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1 researchok  Tue, Jun 28, 2011 8:50:32am

I will try to listen to this tonight.

In any event, consider the following:

“Terrorism” is a description of a means, a method of deliberately attacking or threatening to attack civilian targets in order to achieve political goals. “Freedom fighting” is a description of an end, as a freedom fighter’s goal is national liberation. An individual could participate in “terrorism” and “freedom fighting” simultaneously, because one word describes means, while the other describes ends. To say that a Palestinian suicide bomber is not condemnable as a terrorist because the bomber’s cause is national liberation is to argue that the end justifies the means.”

2 CuriousLurker  Tue, Jun 28, 2011 1:43:48pm

re: #1 researchok

I will try to listen to this tonight.

In any event, consider the following:

“Terrorism” is a description of a means, a method of deliberately attacking or threatening to attack civilian targets in order to achieve political goals. “Freedom fighting” is a description of an end, as a freedom fighter’s goal is national liberation. An individual could participate in “terrorism” and “freedom fighting” simultaneously, because one word describes means, while the other describes ends. To say that a Palestinian suicide bomber is not condemnable as a terrorist because the bomber’s cause is national liberation is to argue that the end justifies the means.”

Not much to consider as it's pretty obvious that the end doesn't justify the means, so I'm not sure what your point is. The same formula could be applied to quite a few things. A few other cases off the top of my head where (IMO) the end doesn't justify the means:

wikileaks (means) → government transparency (end)
torture (means) → saving lives/preventing attacks (end)
preventive war (means) → national security (end)
deprivation of citizens' civil liberties (means) → security/stability (end)

3 researchok  Tue, Jun 28, 2011 2:16:44pm

You are right, of course.

My point is that all too often we assign labels and in doing so, we give a pass to those who ought not be getting one.

For example, I recall after 9/11 there was some talk of our foreign policy 'causing' that event- as if there was a moral equivalence and thus a justification for that terror., etc.

Radical Israeli settlers declare their 'right' to every inch of land they deem of biblical origin and Palestinian extremists insist every bit of Israel as Dar al Islam. They use religion as the excuse and justification of their dysfunction.

And that is before the politics.

Labels. You gotta love em.

4 CuriousLurker  Tue, Jun 28, 2011 3:32:13pm

re: #3 researchok

My point is that all too often we assign labels and in doing so, we give a pass to those who ought not be getting one.

For example, I recall after 9/11 there was some talk of our foreign policy 'causing' that event- as if there was a moral equivalence and thus a justification for that terror., etc.

There is no justification for acts of terrorism. Ever. Period. That said, I think it would be foolish to pretend that our foreign policy has no effect on the lives of faceless people we will never meet, people whose daily reality we cannot possibly comprehend from the relative comfort & freedom of our own existence, people we seem to consider largely expendable as long as our international strategic political interests are met.

Hawks & politicians can call it realpolitik or whatever other euphemism effectively removes awareness of the human reality from the concept, but it's there nonetheless. No nation, NOT ONE, no matter how rich & powerful has ever remained "on top" indefinitely. I worry about the day when we slip from the top spot and are at the mercy of others. To me, the Golden Rule is more about a CYA type of reciprocity in anticipation of the shoe eventually being on the other foot than it is about "being nice" because it's the right thing to do.

Radical Israeli settlers declare their 'right' to every inch of land they deem of biblical origin and Palestinian extremists insist every bit of Israel as Dar al Islam. They use religion as the excuse and justification of their dysfunction.

After the viciousness I witnessed in the comments on reine's Gilad Shalit Page the other day, I'm no longer inclined to discuss the I-P issue here. If I have questions about Judaism, Zionism or Israel, I'll ask them, but other than that I'm not touching the subject online again as the feelings are too strong. Understandable perhaps, but not something I want to deal with as it doesn't facilitate learning.

And that is before the politics.

Labels. You gotta love em.

