[FoRK] Ugh. "Don't Feed The Terrorists!"

jbone at place.org jbone at place.org
Mon Mar 15 06:45:52 PST 2004

On Mar 15, 2004, at 8:25 AM, Owen Byrne wrote:

> Actually it is my personal theory that the only way you stop 
> terrorists is to give them a seat at the table. Worked in Quebec, 
> worked in Ireland. Terrorists have wonderful pure principles (Ireland 
> for the Irish! Vive Le Quebec Libre!) and the best way to demolish 
> them is to involve them in the political process. Its not so easy
> to be pure ideologically when you have constituents and their opinions 
> to deal with.

Better to give them a seat at the table directly than to let their 
asymmetric force-projection experiments bear fruit indirectly, agreed.  
Particularly in the case when it's unlikely that you can surgically 
remove them entirely, or when their removal will simply breed more 
terrorists in an endless vicious cycle.  Mainstream 'em and solve the 

Problem is, it's rather more difficult to do in the Middle East than 
elsewhere.  In both Ireland and Canada the terrorists, despite having a 
disjoint set of goals and desires, are still embedded in a rather 
monocultural local framework.  The situation in the Middle East is so 
completely fucked that it's not clear how this would work.  The 
attempts to give various groups a seat in the past (e.g. PLO) helped 
for a while but eventually degenerated to worse than they were 

> Not to mention that getting bogged down in Iraq has probably defanged 
> the greatest terrorist of them all.

One minor quibble with this:  I have a problem with the rampant, 
jingoist misapplication of the term terrorist on every side of this 
issue.  It dilutes a word that, in today's world, we really *need* to 
have maintain its consensus definition.

By definition, terrorists aren't states.  Terrorists are weak non-state 
groups that seek to accomplish change (disproportionate to their actual 
ability to project force) through the surgical application of horrific 
violence against civilian targets.  This is the problem I have with 
using the term in connection to Iraq / SH, and it's also a problem 
here.  Both the US and Iraq don't fit the definition because, indeed, 
the US and Iraq are both states.


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