The ongoing riots in France are troubling. While certainly economic opportunity is the inciting factor for the grievance, that the population affected consist of Muslim youth is cause for concerns. Whether France is a US ally or not is largely irrelevant if she falls from diplomatic schizophrenia into instability. This will destabilize much of Europe as many other Western European nations are confronting similar crisis, though not so severe. France along with Germany constitute the bulk of continental Western Europe, a region slowly descending into and becoming what some have referred to as Eurabia. Both France and Germany have large Muslim immigrant population, both fail to culturally and politically integrate their Muslim immigrants, and both have faltering economies that will prevent economic integration.
We must also remember that while the ethnicities of the terrorists from the GWoT have been Middle Easterners, most also have lived and been indoctrinated in Europe. In the Middle East, Muslim countries have only themselves to blame, and contain sufficient counterweight to extremism and fundamentalism. And in Iraq and Afghanistan, they have suffered under violent oppression to understand that fundamentalism is not the solution. But Muslims in Europe are disenfranchised and radicalized. In Eurabia fundamentalism can be perceived as “empowering”. The existing terrorist cells will certainly take advantage of these riots, even if they originated in economic grievances. More so, they have westerners to blame and even worse, they will have western collaborators to assist and vocalize their grievances and anger.
France will have to crack down, and likely harshly. There are little cultural, political, or economic offerings available as alternative. How the disenfranchised will react depends on how much their cause and action have been co-opted by the terrorists. But even acts of terrorism will not destabilize France if France retains the will to fight. This has remained the case for numerous countries fighting an insurgency that has resorted to terrorism, whether it be countries in Latin America (Colombia), the Middle East (Algeria, Iraq), or Europe (Spain). But if France will to fight is undermined by actions on France’s political left, and the political naiveté of France’s youth, then instability is certain.
Finally, the US and its true allies in the GWoT will not have the resources short of full mobilization to contain and salvage Eurabia. A destabilized France-Eurabia will be very bad for us, and a lost we may not be able to recover from. While Schadenfreude is tempting, it is shortsighted.