perceived international political agenda. Can you imagine that there's someone who sat down and typed every single letter which makes up this absurd sentence? They are running a paramilitary operation on the behalf of foreign governments and they are afraid "extremists" would perceive an international political agenda? These extremists have many problems, but calling things with their names doesn't seem to be one of them, does it? What exactly is the legitimacy of this whole operation? A bunch of Western Governments decided that Assad wasn't the legitimate leader of Syria, notwithstanding the laws of the country say otherwise. They are elevating themselves as more competent in terms of Syrian law than the Syrian judiciary itself. But we are doing it in the name of Democracy! Yeah, like we sacked Constantinople in the name of Christianity!

Democracy is not the only legitimate form of government in existence, and we don't have any rights to go abroad and start wars because we want to impose our own form of government over foreign populations in complete disrespect of the principle of sovereignty of nations. The respect of human rights is not intrinsically related to the form of government one nation has. The United States is a democracy, yet they have the death penalty; (almost) no welfare for its citizens, education is not affordable for most, these latest elections were an absolute joke, and they've been having riots in their streets for months because they imprison and mistreat their non-white citizens in a disproportionated manner. If anything like what has been happening in the US in these past months would happen in a place like Iran or any African country we'd be screaming for our troops to get in there and fix it. Yet, because they're a democracy, they're allowed to mistreat their citizens, apparently. Isn't the logic here a bit flawed?

So the point is not as much to start wars to change other countries' form of government, the point is how to deal with them in such a way, that they'd be nicer to their population. The wellbeing of the population should come first, changing the government should not even be in the list of priorities; because the point here is not wether we like Assad's governmental style or not, the point is that we cannot create and foster a civil war and act like we're doing it "for the population". Because the main concern of the population is stability (= cessation of combat), and it is not by training and arming full-fledged paramilitary units specifically to fight against the government which we will bring stability. This is a completely wrong way to deal with international crises, if one cares about the civilian population. What would be a way to deal with a situation such as the Syrian one? At its inception, it should have been stopped straight away, not fomented. You create straight away demilitarised zones were the civilians can come in and be safe, then you massively disarm everyone. You just take away all of the weapons you can get your hands on. While you take away the weapons, you try to convince the protesters and the current leader to hold political talks. If they don't want to, you try and try, and you engage all of the interested stakeholders you can find to convince all the parties to sit at the same table and have a discussion.

And more than this; while the extremists didn't for sure like Assad, neither they liked the foreign forces; and as matter of fact, it is reasonable to assume that more Syrians could have decided to take up arms against the foreigners; as while even if people didn't like Assad they at least probably recognised that he was, as a matter of fact, one of them; while foreign forces running an entire paramilitary operation from abroad is a whole different matter. It was a nasty ruler vs a foreign trained and supported militias. So it is programs like this which fostered "terrorism" didn't they. And how many weapons went from the "moderate rebels" hands into the "extremist" hands? How many "moderate rebels" took the training and ran? How many MAO groups abandoned the program and joined forces with extremist groups like Al-Nusra? You see, that our own governments are what made ISIS strong and stronger? You see that if we get terror attacks in Europe, it is because of how we try to fuck over their countries?

Do you see now, or are you really this blind?

And then of course there is another layer of hypocrisy; think of how the West describes the minorities of Donetsk and Luhansk; as violent rebels who are trying to destroy the peace, while they only want to see an international agreement respected in order to be able to live in peace in their land; and all the while the West is running a whole paramilitary operation to overthrow the Government of Syria. Are the "violent rebels" in D&L trying to take over the government of Ukraine? They are not. And neither wanted the Crimeans. And throughout the whole ordeal the citizens of Russia and Crimea knew exactly what was happening at any given time, while our "transparent" democratic governments are just lying to us all the time. And then when the hackers let us know what they are actually doing, they complain about the hackers, and torture journalists. EH.

Courtesy of Anonymous.

And then, finally, the cherry on top: focus on values and gender equality. What values, when the whole operation is about fostering and keeping a bloody war going? "Hei we're going to ravage your country and shell your house, but if we can avoid it, you won't be raped". Ah well, now this is a true humanitarian war, isn't it. And when the whole country is basically in bankruptcy, and the State's main revenue sources are controlled by the United States ("we've got the oil!") then how are you going to ensure women's economic security? You destroyed their country; annihilated their economy and you dare talk about giving them economic security? Again, imagine that there is someone whose job includes sitting at a desk and actually writing down this garbage. I would pity them, if I wouldn't despise them already.

Courtesy of Anonymous.

This I've been adding because the rhetoric is interesting. This AJACS is one of the "humanitarian" associations like the White Helmets, who work in cooperation with the warmongers. It's a whole operation; there is the paramilitary units, the humanitarian associations and the propaganda corporations cooperating together in order to take overthrow a government. Here is interesting because this Adam Smith International presents Afghanistan and Syria as success stories. Afghanistan, a war which has been ravaging the country for twenty years, and Syria, the bloodiest civil war we've seen for a long time. Wow, what a record, amazing.

