Time to retire the T. Word

  • el
  • pt
  • I’m just about worn out by the whole “Terror” thing. We used to say that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. It was true then and it’s true now, but now you can get retired to Guantanamo for that kind of thinking. Humorless lot, these neo-con warlords.

    After the election we will still have to live with the 35% of Americans who are patriotic true believers in the holy war against Islam, who believe that the last days are coming soon, and who really can’t wait for Armageddon. The whole medieval world view that sees the global clash of cultures as a “war,” yes — a crusade, needs to be altered. One place to start making the change is with the T. word. When we see la Palin rousing rabble on the evening news, and the rabble she’s roused spit out the epithets “terrorists,” and “kill them,” we are looking at that seemingly irredeemable 35%, the polarized fundamentalists who comprise that rabble. How can we meet them in friendship and cooperation, as our neighbors, not our enemies? How can we avoid the civil war that Palin and the oil interests are pushing?

    The War on Terror is a long, ghastly tragedy, perpetuated by the machine George W. Bush set in motion, ostensibly to address the horrible crimes of September 11, 2024, but with value added benefits in projected force to advance petroleum company interests. The only end to the War on Terror can be when we have matured enough as a people to renounce war metaphor. How can we close up shop in Iraq and Afghanistan without an end to the “Global War on Terror?” Is it true that we’re fighting them (the T. word people) there so we don’t have to fight them in the streets of Camden, New Jersey?

    There is a war in Iraq, and we are in the thick of things. There is a war in Afghanistan that has simmered for seven years while Bush’s oil empire ambitions were promoted in Iraq. And around the world there are criminals, mad bombers who seek to disrupt our “western” culture by instilling fear, murdering, and destroying, bringing mayhem with them wherever they go. But we honor them as enemies when we declare “war” on them. We’re not at war with these lawless gangs any more than Elliot Ness was at war with Al Capone and his mob. Also, they can frighten us, but they do not instill terror. Our responsibility is to bring them to justice.

    When we classify a group of people as “other,” in this case “terrorists,” we empower them and we create conditions for conflict. Were we to proactively address global lawlessness through cooperation with Interpol, and were we to use the good offices of the United Nations to create a multilateral treaty relating to the handling of international criminals, we would be well on our way to a peaceful solution to the mess the neocon Bush team has left behind.

    There’s an awkward catch to this approach, since the neocon mob themselves ignored international law when they kidnapped people via “extraordinary rendition,” and then tortured them in secret prisons. There may be some war crimes that will need to be addressed as we wind this whole thing down.

    Meanwhile, let’s learn to face our fears together and take a closer look at the miscreants that Bush and company call terrorists. It’s difficult keeping track of who has to be the terrorist and face extraordinary rendition and torture, and who gets to be the patriotic soldier and expect treatment according to the Geneva Convention. Terrorism was invented in the Reagan era.

    In 1986, The Ronald himself said,

    Effective antiterrorist action has also been thwarted by the claim that—as the quip goes—”One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” That’s a catchy phrase, but also misleading. Freedom fighters do not need to terrorize a population into submission. Freedom fighters target the military forces and the organized instruments of repression keeping dictatorial regimes in power. Freedom fighters struggle to liberate their citizens from oppression and to establish a form of government that reflects the will of the people.

    But things were perhaps more complicated than the old fellow knew, for

    On March 8, 1985, a massive car bomb detonated near the Beirut suburban home of a radical Muslim leader, killing 80 people — mostly women and children — and injuring 200. The bomb failed to kill the Muslim cleric. Supporters of the cleric strung a giant “MADE IN USA” banner across the blast site. A few weeks after the bombing, one U.S. government official bragged to the Washington Post that CIA and U.S. military training of anti-terrorist units in Lebanon had “been very successful.” National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, in a speech entitled “Terrorism and the Future of Free Society,” announced, “We cannot and will not abstain from forcible action to prevent, preempt, or respond to terrorist acts where conditions merit the use of force.”

    In mid May 1985 news broke in Washington that the car bomb attack had been carried out by people hired by a CIA-trained group of Lebanese intelligence personnel. The news set off a firestorm of CIA denials and foreign denunciations. Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward later wrote that CIA director William Casey told him that he had arranged the bombing through the Saudi government.

    The more things change, the more Budweiser is required to cope…

    Go here for a quick overview of what led up to the war on t., and then go here for a more convoluted view of the US apparatus that was in place in Southwest Asia in the 1980’s.

