This week in terrorism history: Nov. 13-19

French fire brigade members tend to victims of the terrorist attack on the Bataclan theater in Paris, Nov. 13, 2015.
French fire brigade members tend to survivors of the terrorist attack on the Bataclan theater in Paris, Nov. 13, 2015. Nearly 100 were killed.


It is impossible to know right now what the election of Donald Trump to the White House will mean for US terrorism policy, but one thing is already certain. His victory at the polls has been hailed by al Qaeda propagandists as a blow to Western democracy and a step on the road to America’s ruin.

The Lebanese news site Now Media rounded up some of those reactions here. ISIS-affiliated jihadis also applauded the last week’s presidential election:

Islamic State jihadis have hailed the victory of Donald Trump while claiming the billionaire “fool” will ruin America himself allowing terror groups to take control of the country.

The Republican was branded a “donkey” by militants who warned his election is “an indication of the end of the American empire”.

 “It is either them or us. We ask Allah to make their destruction caused by their own plans and their death come among themselves.”The world is going to experience a change and this change will put Islam in the leadership position as the end result.”

One ISIS jihadi said: “What we want is their country be delivered to a donkey like Trump who will destroy it.

“In the end, they are all our enemies and we will only meet them on the battlefields.

Now on to this today’s look back at the week in terrorism history.

  • Nov. 13, 2005 — France: A series of attacks in and around Paris, most prominently at the Bataclan theater, kill 129 and injure more than 400. ISIS claims responsibility.
  • Nov. 14, 1991 — United Kingdom: The Ulster Volunteer Force kills two Catholics and a Protestant in an attack near Lurgan, County Armagh, Northern Ireland, as the three were returning home from work. The UVF later apologized for killing the Protestant.
  • Nov. 15, 1983 — Greece: A US Navy officer is killed in Athens by the 17 November organization.
  • Nov. 16, 1970 — United Kingdom: The Irish Republican Army kills two men in Northern Ireland, accusing them of involvement in “anti-social” behavior. This was the first time the IRA killed anyone alleged to have been involved in criminality.
  • Nov. 17, 1997 — Egypt: Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya attack at the Temple of Hatsheput in Luxor kills 71, mostly foreign tourists.
  • Nov. 18, 2000 — Philippines: Car bomb explodes in Carmen, killing one and wounding two; grenade attack wounds three more in Isulan. Moro Islamic Liberation Front is suspected of responsibility.
  • Nov. 19, 1995 — Pakistan: Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad is bombed by Egyptian Islamic Jihad.

“They were vicious … That shows you the power of strength”

Chinese soldiers fire on student protesters in Tiananmen Square, June 3, 1989.
Chinese soldiers fire on student protesters in Tiananmen Square, June 3, 1989.


As anti-Trump protests continued for second night in cities across the country, we should recall the president-elect’s past praise for the Tiananmen Square massacre in when the Chinese government slaughtered hundreds of student pro-democracy demonstrators on the night of June 3-4, 1989.

In a 1990 interview with Playboy, Trump was asked about his impressions of the Soviet Union after an unsuccessful trip to Moscow to try to make a hotel deal:

I was very unimpressed. Their system is a disaster. What you will see there soon is a revolution; The signs are all there with the demonstrations and picketing. Russia is out of control and the leadership knows it. That’s my problem with Gorbachev. Not a firm enough hand.

The interviewer pressed him: “You mean firm hand as in China?”

When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength.

In one of the early Republican debates all the way back in March, Trump defended his Playboy comments:

I was not endorsing it,” Mr. Trump said. “I said that is a strong, powerful government that put it down with strength. And then they kept down the riot.

As the New York Times pointed out the next day, Trump’s use of the word “riot” to describe the pro-democracy protests was exactly the same characterization the Chinese government used in justifying their use of lethal force to quell the demonstrations.

After January we will get to see how a Trump presidency will respond to peaceful opposition to his policies and resistance to the forces of hate and bigotry his election has unleashed.

The paranoid, self-pitying, and defensive reaction he posted to Twitter last night does not inspire confidence.

Annals of white privilege


Here’s a new entry:

McAndrew, who voted for Obama in the two previous races, was intrigued by Trump, but decided eventually that “all he does is insult everybody … women, black people, white people, rich, poor. He’s an idiot.” He considered Clinton, but was concerned by the scandal over her handling of classified material on a private email server as secretary of state.

