In the couple of years since 9/11 the phrase "the war on terror" has become part of the political lexicon, and what seems to go with it, is an assumption that there is a consensus about what it means and to whom it applies. Two years on, I think that's far from clear.

There are, for a start, all kinds of terrorism. There is the meaning offered up generally by the mainstream media outlets. This definition is roughly synonymous with individual or small group violence directed against some target of opportunity for the individual or group in question. For want of a better term, for the rest of this post, I will describe this as "individual terror" (while noting the possibility that sovereign states may directly or indirectly foster such acts). Much of the analysis of "terrorism" focuses on this, as if it were all there were to talk about. But there is much more than this to terrorism.It seems to me that at some level at least, one can describe any action (or set of actions) that undertaken to obtain political, social or cultural ends by resort to violence (or threats of violence) as a form of terrorism. By this standard, it is not only small groups and individuals who are guilty of terrorism. The coalition that forced Saddam from power clearly used violence to obtain a political end (regime change), and in so doing they were not restrained by the knowledge that innocent people would suffer as a consequence.

The United Nations itself imposed an economic embargo on Iraq in order, ostensibly, to force compliance by the Ba'athists with Security Council resolutions, knowing full weel that a consequence of the embargo would be the reduction of large parts of the population to grinding misery and premature death. The British and American governments bombed Iraq for 12 years ostensibly to prosecute Operation Provide Comfort (now there's an Orwellian title!) even though this was not even sanctioned by the UN and they must have known they were killing innocents.

The Israeli state uses violence in the Gaza Strip and West Bank in order to obtain an end to the intifada, and once again, does not foreswear this on the basis that innocents may be harmed.So why aren't these acts seen widely as "terrorism" in the west? It is surely not a question of the intent to harm innocents. Foreknowledge that innocents will be harmed is sufficent for one to assume intent, and defences of this kind are entirely spurious. It seems to me that the principal difference lies in the actors. The governments of Britain, the United States, Israel and other countries are sufficiently well resourced and strategically positioned to carry out their acts in full view with high tech equipment, and to give them the imprimatur of state actions.

They may or may not be endorsed by their own populations, they may be seen as more or less justified according to circumstance, but for most westerners, these acts will never qualify as terrorism, and if those from the less developed world say otherwise, they are regarded as just ranting fanatics. So whether one qualifies as a terrorist is really about wealth, power and position. High tech countries with massive military infrastructure can proudly list the attempts they have made to avoid "collateral damage", cry crocodile tears for some small child burned in one of their air raids, and tout their moral superiority over those who attack non-combatants, when really what is at issue is the balance of power and advantage, rather than the ethical implications of violence.
Let me be clear. I do not condone or seek to apologise for violence against non-combatants in a conflict regardless of the cause or the group involved. Such acts are always ethically indefensible. I do however seek to understand what motivates others to think it legitimate. At first, like most people of my age, I assumed that what was at work were different paradigms different value systems surrounding human life. Yet the more I consider the matter, the less persuasive this view becomes.
It seems to me that all of us want to live, to be happy, to see good things happen to those we care about. For most people "those we care about" live near us, or speak our language, share our lifestyle or resemble us in some way. It is understandable that in a world where happiness is in short supply and misery is freely available, most of us conclude not that it should be shared around equally, but that the bulk of happiness should be reserved for those who are like us, our own "fellow travellers", and that the bulk of misery ought to fall upon people we don't know, or whom we deem backward and uncivilised, or better yet, who are invisible to us.But think of the logic of this statement! If this is so, then it applies equally to people who are not like us does it not? Why should people whose daily lives involve drinking from open sewers, or being bombed from the air with missiles from helicopter gunships, in short who UNLIKE US wake up each morning wondering if they will see nightfall care even a jot about the suffering that we might endure if someone killed one of our own? Those who can't take life for granted may conclude that we shouldn't either.

Those who think that they are bearing more than their fair share of misery may think it just that we accept some part of what is their daily lot. I wonder, if these people simply consented to "go quietly into the good night" and die, how many of us would give their fate even a passing thought? Would this be enough for the western world to make it its business to see to it that the scales of happiness and misery were balanced more fairly. There's simply no evidence at all to conclude that it would.