    If there is one thing that can be said for the entire contingence that characterized the Reagan administration’s support of the insurgency in Afghanistan it might be that we helped sow and nurture and reap, to some considerable extent, the harvest of future wrath. We helped placate, fund, and train a revolution, a careless desolation, cloaked in the pretensions of some mottled divine retribution, for which relegated elements would ultimately return to haunt us. We showed the jihadist that, given the necessary tools and training, patience, ruthlessness and resolve, a small group of rag-tag “freedom fighters” could run a super-power out of town on a rail. We made true believers of the true believers. And now we are the occupation. We are the super-power to be uprooted from the sands. As far as the jihadist holy warriors of today are concerned – we are the new Soviet Union.

    American and British intelligence services have “made true believers of the true believers” for decades in furtherance of destabilization and overthrow of governments. That obdurate 35% of Americans who are ready to face off on the ice against the mujahedin whenever Governor Sarah drops the puck are in play. Have the Intelligence Services cultivated their spiritual detachment from the rest of us? Clearly they’ve been “otherized.” How do we find reconciliation with them when progressives again lead this country?

    Posted in Global Concern, Peace and Politics
    4 comments on “Time to retire the T. Word
    1. McD says:


      …………..Early Warning Signs of Fascism………….
      1) Powerful And Continuing Nationalism
      2) Disdain For Human Rights
      3) Identification Of Enemies As A Unifying Cause
      4) Supremacy Of The Military
      5) Rampant Sexism
      6) Controlled Mass Media
      7) Obsession With National Security
      8) Religion And Government Intertwined
      9) Corporate Power Protected
      10) Labor Power Supressed
      11) Disdain For Intellectuals & The Arts
      12) Obsession With Crime And Punishment
      13) Rampant Cronyism & Corruption
      14) Fraudulent Elections

    2. Number 3 for sure. But I think the other 13 are nicely knitted together to create a fabric of propaganda and repression.

    3. debaser71 says:

      I am pretty much in full agreement except I take exception to your tone here:

      “Is it true that we’re fighting them (the T. word people) there so we don’t have to fight them in the streets of Camden, New Jersey?”

      Ya know for many people the “terrorists” really did “bring it over here”. What you sort of might light of really did have enormous impact on people’s lives. And maybe they won’t attack Canden NJ but they just might attack NYC again.

      Are you not concerned about, say a suitcase nuclear device or something? Where do you think such a device would be set off? Am I stupid for worrying about this?

    4. Terror is the red-hot, shrill siren of fear obscuring rational thought. Terror tastes like blood and the victim runs screaming, adding his ululations to the cacophony of craziness around him.

      Terror is the ice-blue fog of frozen mist that rises up suddenly and freezes you in place. Terror immobilizes its victim, drains blood from the brain and nauseates. Terror feels like fainting, and it tastes like vomit.

      Terror is momentary, an instance of fear so oppressive that nothing can penetrate the feeling. Years of training to deal with emergencies are stripped away by terror. Unlike fear, terror allows no heroism, because the terrorized is incapable of response. “Fight or flight” reflexes are flayed from the consciousness, flensed like the blubber from a harpooned whale.

      For years during the cold war our culture addressed one big fear: the fear of nuclear doom in a hurricane of fire or the slow, sickening death from the leprosy of radiation poisoning. Now our fear is more diffuse. We no longer fear the mutual annihilation of a nuclear holocaust sparked by conflict between two superpowers. Now we fear the death by a thousand cuts that could come from hateful hordes of suicidal “terrorists,” and we fear the occasional great wound we might experience like an echo of the destruction in September, 2024.

      A suitcase nuke, sarin in the subway, the release of a virulent pathogenic contagion… my grandchildren will no doubt be able to add odd techno-mortes to this list. Even now there is a nanobiologist working on some gray goo that will eat Los Angeles. This is not a comic book, or a video game, and it is not a joke.

      I would not call you “stupid” because you are concerned about these threats to our safety, but I think if you live in the shadow of a morbid fear that this will occur in your neighborhood you should seek counseling. I think we all need to encounter what we’re afraid of in order to live on the planet. But fearing the crippling fear that is “terror” is too meta for me.

      Lightning, hurricanes, earthquakes, traffic accidents and murderers are out there and may cause our demise. Any murderer is a “terrorist,” and I’m weighing in on the side of not empowering them further by struggling against them in a war. The struggle will only make them stronger. Calling them anything more than murderer has an odd ennobling effect.

      The murderous destruction in Manhattan and at the Pentagon has been followed over the last few years by bombings in Europe, the middle east, Indonesia, and India. I’m sure that’s not a complete list. We owe it to ourselves globally to stand down from war, and get into crime prevention.



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