And what is even worst, this is how they describe the Syrian civil war:

Since March 2011, the Syrian conflict has transformed from a series of non-violent anti-government protests to a brutal and complex civil war that has witnessed 11.5% of the Syrian population killed or injured, with an estimated 11 million people having fled their homes (of whom approximately 4.8 million are refugees and 6.6 million are internally displaced). Within the last three years, the Syrian conflict has evolved to become a global epicentre of jihadist militancy, witnessing a wide array of local and international extremist groups attempting to capitalise on the political and military incoherence of the Syrian opposition and manipulate the shifting dynamics of the conflict for their own benefit.

So, those who literally kept the war going, decry the war as a bad thing. "Civil War" is a war where two or more internal factions fight against each other. Now, this company itself was the one organising one of the factions (the armed opposition to the government). So the company which was causing the Syrian civil war to continue, by arming and training one of the factions to fight against the Government (instead of eliminating the terrorists, like Russia and Iran were helping Syria doing) says that the war has caused grief and despair to the local population. AH BE'!

But there is more in this sentence, did you notice?

witnessing a wide array of local and international extremist groups attempting to capitalise on the political and military incoherence of the Syrian opposition and manipulate the shifting dynamics of the conflict for their own benefit.

But, but, but, weren't you the ones who had a whole plan on how you were going to change the attitude of the "moderate" rebels? How you were going to connect all of the MAO groups in a well functioning, coordinated network? How you were going to show the local population how the MAOs were a proper alternative to Assad's government? Are you telling me you spent millions in public money, you distributed equipment, weapons and you offered logistical support to the armed opposition for years and you still failed? OHLALA'!

So what did they do there? They just gave weapons to everyone, destroyed Syria fully, fomented the civil war and terrorism, and they didn't even manage to deliver anything to their clients. Because Assad is still in power isn't he? Hurray for Democracy!!

And there are signals that indeed, this whole operation failed miserably; because a few European governments reopened a diplomatic channel with Damascus. They wouldn't have been able to do it if these countries would really still be thinking of overthrowing the Assad government.

Thanks to the data provided by Anonymous, I was able to summarise all of the business activities concerning regime-change in a simple Business Model Canvas form:

Business Model Canvas, outlining all of the business activities connected with the overthrowing of a foreign government without starting an overt war.

And so we come back to Europe is Under Attack. It is not. Europe is suffering the consequences of the attacks she herself has waged on the world. Our own leaders shouldn't be allowed to carry on these attacks, and these operations, to satisfy their own hunger for power and to help the regime-change businesses and weapons' dealers to thrive.

And then, then there is the double-standard. While I do not, obviously, cheer over the loss of life of those who perish in terrorist attacks, I cannot help but noticing, that the deaths of these Europeans are decried as a tragedy, while the deaths of those who perish under our bombs are just "collaterals" to Just Wars, which are really not that Just. The pope, in his encyclical, wrote:

25. War, terrorist attacks, racial or religious persecution, and many other affronts to human dignity are judged differently, depending on how convenient it proves for certain, primarily economic, interests. What is true as long as it is convenient for someone in power stops being true once it becomes inconvenient. These situations of violence, sad to say, “have become so common as to constitute a real ‘third world war’ fought piecemeal”.

and I think he really hit the nail on the head here, didn't he?


Well, there are two different levels here. First, freedom of speech. Now if we decide that Europe has to choose freedom of speech as one of our core values, so be it - but then freedom of speech needs to apply to everything, including what gets nowadays censored as "hate speech" (and then why exactly isn't this cartoon classified as "hate speech", I don't get it). Of course until we don't openly fight for Julian Assange our claim cannot be considered truthful at all. Otherwise, we can choose that we keep on torturing Assange and censoring "hate speech" but then we don't go around saying that freedom of speech is one of the European core values. Perhaps somehow we all need to realise that my freedom of speech ends, where the freedom of practicing a religion of others start. Let's just try to be decent humans, ok?

The second level concerns Certain Countries putting millions into keeping a civil war going until they can manage to get their chosen leader into power. This needs to stop. Not only because it is cruel and horrendous, and against any ethical or moral value in existence, but because it is also wildly illegal and against many of the basic principles for good cooperation in between nations enshrined in the UN Charter. Moreover, the Syria war has destabilised Southern Europe as well through uncontrolled migration fluxes (I mean there would be a refugee route going through the North, but Finland is working with NATO in order to keep those Russian assets out, so). And more than this; besides the uncontrolled migration fluxes, if we keep that area in a status of constant war we're preventing their direct development, but also the development of the countries all around them. It'd be way more convenient for Europe to see that area stable, and kickstart connectivity projects, like roads, energy connectivity and trade development (the tourism sector could right now use a boost as well, and tourism in the medium term can easily be managed by the locals and help SMEs development, but only if Western countries stop fostering the war). And of course then the question of the diktat of the German control and dominance over Europe should be put into question, once again - a country which puts war over the stable development of our neighbouring areas, uncaring of the negative effects it is going to have on the Southern part of Europe, is not a good leader for Europe, in my opinion.