If people in the less developed world believe what western governments claim that they are democracies who reflect the will of the people and further, that the people in these countries either believe you deserve all the misery that is your lot or at best don't see your ending your misery as of relevance to them then it may seem rational to set about acts that change people's minds, that force your problem to be their business. Clausewitz said some years ago that war was politics, waged by military means, and while they may not have read Clausewitz, to those who think their life will soon be over in any event, the idea surely has resonance.Inevitably, just as in the west, they draw upon the resources they have. They lack laser guided precision bombs, access to satellites and AWACS, or even large well trained armies. Still less do they have the infrastructure to move personnel en masse. So attacking military targets is much harder. Worse still, it may not be effective. Horrendous loss of civilian life, particularly when these lives are those of privileged westerners who have instant access to the sympathy of the richest people of the planet is there any better way to stop being invisible and start becoming a concern? I think it was Macchiavelli who said that no prince was safe from an assassin who was prepared to die.

Well in the impoverished world there are people who have been prepared to die every day from the first day they achieved consciousness. The believe that the first world's sense of comfort, safety and remoteness is the cause of their misery. Let us all ask ourselves how we might in practice behave or feel about the sanctity of human life if this is how we felt. In fact let's not speculate. Let us simply ask ourselves how willing we are to see those who feel like this about us killed, and I think we will have the beginnings of an answer.
Killing innocents is wrong because we are all entitled to life. We all have the right to live well and long, to look forward to a future. But in practice, this is a privilege that is roughly secure only for those who live in a handful of western countries. If there is to be victory in the "war on terror" there must be progress in something quite different (and perhaps even more elusive) - the struggle for human happiness. And before we get anywhere near achieving this, I think we are going to have to deal with the question of equality. Only when happiness and misery are distributed approximately evenly will we all have the same interest in reducing the latter and augmenting the former.
In Contemplation
Chrissy
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chrissy (Email Removed) (chrissy) burbled
In the couple of years since 9/11 the phrase "the war on terror" has become part of the political lexicon, ... a consensus about what it means and to whom it applies. Two years on, I think that's far from clear.

You probably didn't notice how many words you used in this post. I never do either. I just keep writing until I wear out, but I have to say that trying to read all this almost wore me out. That should be a major clue about the nature of the topic. "terrorism" means whatever you want it to mean. It's like "sedition" in that respect.
There are, for a start, all kinds of terrorism.

When you've written your book, please post it on the Web and send us all the URL so that we can download it.
It seems to me that at some level at least, one can describe any action (or set of actions) that undertaken to obtain political, social or cultural ends by resort to violence (or threats of violence) as a form of terrorism.

There it is! You've gone and answered your own question. No need for any discussion now, is there.
So why aren't these acts seen widely as "terrorism" in the west?

You've got to be kidding, right? It's all based on the "What I do is right and good, but what you do is wrong and bad" principle, also know as the FYP (" you!" Principle).
Killing innocents is wrong

Haven't you noticed that there are no "innocents"? There are too many people in the world and too few resources for anyone to be innocent. There is too much knowledge of the rest of the world and too little wherewithal to act constructively on that knowledge. Turn off your TV and stop reading the papers. You don't need to know what's going on anywhere but where you live. If you're more comfortable than I am, you're guilty.
I think we are going to have to deal with the question of equality.

One too many questions here. Equality is a mathmatical term or an abstraction used to describe an ideal system of justice. Equalities exist only in dreams and on paper.
Only when happiness and misery are distributed approximately evenly will we all have the same interest in reducing the latter and augmenting the former.

Now you've gone and introduced even more questions. Happiness and misery are states of being and not commodities that can evenly distributed. They do not depend on any specific things beyond being alive, self-aware, and self-concerned. Social and political engineering do not create happiness or misery.
Let me translate it from Neoconspeak for you. The phrase "War on Terror" is Neoconspeak for the German word "Lebensraum". Granted that isn't an exact translation, but it is close enough to be a very useful approximation, much as Newton's gravitational theory was very useful until Einstein made a better model for certain extreme conditions.

Fabian
Once you get over the initial panic stage, oxygen starvation is actually a rather pleasant sensation, almost like falling asleep.
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Let me translate it from Neoconspeak for you. The phrase "War on Terror" is Neoconspeak for the German word "Lebensraum". ... useful approximation, much as Newton's gravitational theory was very useful until Einstein made a better model for certain extreme conditions.

Translated into Biblespeak, which is what GBW & friends prefer, it means to "covet ... any other thing that is thy neighbors" and to "steal". In a strange departure from their usual doctrine of inerrancy of the scriptures, they believe that "thou shalt not" is a scribal error which should be read "thou shalt." This same scribal error is held to occur in "Thou shalt have no other gods before me,"
"Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain," "Thou shalt not kill,"
and
"Thou shalt not bear false witness."
How they can believe God sanctions breaking at least six of the Ten Commandments while supporting the use of state power to place 5000+ pound monuments to those commandments is a mystery.

