Terrorists under the bed.
written January 2016
Terrorism has been a word overused and misused by many, especially in more recent times. The nature of politically motivated violence is always terrifying and to suffer it in a most savage and bloody way would lead the victims to conclude that those inciting it are in fact ‘terrorists’. But like most language in the new age of political speak it has its own form of definition and terror usually relates to non-state actors who attack for any reason other than material profit. But even then, in some cases outright criminals are labelled as terrorists and some mass killers are relegated as criminal murderers simply because their violence had no ‘political intent’ or could not be attached to any ideological enemy faction of the time. In any case, when one says the word ‘Terrorist’ most have a good idea as to what it means yet at the same time they would be under real pressure to find a consistent definition. Despite this confused status and undefinable nature, the term is thrown around and attached to it are not only connotations of villainy but also a lack of legal status for those accused of terrorism.
When do those so deemed as being terrorists become legitimate combatants? This may seem like a silly question but history has shown that it takes a certain validity and recognition by which to grant those murderous terrorists a place at the table of legitimacy. A nation state’s regime can mass murder a hundred thousand innocent civilians and still hold a place in the halls of legitimate sovereignty whereby statesmen and elites converse, trade and discuss with them. While a small organisation, which for whatever reason it deems valid, can kill ten innocents and it is relegated to the pariah place for outsiders condemned as being terrorists. What does it take for an organisation or a group to transcend this position on the outside of legitimacy to one considered sovereign and legal in its rulership over others but most of all valid to commit not just murder but mass murder? In short, how can one find itself as an organisation of being simple thuggish murderers to being that of perfectly legal mechanised democidal killers of legitimacy?
It is not an easy question to ask. Though some organisations such as the PLO and IRA have found with party politics a place among the respected killers, political representations of nationalism. Before that they are rogues, terrorists if you will. The United States, perhaps the premier leader of handing out legitimacy to mass killers, has in its own birth made this transition. Its founding fathers, revolutionaries and terrorists fought an insurgency against a legitimate and sovereign power and gained independence and ultimately legitimacy as rulers over their people. Yet despite this guerrilla past the United States in its many alliances and adventures on foreign soil does its best to deny one group from propping up over another, atop the bones of so many murdered.
This does not mean that nations like the United States are not above using terrorist proxies to destabilise ‘legitimate’ governments. Whether this support is obvious or conducted via more nefarious means it is not a new practice and it still occurs in this day. The Syrian civil war is a perfect example of numerous factions fighting on who are supported by varying nations even working against one another’s best interests in doing so.
To a principled individual, the considerations as to what is legitimate murder and what is not is a sickening academic exercise but to the more pragmatic and more common and those educated, the definition is one of simplistic and complicated consideration. Usually for the more simplistic consideration it comes down by viewing individuals in clumps, collectivising people in easily defined groups whether these are on racial, cultural, national or theological grounds. Using hideous mass language like ‘kill them all’ so offhandedly lends an authority to those who do just that. It is also in this simplistic perception of mass murder which provides a safety net for willing killers and isolates any survivors of such a campaign of murder. It is why to this day certain nations for a period are viewed so absolutely as evil. Why every German or Japanese person during World War Two, whatever their age, gender or occupation, was a legitimate target to kill because our national ‘interest’ demanded it. And it is why now in this day that some groups so easily view others with such an easy and absolute condemnation.
The only difference is that one perspective comes from the heroic Western outlook, those from the ‘Allied’ and victorious world who would never dare question the bravery or conduct of their own uniformed persons. But who can so easily dismiss to the gutter of savagery those in opposition to our nation during that bloody period. It takes a collective obedience and self-appointed association of banal tribalism to conjure up this blood lust and desire to kill German babies in their cribs. The Germans need not have even done anything directly to an Australian for us to feel a need to support British and American airmen in this act. But our perception of national interest however does often direct many down this path. How dare they oppose our friends of fellow lingual and ethnic similarity. How dare they challenge the combined Anglosphere and its allies of ‘goodies’.
But those in dire parts of the world suffering generations beneath imperialism, both domestic and occidental, are denied the right of frustration and anger. There are individuals from regions carved up by Imperial mandate, ruled over by foreign directed despotic puppets or from lands simply occupied by foreign peoples and thus subjugated to not just humiliation but every injustice one can imagine. And should individuals from these regions act out with vile violence defined along theological or nationalistic terms, then they are considered simply as terrorists. Even if these individual terrorists have been directly harmed and wronged by the ‘group’ at which they so lash out. But meanwhile, safely at home, in the comfort of a Roman lounge room many who have not felt the pain and harm of reality look down on these savage Barbarians while our brave and noble Crusader Legions bring light to these dark lands. After all, they should be thankful right?
