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How to Define Terrorism?
1. Merriam Webster definition of Terrorism: "the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion"
2. Relativism should be remembered. "One person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter."
3. Hence, terrorism is a PROPAGANDA WAR from a cultural relativism point of view.
a. Example: How does one distinguish between American Revolutionaries in the 18th century and "Middle Eastern" revolutionaries in the 20th century: Or the Israeli Gov. and the PLO, both targeting civilians?
4. Really, there is no such thing as terrorist, per se. It’s simply a subjective title with no bearing on objective principals. (Unless you wanted to use the logic that anyone or any government who kills for some purpose is a terrorist also). So, either everyone is a terrorist or no one is a terrorist.
5. The literal definition of terrorism does not distinguish between intent, action, and result: Making it politically relative.
a. Example: British Gov. regards the IRA as a terrorist movement, because of its history of targeting civilian targets. Yet the American Gov. regards the IRA as a legitimate group with a legitimate cause. (As evidenced by its’ NON-listing in the State Departments official manifesto of terrorist groups:) Although the U.S. Gov. sees the IRA’s methods as ‘terroristic’, it non-the-less understands the reasons for the cause of the IRA’s grievance.
6. Although all terrorism has conceptual similarities, which allow for comparison, all terrorism depends on the political context of which they occur.
7. "The concept of terrorism is a short-cut to the moral high ground. That is what makes it so useful. It says: The end doesn’t justify the means. We don’t need to argue about whose cause is right and whose is wrong because certain behavior makes you the bad guy however noble your cause." – "Defining Terrorism" By Michael Kinsley
What is ‘Global Terrorism’?
1. According to the U.S. Department of State, there are three criteria that a group must meet before they can be designated as a foreign terrorist organization:
i. The organization must be foreign.
ii. The organization must engage in terrorist activity as defined in Section 212 (a)(3)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
iii. The organization’s activities must threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security (national defense, foreign relations or economic interests) of the United States.
2. Criterion iii is the most important one, due to the subjective quality of the word, ‘threaten’.
How to define Victory in this "U.S. War on Terrorism"?
1. Define Terrorism. Since there can be no definition of "Terrorism" that doesn’t logically include the U.S. or exclude everyone, then Scratch that objective.
2. Focus the "War on Terrorism" on Afghanistan only. Widening the war beyond Afghanistan will compromise the coalition of governments that the Bush Administration has assembled since the Sept. 11th attacks. The Bush Administration has, however, already signaled its intention to globalize the "War on Terrorism":
a. "Oct. 9, 2001 – Terrorists tied to Osama bin Laden’s network and based in the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia are among the likely targets of future covert and overt American actions, United States officials said today" [NYT ‘American Action Is Held Likely in Asia’ by Tim Weiner]
3. Define the military mission.
a. Mission: Afghanistan.
b. Remove the Taliban regime from power.
c. Eradicate terrorist training camps.
d. Apprehend or assassinate members of Al-Qaeda Organization.
e. Instill some form of dispensation in Afghanistan, which will not allow Afghanistan to become a haven for terrorists.
4. Define the political mission.
a. Provide a culprit for the U.S. public to blame. Focus the nation’s resentment on a perpetrator(s) that the U.S. is capable and willing to annihilate.
b. Instigate a retaliatory strike on a proposed culprit in order to bring about a sense of retribution among the U.S. public psyche.
c. Focus the U.S. public’s attention on a contained and well-defined goal, i.e., destruction of Al-Qa’ida and the toppling of the Taliban regime.
5. The U.S. should not extend this "War on Terrorism" until it has completed its goals in Afghanistan, however, that’s the problem and one that the U.S. is about to enter into. The U.S. is obviously in a "learn as we go" mentality which was one of many problems with Vietnam. However, unlike Vietnam, the U.S. has major support from its own population: a support that is likely to vanish unless they can present a "clear" picture of victory.
a. Will the U.S. population feel victorious if we reduce Afghanistan to a protectorate? Not with all the dangers that will come from that scenario.
b. Will the U.S. population feel victorious if we topple the Taliban and complete our "business" with Al-Qa’ida and then pullout and leave Afghanistan in the fractious embrace of the Northern Alliance? Even with the ex-King making public appearances in Afghanistan, did that prevent him from getting disposed of before?
6. Since there are already enough consequences from a possible endless war in Afghanistan, we should not get ahead of ourselves and take this "War on Terrorism", (which of course does not apply in Kashmir, Chechnya, Palestine, etc.) to a "War on Global Terrorism". Let’s just leave it how it is now: A selective "War on Islamic Terrorism".