Martin Ambuhl
There are, for a start, all kinds of terrorism. There is the meaning offered up generally by the mainstream media ... change), and in so doing they were not restrained by the knowledge that innocent people would suffer as a consequence.

This essay seems peculiarly inappropriate for AUE. It obviously omits actual uses of the word terrorism and users of the word. We can cite:

1. French users (since the Terror of the FrenchRevolution) and Russian users (Nechaev, Lenin,
Stalin etc.)

2. Law scholars, cf. efforts since Roman timesto codify violence (generally to legitimize that of the state and criminalize that of the individual.)
3. Contemporary mass media and their sources(usually politicians) (cited by Chrissy). This also includes planned propaganda (cf. German use of
"terror-flying" to condemn Allied aviation during
the Second World War.
So whether one qualifies as a terrorist is really about wealth, power and position.

This can be adduced to states and to some non-state terrorism. It can be adduced to suicide-bombers (e.g. Sept. 11) only by enlarging "wealth, power and position" to mean not the terrorist's aims but the terrorist's target.
It seems to me that all of us want to live, to be happy, to see good things happen to those we care about.

This seems an unsafe generalization (cf. suicide bombers: and perhaps also disciplined troops of organized violence from Sparta to the Fall of Berlin in 1945.) Instruments of civil order seem to harm themselves by assuming their unknown opponents share the same aims (of peace
and welfare): practical experience is that many do not. Riots occur in the streets of Paris, Los Angeles, Seattle for varying reasons (including but not limited to planned terrorism). Neither prevention nor control is facilitated by supposing rioters seek peace and well-being.
Macchiavelli who said that no prince was safe from an assassin who was prepared to die. Well in the impoverished ... achieved consciousness. The believe that the first world's sense of comfort, safety and remoteness is the cause of their misery.

This may be an unsafe assumption. Terrorists and suicide assassins can be found in history since Biblical times. We have no reason to assume their motive was dislike or envy of alien societies' wealth, let alone the cause of their misery. History is more complicated than that. Language is more complicated too, which is why
consideration of language may help explain human
actions.

Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs (Ottawa, Canada)
dphillipson(at)trytel.com
In the couple of years since 9/11 the phrase "the war on terror" has become part of the political lexicon, ... a consensus about what it means and to whom it applies. Two years on, I think that's far from clear.


Obstructing interstate commerce is also considered an "act of terrorism."
If you deliberately block a NIKE truck to protest the fact that they use cheap child labor sweatshops in Malaysia (Hey, maybe THAT should be branded "terrorism," too.) as it's travelling from one state to another, you are a terrorist.
The new Anti-Terror laws, such as the new and improved ammended USA PATRIOT Act make it possible for any one of us to be classified as "Enemy Combatants" if we commit an act of "terror." That means all of our rights as citizens are gone. An Enemy Combatant is not protected by the Bill of Rights. Such a hapless individual can be held indefinately at undisclosed locations without ever seeing an attorney, family members or even being formally charged. No phone call, either. Vanished.

The point is, we gave them the blank check to do it. When will they start writing more checks?
It's frightening.
Creating any public disturbance which (may) endager(s) bystanders is an act of terror.
Maybe urinating in an alley is terrorism, too - you can spread disease.

Don't even THINK about making obviously frivolous jokes on the Internet, public/government buildings and especially airports.

I'm an Al-Qaeda Operative and I hate America because you believe in freedom, so I'm gonna eat a big can of beans and ride crowded elevators. SMELL MY WRATH!
OK, coppers, come and get me!
Al-Qaeda means, "The Base" - the former "Freedom Fighter" training camp built by US to train the Mujahadeen, including bin Laden. There was even a Rambo movie where our hero was helped by bin Laden's "Holy Warriors" to fight the evil Soviets and rescue Col. America, or whatever.
Sounds like Orwell's "1984," with the enemy/good guy constantly changing.
After being groped and searched by anal-compulsive customs agents at an airport, try to resist the urge to fight back with sarcasm. "Oh, wait, you forgot about the Scud missile I have hidden up my ass."
That will get you a "rubber glove examination," hours of interrogation and you'll miss your flight.
What is the "War on Terror?"
Fascism in order to further the newest economic coping strategy of "Globalization."
Globalization has different meanings depending on context. This describes it's most dangerous meaning.
Shortened (excerpt) version:
http://www.angelfire.com/ny5/tradecencrimes/page17.html Full version:
http://www.angelfire.com/ny5/tradecencrimes/page4.html

