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

jbone at place.org jbone at place.org
Mon Mar 15 10:36:30 PST 2004

On Mar 15, 2004, at 12:12 PM, Owen Byrne wrote:

> Well how about the American Revolution? Terrorists are just 
> revolutionaries who haven't won yet.

Disagree.  That's a dangerous failure to draw necessary distinctions 
--- unfortunately it's an uptrending meme, and it's a destructive one 
for all sorts of reasons.  There's a fundamental difference in 
terrorism and revolution.  Rebels / insurgencies seek to usurp an 
existing authority --- and they practically believe that they can do so 
and rule after a victory.  To do so, they require the post-victory 
goodwill of the people in question;  they believe they represent at 
least a localized majority opinion in opposition to the establishment.  
If they "randomly" target civilian targets, they lose that goodwill.

The Taliban was never completely legitimate because it never 
represented the broader interests of those it would rule.  Yet it did 
rule, so it wasn't strictly speaking a terrorist organization.

Targeting civilians among the broad population that would be ruled is 
antithetical to revolution.  Terrorists generally seek to accomplish 
some specific set of changes;  they do not necessarily seek ruling 
authority for themselves, so they are less inclined to "play nice."

Note the sectarian terrorist incidents all over the Middle East of late 
(Sunni vs. Shi'ite, etc.)  The problem is that none of these constitute 
real revolution, since none of the constituencies and none of the 
agendas are really directed at overthrowing any status quo in these 

Terrorists seek to accomplish change by scaring civilians into changing 
their governing power structure and its policies.

Israel / PLO is a weird case.  In this case, you could almost claim 
that it's state warfare;  it's a lot more analogous to the American 
revolution than many of the other conflicts.  But even then, it's 
different due to the vast numbers of Israelis living in the region.

> Course I can. Its the typical rest of the world is worth my attention 
> for 5 minutes attitude. Perhaps I'm overqualified having lived in 
> Spain, but it was obvious to me that ETA was being hyped for political 
> purposes. I had seen on Friday and Saturday and asked "why?" - so when 
> the election result came in, the result was obvious. Americans just 
> didn't notice that amidst the mourning, there was some complaining 
> going on. Not so much because of their individual chauvinism as much 
> as the Media Monopolies that spin everything to fit the party line. So 
> I guess its the people who run the media who I'm calling chauvinist.

Okay, that's fair.


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