Is This Our World War?

We were supposed to go to Paris for our 25th wedding anniversary last summer but didn’t for a variety of reasons. Now I wonder if when we finally do go to Paris what will have changed in light of  last night’s terrorist attacks. Will there still be outdoor cafes or will they be deemed easy targets for suicide bombers? Will armed soldiers and metal detectors be the norm? Will “wary” replace “surly impatience” when locals encounter tourists butchering their language?

As much as we all mourn the loss of life in Paris, we must also regret the loss of that French joie de vivre.

President Hollande is right. France is at war. Someone during last night’s marathon coverage talked about this being our generation’s world war. Just as our parents (or grandparents as the case may be) fought Hitler, our generation and the next one and probably the next one too, will be fighting Islamic terrorists recruited online and sitting stewing in the safety of their parents’ basements in suburban London or Munich or Paris or Toronto.

There are a number of problems with this type of war. There are no definitive borders.There is no battlefield. No frontline. The violence can erupt anywhere at anytime. There are no nations to sanction; no leaders to target thus decapitating the movement.

These types of war have no real beginning. Was the attack on US embassies in Africa the start or the first attack on the World Trade Center? There will be no real end–no V-E Day, no Armistice.  Just a slowing and then a sessation of violence giving the world a chance to take a deep breath, to mourn and then to brace for the next, new enemy.

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