In recent history it has taken some of these criminal terrorist organisations time and conflict to win legitimacy. It can often be a case of their opponents being considered evil and immoral as was the case for the ANC against the South African government. Nelson Mandela who was supported by Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi, long before Hollywood and Western leaders fawned over the revolutionary South African. Any civilian murdered by Mandela’s ANC is now considered justified by the recent post-apartheid narrative because the ANC were fighting a racist and oppressive regime supported by its white minority populace, so any white was a legitimate target and those blacks murdered or tortured were collaborators. An ANC which would bomb night clubs or burn people to death by wrapping them inside tires. But such a past no longer fits the new narrative. To the Israeli Zionist terror groups like the Irgun gang or Haganah who post World War Two fought against the British Palestine authority with a murderous ferocity which makes the IRA seem tame by comparison. Yet with Jewish Statehood these murderers became Statesman and could then go on to form the backbone of a ‘legitimate’ Israeli Army so that it could fight against its Arab enemies in the many wars of independence and aggression in its post 1948 birth into Nationhood. Murdering British officials and blowing up the King David hotel and killing scores of civilians are now simply viewed as part of the heroic birth of a nation.
Whereas other ‘enemy’ groups such as the IRA in Ireland would eventually form Sinn Féin and thus win seats in the British parliament. Much like the ANC’s heroic Nelson Mandela, Gerry Adams would go from being considered a terrorist and public enemy to becoming a politician and eventually a darling public hero, his biographies sitting on shelves alongside Aung San Suu Kyi’s, outselling rock stars and actors. Where any crimes or violence of the past can so easily be overlooked as the magic majesty of legality so spins its wondrous powers to glitter over these bloody facts. Those who were wronged by the regime and saw these men as heroes would always admire and respect them. Those who suffered collaterally as a result of their revolutionary or terrorist struggles now must make peace and tolerate their acceptance upon the international stage of respectable people of history.
The NLF and Viet Minh were a revolutionary and in some ways a terror group to the French in their colonial possession of Indochina. After the defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, the leaders of these organisations were invited by the international community to form two ‘legitimate’ governments. These former guerrilla groups and violent factions were now granted an office of leadership over the people over which they had already so anointed themselves representation. In the ensuing eventual civil war between the North and South the Viet Cong, or VC, would themselves go on to become terrorists. Fighting the at first corrupt and vile Diem regime in Saigon to then fighting the many foreign armies who joined the ‘anti-communist fight’ in Vietnam led by the United States. Though simply called communist terrorists, anyone opposing the South Vietnamese government was so generically called ‘VC’ whether they were a communist or not. After the inevitable defeat of the South regime and its American allies in Vietnam, many of those ‘VC terrorists’ would either go back to civil life or form a part of the new Government and thus become legitimised players in this new South East Asian Nation State. Ironically opposing other communist nations in the region, such as Cambodia and China, despite Washington elites’ domino theory.
It takes either tenacious brutal violence to outlast the regime that is being opposed for legitimacy to grace the terror groups or it takes the playground of political orchestra to provide the right moment. Whether that happens to be in the case for South Africa and Israel where a regime shifts because of the times or an international mandate is recognised blessing them with nationhood. For others it takes a long term game plan of violent struggle. The complicated reality is that for many terrorists their initial grievances are based in a form of genuine grief and sincere outrage against oppression or wrongdoing. The radicalism that takes hold of the reigns of violent anger needs, for the most part, very wronged people to sustain its momentum and fight. Often those who support such organisations whether financially, morally or directly do so because they have witnessed what the enemies of them have done while in so many cases realising that despite their misgivings they are a lesser of two evils.
While sitting at home in the West it is easy to look down on those in occupied Palestine or in the jungles of South America offering support to a narco terror group or Islamic fundamentalist organisation. But essentially everyday here in the West our elites makes the ‘lesser of two evils’ argument with idiotic disregard for unintended consequences and often with ignorance the voting masses agree. The difference for those on the ground and in such quagmires of misery is that this compromise is done with considered calculation often based upon very real life or death outcomes or is made with simply no other options available. For those abroad and throwing drones and criticism at these people it is merely politics as usual with a goldfish’s memory length of historical recall.
The complicated and pragmatic calculation is done with a cynicism of alliances and ‘gamesmanship’ which takes the form of a very bloody and most terrible game of ‘Risk’. Except instead of moving plastic pieces across a board the players are manipulating, destroying and violating millions of lives. This capital city led initiative of historical moments continues to bear putridly poisonous fruits which nearly always goes on to give those who planted those seeds at the very least an upset tummy. Yet so goes on the great game. Friends are made and propped up so long as they face an apparent lesser of two evils. Contra rebels can terrorise Nicaragua with support and praise so long as they face equally murderous communists. Just as a Jakarta led regime can murder millions while the good guys deploy to another Asian nation in the name of democratic protection and ‘freedom’. The calculations are made in think tanks, universities and political towers of rulership despite the best interest of those that they have determined to look out for whether this happens to be in their electorate or to those foreign nationals who have fallen under a quasi-colonial protection.
