Paul Krugman (AP/Heribert Proepper)

Paul Krugman: No, the Paris attacks were not an attempt to destroy Western civilization

Remarks by GOP candidates "just help the jihadists' cause"

Scott Eric Kaufman
November 16, 2015 5:22PM (UTC)

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote that like most everybody else, he spent the weekend "obsessively following the news from Paris" -- but that unlike the current crop of Republican candidates, he wasn't about to concede to ISIS the very rhetorical and political goals it sought to achieve.

He noted in particular Jeb Bush's statement that Friday's coordinated attacks were "an organized attempt to destroy Western civilization," arguing that they were merely "an organized attempt to sow panic...and remarks like [Bush's] blur that distinction and make terrorists seem more powerful than they" -- which is precisely the reason they were carried out.


Killing random people in restaurants and at concerts is a strategy that reflects its perpetrators’ fundamental weakness. It isn’t going to establish a caliphate in Paris. What it can do, however, is inspire fear — which is why we call it terrorism, and shouldn’t dignify it with the name of war.

The point is not to minimize the horror. It is, instead, to emphasize that the biggest danger terrorism poses to our society comes not from the direct harm inflicted, but from the wrong-headed responses it can inspire. And it’s crucial to realize that there are multiple ways the response can go wrong...

Read the entire column at the New York Times...

Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at

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Gop Candidates Jeb Bush Paris Attacks Paul Krugman

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