Fighting "Terrorism" by Dana Williams


No single definition of “terrorism” has gained universal acceptance. For the purposes of argument, let’s use the definition of “terrorism” contained in Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f(d). That statute contains the following definitions:

Thus, we can apply this definition towards the actions of many parties throughout the world, including sovereign states, governments, individual citizens, autonomous groups, etc.

Let’s apply these definitions to both the US and Iraq. The US’s intention to bomb and invade Iraq meets the definition of terrorism because:

The only thing that is missing is the fact that the US is not a “subnational group” or necessarily “clandestine” (the CIA notwithstanding). But, does this stand in the way of our definition? If we follow the logic of the above definition, no group in power of a state could actually commit terrorism. Thus, Saddam Hussein could not be a terrorist, since he is the head of a government. The same would go for the former Taliban in Afghanistan.

This is, of course, ridiculous. I submit that it is even more important to label those in power as terrorist when they do the above, because:

Anyone can be a “terrorist”, not just the US’s official enemies. If it is to be a truly respected idea and definition, it must be fairly applied to everyone, our allies and even ourselves. Remember that old saying your mother taught you? “Don’t point your finger at others (because when you do four fingers point back at you)”. The same is true in international politics—or at least should be.

If the most powerful military power in the world failed to turn the mirror on itself to ask the important and difficult questions, where is its ethics? Indeed, failing to challenge the violence of US actions is devoid of morality. Americans have an obligation to not do the same heinous actions that we accuse others of. Is it not obvious?

The US government’s “War on Terrorism” is illogical and immoral for the following reasons:

  1. It ignores political motivations
  2. It is being executed militarily, not politically
  3. It is based upon revenge
  4. It has skirted International Law and other protocols of mediation and intervention
  5. It targets human beings, not “terrorism” itself
  6. It creates further double-standards in US foreign policy
  7. It does not outline clear distinctions of “terrorism”
  8. It fails to analyze the “terrorism” of official allies and the US government itself
  9. It inflicts terror upon equally innocent human targets
  10. It works to achieve results not under the stated purpose, such as war industry profits, US hegemony gains, continued energy reserve domination, etc.
  11. It involves incredible reductionism in logic and rhetoric from politicians and military personnel
  12. It is being used as a justification for domestic repression of immigrants, people of color, civil liberties, political activists, and others
  13. It violates widely shared belief in the Golden Rule
  14. It fails to discriminate between terrorists and those who share the ethnic, religious, and political beliefs of terrorists.
  15. It is reactionary and not preventive
  16. It lacks transparency in justification and application
  17. It acts as the moral justifier to continued and increased economic and military repression throughout the world
  18. It is a catch-all phrase which creates unquestioning obedience from citizens of “our leaders”
  19. It will replicate and spread the conditions for further acts of terrorism
  20. It operates on the false presumption that “two wrongs make a right”

No “just” end is justified through unjust means and methods. Thus, if any of the preceding is true (and I assert it is), the “War on Terrorism” is an unjust policy and requires the resistance of those who believe in justice. Resistance to injustice does not mean support of terrorism. In fact, resistance to injustice is the best way to fight “terrorism”, since terrorism itself is an act of injustice. It is morally reprehensible to adopt the same methods and motivations of terrorists themselves to “rid ourselves” of terrorism.

One does not fight terrorism by causing further terror no more than one makes friends via abusive words. Gandhi’s classic observation is of immeasurable importance: “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

To turn Bush’s notorious sound bite (and fallacy) “you’re either with us or the terrorists” around: “you’re either against violence of all kinds or you’re for violence of all kinds.”