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Who is a terrorist?

 
 
blatham
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 May, 2005 10:26 am
McGentrix wrote:
I consider people like Rudolph and McVeigh to be terrorists. The difference between them and people like Bin Laden and Moussaoui is the organaization behind them and around them. Rudolph and McVeigh were loners, acting on their own. Surely you see the difference between them and al Qaeda, right?


"Terrorists" they are indeed, according to any consistent definition. But we'll note that even the NY Times has a problem in where and when they use the term. That's not insignificant. It demonstrates, as if further demonstration were needed, how inconsistent and prejudiced we can be in our thinking without even noticing it.

To what degree though is your statement accurate that Rudolph and McVeigh are 'different' because they acted as 'loners'? Let's assume that Rudolph had no assistance in planning or execution of his acts. Let's next imagine a Muslim young man setting off a bomb in an Israeli hospital or shopping center. Let's also imagine that he acted alone - without assistance in the plan, and that he's not a member of al Qaeda - perhaps using the internet to find out how to build a bomb (how did Rudolph learn this?) and that he acts out of his sense, however perverse, of conscience. They both seem the same, don't they?

One could argue that the Muslim youth was surely affected by the culture he comes out of, that he's heard about and bought into notions about how evil the Israelis are. Then we look at Rudolph and consider the culture from which he arose and the ideas he has bought into about who is evil.

The point being that in very important ways, both McVeigh and Rudolph are not loners. How many websites do you think you and I could find in one hour where the acts of either man are applauded?
0 Replies
 
Bi-Polar Bear
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 May, 2005 10:30 am
Ticomaya wrote:
blueveinedthrobber wrote:
I was making a point. I know you get it.

We're all terrorists buddy. Whether or not it's acceptable depends on what side of the ass whoopin you're on.


I didn't realize that was your point, and I don't agree with it at all. 'We're all terrorists" is liberal BS that I refuse to swallow. The fact that you can't seem to make a moral distinction between the actions of the US, and the actions of the islamo-terrorists, is evident, ... but it doesn't mean there isn't one.


define the difference please, as though you lived on another planet and watched with absolutely no axe to grind or personal involvement.
0 Replies
 
Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 May, 2005 10:53 am
Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols do not seem to be "loners:"

http://breakingnews.iol.ie/news/story.asp?j=141927886&p=y4y9z859z
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Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 May, 2005 10:55 am
Is a suicide bomber a loner? Looks to me like this could begin tying the McVeigh/Nichols act into an organization.
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Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 May, 2005 11:03 am
Quote:
The fact that you can't seem to make a moral distinction between the actions of the US, and the actions of the islamo-terrorists, is evident, ... but it doesn't mean there isn't one.


Well? Why don't you point out for us what the distinction is?

In real terms, we've killed many, many, many more innocents then they have. Many more.

I'm sure you will respond with 'purposes, intentions, reasoning' type of answer; but that's bullshit, it's all a POV. The dead are still dead.

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
blatham
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 May, 2005 12:28 pm
lw

Nice to see you!
0 Replies
 
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 May, 2005 02:51 pm
blatham wrote:
Brandon9000 wrote:
blatham wrote:
Brandon9000 wrote:
No mystery here. A terrorist is someone who deliberately attacks civilians as the primary, intended target.


Using this definition then, Eric Rudolf is properly thought of as a 'terrorist'.

I think so, but I'd have to re-read the details of the crime. Here is why I say this. Please bear in mind that I am not indicating his approval for his crime, which I don't approve of, but just discussing my definition of terrorism.

Rudolph could construct an argument that the people who ran the clinic were not civilians, but direct participants in his war. Not second-hand participants who were semi-involved at some step of the matter, but the people actually directly responsible. What would qualify him for being described as a terrorist is to see whether he had taken precautions to insure that only clinic workers were hurt. I believe that he did not, and if this is so, then he is a terrorist by my definition.

My use of the word "civilian" is not intended to indicate someone who is not in the army, but someone who is not directly abetting the opposition. An Israeli citizen in a market place that was bombed would qualify as a civilian, because even though he may have voted for the Israeli government, this is a much lower threshold of participation than I require.


The details (admitted):
1) the bombing of an abortion clinic resulting in the death of a police officer and the maiming of a nurse

2) the Centennial Park Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games bomb (he used nails for shrapnel) that killed a female games attendee and injured 110, some very seriously (for memory refresher, HERE )

3) two further bombings

Quote:
Rudolph could construct an argument that the people who ran the clinic were not civilians, but direct participants in his war.