Public perception in Western nations in regards to terror groups has an interesting history. It is with a double standard that movies like ‘The Devil’s Own’ can paint a romantic depiction of Brad Pitt’s character as a heroic IRA soldier. Yet could one imagine a mainstream film doing the same with a Hezbollah or Taliban let alone an ISIS combatant as the heroic protagonist in a Hollywood blockbuster. The filmmakers would risk criminal action for making terrorist propaganda and yet despite this the double standards go on. Just as the World rightfully finds disgust and abhorrence at the conduct of ISIS and similar groups who behead and torture individuals, pro American death squads in Guatemala performed some of the most atrocious acts of violence in their genocidal rampages during the 1980s. While the World ignored it and the United States armed and supported this regime, hundreds of thousands were murdered in the most terrifying ways imaginable. In the end, should you hold principle in your heart, murder and torture is wrong and it should not matter if it is committed by a ‘friend’ or not, it should simply be contested and denied, not validated.
The media also plays a part in helping to direct the fear and power of many organisations. In modern times the media simply considers reporting on an event by reciting the official line. The sole source usually being ‘officials say’, as though any contrary report or depiction of an event may in some way aid the enemy of the time. Even should a group have received favourable coverage for a time only to become the enemies of the moment, the media will often do an about face without any degree of shame or honest rebuts of previous reports. Instead the party line is followed and the State directive seems to continue on. It is why, for a time, the Syrian opposition was reported so favourably and the Syrian government was the sole destroyer of innocents. Yet now the very same experts and talking heads, without any egg on their face, condemn ISIS forgetting the omissions and praise that they may have received only months prior. Omissions like the 1982 Hama massacre of around ten thousand ‘insurgents’, when the Syrian regime killed those linked to an attempted coup. When Sunni Insurgent elements introduced the first suicide bombers to the Middle East, including women bombers to be used against fellow Arab Muslims. Or like the Israeli massacre at Sabra and Chatilla in nearby Beirut that same year, the World was silent and simply did not care. Those related to the dead and those who survived, they still to this day care, and want justice.
An imbalance is found in the general reporting on events, very few journalists will tell the story of the victims. If an Israeli strike kills innocent civilians or pro American militias slaughter and rape people it is almost ignored or relegated to some skewed aside. But should the opponents of the West commit some terrible act, it is reported with a biased enthusiasm helping to fuel the official and established narrative. Whether this is sanctioned or not, does not matter. Instead a narrative of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ is nearly always sought as though the viewership needs a simplistic depiction of complex tragedies. The reality is that the World is complicated and terrible things are tragically committed by all sides and sometimes, quite often in fact, those who are officially called ‘the good guys’ commit some of the most vile atrocities. But alas, we must maintain the simplistic view that only ‘terror groups’ would be so vicious as to murder innocents and should anyone oppose a ‘friendly’ regime then they must certainly be terrorists.
The trouble with pursuing this childlike narrative of good vs evil is not that it simply makes heroes out of monsters but it fails to address the origins of terror and the realities that befall many on this earth. The notion that people become terrorists because they are born evil or adopt some perverted theology or ideological poison removes the humanity at the very heart of this problem. Terrorists are human beings. As violent and terrible as they are they still have the complexity of life that all human beings have. They are mostly not sociopaths, though some do undoubtedly fill the ranks just as sociopaths satisfy their compulsions in any group where violence is sanctioned. This could be in the military, police or in simple civil peace time sports team. These vicious monsters among the group use the momentum of a cause and the calamity of conflict to satisfy their lusts. Most however are people who have been wronged or have helplessly observed such wrongs. They act out on this impulse because put simply it is most often effective. And regardless of the effectiveness of this violence, it helps to lash out at the entity, nation or people who they view as responsible for much of their pain and suffering. They feel as though they are on a side of virtue and view their struggle as being a war, seeking not only victory but the greater good that victory may bring. No matter how much blood was shed in order to attain it.
The question is asked, why is it that someone would want to become a terrorist if they are born in an affluent society? Why would someone from a non-violent upbringing seek a cause by becoming a terrorist? Well, perhaps ask this question. What would make someone want to join the military so that they may go overseas and fight people who have never threatened their homeland or have no cause to until they arrived? These questions are not simple to answer and they are individual in their answers. Ultimately however, individuals associate themselves with a group or cause and feel a need to get involved. Whether this is someone willingly enlisting to fight in a military adventure overseas or whether it is because they wish to become a freedom fighter in the jungles of Burma to the deserts of North Africa, the impulse exists. During the Spanish civil war foreign adventurers either acting on their national government’s policy or on their own individual intuition fought on all sides. Even though the civil war for the most part profited their national interests in no real way. Individuals are drawn to conflict but especially so if they somehow feel alienated themselves or sympathise with a cause. However romantic these delusions may be.