Yeah, politics & labels seem to go hand in glove. :-|

5 Achilles Tang  Tue, Jun 28, 2011 4:23:25pm
the religious vs. political aspects of terrorism and ask whether or not it matters.

What we call terrorism has many self justifications. The justifications are what the terrorist call them.

To pretend, as the commentator does, that this is complicated or irrelevant is trite and simply apologetic.

If someone says they do it for Christ or Allah, or in their name, then that is good enough for me and to pretend that those who do it in the name of Allah don't really mean it, or are not the majority of terrorist actors in this age is like saying people have nothing to do with AGW.

6 researchok  Tue, Jun 28, 2011 5:14:09pm

re: #4 CuriousLurker

Your understanding is rational- an response that is non emotional and thus antithetical to both contemporary religious and political fervor-and therein lies the problem.

The religious and political friction in ME is deliberately cultivated. Rational expression is discouraged because rational discussion and exchange will inevitably lead to compromise and compromise inevitably leads to 'good neighbors' That idea is unacceptable to anyone on either side in positions of influence whose power is derived from instigating and prolonging the conflict. Make no mistake, there are powers that be on both sides who have exploited the conflict for their own political and religious empowerment.

As for our foreign policy influencing opinion elsewhere, of course that is true- but so what? Lots of regimes hate us and we abhor certain regimes as well. As you note, there is no justification for terror.

Finally, your remarks on previous empires influencing our own I fear is wishful thinking. I suspect if and when there comes a regime that supersedes our own, violence will be a part of the picture no matter what.

The human condition has many facets, not the least of which is our own self perception as that of being either the hunter or the hunted (That is a whole other treatise but I suspect you can imagine how that plays out on the political/religious/cultural stage).

I am hopeful for us because unlike earlier empires, ours is not predicated on race, religion, creed, etc. That one distinction is huge. We can and do look back from an elevated vantage point and see not only the mistakes of the past but also beyond the horizon so as know what to do to save this Republic.

The I-P conflict has morphed greatly. It used to be about land and such but the reality is neither side is going away. Now it is about something very different- credibility and narrative. Rather than deal with hard choices, both sides want their narrative to be reflective of reality.

In many ways, both sides are very, very dysfunctional. The Holocaust left Israel with leaders who see any disagreement as the beginning of the next tragedy. Hard right religious leaders encourage the notion that God wants them to bring in the Messianic Age by usurping the Palestinians at every turn. The Palestinians and much of the Arab world in turn have been inculcated with the idea that God wants and will reward them for 'rivers of blood, by self serving dysfunctional and corrupt leaders who could care less about them. There is a steady stream of hate that has escalated the problem over decades.

The whole mess is made worse by the reality these two groups are 'cousins'. Like your family and mine, each side wants to have the last word.

I just recalled a story from my college days that is germane.

I had a Italian roommate in college. One minor holiday, he invited me for the weekend to his home. I was astonished at the noisiness, crowds and boisterous atmosphere (very, very different from my home. Once or twice a week my mother made us 'dress' fro dinner- and I don't mean put on clothes. My mother wanted us to be 'proper'.)

In any event, at the big finale family dinner things got out of hand between two uncles. I was mortified. After dinner and the 12 rounds that followed I could hardly wait to get back to school. After being given 40 pounds of leftovers my friend came outside to see me off. He asked if I had a good time. I said I did and I hoped everything between the two uncles worked out.

He looked at me quizzically, laughed and said, "It isn't a real family get together without death threats".

And so it is in the ME.

7 Achilles Tang  Tue, Jun 28, 2011 6:23:19pm

Wrench, if you have something to say, say it and debate, don't just be another dingaling.

8 researchok  Tue, Jun 28, 2011 6:48:48pm

re: #7 Naso Tang

Wrench, if you have something to say, say it and debate, don't just be another dingaling.

What's up with that? WW is stand up!

