— John F. Kerry
Context: There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that. There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of — not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, okay, they’re really angry because of this and that. This Friday was absolutely indiscriminate. It wasn’t to aggrieve one particular sense of wrong. It was to terrorize people. It was to attack everything that we do stand for. That’s not an exaggeration. It was to assault all sense of nationhood and nation-state and rule of law and decency, dignity, and just put fear into the community and say, “Here we are.” And for what? What’s the platform? What’s the grievance? That we’re not who they are? They kill people because of who they are and they kill people because of what they believe. And it’s indiscriminate. They kill Shia. They kill Yezidis. They kill Christians. They kill Druze. They kill Ismaili. They kill anybody who isn’t them and doesn’t pledge to be that. And they carry with them the greatest public display of misogyny that I’ve ever seen, not to mention a false claim regarding Islam. It has nothing to do with Islam; it has everything to do with criminality, with terror, with abuse, with psychopathism — I mean, you name it.
And that’s why when some people — I even had a member of my own family email me and say, “More bombs aren’t the solution,” they said. Well, in principle, no. In principle, if you can educate and change people and provide jobs and make a difference if that’s what they want, sure. But in this case, that’s not what’s happening. This is just raw terror to set up a caliphate to expand and expand and spread one notion of how you live and who you have to be. That is the antithesis of everything that brought our countries together — why Lafayette came to America to help us find liberty, and all of the evolutions of the struggles of France, the governments, to find the liberte, egalite, fraternite, and make it real in life every day. And all of that peacefulness was shattered in the span of an hour-plus on Friday night when people were going about their normal business. And they purposefully chose a concert, chose restaurants, chose places where people engage in social dialogue and exchange, and they object to that too.
So this is not a situation where we have a choice. We have been at war with these guys since last year. President Obama said that very clearly. And every single country — not just in the region, but around the world — is opposed to what they are doing to the norms of human behavior and the standards by which we try to live.
"Remarks to the Staff and Families of U.S. Embassy, Paris" (17 November 2015) http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2015/11/249565.htm on the November 2015 Paris attacks; also quoted in "John Kerry: Charlie Hebdo Attack Had ‘Legitimacy,’ ‘Rationale’ Behind It" http://www.mediaite.com/online/john-kerry-charlie-hebdo-attack-had-legitimacy-rationale-behind-it/ by Alex Griswold, mediaite.com (17 November 2015)