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Grr. A blogapp crash resulted in my losing a long blog about terrorism. Hopefully, I can reiterate and condense.

Faith made reference to a Village Voice article that relies heavily upon statistics from The International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism (of which I have never heard). This web site carries, notably, a .il web address (Israel) and is “based” out of Herzliya, which is about 15 minutes north of Tel Aviv.

Clearly, its reporting is going to be unbiased and objective.

But that’s a silly argument to get into. Really.

What’s of more interest to me at this point is the essay “Defining Terrorism:
Is One Man’s Terrorist Another Man’s Freedom Fighter?”
, which offers the following definition of terrorism:

terrorism is the intentional use of, or threat to use violence against civilians or against civilian targets, in order to attain political aims.

Great. That definition includes World War II (lots of civilians killed there, and it was certainly political in nature), Vietnam, Korea, the current conflict in Afghanistan, the Israeli attacks in the West Bank and elsewhere, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Spanish-American War, the Spanish Civil War, the French Revolution, the Boer War, the Crimean War, the Russian Revolution, the American Civil War….

You get the picture.

Every war involves a threat against civilians. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t care. Every war has political aims, since politics is essentially a belief in the way the world ought to work. To think otherwise is, frankly, naive.

I’ll put it bluntly: to attempt to distinguish “terrorism” from other modes of conflict is futile.

Let’s really get into it:

How do we define “civilian”? How do we define “threat”? How do we define “intentional”? How do we define “violence”? How do we define “targets”? How do we define “politicial aims”?

I’ll put it even more bluntly: there is no such thing as terrorism. The word itself suggests a rhetorical position: terror is clearly a bad thing. It’s clearly ignoble. To desire it is even worse.

In the end, it is a military tactic. It’s no different than bombing Dresden. It’s no different than bombing Hiroshima. It’s a matter of killing as many people as possible with the resources available to you.

I should say that Greg and I disagree about this. He tends to say that “we know terrorism when we see it.” I disagree. There can be no other purpose of drawing distinctions between modes of military conflict other than the political. To define one mode of conflict as “terrorism” and not another is an attempt to render it somehow “illegitimate” or dastardly.

Want to have some fun? Read this. All of it.

There’s a war going on here (and elsewhere), and the sooner we recognize it as such, the better off we’ll be, since we’ll be able to meet it on more acceptable rhetorical terms.

Eldan? Greg? Comments? This has been coming for a long time….


Written by srogers

July 2, 2011 at 2:03 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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