For an individual in a minority group in a larger society, it is easy to feel generally isolated. Especially so if the group that you are most often associated with is being persecuted in perception overseas by those whom you share the streets with at home and if the average person all the way up to public officials thumb their noses at the images of brown skinned babies burning in debris because of a sanctioned drone strike. It is not hard to find fuel for some inner rage. A decent human being should feel this but, should the empathy for dead children only be reserved for a certain kind over another, it does not take long to help generate an alienation and simmering rage.
The security services in most nations seem to enjoy creating their own terror groups, the United States has built a recent tradition in doing this. Not so much by its foreign policy which perpetually creates such groups indirectly but in actual recruitment and organising such groups so that they may then go on to arrest such individuals who they so entrapped and helped to groom into being terrorists. The Oklahoma City bombing was a perfect example of this where ATF and FBI agents had infiltrated some domestic groups to help arm and ready one so that it could lash out in frustration felt due to the recent democidal conducts at Ruby Ridge and Waco. Undercover agents helped the terrorists build the bomb and plan the operation. The planning went so well that everyone inside the City building was subject to this terrible incident, except of course for the ATF staff as they had been pre-warned. In more recent times other terrorists have been caught and captured before they could commit their acts of violence, simply because they were actually helped and supplied by Federal agencies. But such dangerous theatrics help give a perceived win on the books for this war on terror. After all ‘officials say’ that such measures are needed in order to prevent other such groups from attacking your freedoms.
The most recent idea of terrorism is focused on radical Islam. It is a tender spot for politically correct governments, as they seek to discuss the virtues of Islam while at the same time forsaking it as being the sole inspiration of terror in the modern age. This single minded obsession with radical Islam overlooks real and potential threats from other places where individuals who do not fit a certain mould, i.e. being Islamic, will act on some violent impulse to commit a terrorist act. The short sighted history that most seem to possess ignores the reality that terrorism has seldom been associated with Islam in the past and even those Arab groups of the late 20th Century so associated with terror such as the PLO, PFLP and Fatah etc. were more nationalist or left wing directed than Islamic. In fact the Islamic group Hamas were at first considered moderates and were actually supported by Israel and the West as a moderating influence on these groups. But that was a different time when the evil radicaliser was considered to be communism or national independence as in the case of the Palestinian Arabs. How short those memory spans seem to be. It took a 2006 democratic election of Hamas to topple the then Western favoured Fatah party which was corrupt and ineffective before the terror group was semi-recognised and despite popular elections it is considered an illegitimate government.
Despite winning an election and becoming the ‘legal’ government of the Palestinan authority, Israel attacked and fought an assassination campaign against the militant wing of Hamas. While also conducting itself in military operations by invading Lebanon, again, Israel had the legitimacy of invasion and civilian murder simply on the grounds that it was a Nation State. Those opposing it, whether dyed in the wool terrorists or simply people fighting back against an invading army, the Western perspective was that they were simply terrorists using human shields. To question Israeli operations or policy was to be deemed ‘anti-Semetic’. How long before a word for ‘anti-Arabic’ will come into common parlance, seeing as millions have died in a virtual genocide in the last century alone, not to mention as the pogroms that have become common place in the region when directed against Palestinian Arabs. It is a fear that sincere and principled criticism against any killer of innocents should be regarded and not relegated to being simply anti-Semetic, anti-American or so on.
The focused obsession with Islamic terror has simplified an entire faith into being one singular entity. As though the IRA’s Catholicism or the Klu Klux Klan’s Protestantism could so easily define all of Christendom with their faith entwined ideologies and identity, so goes the illusion that so many millions of human beings are all potential suicide bombers simply because they are Islamic. It shows a slant of poor illustrations from the media but most of all a simpleton’s defectiveness led from National parliaments when it comes to foreign policy and military deployment that seems to help engender this idea of a terrorist in most people’s minds. It does not matter to most the distinctions between Shiites and Sunnis, let alone an Arab, Kurd or Persian instead they are simply relegated as being oriental ‘Arabs’ in the same way that a Japanese, Korean or Chinese person is an ‘Asian’ and thus must be much the same. This simplistic and occidentally deranged perspective of the world is nothing new but it creates a limited and arrogant world view which seems to be so very common place among the ranks of Western society, especially in the Anglosphere.
So while we here in the West pretend to be victims forever looking over our shoulders in fear of our lives being taken by these dark skinned non-Christians we cannot help to forget the lessons of history. Whereby British officers in 1882 would tell a story about black clothed Afghan warriors who would sacrifice their lives amid volley fire so that they may slash with their swords into the ranks of British soldiers, these fearless Islamic Afghanis were then called ‘Taliban’ Just because history is unknown to most in the West does not mean that the rest of the World is oblivious to it. From the famous Dervish warriors who beheaded the invading Britons in the Sudan in the 1880s to a Roman general being beheaded and his head returned to Rome filled with gold after his capture in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) just as the terrorists’ methods of cruelty were not so different then to as they are now, neither is the fact of Western Imperialism still revisiting these very same lands. History has a tendency to repeat itself, especially should the Romans continue to invade Barbarian lands.
