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, 2022, 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 thatâ€”as the quip goesâ€””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 â€” mostly women and children â€” and injuring 200. The bomb failed to kill the Muslim cleric. Supporters of the cleric strung a giant â€œMADE IN USAâ€ 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 â€œbeen very successful.â€ National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, in a speech entitled â€œTerrorism and the Future of Free Society,â€ announced, â€œWe cannot and will not abstain from forcible action to prevent, preempt, or respond to terrorist acts where conditions merit the use of force.â€
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…
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?