This is real Terrorism not Liberation
by Yamin Zakaria
(Tuesday 09 December 2003)
"...the West and Israel are engaged in military action, they have created a climate, whereby “terrorism” is almost synonymously portrayed with the actions of non-State actors. Hence State terrorism is never a key feature of any discourse on the subject."
What difference does it make to the parents of those murdered children in Afghanistan, whether it was caused by an accident or the result of bad intelligence? Were the US forces not dispensing an Israeli version of collective punishment when they pounded the town of Samarra with “over whelming force”, destroying property and killing civilians? Why is the killing of any Westerner or an Israeli is automatically classified as “terrorism” but not the murder of civilians in Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan? Why is it that those who resist and avenge for their loved ones are constantly maligned as “fanatics” or “extremists”? Why is it, that those trigger happy soldiers, sitting in their well shielded armoured vehicles, dispensing “over whelming force” indiscriminately upon civilians, portrayed as ‘heroes’ and ‘lib! erators’ rather then despicable illiterate cowards? Will those (newspaper editors, TV reporters, Politicians, etc.) who never tire of hounding the Muslim community stand up and condemn those “terrorists” (criminals) who have murdered these civilians, with the same level of passion? Will the apologists and the ‘diplomats’ amongst the Muslim community raise their heads, and pursue the justice for these recent killings with the same level of enthusiasm, or is the next Iftar party with the war criminals too tempting? If Benjamin Zephaniah as a non-Muslim can set such a magnificent and dignified example on the basis of his belief in favour of the Muslim community, is it too much to ask the same from our self-appointed apologists and ‘diplomats’?
Just examine the news reports from any of the mainstream media; there is no outcry, there is no condemnation and no such words (“terrorism”) have been attributed to the recent killings of the civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why? To a layperson, the line of argument presented by the Western intelligentsia is as follows: The civilians were not their intended targets but those who are actually involved in resisting the occupation. Hence, the US and her allies can never be guilty of “terrorism” since it is only applicable to those who target civilians intentionally and recently also applied to those who are fighting a guerrilla war on their own soil.
On the first point of intention, that has to be proven with evidence; after all we do not take the “innocent” plea of a murderer at face value, otherwise manslaughter would be the only outcome of all homicides. If the US forces are using “overwhelming force” in civilian areas then surely the intention is self-evident. As Collin Powell and Madeline Albright would say, we have to accept some level of “collateral damage”, even if it is half a million kids (as long they are not American)! On the second point of guerrillas fighting in the war, which includes targeting of civilians or non-combatants, these are conveniently construed as “terrorist” activities, which in reality is devoid of the political reality. Those in Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan are fighting a defensive war; they are the ones who are occupied, an! d not the occupiers. Yet somehow, this is presented as the US defending itself as opposed to engaging in a pre-emptive strike on defenceless nations. Hence, the resistance movement has no choice other then to attack non-military targets. How else can they resist against a well-equipped army? Many would argue for a negotiated settlement with the occupying powers. However, being in a weaker position there is very little to negotiate with. The path to negotiation would no doubt lead to the ultimate subjugation and demise of the nations character, and its core values, so there is very little incentive to pursue that path.
As the various nation states of the West and Israel are engaged in military action, they have created a climate, whereby “terrorism” is almost synonymously portrayed with the actions of non-State actors. Hence State terrorism is never a key feature of any discourse on the subject. Thus the US soldiers killing civilians due to bad intelligence, or “over whelming force” or due to their sheer hatred of the Muslims/Arabs (perhaps, contributed by the indoctrination of the mass media, post 9/11) is never portrayed as a “terrorist” action, no matter how many civilians and/or non-combatants are killed. Is it any surprise that the US is always looking to coerce other nations to exempt its (US) soldie! rs from being subjected to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court?
Since “terrorism” lacks an universally agreed precise definition; it would be a much fairer assessment to examine the notion from its linguistic definitions, then examine the political circumstances surrounding the action(s). The very word “terrorism” is a derivative of the word “terror”. Therefore the first question should be about the magnitude of the “terror”. The ability of an organised military force, equipped with the most lethal weapons, has a far greater capability to deliver “terror” unlike the non-State actors, who are motley of disgruntled groups or individuals. Hence, the “terror” that emanates from the war machine of the State represents the pinnacle of “terror! ism” on the basis of its magnitude. It may be a simplistic approach but examining the civilian casualties in the recent conflicts gives credence to that notion. Is it any surprise that the US is not too interested in the number of civilian casualties to date? Certainly, we never hear the figure on the BBC, CNN or FOX. The next question should be used to highlight, who really is delivering the “terror” and to whom, which in essence reflects the underlying political motivation for engaging in military action. It would be reasonable to state that legitimacy should be given on the basis of who is fighting a defensive war as opposed to those engaged in an outright unprovoked aggression. Neither Iraq nor Afghanistan physically launched an attack upon the US; it cannot be seriously suggested that such nations posed an imminent threat given the enormous military and economic muscle of the US. Therefore, the defending party are entitled to resort to any means to defend themselves and consequently the notion of “terrorism” cannot be applied to them. Hence, an objective assessment of the notion of “terrorism” can lead to only one possible conclusion, that it is the US, and its brutal allies, who are behaving like vultures and they are the real terrorists.
Then comes the question of what is the remedy for these victims. There is no point in providing sympathy, condolences, or launching another unending and inconclusive self-investigation, what is needed is simply real justice. Who should try the case? By what principal? Since the crime has occurred on Iraqi and Afghani soil, it would be fair that the indigenous population tries them under their own laws. This is also in line with Democratic values, and as everyone knows. Bush is eager to establish democracy in the region. Why not lead by such an example? After all, would this not have been the outcome if a similar incidence took place on the soil of any of the coalition members?
The writer is a Graduate in Chemistry from London University and Technical Director.