Globalization amounts to four radical changes in the world system. These are
(1) the destabilization of and removal of sovereignty from Western nation states, (2) the establishment of an essentially
fascist world government under the direct control of the capitalist elite,
(3) the greatly accelerated exploitation and suppression of the third-world, and (4) the gradual downgrading of Western living
conditions toward third-world standards.
By these means, elites hope
to achieve yet another round of capital growth.
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
In the couple of years since 9/11 the phrase "the war on terror" has become part of the political lexicon, ... to obtain political, social or cultural ends by resort to violence (or threats of violence) as a form of terrorism.

No, you cannot. You are neglecting a fundamental aspect that defines politically or ideologically motivated violence. It is the clandestine nature of terrorism. Terrorists wear no uniforms. This is a critical difference between terrorist forces and military forces of sovereign nations.
By this standard, it is not only small groups and individuals who are guilty of terrorism. The coalition that forced ... change), and in so doing they were not restrained by the knowledge that innocent people would suffer as a consequence.

Actually, they were indeed restrained by consideration for non combattants in the war zone. Consideration for non-combattants colors every action taken by military forces that attempt to adhere to the rules laid out in the geneva conventions on warfare. The thing is, you seem to assume that consideration for non-combattants trumps ALL other considerations, but that is not the case.
The United Nations itself imposed an economic embargo on Iraq in order, ostensibly, to force compliance by the Ba'athists with ... consequence of the embargo would be the reduction of large parts of the population to grinding misery and premature death.

That's right, because even though the welfare of non-combattants is a consideration, it IS NOT the only consideration. We are not going to sacrifice the world in order to avoid harming one innocent child, or even 100,000 innocent children.
The British and American governments bombed Iraq for 12 years ostensibly to prosecute Operation Provide Comfort (now there's an Orwellian ... an end to the intifada, and once again, does not foreswear this on the basis that innocents may be harmed.

Right, and when these military forces conduct their violence they take responsibility for their actions, and conduct their warfare in accordance with the geneva conventions. Every single US warplane that dropped bombs on Iraq, had an American flag painted on it.
So why aren't these acts seen widely as "terrorism" in the west?

This is the definition of terrorism:
Title 22 of the US Code, Section 2656f(d):
The term terrorism means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.
What part of "subnational or clandestine agents" do you not understand?
It is surely not a question of the intent to harm innocents. Foreknowledge that innocents will be harmed is sufficent for one to assume intent, and defences of this kind are entirely spurious.

Again you make the false assumption that the welfare of innocents trumps all other considerations, this is not the case. The allied nations of WW2 routinely carpet bombed cities killing thousands of "civilians" in the process, including innocent little babies. We are not all going to lay down and die, out of consideration for the children of our enemies. Deal with it.
It seems to me that the principal difference lies in the actors. The governments of Britain, the United States, Israel ... carry out their acts in full view with high tech equipment, and to give them the imprimatur of state actions.

Bingo!
They may or may not be endorsed by their own populations, they may be seen as more or less justified ... are regarded as just ranting fanatics. So whether one qualifies as a terrorist is really about wealth, power and position.

Not true. A low tech force can still adhere to the rules set out in the Geneva convention, and therefore not be labled as terrorist. Something as simple as having their fighters wear recognizable uniforms and maintaining an organized military command structure would go a long way to legitimizing them as revolutionaries. Of course, their choice of targets and conduct would also be a factor.
High tech countries with massive military infrastructure can proudly list the attempts they have made to avoid "collateral damage", cry ... against non-combatants in a conflict regardless of the cause or the group involved. Such acts are always ethically indefensible.

Nonsense. Imagine a case, where a nuclear missile is placed inside a children's hospital, and is about to be launched at some city. If a state does nothing, out of dread of hurting the innocent children in the hospital, then the missile will launch, and kill thousands of other innocent children located in the city. If the state does act, and destroys the hospital containing the missile, they may indeed kill some innocent children, but it is ethically justified because it prevents a loss of life somewhere else.
I do however seek to understand what motivates others to think it legitimate. At first, like most people of my ... this statement! If this is so, then it applies equally to people who are not like us does it not?

