The Lamps are Going Out: Paris & the End of the Illusion of Peace


Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

It is barely a day and a half after the massacre committed by Islamic terrorists in Paris, and the shock is still being felt around the world. In watching the images and listening to the words of various leaders I feel that something has changed; that the illusion of peace that we have lived under, has been shattered.


In two weeks the self-proclaimed Islamic State has claimed credit for the downing of a Russian airliner over the Sinai Peninsula, an attack in Beirut Lebanon, and, on Friday night the horrific series of attacks in Paris. The combined death toll for the three attacks is close to 400, almost all of who were innocent civilians doing nothing more than going about their daily lives. Hundreds more were wounded in Beirut and Paris. ISIL has promised to conduct more attacks on all nations that oppose them in Syria and Iraq. The attacks have awakened people to the fact that ISIL is not just a threat to the Middle East, but around the world.

Some are now calling this war, and in fact it is, a war that most of us have ignored though it has been going on for over two decades. But in just two weeks, the hybrid terrorist state known as ISIL has changed the course of that war. The war as we know it began in the years after the First Gulf War as young Saudis returning from Afghanistan, led by Osama Bin Laden took up arms against the “infidel” Americans based in Saudi Arabia. In the 1990s the terrorism was confined to Al Qaeda attacks throughout the Middle East, and included attacks on American military personnel, installations, and ships. Then on September 11th 2001 Al Qaeda changed the narrative by attacking the United States, killing nearly 3000 people at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and aboard four airliners. The United States responded by going after Al Qaeda and its supporters in Afghanistan.

Had the American response been contained to that action, the war might have taken a different course, and we might not be here today. But within months of 9-11 the Bush Administration began planning to attack Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and propagandizing the American people to support it, with or without allied or United Nations sanction. The operation to topple Saddam opened Pandora’s box, and who knows when we will ever live in peace again. Twelve years after President Bush announced the end operations in Iraq aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln with a banner that boldly proclaimed, “Mission Accomplished” behind him, the war that he unleashed in Iraq has spread in ways that even the most pessimistic critics of Bush did not predict.

With the war now entering an even more troubling and dangerous phase we should remind ourselves of the words of Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events…. Always remember, however sure you are that you could easily win, that there would not be a war if the other man did not think he also had a chance.”

As I observe events on I am reminded of Barbara Tuchman’s description of Sir Edward Gray on the eve of the First World War, “Watching with his failing eyes, the lamps being lit in St. James Park, Grey was heard to remark that “the lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them again in our lifetime.”

Sadly, I do believe that the last lamps of peace are going out around the world in the fight against the Islamic State. I have no idea when, how, or even if this conflict will end.

Praying for peace,

Padre Steve+


Filed under Foreign Policy, History, iraq,afghanistan, middle east, News and current events, Political Commentary, terrorism

7 responses to “The Lamps are Going Out: Paris & the End of the Illusion of Peace

  1. William Armstrong

    I am unsubscribing from your musings. You blamed President Bush for the attacks and say it was the invasion of Iraq that precipitated them.

    You like so many other lemmings fail to recognize the FACTS that Saddam Hussein was one of the leading financial and training providers for those groups, and all of the attackers prior to 9/11 were spearheaded by people trained in Husseins schools and facilities. He was not a member of Al Queda, but he was hand in glove for anything they did.

    The real precipitate for these attacks is our RETREAT from Iraq, leaving the field wide open for them to operate outside of that area.

    But as a progressive moderate, I am sure you believe that they can still be reasoned with. Maybe if we offer them Bush’s head on a platter, they will turn nice. (sarc)

    But your words are not something I choose to listen to anymore.

    William Armstrong

    • padresteve

      Go ahead, hurt me. If you have actually paid any attention you would see that I take a long time historical approach. The fact is that Bush and company are guilty of the same war crimes that we charged the Nazis with at Nuremberg. Their misbegotten decision to invade Iraq is why we are dealing with this now. Obama followed Bush’s deal to leave Iraq when we did, and the Shia thugs of Maliki regime who were put in place by Bush refused a Status of Forces agreement to protect and troops who stayed and wanted us out. Sorry that you cannot handle the truth. So run away, it is your loss. Unsubscribe away and piss on the memory of 4500 dead and over 40000 wounded whose blood is on Bush’s hands.

    • Mr. Armstrong’s view is not correct as a matter of historical fact; there is no evidence for any connection between Saddam’s regime and Al Qaeda (whose name he manages to misspell). In any event that’s beside the point. Thanks Steve for these thoughts.

      • padresteve

        I know Sean, I looked him up on Google seems that he is a RW nut job who posts to Free Republic a lot. So many people like him drink that cool aid

  2. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Padre Steve, a religious man as well as a military veteran, has some thoughts on the Paris tragedy and its relationship to the wars that we’ve been involved in with Middle Eastern countries recently. This sobering view incorporates the prophetic words of Edward Grey as the First World War was beginning. I hope this vision doesn’t come to pass, but in our unsettled times now, who knows. Thanks Padre for these words.

  3. Your long view and thoughtful ‘musings’ are very much appreciated by many of us who read you (even those of us who do not to often comment).

    Though I am not of faith, I would do nearly anything at this point for peace; even pray.

  4. Pingback: The Rearview Mirror of 2015: Religion, Politics, and Terrorism | Padre Steve's World...Musings of a Passionately Progressive Moderate

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