My affection for President Carter is endless

19 04 2008

From Egypt’s Daily Star. Don’t you just wish he was your grandpa?

Responding to criticism by a student member of the audience that he was talking to “terrorists” Carter responded, “Over a period of seven years 13 [Israeli] people have been killed which is bad, any person killed is bad and I consider that an act of terrorism because the rockets are fired not in physical combat with soldiers but likely to cause death among the civilians.”

“At the same time if you look in Gaza, you know that for every Israeli killed in any kind of combat, between 30 and 40 Palestinians are killed because of the military capability of Israel with their pinpoint accuracy or missiles and their F-16s and their helicopters with which they can attack Palestinians,” he continued.

“Israel commits acts of terrorism too, says Carter”

Many, many people are angry at Carter over here for speaking to Hamas, and he’s being represented in the U.S. press as some kind of crazy old coot who has taken to radicalism in his old age. The reality is that he’s actually a very moderate voice in this conversation. He is only radical if not following the talking points set by people who are lying is radical.

‘What is going to be gained by having discussions with Hamas about peace when Hamas is the impediment to peace?’ [U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice] asks.

Ynetnews: “Rice criticizes Carter over Hamas Plans”

Gee, Secretary Rice, when you put it like that, your objections totally make sense.

Something worth noting: the Daily Star article is about how former President Carter said he thinks what Israel does to Palestinians is terrorism, too, and I do have qualms with the definition of terrorism he’s using–essentially he’s equating it with violence against civilians. I think what Israel does to Palestinians is despotic and verging on genocidal, and in fact, much worse than most forms of terrorism. But as I’ve mentioned before, the definition of terrorism I find most useful excludes states as actors.


Everybody’s a terrorist

1 10 2007

A couple of months ago the U.S. Senate voted to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (a segment of the Iranian military) as a terrorist unit. I’m not sure what the surface defense for this was, but the underlying logic is obvious: we can do dirtier things to organizations we label “terrorist” than we can to state-sponsored militaries.

The word “terrorist” is already being thrown around so much by pundits it hardly means anything anymore – it’s the new “Nazi,” in that you can use it to describe anyone whose politics you don’t like. But we have to remember that it’s still a politically charged word, even while its definition is becoming broader. This vote in the U.S. Senate had bi-partisan support despite its inanity – why do you think that is?

Because every politician in the room knew that if he voted against it he could be accused of supporting terrorists, despite the fact that the organization in question is very obviously not a terrorist organization.

If we move away from the specific definition of terrorism they teach you in political science classes – attacks carried out by non-state actors against civilians, typically in order to coerce states into enacting a desired policy – the word loses meaning all together. We already have words for when states use force to coerce their own citizens – military rule, despotism, ‘police state.’ If Congress wants to propose acting against a state for such reasons it should go ahead, but it should use the correct and specific word. To label the IRGC – reprehensible though it may often be – a terrorist organization, is to lie.

Having said that, you can imagine how delighted I was to read about this:

Iran says CIA is ‘terrorist’ agency(al-Jazeera)
The Iranian Parliament has voted to classify the CIA as a terrorist agency, and the U.S. Army as a terrorist organization.

The parliament said the two organisations were terrorists for a number of reasons.

It said they were involved in dropping nuclear bombs in Japan in World War II and used depleted uranium munitions in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq.

It also said they supported the killings of Palestinians by Israel, bombed and killed Iraqi civilians and tortured terror suspects in prisons.

The resolution urges Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s, the Iranian president, government to treat the two as terrorist organisations.

It also paves the way for the resolution to become legislation which, if ratified by the country’s constitutional watchdog, would become law.


Resistance Group Wants to Negotiate With the U.S.

13 09 2007

I know I said that my next post would be a passionate defense of Al-Jazeera, but I was planning on referencing this book by an old professor of mine and I just remembered I let a friend borrow it. So I’m saving the defense.

But I’ll start with a story from Al-Jazeera: Iraq Tribal Leader Offers U.S. Talks.

Islamic Army of Iraq

The Islamic Army in Iraq has offered to begin peace negotiations with the United States if the U.S. provides a timetable for the withdrawal of troops.

The IAI is a nationalist organization composed mostly of Sunni Iraqis with a minority of Shi’a, and many of them are Baathists. Their goal is to remove both the U.S. and Iran from Iraq, and they’ve been involved in more than a few kidnappings. They also were at one time associated with Al-Qaeda, but have severed ties because, according to the article, Al-Qaeda’s “agenda started to reveal itself clearly in October last year.” Also according to the article, the IAI is the largest armed group in Iraq.

I’m using this story to illustrate a point – well, two points actually. Read the rest of this entry »