Who might not 'construct' such an argument? I could put a glass shard and nail bomb in the headquarters of the RNC, believing I was at war with them, and so long as only RNC staff were blown up - no 'innocent bystanders' or 'civilians' whom I was careful to avoid injuring - then my act might possibly be something other than terrorism?

I'm curious as to whether anyone actually read the CJR piece at the lead here. The significant point is that we tend to use 'terrorist' as a word to describe someone who isn't much like us - he's the other guy. He's a 'spiritual warrior' or an 'extremist' (as in the Oklahoma City bombing), but he's caucasian and perhaps a christian, so 'terrorist' doesn't fit.

When Israel blew up the Brit barracks (during the time Britain was in control of Israel and the Israelis were fighting what they considered an illegal occupation) the Israelis would not have used 'terrorist' to describe their actions. The Brit papers, on the other hand, did refer to them in that manner.

The 'terrorist' is the other guy. He doesn't look like us, speak like us, dress like us.

What would your response be if Eric Rudolph, in police interrogations following his arrest, was stripped naked and had a light stick shoved up his ass, or if he was washboarded, or stripped naked and covered in feces, or had dogs set on him, or had his head covered and electrodes attached to his genitals - all in order to discover whether he had accomplices who might be planning to commit further bombings?

My definition is not "the other guy." As stated previously, my definition of a terrorist is someone who intentionally attacks non-combatants as the intended, rather than accidental, victims. According to my definition, Rudolph is probably a terrorist. The only thing in question is the exact definition of "non-combatant," however, a combatant would certainly have to be either a soldier, or a member of the enemy government, or someone working directly to advance the enemy cause.
0 Replies
 
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 May, 2005 02:55 pm
old europe wrote:
Brandon9000 wrote:
old europe wrote:
Brandon9000 wrote:
Your post is irrelevant. My point is that most people would regard some examples of killing to be far less ethical than others.


And other people would regard some other examples of killing to be far more ethical than others. If that was all you wanted to state, there you go. You're basically saying that you aren't above the terrorists' morals, you're just on the other side.

I had said that I draw "a moral distinction between the WW2 liberation of Paris and a serial killer who offs people for fun." Do you not draw a moral distinction between those two things?


Do you draw a moral distinction between Terry Nichols and Ramzi Yousef?

None whatsoever.
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blatham
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 May, 2005 05:58 pm
Quote:
My definition is not "the other guy." As stated previously, my definition of a terrorist is someone who intentionally attacks non-combatants as the intended, rather than accidental, victims. According to my definition, Rudolph is probably a terrorist. The only thing in question is the exact definition of "non-combatant," however, a combatant would certainly have to be either a soldier, or a member of the enemy government, or someone working directly to advance the enemy cause.


If I have you right, an Israeli settler's attack on an arbitrary mosque would be a terrorist act. Or would we just assume the mosque is 'advancing the enemy cause'?

I'm not clear on why you hedge with a 'probably' on Ruldolph. He's blown up and killed folks like you and me walking around at a public event so as to send a political and religious message.
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Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 May, 2005 06:16 pm
blatham wrote:
Quote:
My definition is not "the other guy." As stated previously, my definition of a terrorist is someone who intentionally attacks non-combatants as the intended, rather than accidental, victims. According to my definition, Rudolph is probably a terrorist. The only thing in question is the exact definition of "non-combatant," however, a combatant would certainly have to be either a soldier, or a member of the enemy government, or someone working directly to advance the enemy cause.


If I have you right, an Israeli settler's attack on an arbitrary mosque would be a terrorist act. Or would we just assume the mosque is 'advancing the enemy cause'?

Absolutely, with no fuzz on it, any such attack would be an act of terrorism.

blatham wrote:
I'm not clear on why you hedge with a 'probably' on Ruldolph. He's blown up and killed folks like you and me walking around at a public event so as to send a political and religious message.

Because I would have to see whether he tried hard to get only clinic workers, and no one else. That could be a factor in applying the definition. I hate what he did. It is as much murder as the abortions being performed there, and absolutely unjustifiable. I am hedging because I am trying to apply my definition fairly. As I said, Rudolph could construct an argument that the people actually performing the abortions, and the peripheral workers at the clinic were not civilians. I do not know whether this would be a correct argument or not, but it would not be an absurd argument. It would not justify what he did.

