I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time, I’ve had it sitting in my queue forever but it’s never risen to the top of my “to do” list. However, Martin Pribble wrote an article on it and it sparked me to finally get writing. Thanks Martin.
You can’t watch the news, pick up a newspaper, listen to the radio or visit a website without someone talking about terrorism, there’s a dramatic up-tick in how often that word is bandied around, especially since 9/11, but the thing is, I don’t really buy into it. Oh sure, there are “terrorists” out there, but they really aren’t any different than the people who have traditionally done these evil, destructive things, be they individuals or nations.
The biggest difference is that there are rules for war, there are internationally accepted laws that govern how wars are declared, waged and won. There are guidelines that say how you have to treat your prisoners of war. There are none of these things if you just declare that you’re not really at war, you’re just dealing with terrorism, which is why so many governments declare enemy combatants to be terrorists instead of warriors.
And let’s be honest, the United States is far from blameless in any of this, in fact, we’ve openly been involved in supporting “terrorists” in the form of “freedom fighters” who we fund and arm specifically to overthrow governments we don’t like. We’ve propped up dictatorships, borne from “terrorist” roots, so long as they’ve done our bidding and when they stop being amenable to being controlled, we declare war on them… oops, we declare an attack against terrorist forces, and kick them out of power.
However, this has crept out of Washington and into day-to-day speech. Your random person on the street is just as willing to label someone who does something bad a “terrorist” as the President. Martin brings up the Woolwich massacre, which was immediately labeled a “terrorist attack”, but there are many other examples. Just the other day, James Holmes, the shooter in the Aurora, CO Batman attack was arraigned and he plead “not guilty by reason of insanity”, but at the time of the shooting, everyone was claiming he was a domestic terrorist. Same with the Sandy Hook shooting. Same with the Boston Marathon bombing. Are these people terrorists or are they just crazy? I lean toward the latter. I think it’s more a matter of people using “terrorist” for it’s emotional impact than as a valid label, but isn’t that the same reason that a lot of governments use the term?
I think it’s clear that modern warfare has changed dramatically and a lot of it is just to keep the hands of the guilty clean. If you can send out a bunch of religious or political crazies to do your bidding and spread fear, isn’t that a lot cheaper and easier than having to field an army to do the same thing? Why don’t we just declare that any foreign combatant is eligible under the Geneva Convention, that attacking any group, regardless of their political or religious leanings, requires an act of Congress and be done with it? I’m so sick and tired of watching governments the world over using “terrorism” as a code word for “get around the laws that already exist”.