The third level goes yet again, back to an independent European defence policy, because while we can argue over the root causes of terrorism, terrorism still happens, and we need to prevent that on a defence policy level. If instead of putting so many millions (billions?) in fighting the Soviet Union, we would put some of that money into creating a common mechanism for preventing terrorist attacks, now that would be a useful project to spend our defence budget on. How come NATO has not thought of it yet? Ah, right, because preventing terrorist attacks in Europe is not in the Superintendent's interest, isn't it. Well, I say it should be in our interest, what do you say?



Everyone keeps on telling how hackers are bad, nasty people, and while I have no doubts that some hackers are nasty and mean, many other hackers seem to have a higher ethical and moral standard than most journalists. Just saying.


It was brought to my attention that Macron himself complained about the media trying to examine the root causes of terrorism in France;

“So when I see, in that context, several newspapers which I believe are from countries that share our values — journalists who write in a country that is the heir to the Enlightenment and the French Revolution — when I see them legitimizing this violence, and saying that the heart of the problem is that France is racist and Islamophobic, then I say the founding principles have been lost.”

Macron, let's not reduce the discussion to "aria fritta" fried air, as we say in Italian. I mean you say that these attacks have got nothing to do with France's own internal issues, yet 250 people have died in France from terrorist attacks since 2015. Italy is one of the main transit hubs for refugees / migrants; and how many deaths from Islamist terrorist attacks have they had? ZERO. They have problems with anarchists sending around bomb-packages, imagine that. There are two possible reasons for that: either the Italian secret services are substantially better than the French ones, or the infra-religious tensions in Italian society are not as bad as in France. Which one is it, Emmanuel? Because there are hints that it is the latter rather than the former. You talk about l'illuminisme, the enlightenment, but you behave like Louis XVI. I mean insulting Mohammad is ok, but showing French police brutalising French citizens is forbidden? OK, I guess.

In a second instance, Macron is hereby conflating terrorism with the religion of Islam; as this is a very superficial analysis of the phenomenon. "Islamism" is not a religious phenomenon, it is a political one; extremists leaders leverage the intrinsic power of religion to foment and amplify the discontent Middle Eastern / North African populations have towards aggressive Western policies, like indiscriminate bombings and "humanitarian" wars - the pawns who actually strip bombs to their chest or get into crowded places with a rifle are swayed by leaders with a clear political objective. The terrorist attacks are the physical manifestation of the issue, but they are not the core of the issue. Which doesn't mean that the action they commit (the terrorist attack) is good; because it is undeniably bad; but if we want to prevent other attacks from happening then pointing the finger against the pawns is not enough. We need to address the structural damage which is at the root cause of terrorist attacks happening - Europe's warmongering foreign policy. The pawns shooting or knifing up people in European streets are no more culpable than the European governments who pay Western corporations millions upon millions to arm and train fighters in Syria, Afghanistan and wherever else they're doing it.

In a sense Macron is behaving like the villagers in Salem who burnt the witches because they didn't understand what was really going on - they didn't know that phytotherapy was a thing, they saw a phenomena they didn't get, they were scared by the manifestation of it, and the leaders leveraged the people's fear in order to lead them towards mass-murder.

And in fact, Macron then argues:

In particular, he argued that the foreign media failed to understand “laïcité,” which translates as “secularism” — an active separation of church and state dating back to the early 20th century, when the state wrested control of the school system from the Catholic Church.

Nonono, Macron, je comprends le concept du laïcité; mais au même temps, je crois que tu es en train d'utiliser la laïcité comme l'église a utilisé pendant longtemps le concept du "christianisme" dans l'histoire Européenne - pour convaincre la population que nous devons commencer une croisade. Marianne, s'il te plaît, il n'y a pas besoin de plus des guerres dans ce monde.

If we see this whole ordeal in relation to the current German - Franco power struggle for leadership, in fact, it would seem to be obvious that while Germany is trying to lead us towards WWII-reboot, France is instead going towards the Crusades 2.0. They're both leveraging a threat from imaginary enemies to establish themselves as the leaders of Europe. EH.

We would just need to hope that eventually some leader who says that we're united to make Europe Remarkable, rather than saying that we're united to fight some imaginary enemy would come around, but as I mentioned already, every Italian who tried to do that was killed by either the Americans or by the other "great leaders" of subjugated Europe (or was accused of being a "KGB agent"). E allora siamo fritti, ale'!

Very last note: you can access the NYT's articles for free from their .onion site. You're welcome.