November 2006 
Year 13    No.120

Readers Forum

Defining terms

Terrorism – Shouldn’t we know what it is so we can engage it?

The word "terrorism" is often used to condition and confuse events. After the declaration of a ceasefire in the Lebanon/Israel war, CNN reported that: "Israeli troops shot three Hizbollah terrorists who had advanced towards them".

Combining the words Hizbollah and terrorists is biased reporting (NPR used Hizbollah soldiers) but accepting Israel’s version without investigation is propaganda. CNN never asked:

1. Why do Israelis always kill those near them and not vice versa?

2. Were these people carrying arms (never shown), were they Hizbollah and were they threatening or was it just an accidental meeting?

3. Were the Israelis advancing towards the three persons or were the three persons advancing towards the Israelis?

4. Weren’t the Lebanese on their own territory and weren’t the Israelis intruding on Lebanese soil?

5. Were the Israelis justified in shooting although they were not fired upon?

CNN characterised the persons who did not fire and were killed as terrorists and the persons who fired and killed as soldiers. Something is wrong.

The United States has neglected to define the word "terrorism" in its war on terrorism. An open-ended characterisation has had a negative effect on a just and necessary battle by:

Ø allowing any antagonist, such as Iraq, to be characterised as "terrorist" and then be included in the "just" war.

Ø serving as a conditioning agent to arouse hatred against any foe, such as Hizbollah or Syria.

Ø diminishing the significance of true terrorists, such as al-Qaeda, and deterring actions against them.

Ø diluting the efforts in the war against terrorism.

Maybe if international bodies agreed on the proper definition of terrorism the war on terrorism would become more effective.

Wikipedia Encyclopaedia offers the following definitions:

Terrorism – The systematic use or threatened use of violence to intimidate a population or government and thereby effect political, religious or ideological change.

State Terrorism – Violence against civilians perpetrated by a national government or proxy state.

Resistance – A group or collection of individual groups dedicated to fighting an invader in an occupied country through either the use of physical force or non-violence.

Insurgency – An armed uprising, revolt or insurrection against an established civil or political authority.

By applying the definitions to the battles in which the US is directly or indirectly involved we can gain an improved perspective on terrorism.

Note: More than one definition applies to the contestants in some of the battles.

Al-Qaeda attacks: Terrorism of the highest order.

US attack on Afghanistan: Acceptable US insurgency against Afghanistan’s complicity in terrorism.

Anti-government attacks in Afghanistan today: A combination of terrorism by a small group of Taliban irregulars, some resistance to NATO presence and a more major insurgency due to discontent with what is perceived as an ineffective and corrupt government.

US invasion of Iraq: An attack that had only the overthrow of a government as an objective and has resulted in mass killings of civilians fits the definitions of terrorism and state terrorism.

Conflict in Iraq: A combination of mostly terrorism by many groups against civilians, a lesser resistance to US presence and confused insurgencies that won’t accept any government but their own.

Israel/Palestine: Israel’s constant attacks on Palestinian civilians and infrastructure, including targeted assassinations and attempts to overthrow an elected Palestinian Authority, fit the definitions of terrorism and state terrorism.

Palestinian attacks on Israel combine the weapon of terrorism with resistance and insurrection to combat oppression in the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel/Lebanon: Israel’s attacks on Lebanese civilian populations and infrastructure, including targeted assassinations and its attempt to overthrow an elected Lebanese government, fit the definitions of terrorism and state terrorism.

Hizbollah attacks on Israel fit the definition of terrorism but can also be considered resistance to invasions of Lebanese land, sea and airspace by Israeli military.

Syria: Lots of accusations by Israel and the United States but no proof of well-established state terrorism.

Iran: Lots of accusations by Israel and the United States but no proof of well-established state terrorism.

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