My definition of terrorism is generally a simple one to apply. The only area which is not black and white is the decision as to who is a civilian. In my scheme of things, in order to be considered not a civilian, you would have to be either a soldier, or else directly and immediately working to further the enemy cause. All bombings of public places, such as stores, are acts of terrorism, since the public may be present. On that level, Rudolph's murders would easily qualify as terrorism.
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Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 May, 2005 11:34 pm
I'm having trouble with appreciating the nuances that separate McVeigh and Rudolph from Bin Laden and al-Quaeda.

They are/were all one and the same.

I am also having trouble appreciating the relevance of the fact that the US has homegrown terrorists.

I might understand the relevance if there was reason to believe that the US government has been remiss in the prosecution of homegrown terrorists (particularly the right-wing variety) while spending American treasure and lives in the prosecution of Islamist terrorists.

Individuals advancing a particular cause through violence are not the equivalent of nations at war. Terrorism is not the equivalent of war.

To some extent, the preceding statements are the product of societal constructs geared to rationalizing and controlling war, but just about all of the nations on earth appreciate the need for controlling, if not rationalizing, war.

Any rule of war is, on its face, obscene. Rules of War are a concession to the inevitability of war, and the refusal of societies to make a committed effort towards eliminating the practice, and yet these very rules are held in extremely high regard by so called anti-war activists. The Geneva Conventions are holy writ to organizations like Amnesty International and the Red Cross.

For the sake of humanity, moral relativism has no place in matters of war.

The morally relativistic statement that "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter," may satisfy the post-modernist Liberal, but it runs counter to the same Liberal's reliance upon the Rules of War to preserve civilization.

Terrorists, by definition, target non-combatant civilians for the purpose of creating a politically influential state of terror. Al-Quaeda has no hope of militarily defeating the US, but it might be able to influence American politics by creating a state of fear and terror among Americans.

Should a nation target non-combatant civilians for the purpose of engendering politically influential terror, it will have become a terrorist state.

A nation that produces "collateral damage" while attacking militarily influencial targets, is not a terrorist state.

It may, depending upon one's point of view, be reprehensible, but it is not terrorist.

French resistance fighters who blew up German officers in sidewalk cafes were not terrorists, even if their actions resulted in the death of innocent bystanders.

It is nonsensical to assert that either McVeigh or Rudolph attacked military targets and the deaths of innocents in Oklahoma City and Atlanta were collateral damage.

Aside from the fact that both of these individuals are/were demented and incapable of the required degree of deliberation, there is ample evidence to suggest that both saw their murderous actions as advancing political rather than militarily goals.

As usual, it comes down to the fact that you can't have your cake and eat it. You can't promote the enforcement of Rules of War on the one hand, and then attempt to ignore them when arguing that there is no difference between terrorists and nation state armies.

It is a sad and sick calculus, but like any working system, the rules, as abstract and obscene they may be, must be applied with consistency.

That there are homegrown, even Right-Wing, American terrorists is entirely immaterial to the consideration of how to respond to foreign terrorists, but it is symptomatic of the childish level of partisan rhetoric in this country that some would strongly suggest otherwise.
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Sat 7 May, 2005 08:32 pm
Good stuff Finn.
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blatham
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 May, 2005 06:28 am
Quote:
MIAMI, May 5 - From the United States through Latin America and the Caribbean, Luis Posada Carriles has spent 45 years fighting a violent, losing battle to overthrow Fidel Castro. Now he may have nowhere to hide but here.

moreMr. Posada, a Cuban exile, has long been a symbol for the armed anti-Castro movement in the United States. He remains a prime suspect in the bombing of a Cuban commercial airliner that killed 73 people in 1976. He has admitted to plotting attacks that damaged tourist spots in Havana and killed an Italian visitor there in 1997. He was convicted in Panama in a 2000 bomb plot against Mr. Castro. He is no longer welcome in his old Latin America haunts.

Mr. Posada, 77, sneaked back into Florida six weeks ago in an effort to seek political asylum for having served as a cold war soldier on the payroll of the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1960's, his lawyer, Eduardo Soto, said at a news conference last month.

But the government of Venezuela wants to extradite and retry him for the Cuban airline bombing. Mr. Posada was involved "up to his eyeballs" in planning the attack, said Carter Cornick, a retired counterterrorism specialist for the Federal Bureau of Investigation who investigated Mr. Posada's role in that case. A newly declassified 1976 F.B.I. document places Mr. Posada, who had been a senior Venezuelan intelligence officer, at two meetings where the bombing was planned.