“I hated both of them, so I just said, ‘the hell with it,’” McAndrew said. His wife, also a life-long Democrat, went to the polls without him – and voted Republican.

“First time ever,” he said.

Meanwhile, over on Twitter, Shaun King, a reporter with the New York Daily News, has been collecting first-hand reports from people of color and other vulnerable members of society of life under the new regime. Things like this:

King’s timeline, only one day into the new reality of an America where people feel liberated from “political correctness” and empowered to harass, threaten, and abuse is sobering and heartbreaking.

Back in August of 2015 I tried to illustrate what white privilege means. My original list appears below.

But now add to that list the privilege of being able to stay home from the polls when you won’t be the one to suffer the worst consequences of that choice.

White privilege is …

That’s white privilege.


What comes next?

dayaftercoverThe voters have spoken and Donald Trump will be the 45th president of the United States.

I spent a fair amount of my day today reading the reaction of friends and colleagues around the country and across the globe.  Let me encourage you to read what two of them had to say.

Bill Ayres (the scholar not the ex-terrorist) offers a considered look at all the ways that people like me were wrong in how we understood Trump, the race, the electorate,  the very state of America. When I wrote on social media last night that we are not yet the country that I had hoped we were, that’s in part what I meant.

Steve Saideman offers a first take on the ramifications of a Trump presidency for international relations, and it’s worth reading. I have my own thoughts on the matter as well, some of which I’ll touch on below, others that I’m still chewing over.

I spent more time today reading and responding to the fears and disappointment of current and former students. I repeated to many of them part of what I said in a text I sent just before midnight last night to my own kids, students away at university on a mountaintop in rural Tennessee:

I’m sorry for how this looks right now. Even if HRC wins, your elders failed you. We failed you. Making this country a better place is going to be up to you. I believe in you and your goodness, decency, and humanity. You can lose faith or you can dig in and work to make this a better place. Never discount the power of small steps. Never lose faith in yourself, in others, especially those you disagree with.

I checked in with them this afternoon to see how they’re doing the day after. Got this text from my son in response: “Yeah I’m good.” And then …

Saw a big dirty pick up truck parked prominently on campus with two big flags flying off the back – the American flag and a rainbow flag.

That gives me hope. And yet there’s more than enough still to come that has me on edge.

True, the wounds in our common life as Americans have rarely been laid as bare or have felt as raw to me as they do right now. But there’s more to it than that.

For all the damage that Trumpism has already done, and can still do at home, the harm won’t necessarily stay confined to our own shores. Donald Trump is going to have charge of American foreign policy. As a professor of international relations that truly frightens me.

In August I gave you an updated list of the foreign policy pledges and promises that Trump had made while on the campaign. Here it is again, updated further.

  • Authorize torture against terrorism suspects to extract information, whether it works or not.
  • Use torture against terrorism suspects in order exact vengeance.
  • Order the US military to commit war crimes, including killing the families of suspected terrorists.
  • Replace military commanders who balk at illegal orders.
  • Abandon longstanding alliances, like NATO.
  • Abandon longstanding allies to the tender mercies of predatory neighbors.
  • Walk away from defense commitments to South Korea and Japan even if that means they develop nuclear weapons of their own.
  • Tear up the multilateral agreement that led to Iran’s abandonment of its nuclear weapons program.
  • Unilaterally abrogate longstanding free trade agreements, specifically NAFTA.
  • Wage trade wars against China and other countries he deems guilty of engaging in unfair trade practices.
  • Withdraw from the World Trade Organization if it does not bend to American will.
  • Cancel America’s commitment to take meaningful steps to combat climate change under the terms of the historic international Paris climate agreement.
  • Close America’s border with Mexico and confiscate remittances from Mexican workers in the US in order to fund the building of the border wall.
  • Bar Muslim immigrants and refugees from US soil.
  • Bar immigration or the admittance of refugees to the United States from countries or regions plagued by terrorism.
  • Introduce an ideological litmus test for immigrants and their American-born children.
  • Try American citizens accused of terrorism before military tribunals.

How many of these will a President Trump do? How many will he try to do?

I literally have no idea. That’s what scares me.