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Glen Ford and Paul Jay discuss the march against terrorism in Paris and the participation of leaders of countries who have committed and encouraged various forms of terrorism and war crimes

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PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay. In Paris on Sunday, more than a million people hit the streets saying je suis Charlie Hebdo. Across the country, apparently almost 4 million people marched in the streets, they said, expressing their solidarity with the 17 people killed in terrorist attacks in Paris. Joining them in the march were the leaders of various countries. It included Benjamin Netanyahu from Israel that has been accused by many of committing war crimes against the people of Gaza and an illegal occupation of Palestine; Turkey, which is helping to facilitate the destruction of Syria; Britain, that helped the United States destroy Iraq; and, of course, the ambassador from the United States, the country that waged an illegal war that helped give rise to ISIS and Islamic extremism; and, of course, the United States for decades going back to the assistance or facilitation of the rise of Hitler, and then many dictators since, that has been allying with religious extremism and fanaticism as a foreign-policy strategy. Now joining us is Glen Ford. Glen is the executive editor of Thanks for joining us, Glen. GLEN FORD, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, BLACK AGENDA REPORT: Thank you for having us. JAY: So this attack was monstrous, but these are little monsters that committed this attack. The big monsters that helped create the conditions for the rise of these little monsters were out there protesting in the name of free speech. I don’t usually do so much editorializing before I ask a question, but this whole thing kind of got me angry enough that I didn’t see any other way to ask the question. What’s your take? FORD: Well, you did right by getting angry, and you only began to speak of the villany that is France and the irony, to say the least, of this being a country that says it is in–that it is staging these demonstrations and up in arms and outraged because of an assault on French values. What are French values? France is a colonial power that enslaved much of Africa and all of Southeast Asia and much of the Caribbean and collaborated with United States in 2004 to, again, steal the sovereignty of Haiti. It’s a country that overthrows governments at will in sub-Saharan Africa and is deeply involved in its former colonial property in Syria and is complicit in the deaths of hundreds of thousands there. So, yes, there are big villainies and smaller villainies, and France is one of the big villains. JAY: And let’s not forget France’s leading role in the destruction of Libya. I know it’s something that you’ve written quite a bit about. FORD: That’s right, France did take the lead, at least rhetorically, in arming the Islamist jihadists in Libya. And then, after they and the rest of–much of the rest of NATO–and, of course, the United States was successful in bringing down and killing Muammar Qaddafi, it transferred those jihadists and their weapons to Syria, and the process begins anew, leading to the creation of the Islamic State. But in terms of domestic policy, France tried to hold on to Algeria until the late ’50s, resulting in the death of a million Algerians. We know that the ancestral roots of the gunmen, Charlie Hebdo, were in Algeria. These things come–these chickens come back to roost in France, as they do in the United States. And what we’re looking at here is not an assault on so-called French values; we’re looking at blowback. JAY: It’s no question what the attack on the newspaper, the attack in the deli, and so on, they are monstrous terrorist attacks. And there’s no, like, making excuses for it or somehow justifying it; they’re straightforward monstrous terrorist attacks. But France and the United States, and many of the other countries that are marching in these protests, fall all over each other to arm Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, who constantly use monstrous tactics to stamp down dissent, including beheading people and so on. The whole creation of ISIS we know clearly comes from the destruction of Syria and Iraq. So not to put this into perspective, not put this into context, it’s past naive, and the millions of people in France who are marching and legitimately outraged at what is–yeah, it’s an offensive attack. I mean, is this really a use of free speech to have such ridicule against people’s religious sentiments? It’s a pretty rotten or lousy use of free speech, I would say. On the other hand, the way to deal with that is not by shooting people. But who gives rise to the conditions for such violence? And then people in France should be aware that the kind of forces France is arming throughout the Middle East are doing this to people every day, and no one’s out there marching in Paris because of that. FORD: The spread of Islamic jihad in the world owes as much to France and Britain and the United States as the spread of Christianity owed to Rome. And as one writer said, when you spit on the soul of