In other words, you are willing to kill your own children if you feel it would spare the life of someone else's child? Interesting philosophy. Why stop there though? Life itself requires that others die so that you may live. All animals consume other beings in order to survive, should you refrain from eating in order to spare all the plants and animals that you would otherwise consume? Surely the innocent plants and animals have a right not to be eaten by you?
Why should people whose daily lives involve drinking from open sewers, or being bombed from the air with missiles from ... scales of happiness and misery were balanced more fairly. There's simply no evidence at all to conclude that it would.

You seem to make the assumption that the reason for war is so that powerful nations can cause misery amongst the less powerful nations. As if the misery itself were the goal. That is an intellectually bankrupt belief. If the goal were merely to cause misery, then why not just launch 1000 nuclear missiles at our enemies and kill them all?
If people in the less developed world believe what western governments claim that they are democracies who reflect the ... read Clausewitz, to those who think their life will soon be over in any event, the idea surely has resonance.

War IS politics by other means. War is NOT sadism on a grand scale. War does not exist for it's own sake, it is a tool to force the collective will of a people onto another people.
Inevitably, just as in the west, they draw upon the resources they have. They lack laser guided precision bombs, access ... armies. Still less do they have the infrastructure to move personnel en masse. So attacking military targets is much harder.

That does not excuse their terroristic attacks on non-combattants.
Worse still, it may not be effective. Horrendous loss of civilian life, particularly when these lives are those of privileged ... richest people of the planet is there any better way to stop being invisible and start becoming a concern?

Martin Luther King had a better way. So did Ghandi.
I think it was Macchiavelli who said that no prince was safe from an assassin who was prepared to die.

Machiavelli also said it was better to be feared than loved. A prince or state can compel fear, but cannot compel love. That's why we drop bombs on our enemies instead of hallmark greeting cards.
Well in the impoverished world there are people who have been prepared to die every day from the first day they achieved consciousness. The believe that the first world's sense of comfort, safety and remoteness is the cause of their misery.

That's insane. How can my comfort be the cause of another person's misery? These are completely unrelated states. If I am brought to a state of misery, in what way does that alleviate another's misery? Is it because misery loves company?
Let us all ask ourselves how we might in practice behave or feel about the sanctity of human life if this is how we felt.

There is no sanctity of human life. Nobody is getting out of this existence alive.
In fact let's not speculate. Let us simply ask ourselves how willing we are to see those who feel like this about us killed, and I think we will have the beginnings of an answer.

If someone thinks their misery can be aleviated solely by causing me misery, then I have no qualms at all about killing them.
Killing innocents is wrong because we are all entitled to life.

That's true, but it does not trump all other considerations. Killing one innocent in order to save 1000 other innocents is justified.
We all have the right to live well and long, to look forward to a future. But in practice, this is a privilege that is roughly secure only for those who live in a handful of western countries.

Unless you worked in the WTC.
If there is to be victory in the "war on terror" there must be progress in something quite different (and perhaps even more elusive) - the struggle for human happiness.

The war on terror will be won, when women in the currently islamofascist countries are marching in the street demanding an end to jihad, and wailing about the suffering of western innocents, just as you are wailing about the suffering of non-western innocents.
And before we get anywhere near achieving this, I think we are going to have to deal with the question ... misery are distributed approximately evenly will we all have the same interest in reducing the latter and augmenting the former.

Oh my god, that is the ultimate communism. Beyond even wealth distribution, you want happiness distribution. Here's a clue for you: Americans have the right to PURSUE happiness, they do not have a right to the happiness itself. No person can compel another to be happy (not without prozac anyway), the best they can do is to create a fair system where individuals can seek their own happiness.
Let me translate it from Neoconspeak for you. The phrase "War on Terror" is Neoconspeak for the German word "Lebensraum". ... approximation, much as Newton's gravitational theory was very useful until Einstein made a better model for certain extreme conditions.

That's an interesting theory. So, that means you think the war on Iraq is so that Americans can have "living room" in lovely 130 degree Baghdad? Wonderful. When do the US colonies go in, and how much desert can I have?
In the couple of years

(snippage-a-go-go)
Chrissy, your post was interesting enough but 99% off-topic for AUE, which I have no problem with, really so is much of what's posted here. What I do have a problem with though, is that you cross-posted it to a bunch of political groups, with the result that AUE is now getting flooded with even-longer replies from people who don't give a toss about English usage but do give hundreds of lines worth of tosses about whether Dubya and Sharon are A Bad Thing. Most of them they probably don't even realise they're posting here.
So, a plea: post off-topic or crosspost but please don't do both at once.
**
Ross Howard
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