9 What, me worry?  Tue, Jun 28, 2011 7:06:10pm
Lots of interesting points are discussed in the video in a non-hysterical, reasoned manner.

Surely you jest! LOL

I think what CL wants to do is try to get into the discussion of terrorism without picking out specific conflicts and their issues. I watched the whole video and there's a lot of material here to cover!

Btw, I didn't know either of these folks, Faiza and Arun. They do work with human rights organizations. She seems to have a more academic background (Harvard) so that's impressive. OTOH, when I hear "human rights", it usually means Israel is to blame somewhere! But I didn't see that in either of their bios. (I sniff around, you know)

Certainly they have experience in the field so when Faiza said that there are no studies that show what we think about radicalization is true, I was surprised. That they are 2nd gen Muslims, young, may have had a crisis, become more religious and then go on to terrorism. She said this model is inaccurate and has never been substantiated.

Arun said that in the U.K., they consider religious exploration in and of itself a sign of Stage 1 terrorism. Growing a beard, stopping cigs and booze, going to the mosque, etc. Of course, that would make it rather tough for the average person who just wants to add God into his or her life.

The problem, to me, is one that's very difficult to touch, and despite the odd Jihad Jane or Adam Gadahn, millions of people live in fear-based societies who are told who the enemy is ("the West"). I wasn't sure if Faiza and Arun would discredit that, tho I think they might. I'm not sure how they can. They are against war, Ok. Is the Arab Spring the answer then? I'd like to hear them discuss this also. Otherwise, those of us attacked are left to deal with it.

The psychology is a sticky one and may never be just one thing. I was listening to a rabbi talk about this a few month's ago and his take was that martyrdom is based in narcissism. The need to have your name forever connected to killing the enemy. It's not about following God's law. It's all ego driven. I think there's something to that.

Where that leaves us, I don't know. I'm not against tracking down the leaders and killing or capturing them.

10 researchok  Tue, Jun 28, 2011 8:19:30pm

I just watched the whole episode. Like MM says, lots to digest,

The only immediate observation I have is that neither one really broached the subject of choices.

It is easy to say the root cause of terror is politics or foreign policy, but how true is that?

A Palestinian can put on a suicide vest and wreak havoc. That is a choice he made. Nevertheless, we don't see the survivors or family of the victims putting on suicide vests and doing the same. Why the different choice?

It is at this point I believe politics (and explicitly not religion) plays a role. These poor kids are manipulated and indoctrinated by those with agendas that are in every way counter to finding a solution to the problem. It is impossible to sit down with someone for whom terror is a form of political, religious or cultural expression and expect to come to an agreement. Why? Because the threat and specter of even more terror is explicit.

I wish the Palestinians would have their own Arab Spring. I suspect they'd be most successful in that endeavor.

They have been used and they know it.

11 Achilles Tang  Tue, Jun 28, 2011 8:35:03pm

re: #8 researchok

What's up with that? WW is stand up!

I presumed you have missed a few exchanges. WW and I have had a few dust ups, mainly about her down dinging my critiques of CL posts without comment. I find it tiresome when people downding without comment unless the post in question is something really obscene, or exceptionally stupid (which I only do once per year).

However I figure I have enough karma left to last me for a few years yet, so I will challenge all dingalings to use the keyboard instead of the poor mouse.

12 What, me worry?  Tue, Jun 28, 2011 8:37:43pm

re: #10 researchok

I just watched the whole episode. Like MM says, lots to digest,

The only immediate observation I have is that neither one really broached the subject of choices.

It is easy to say the root cause of terror is politics or foreign policy, but how true is that?.

I'm not going to respond to the rest, because I'm off to bed in a bit and I don't really want to get specific.

But I will agree about foreign policy being the culprit which is where they were going. Al Queda was formed in the 80s by Bin Laden. We came to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. We fought with the mujahdeen and others, and then they turned against us, and so it went.

