I don’t know what those ISIS guys were thinking, but 99.9% of people in France make about $1,000/month (in 1989 dollars), receive free medical care, free education, subsidized lunch, free daycare for children and subsidized public housing. In consequence, they are, by and large, somewhat depressed, which leads to an excess of polyamory, very long vacations, and a lot of idle philosophizing. In short, they are very bored.
On top of this, something people may not realize, what with all the surrender jokes etc, is that, along with being very bored, they can also be very vicious. One of my distinct memories of Paris is eating a 20 franc couscous in a cheap cafe in a crappy neighborhood on the Left Bank near Bercy, and having one of these guys walk in, only this was 1988 and my guy was more old school with a cape and kepi and the weapon wasn’t pointed to the ground:
Kind of like this but rainy day so maybe it was a raincoat not a cape:
And then, finally, the cape, as someone else had the same exact anachronistic experience that I did, i.e. it was an actual cape, not a raincoat:
This leads me to believe that some of these dudes are still out there even now rocking the old school look, although it is really hard to find contemporary photos of this outfit on Google.
Anyhoo: The French are not a bunch of happy cheating drunks. They are very bored and like to fight. It’s not like the Madrid train attacks where Spain quickly pulled out of Iraq. Paris also happens to be the capital of North Africa, which includes Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Cameroun and Senegal. There’s some history there, and it’s kind of personal, much more so than between the Middle East and Russia or the Middle East and the US of A. I don’t think ISIS added it up this time. Now they’ve got a real fight on their hands.