Browsing the archives for the terrorism tag.

Testify. (Miliband and the “War on Terror”)

European Politics, International Politics, Politics

David Miliband, British Foreign Secretary and mini-Blair, is a bit of a twat. But today he published an op-ed in the Guardian (via Kevin Drum), which is eloquent in staking out long-lost grounds of sanity and humanity when it comes to the “War on Terror”.

It’s called, simply: ‘War on terror’ was wrong.

Testify:

The idea of a “war on terror” gave the impression of a unified, transnational enemy, embodied in the figure of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida. The reality is that the motivations and identities of terrorist groups are disparate. Lashkar-e-Taiba has roots in Pakistan and says its cause is Kashmir. Hezbollah says it stands for resistance to occupation of the Golan Heights. The Shia and Sunni insurgent groups in Iraq have myriad demands. They are as diverse as the 1970s European movements of the IRA, Baader-Meinhof, and Eta. All used terrorism and sometimes they supported each other, but their causes were not unified and their cooperation was opportunistic. So it is today.

The more we lump terrorist groups together and draw the battle lines as a simple binary struggle between moderates and extremists, or good and evil, the more we play into the hands of those seeking to unify groups with little in common. [..]

The “war on terror” also implied that the correct response was primarily military. But as General Petraeus said to me and others in Iraq, the coalition there could not kill its way out of the problems of insurgency and civil strife. [..]

We must respond to terrorism by championing the rule of law, not subordinating it, for it is the cornerstone of the democratic society. We must uphold our commitments to human rights and civil liberties at home and abroad. That is surely the lesson of Guantánamo and it is why we welcome President-elect Obama’s commitment to close it.

Bold words, even now. Yeah, if he and his New Labour peers had spoken up sooner, it would have saved lives. But it’s still a message that deserves to be repeated over and again, because there are still far too many people who will not hear.

It also suggests the Brits are really, really glad to see Bush and his administration go…

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A spectre of far-right violence?

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics
Old-fashioned Clinton derangement syndrom

Old-fashioned Clinton derangement syndrom

Yesterday, I wrote (at length..) about the prevalence of abortion clinic bombings and other attacks on reproductive health workers. All in response to Sarah Palin’s remarks in her interview with Brian Williams that while Bill Ayers is obviously a terrorist, those abortion clinic bombers? “I don’t know if you’re going to use the word terrorist there”.

I ended up noting that hey, at least the number of violent attacks has gone down significantly since their peak in the early and mid-nineties. But why? Maybe because bombing just lost some of its cool even to the manic fringes of the religious right after 9/11. Maybe because, well, times change, a new generation has come to age. But at the back of my mind, I worry about a third possible explanation:

You could speculate on a more troubling correlation though, one to do with how this kind of domestic terrorism appears to have peaked in the early and mid-nineties. An era, in short, when conservatives were faced with a man being elected President who embodied, in their perception, everything they were against. When they were faced, also, with a looming sense that they were losing the culture wars against a new generation (the baby-boomers), which seemed about to wrest the cultural and political authority they had won in the Reagan years from their hands.

There’s an unnerving parallel there, but that’s for another blog post.

The parallel is, of course, with what might just happen, or what we might fear may just happen, after a likely Obama election victory. Alarmism aside, there have been some smart and thoughtful observations by digby and others about emerging conservative efforts to portray a President Obama as nothing less than an illegitimate President. The last couple of weeks have also seen troubling manifestations of a mindset in which Obama is nothing less than an anti-American heir of Hitler and Mao.

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Would you use the word terrorist there?

Politics, Presidential Elections, US culture, US Elections, US Politics

The news addicts among you will already have seen this one:

Think Progress has the transcript:

[BRIAN WILLIAMS]: Is an abortion clinic bomber a terrorist, under this definition, governor?

PALIN: (Sigh). There’s no question that Bill Ayers via his own admittance was one who sought to destroy our U.S. Capitol and our Pentagon. That is a domestic terrorist. There’s no question there. Now, others who would want to engage in harming innocent Americans or facilities that uh, it would be unacceptable. I don’t know if you’re going to use the word terrorist there.

“Have we really reached the point at which the Republican ticket wants to parse the meaning of the word “terrorist”?,” Steve Benen asks at the Washington Monthly. He also wonders, “does John McCain, who sat silently during the exchange, agree with this?”, before answering his own question: “Actually, he might. ThinkProgress noted a couple of weeks ago that McCain has “repeatedly voted against protecting Americans from domestic terrorists carrying out violence at abortion clinics.”

Violence against abortion providers, fig. 1

Violence against abortion providers, fig. 1, based on NAF data.

What kind of views does Palin’s take spring from? How widespread has the anti-abortion strand of domestic terrorism been? Are there any trends?

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