There will always be a reason to blame the West. Are we to change our free societies to appease it? I don't think so. I don't know if that's where they're going. We may have to make some exceptions to civil liberties, and we have in flying. But also the U.K. and the U.S. face much different challenges too.

13 researchok  Tue, Jun 28, 2011 8:44:12pm

re: #11 Naso Tang

I presumed you have missed a few exchanges. WW and I have had a few dust ups, mainly about her down dinging my critiques of CL posts without comment. I find it tiresome when people downding without comment unless the post in question is something really obscene, or exceptionally stupid (which I only do once per year).

However I figure I have enough karma left to last me for a few years yet, so I will challenge all dingalings to use the keyboard instead of the poor mouse.

I missed those exchanges, but when all said and done, I believe character and not comments is what counts.

WW and I don't always see eye to eye politically, but overall I respect her and like her. I have to credit her with pointing me in the right direction at times and I believe I've given her stuff to think about. We've been at odds from time to time, but overall, we actually engage in productive exchange. That's one of the reasons I like this place.

In any event, WW is stand up. Disagreeing is not cause to be offended. This place works because on the scale, it isn't personal.

14 researchok  Tue, Jun 28, 2011 8:46:11pm

re: #12 marjoriemoon

I'm not going to respond to the rest, because I'm off to bed in a bit and I don't really want to get specific.

But I will agree about foreign policy being the culprit which is where they were going. Al Queda was formed in the 80s by Bin Laden. We came to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. We fought with the mujahdeen and others, and then they turned against us, and so it went.

There will always be a reason to blame the West. Are we to change our free societies to appease it? I don't think so. I don't know if that's where they're going. We may have to make some exceptions to civil liberties, and we have in flying. But also the U.K. and the U.S. face much different challenges too.

Damn your smart.

Nest thing you'll be posting that techie, Greek to me, CL Stuff.

Go ahead, kill me.

15 What, me worry?  Wed, Jun 29, 2011 6:44:21am

re: #14 researchok

Damn your smart.

Nest thing you'll be posting that techie, Greek to me, CL Stuff.

Go ahead, kill me.

heh Thanks for the vote of confidence. I'll try to refrain from killing you :)

I'm one of those who doesn't care about the psychology of the killers. The lone wolves generate some curiosity (McVeigh, Gadhan), but Al Queda, the Taliban? What psychological formula will stop them? Arun said teachers and counselors to help young men in crisis. That's fine, but that's two pieces of the formula that Faiza said wasn't substantiated. 1) young men); 2) in crisis. So... is it a thing or isn't it a thing?

I know the answers are not easy. The questions aren't any easier! You have terrorism growing in free societies v terrorism in fear based societies.

This is going to sound a bit pie-in-the-sky, but it may help to concentrate on activities that bind us within our communities. Christians, Muslims and Jews building bridges through a good community cause like soup kitchens, fairs/festivals, fundraisers for breast cancer, the homeless, women's shelters, etc. Something totally not religious or political. Working towards a common community goal brings people together and it drives out prejudice.

16 Achilles Tang  Wed, Jun 29, 2011 10:55:56am

re: #13 researchok

I have no problem with what you say. This is a case of sniping and not engaging in discussion when there is disagreement. I find it petty and rude and intend to say so when it happens.

17 CuriousLurker  Wed, Jun 29, 2011 7:36:33pm

re: #14 researchok

re: #15 marjoriemoon

Big thanks to both of you for your courteous and thoughtful responses. I've been super busy this week with my head deep in database tables & PHP code, so I haven't even been able to keep up with my own Pages as I should.

I apologize for my lack of responses, but please know that at the weekend I'll more thoroughly re-read everything you've taken the time to contribute. Even when we disagree it's a good thing as it forces me to examine why I disagree, and whether or not those reasons are rational.

And, no, I don't think reasons must always be rational, but we should at least be aware of when they are and aren't. ;o)


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