In Libya and Syria recently the Western powers have shown that support for once accepted sovereign regimes can be dropped instantly, instead a legitimacy of deceit can be created for former enemies such as Al Qaeda and the likes even if these are non-State actors. Even if these groups have directly attacked the United States and its allies, even if these groups are by every definition – terrorists. While other vile regimes of legitimate government do what a Syria or a Libya under Assad and Gaddafi were doing, the Western powers would knowingly aid and attack these State regimes. Thus depicting an even more confusing and always supremely hypocritical approach to the war on terror let alone any consistent understandings of international law and the conduct of nations. Because just as Iraq under Hussein was a terrible place, it is by far a worse place now thanks to the calamity and Balkanisation which has occurred post US invasion. Gaddafi was willing to step down under certain conditions but instead he was toppled with no plan for what should happen afterward. Instead Libya is a civil war being fought by less than ideal sides and the potential total victors could in the end be far worse than the previous tyrant. The same can be said for Syria, the confused and complex conflict that it has become will only go on to traumatise generations while spilling so much blood. But those policy makers in Ankara, Riyadh, Washington or London shall feel none of that horror and will with a Teflon-like consistency find themselves going on with business as usual as the general populaces under their rulership forget even the name Syria or ISIS in some years time.
The only real legitimacy a group, regime or even a Nation can gain is if it has the acceptance from the peers of super friends. Those powerful national groups which make up the Western world, despite the strength of a China or Russia it seems that even their support, aid and acknowledgement alone is not enough. At least until the pair or one of them is strong enough to counterbalance the United States and NATO. Only then will certain groups and regimes find themselves with a hope of parity with their fellow organised murderers. The point that we all must realise is this. Making the choice between one mass killer over another is a terribly sinister form of pragmatism, which never ever works out. As clever as elites seem to think they are as they manipulate geo-political struggles and attempt their ‘great game’ they always fail in the end. New enemies are always created and though they seem to lose track of who is friend and foe, everyone else does not. The United States is for the most part a stupid entity with great resources and power. It is easily manipulated and, most dangerously, it thinks that it is clever enough to be the sole manipulator. However it is often the one being utilised. Only the United States would find itself in a convoluted plot like Iran-Contra and every other subsequent deal thereafter. Its elites can boast that one must break eggs in order to make an omelette but it is always the United States that ends up with egg on its face, looking the fool as it involves itself in more and more murder so that other regimes, groups or nations may benefit. And the USA along with its coalition friends are then surprised when some relatives of those ‘broken eggs’ come looking for revenge on this clumsy chef.
It seems that in this modern ‘war on terror’ the masters in the Capital cities have realised that they cannot defeat these non-State entities. These small and unconventional groups who continue to fight a war of the flea. Despite their technology, the sacrifices in liberty imposed on their populaces, their mighty militaries and rhetorical bluster in the many mediums of propaganda they are no closer to victory than they were when this war commenced in its modern form. So instead, just as they did in Iraq, they target national governments because fighting them is far easier. They succumb and topple. It has been estimated to cost one hundred million dollars to kill a Taliban insurgent but fighting a conscript army costs far less. So instead a war of attrition is inflicted by both sides it is for the most partthese ‘terror’ groups who have not only greater patience but resolve. Despite this the ‘Allies’ however go on to seek more enemies and fight more wars, never truly satisfying the expression ‘mission accomplished’. The new enemies which they feel they can topple and in doing this they recruit and supply the very same terrorists and enemies of yesterday, while making friends of older ones and inventing newer and ‘badder’ terror groups. Any who do not find this a futile and disgustingly terrible means of warfare must be either a simpleton or a cynical sociopath.
So with every drone strike which kills an innocent civilian not to mention destroys private property, the West creates more and more enemies. Since the drone assassinations, Al Qaeda alone has seen a doubling in their numbers with greater support from local communities. With every extra judicial murder, the United States and its allies move closer and closer into a darker position in history as its constitution and every notion of rule of law seems to become a pathetic punch line of some joke at which no one laughs. With every flip flop on policy or every regime propped up so shall these powers see more and more recruits swell to the ranks of what they would consider as being ‘terror’ groups. And at home as liberties dwindle away and these Nations squeeze their populations under deceitful means, proclaiming that everything the Government does is in the name of greater security or for some apparent common good so too do they eventually risk creating domestic terror groups. One like those feared militia groups of the 1990s who are the complete antithesis of an Al Qaeda but seemingly have the same common enemy – Washington D.C. This is the terrible reality in which the modern age is finding itself and despite these well known facts and ever growing empirical examples those so educated in the heights of their own institutions of insulated arrogance do believe that individuals the world over can be so easily dictated to or ruled over.