a people, well, what kind of a response do you expect? Certainly not a polite one. JAY: I’d spent time in Afghanistan. I made a film there in 2002. And the deliberateness to which–with which U.S. policy–and it’s well-documented now–in fact, Zbigniew Brezinski still brags about it–the deliberateness [with] which U.S. policy armed rural tribal leaders, turned them into warlords, gave the modern weapons, allowed them to impose the most backward values on Afghanistan, something that Afghanistan did not assimilate easy. In fact, most of the al-Qaeda activity came via the Pakistani Secret Service, the ISI, funded by the Saudis, none of this indigenous to Afghanistan, a deliberate foreign-policy objective of creating the conditions for the rise of jihadist. Because why? ‘Cause they could point them against the Soviet Union. This goes on and on. There’s example after example, especially of U.S. foreign policy and the French colluding with it, to use extremism, terrorist tactics, by proxy, to achieve foreign-policy ends. And it’s past, again, naive. FORD: Well, the world is of course appalled by the beheadings carried out by the Islamic State, also should be appalled by the beheadings carried out by the state in Saudi Arabia. But the world should also remember that those same mujahedin or jihadists that were armed by the United States and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in Afghanistan were sent out to cut off the heads of young students who a leftist government in Afghanistan in the late ’70s and early ’80s had sent into the rural hinterland of the country to carry out land reform and to set up schools for girls. Those young students were beheaded by the hundreds and the thousands by these mujahedin armed and financed by the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. So these are sins with a signature, and that signature goes back to the United States and Paris and London. JAY: The alliance with the Islamic fanaticism goes right back to 1945, when President Roosevelt makes a deal with Ibn Saud–security for oil, which essentially was a deal to actually promote and support the spread of Wahabbism, to oppose Nasserism and nationalism and socialism. Eisenhower actually came out and said it, that the Saudis, in their defense of Mecca, could be used against Nasser and the rise of any kind of nationalism where people might actually say the oil belongs to the people, not to a handful of American collaborators. But the alliance with religious fanaticism even goes to Latin America. The United States supported the various dictators in Latin America whose ideology was Christian fanaticism, a virulent right-wing Catholicism that led to the disappearances of many, including the most horrendous acts of terror–for example, taking activists up in airplanes and throwing them into the jungle to their death. American foreign policy is steeped in alliances with fanaticism. FORD: Yes, and one could look at U.S. manifest destiny, which until my lifetime was tied intimately and articulated as being backed by divine right and divine will as a kind of religious fanaticism in the service of imperialism. JAY: Just finally, I don’t quite get what happened with Benjamin Netanyahu. I thought he was asked not to come, and then all of a sudden he’s in the front row with all the presidents. FORD: Yes, and Obama’s facing lots of criticism for not having sent a higher-level delegation than he did. JAY: But Netanyahu, the fact that that many people march and don’t boo the hell out of Netanyahu is a terrible hypocrisy. Whatever those terrorists did–and, again, they’re monstrous terrorist attacks–they pale in comparison to the state terrorism Netanyahu has rained down on Palestinians. FORD: As–and I think one should talk a bit about the domestic scene in France today regarding its citizens of Arab descent. In France, where in 1962 police massacred at least 200 Arabs on the streets of Paris, today in France, French people of Arab descent are more likely than the French people of sub-Saharan African descent to be stopped on the streets by police. And, of course, Arab and Muslim populations are basically consigned to the outskirts of most of the cities. In the second-largest city in France, in Marseille, that’s a city with a large Muslim population, possibly as much as 35 percent, white French people have been leaving in droves. And it reminds me of white flight from U.S. cities in the ’50s and the ’60s. There are many parallels that are easily seen in France to U.S. racism. It’s a recognizable place. JAY: Alright. Thanks for joining us, Glen. FORD: Thank you. JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.


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Glen Ford is a distinguished radio-show host and commentator. In 1977, Ford co-launched, produced and hosted America's Black Forum, the first nationally syndicated Black news interview program on commercial television. In 1987, Ford launched Rap It Up, the first nationally syndicated Hip Hop music show, broadcast on 65 radio stations. Ford co-founded the Black Commentator in 2002 and in 2006 he launched the Black Agenda Report. Ford is also the author of The Big Lie: An Analysis of U.S. Media Coverage of the Grenada Invasion.