Monday, March 14, 2005

Four Lies About Terrorism

On 23 Feb 2005, Donald R. Hamilton spoke to the 2nd International Conference on Terrorism in Bogota, Columbia. This is part of what he said. Read the whole thing. Note that I made a few minor format changes to clarify the structure of the speech.
Terrorists lie.

To justify their actions they lie to their enemies; they lie to their friends; they lie to themselves.
  1. "We must eradicate the 'root causes' of terrorism."
    Neither God nor man creates a terrorist. Terrorists create terrorism. They create terrorism by choosing terror as the means to advance their political goals.

    The terrorist has decided that the shortest path to his political goal is terrorism. He has passed over democratic elections, passive resistance, and armed struggle against others in arms. He has chosen to target the defenseless and the innocent.

    And then he encourages us to believe that his terrorism has a "root cause." ...

    Academics who rigorously study terrorism and political violence know this lie has no basis in fact. They have examined the backgrounds of terrorists and they have discovered that most terrorists, at least those who are in charge, come from solid, middle-class backgrounds ...

    Those who spread the "root cause" lie hardly recognize the class snobbery inherent in their analysis. They cannot imagine, from the vantage point of their privilege, that poor people living under despotic governments cannot recognize that it is wrong to murder innocent people. They deny the poor the dignity of moral understanding. Their logic would lead us to believe that poverty causes theft. By this logic rich people would not steal.

  2. Terrorists are soldiers in a revolution
    Terrorists are different from revolutionaries and freedom fighters because terrorists target the innocent. Terrorists select women, children, airline passengers, office workers, worshipers and others uninvolved in combat and, generally speaking, incapable of defending themselves.

    There are many definitions of terrorism, some of which are extremely convoluted, but there is a single question, the answer to which can separate terrorists from guerrilla fighters:
    Would the act, if undertaken by a uniformed soldier in time of war, constitute a war crime?
    Some cases are hard to judge, but nine times out of 10, answering this question clears away intellectual fog. It makes you realize that terrorism is a war crime committed by someone not a soldier.

  3. "Terrorism is a word made up by oppressive regimes"
    To deny the legitimacy of armed rebellion is to deny the heritage of all the Americas.

    But rebellion can take many forms without becoming terrorism. Some successful rebellions have been non-violent-note recent events in the Ukraine.

    When Gandhi took up non-violent protest against the British in India others practiced violent revolution in the same cause. We know who triumphed.

    Martin Luther King, who studied Gandhi, did more than any other individual to end a pernicious, centuries-old system of racial oppression in the United States.

  4. "Nothing is more important than this!"
    The greatest lie, which all terrorists tell the world and themselves, is that some political outcome is more important than recognizing and honoring the humanity of each and every person.


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