Should the West, or those in apparently liberal democracy, seek to spread their democratic ideals to nations across this globe not by example in excellence in liberty but by bombing people into bloody dust or by supporting corrupt and abusive regimes, then those in these liberal democracies shall have to realise that eventually retribution shall be sought in some form. If the rhetoric is forever proclaimed that citizens in a liberal democracy control their government, have the power to effect change and elect their leaders thus determining policy then how can those in an electorate in one of these ‘democracies’ not realise that under such a well-advertised illusion that WE are truly fair game to those who suffer at the hands of our government. Many on this earth who do not have a democratic leadership are truly subject to the dictates from their rulers. The democracy delusion has promoted this mindset that we have freedom. Because of this it depicts a people in control and thus suggests that we condone and approve of the murder of babies in foreign lands. So when a suicide bomber blows himself up killing tourists from a specific nation, this is done not only as a means of harming the nation itself but in killing those who many from abroad believe to be involved, in some way, in the process of governance.
If we shall continue to spread this illusion of democracy and the process of it, celebrating the theatre of majority determinations and how it supposedly promotes a better society, we shall have to someday realise that WE are legitimate targets to those so deluded and harmed by our governments. Just as many view every baby or mother as being a legitimate target to be blown into pieces by our military’s bombs in Vietnam, Japan, Germany or Korea because our nation was at war with theirs for a time. So too can they, perhaps with greater validity, see those of a voting age as being genuine targets for their campaigns should they oppose our national governments. Meanwhile in some dance of a crazed political jester the United States has paid and used Al Qaeda knowingly in its proxy wars against Libya, Yemen and Syria. It continues to do this even after the overthrow of Gaddafi. Even though for most tax payers Al Qaeda is still thought of as public enemy number one, even after its figurehead’s assassination, the US finds itself in a confused relationship with one of its enemies as it always seems to. But should a private citizen or group do this, then they would face the full weight of legalised violence. It seems that it is wiser to be an enemy of the United States than a friend of it. As you will always have in some way a consistent support and guaranteed longevity, which many of its ‘friends’ cannot boast.
For those in Mexico and much of South and Central America, the war on drugs has created a terrible place for its people. Creating a world of not just corruption and murder but also giving power to territorial and political groups which are mostly defined as ‘narco’ gangs but are in many ways a lot more. The war on drugs has seen the support for regimes to oppress their people in a great many ways while these narco groups often actually provide protection, employment and charities for people who are subject to abuse and terror from their very own governments. While many of these narco gangs, especially some in Mexico, are volatile and terrible they too find themselves in a complicated network of alliances often made with federal officials from the United States and within their own borders. Much like the Operation Fast and Furious incident showed where the ATF’s gunwalking, or intentionally having firearms suppliers selling to known bad guys in the hope of then tracking and arresting these bad guys, led to the death of a US agent and scores of civilians at the hands of these firearms. Though these narco gangs are considered criminal groups under any true definition they are terrorists and have very real organisation, structure and political motives. The law enforcement agencies tend to only feed into these groups strengths and never seem to stem the tide, nor help the many victims of both sides on this war on drugs-terror. Instead policy continues to create more victims and more ‘terrorists’ thus ensuring an ever perpetuating war. Perhaps that is the ultimate goal. Though we should not believe that most of those policy makers are so wise as to have an actual goal.
In the many nations declaring that Islam is one of the main pillars in creating terrorists, especially those who would go on to become suicide bombers, there seems to be a tremendous ignorance in facts of history. The Tamil Tigers in their fight against Sri Lankan rule used such methods and none of those bombers were Islamic. In fact they were Hindis for the most part, having killed two world leaders and being attributed with the invention of the suicide bomb vest the ‘Tigers’ only recently lost their violent struggle in Sri Lanka. The ‘Kamikaze’ pilots of Imperial Japan were a mix of Shinto and Buddhists, they attacked enemy warships with altruistic conviction for many reasons not simply out of obedience to the Emperor but also, like many other suicide bombers, they did this because it was a means of attacking those who could harm or who had harmed those dear to them. In short, they were doing this in the defence of their homeland.
The zealotry needed and determination involved in order to become a suicide bomber is quite frightening. It is the ultimate sacrifice and to suggest that this decision comes about through a simplistic devotion to a theology or a belief in a paradise after death removes many factors that lead an individual into making this decision. For those brave soldiers who throw themselves on a hand grenade for their comrade, a fighter pilot who drives his crippled plane into an anti-aircraft gun or those heroes who charge a machine gun post all going on to earn post humous awards for bravery and honour. What theological conviction drove their sacrifice and bravery? Or was this form of altruistic courage done upon a sincere desire to help, protect and avenge those they loved or called their own? The murder suicide nature of their actions are just as violent but when it is done under certain contexts one can allocate a certain romantic heroism to such conduct. For many in these desperate parts of the world such a romanticism exists, even should they murder innocent civilians. This is part of the nature of hate and violence that will only go on to be generated by inconsistency and simplistic disregard for intention and action.