As "the author or accomplice of homicide, Venezuela's Supreme Court said Tuesday, "he must be extradited and judged."
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Ticomaya
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 May, 2005 07:24 am
Cycloptichorn wrote:
Quote:
The fact that you can't seem to make a moral distinction between the actions of the US, and the actions of the islamo-terrorists, is evident, ... but it doesn't mean there isn't one.


Well? Why don't you point out for us what the distinction is?

In real terms, we've killed many, many, many more innocents then they have. Many more.

I'm sure you will respond with 'purposes, intentions, reasoning' type of answer; but that's bullshit, it's all a POV. The dead are still dead.

Cycloptichorn


You know of the distinction I'm referring to, you simply don't see it or agree with it. You believe this notion of "the dead are still dead," as if there is no distinction between the cold-blooded killer who guns down an innocent, and the police officer who guns down that same killer. No distinction as far as you are concerned: they both killed. It matters not to you why they killed.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 May, 2005 07:26 am
Why, for example, that same police officer felt it necessary to spray the street with automatic weapons fire, slaughtering a dozen innocent bystanders in order to "get his man?" Yes, i find it hard to understand such a distinction.
0 Replies
 
Ticomaya
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 May, 2005 07:34 am
Setanta wrote:
Why, for example, that same police officer felt it necessary to spray the street with automatic weapons fire, slaughtering a dozen innocent bystanders in order to "get his man?" Yes, i find it hard to understand such a distinction.


http://www-personal.umich.edu/~lilyth/cartoon/mrdid.jpg
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 May, 2005 07:36 am
No strawman at all, Tico. Cyclo refers to the thousands of Iraqis who have died so that we could "get" a handful of Ba'atist murders--hence the reference to innocent bystanders.

Of course, that might mean nothing to you if you subscribe to the notion that all Muslims are the enemy.
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Ticomaya
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 May, 2005 07:51 am
Setanta wrote:
No strawman at all, Tico. Cyclo refers to the thousands of Iraqis who have died so that we could "get" a handful of Ba'atist murders--hence the reference to innocent bystanders.

Of course, that might mean nothing to you if you subscribe to the notion that all Muslims are the enemy.


Cyclo goes on to state:

Quote:
I'm sure you will respond with 'purposes, intentions, reasoning' type of answer; but that's bullshit, it's all a POV. The dead are still dead.


In other words, he does not think "purposes, intentions, reasoning" bears upon whether a killing is justified ... after all "the dead are still dead." My example was focusing on that point, not the issue of collateral damage, which Finn seems to have satisfactorily addressed. My point is that purposes, intentions, and reasoning do matter.

Of course that might mean nothing to you if you equate the actions of the US military with that of the Islamo-terrorists.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 May, 2005 07:55 am
Collateral damage, what a wonderful euphemism. While i do not equate the actions of the United States military with Islamic terrorism, I do consider the likes of the Shrub and Rummy as no better than the Islamic terrorists, and they set the United States military in motion. The principle difference which i can see between the current administration and the Muslim extremists is that the latter are motivated by religious fanaticism, whereas the former simply use religious fanaticism as a tool to attain the venal ends of their wealthy cronies.
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blatham
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 May, 2005 08:03 am
blatham
Quote:
I'm not clear on why you hedge with a 'probably' on Ruldolph. He's blown up and killed folks like you and me walking around at a public event so as to send a political and religious message.


brandon
Quote:
Because I would have to see whether he tried hard to get only clinic workers, and no one else. That could be a factor in applying the definition. I hate what he did. It is as much murder as the abortions being performed there, and absolutely unjustifiable. I am hedging because I am trying to apply my definition fairly. As I said, Rudolph could construct an argument that the people actually performing the abortions, and the peripheral workers at the clinic were not civilians. I do not know whether this would be a correct argument or not, but it would not be an absurd argument.


An argument is absurd when, applied elsewhere, it can be seen to entail absurdities.

You have Rulolph hypothetically arguing that clinic workers (nurses, doctors, support staff) are not 'civilians'. This, of course, transforms the meaning of the word 'civilian' (someone engaged in civil life, particularly not a soldier or policeman) into an all-purpose term which might include anyone doing anything in the community which you strenuously or sincerely disapprove of.

I could, in precisely the same manner (all that is required is my strong disapproval) 'construct an argument' which defined the Pope or any representative of his church as a 'non-civilian' for their stance and activism on any number of subjects.

Or, I could make just such an 'argument' regarding weapons manufacturers, or tobacco executives (who knowingly helped cause many deaths), or really anyone at all.
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