The French state responded to the horrific killings in Nice last week with more of the war and repression that had already failed to prevent the attack.
Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel ploughed a lorry into crowds celebrating France’s national day on Thursday night of last week. He killed more than 80 people including at least ten children, and injured over 100 more.
Hours before, president Francois Hollande had announced that France’s state of emergency declared after the attacks last November was finally set to be lifted.
But in the aftermath of the attack he announced that it would be extended—again—for another three months.
The state of emergency was used to repress protests against Hollande’s attack on workers’ rights. But it didn’t stop mass murder.
The city of Nice actually has even tighter “security” than the rest of France.
The regional president Christian Estrosi boasted in January 2015 after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, “If Paris had been equipped with the same network as us,” the attackers “wouldn’t have gone three blocks without being neutralised”.
Those boasts ring bitterly hollow now.
Racists and supporters of the fascist Front National disrupted a memorial ceremony on Monday.
Hollande’s speech after the attack referred to “Islamist terrorism”, and that has been the recurring theme since.
Isis did claim credit for the attack two days later.
But there is very little to suggest that “radicalisation” by Islamist groups or ideology had much of a role in Lahouaiej-Bouhlel’s attack.
Neighbours described him as neither religious nor political. In some ways the massacre had more in common with mass shootings in the US than with political terrorism.
For Hollande’s interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve, this only means “he radicalised himself very rapidly”.
His response to the attacks was to call up police reserves, in particular to beef up border controls. This was a meaningless gestures—Lahouaiej-Bouhlel lived in France.
So was Hollande’s vow to “strike at those who threaten us” by stepping up bombing in Iraq and Syria. Bombs will only fuel further violence, death and desperation.
Cazeneuve then called on “all patriotic citizens” to sign up for to join the police reserves.
After the attacks in January and December of last year, Hollande’s government had some success in using scaremongering and national unity to boost its flagging support. But there are only so many times it can pull that off, particularly after its fierce repression of this year’s protests.