A pill that many in the West need to swallow is the acknowledgement of atrocities committed by their own governments in their name and with their capital. To look at the bombings of Dresden, Hamburg, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and so on during the second world war and to dismiss the mass death of civilians simply on the grounds of a belief that such terrorising bombings would serve a better conclusion to the war’s end is precisely the mandate used by terrorists. Except they kill less innocents in relative terms. It is also often a reason used to validate their attacks on the US and others because of these crimes which have never been addressed. Instead a form of victor’s exceptionalism arises that only an American military can bomb civilians in Asia during the Vietnam war or can send in its drones to assassinate ‘suspects’ and anyone around them in Yemen or Pakistan. It is a disdain and hate which shall arise out of the hypocritical policies of these nations which not only stops at the military and political heads but also the very public which condones it with silence, elections or outright bigotry celebrating the deaths of these non-Judaeo-Christians , non-English speakers or basically non familiars.
If it is okay for one in any stage of history to so heroically destroy large swathes of civilians then why is it not okay for another? As the Allies set about firebombing Europe so that it could save it from the clutches of Nazism, while allying itself to a genocidal Soviet Union or American commanders in Vietnam to say with an eerie sincerity that ‘we must burn the village in order to save it’ as they destroy both life and property, can many not realise that those who oppose such forces can do so with very genuine recourse? And they will ultimately do so inspired on similar grounds as their enemies. Just as the Native Americans were famous for scalping their foes, something that they learned from the Europeans who had scalped them early in their initial contacts, so shall many of these opponents to the West adopt the same methods of terror and mass murder often inflicted on their own peoples early on by those that they now fight.
Empathising with terror is not the point. Understanding the source of much of the hatred is. Why these radical and violent groups continue to gain support, why moderates become radical and why seemingly good passive individuals eventually take up arms is the most important factor to diminishing the spread of such violence. Near always these terrorists arise simply because someone is occupying their homeland, someone in some way is oppressing them or an injustice, in their eyes, has been continuously committed. By bludgeoning the region with frustration and violent inflexibility not only are more terrorists created but so too is the opportunity at genuinely improving the region or regions. Instead it is as it always has been – Imperialism, under whatever name one seeks to use. At least the Romans made the conquered Roman citizens, not even the Puerto Ricans are granted such an equal status by their Imperial masters in Washington let alone any other subjects beneath the yoke of the American non-Empire, as an example of differing forms of colonialism.
Outside of the foreign terror threats or those citizens who are considered outsiders by a community, take for example Islamic elements in a Western liberal democracy. No matter the rhetoric and politically correct bluster in the end these peoples are still outsiders in a supposedly secular nation like Australia. A nation that still attaches itself to a monarchy where its head is appointed by birthright because of God’s decree, a monarch who is the head of the Anglican church. That aside the 1960s and ‘70s demonstrated a period of radicalism from within its own in-born ranks. Just like in other Western nations, Students for the most part inspired by an ideology that they gained inside their nation’s cherished academic institutions had become a church for radicalism. These left wing terrorists destroyed property and murdered with a perversity that only their convictions and belief in some utopia would allow them a clear conscience to do so. Unlike the ‘right wing’ militant terrorists that attach themselves to Christianity, racism or a notion of small governance by attacking the Federal government and any collaterals in the mix. The ‘left wing’ terror groups of this period not only attacked governance but also society itself, any part of this society of which they felt jealous or resentful.
That era of student radicalism and left wing elitist murder has dissipated for the most part, that being said such an internal threat to innocents can always arise. The point is that so long as one is so perverted in mind as to believe that they are superior to others and so view their society as being decadent and corrupt then a threat of frustration inspired violence exists. The resentment that many anarchists felt over one hundred years ago at their society was perhaps well deserved but the means by which they went about lashing out at the culture, businesses and government was disgustingly terrifying. As many within Western populaces focus their attentions on these ‘external’ terrorists the historical examples of the 1970s, let alone the early 20th century, are all but forgotten. As a domestic terrorist like Bill Ayers enjoys his tenured position with all the arrogance of academia his bloody and violent past as a ‘Weatherman’ shall always remain despite the short term memory of most Americans and the smug arrogance of its student class.
The danger of a resurgence of such terrorism is not that distant. Violent protests and the violence which is close to the heart of many who hold this ideology dear is ever present. The fertile minds of many students whether genuinely frustrated at society’s woes or simply those obsessed with their form of egalitarianism will always have those who become radical and thus violent. In many cases the partisan politics and misguided notions of left and right with each of the majority parties seems to lend itself to more radical elements within their own ranks, often giving a degree of validity to those who sometimes go on to terrorise others. Anti-immigration and racist inspired individuals who tend to cling to the ‘right wing’ have begun to emerge, especially in Europe. It is here again that those in opposition, the left wing groups, are also finding a resurgence. With governments facing greater debt and going through the motions of austerity, these left wing groups are slowly finding a stable footing acting up with a violent savagery at any symbol that represents an obstacle to their socialist utopia. And as is always the case with politics, individuals at home will often find some sympathy and grant of support to those because of shared ideals or ambitions despite how murderous or destructive their methods may be.
