Saturday, March 05, 2005

Is it really "terrorism?"


The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.

I was thinking about this in response to Mossback's post here, where he rails against Irish "terrorist scum."

The reality is the word "terrorism" indicates usually an aspect of intimidation. The word "unlawful" is indicative of the assumption of some lawful order.

Most groups characterized as "terrorist" are usually from groups that deny the existence of this lawful authority; and so the use of the word "terrorist" cannot really be objective.

They may be properly termed criminals or paramilitary groups; but I do not know if anyone reacted to Sept. 11 with intimidation: I saw rage I saw sorrow, I saw shock, I saw revulsion, but I did not see fear.

Sept. 11 was not an event that invoked fear. It was a military attack- on economic and military facilities. It was a military action.

On the other hand, the response by the Bush regime towards Sept. 11 did involve the use of intimidation, it did involve unlawful actions (denied, though, by the Bush regime, just as Hamas would deny the unlawful nature of their actions against Israelis) and it did involve the use of force. Is the Bush administration a terrorist regime? Naturally such an assertion would inflame supporters of the Bush regime, but the words the Bush regime and its supporters use against "terrorists" can, if one wants, be used to describe the actions of the Bush regime itself.

I do not think it clarifies matters to describe Sept. 11 as terrorism, nor the intifada as terrorism, nor the actions in Iraq today by whatever paramilitary groups are out there. They are as "terrorist" as the actions of any military; in some cases they are criminal actions; what distinguishes those, ultimately, it seems is the extent to which a countervailing side against these paramilitary groups can establish a "lawful authority" that is recognized.

Moreover, it is curious to me that the very people that use this term support people rely on intimidation and unlawful means themselves. That alone is telling: we cannot counter "terrorism" by unlawful actions that are designed to intimidate. That, instead is called creating terrorism, or doing terrorism, or performing terrorism.

So I'll offer a deal with righties: you drop the use of terms like "terrorist scum" for "military opponents" when talking about the aforementioned groups, and we can discuss what the best political and military response is.

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