Right wing militia organisations have for some time seen a surge in popularity and organisation. Their agenda driven by a varying degree of beliefs from patriotism, anti-immigration, anti-Federal Government to religious conservatism. Though for the most part in recent times they have not been severe in their relative violence the fuse to such a powder keg is very dry and never far from a flame. The Black Lives Matter campaign has arisen from very genuine frustrations and while it has been hijacked by radicals ranging from the Nation of Islam, Black Panthers and other more opportunistic elements it has also gained momentum after each injustice inflicted upon the black community by the police at every level of jurisdiction. And while the Aboriginal native Americans, who stood up to the US government in the 1970s have lost their militancy the grievances and energy for such an uprising are still close to the surface. And as mentioned above in regards to left wing student radicals from the 1960s and ‘70s, as American academia goes down a terrible path of political correct oppression its hard liners hold a bladed tongue when it comes to their privileged agenda. Adding all of that in conjunction with the varying racially motivated gangs, outlaw motorcycle clubs, animal liberation groups and drug cartels and the United States is a virtual ocean of discontent, disharmony and volatility. Terrorist organisations with genuine and less than genuine grievances are but a flick of a matchstick away from arising to a serious degree and yet the nation’s government seeks to violate others abroad with greater authority despite this home grown turmoil.
And it again raises the question, of those mentioned above which of them are the terrorists, which the criminals, which the revolutionaries and which the insurgents? Whatever their motivations, whether material in upfront blunt violent honesty, as is the case with most narco gangs, or whether morally driven, however perverted those morals may be, which are the most justified? Is murder justified if those you murder justify murder themselves? Is it theft if it is already stolen property? Can one destroy public property because it is everyone’s or no one’s? Do native peoples have a right to take back with violence the very sovereignty taken from them with violence? Are those racially aggressed against validated in taking up arms and fighting their supposedly racist oppressors? These are not simple questions. No answer can be sought with such an insincere reply, all that can be done is for us to attempt to understand. To learn the realities lived by those on the ground. To attempt to find the heart of such violence. Most of all to understand that nearly all of it is a reaction to some central authority’s influence and conduct, however benevolent it initially was meant to be as in the case of the war on drugs or however blatantly savage it is, as is the case in the treatment of native Americans and those against police shootings. On campuses supposedly liberal minded students wish in a sense to seek the same suppression of speech as that sought by the killers of Charlie Hebdo staff. Their methods differ but people’s guns are always the tool to exert such agendas, one is more instant and graphic the other applies a slower more legal pressure. And if those on the campuses cannot get their way legally? Then what? Terrorism is not new. It will never shrink away so long as the same entities continue to aggress so many different peoples with so little regard for justice and rights.
In seeking the definition of validity for murder and which groups are considered so is difficult but it cuts to the point of both the arbitrary nature and hypocrisy of politics and international politicking.
The fact that so many terrible groups can exist with the support of nations that proclaim to uphold principles of peace and law depict a world of open stupidity. Furthermore, it is not only in the dance of manipulating, inciting, supporting and fighting various terror groups the world over, in time it is also in the inconsistencies of allying oneself with regimes and groups despite their very real criminality. Machiavelli in his most cynical prose would never have had the poisonous elegance to match the modern pen strokes of the law makers in our time as they go on to produce their own realities of misery for the rest of this Earth.
And though revolutionary communists are no longer considered a threat, despite the terrible scares during the height of the Cold War. No longer are left wing anarchists bombing European streets or showing their solidarity with workers only to be hung based upon trumped up charges. No longer does a culture tear itself apart in fear of Satanic death cults, where an Ozzie Osborne was considered a radicalising Iman. Instead the enemy of the now suffers the same pariah status, the fears have a very familiar echo and the response seems to be nearly always the same. While buzz words like freedom and liberty are thrown around, they are endorsed by anything other than their true meaning. Instead they simply mean, freedom from ‘them’ and liberty to be ‘familiar’. The terrorists are always the same but different and those suffering their blight are always so very innocent and history simply began yesterday.
Killers and murderers will always exist among the ranks of any group. Society is filled with those who have a compulsion or a sick and twisted lust to harm and maim others. This is unfortunately a fact and no amount of generalised cause or effect determines this. It is however with the validity of uniform, legality, war, ideology and theology that many of these perverted killers find a safety in which to operate. Furthermore very gentle minded people, those who under any other circumstance would never consider taking a life, find themselves thrown into the violent tumble cycle created by the ongoing effects of these many conflicts. Whether they are simply conscripted in or enlist because of a need to avenge, the outcome is the same. Lives continue to become affected and destroyed and those that thrive are already insane. Terrorism is the martial desire to destroy and kill, whether this is done from high above the clouds, from behind a computer screen, with an explosive vest or a radioactive pill it goes beyond the news coverage of generic media and past the history of recent days. Its root cause is injustice and injustice is its forever weapon.
Kym Robinson, January 2016