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Tyrants and Terrorists

A fine line but a real one.

by Barnabas
April 9, 2003

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Tyrants and Terrorists_Barnabas-A fine line but a real one. Sometimes I wonder whether “political ethics” is an oxymoron. Doctrinaire types of whatever stripe underdefine or overdefine their terms at will to fit their current agenda. At the present time the “neocon” advocates of war as an instrument of foreign policy have turned the war on terrorism into a war on tyranny, as though they are the same. The war against Iraq, originally part of the war on terrorism, has now become “Operation IraqiFreedom.”

In effect the Neocons, another name for the New American Century people, overdefine terrorism as tyranny. They are therefore no longer clear whether they are fighting to end terrorism or to end tyranny. They seem to have forgotten there’s a difference.

On the other hand, last week some of the opponents of the war, on “talk radio,” were still making the disingenuous claim that war against Iraq would be justified only by evidence linking Saddam with Al Qaeda. Without this link, they claim, the war in Iraq is a separate adventure.

These people underdefine terrorism as a conspiracy. They ignore the fact that a terrorist state, such as Saddam’s Iraq, doesn’t need to be a part of a conspiracy to be viewed as an enemy in a war on terror—especially one that has been in a state of war with the United States since 1991.

Terrorism is an ideology, not a conspiracy. Osama and Saddam are ideological brothers whether or not there is any other link between them. Their commitment to terror as an instrument of policy has made them enemies of all civilized nations, of any religion or none. This makes the Moslems who are supporting both Osama and Saddam because of their common hatred of the United States are especially sad and deluded. It will have to be a very long war indeed before we kill as many Iraqi Moslems as Saddam already has. We are fighting Saddam because he is a terrorist, not because he is a tyrant.

Tyranny is a very bad deal, offensive to all who are committed to liberty; but that doesn’t turn all tyrants into terrorists. For one thing, you can often negotiate with tyrants. For another, tyrants may have some regard for human rights and due process, and some element of predictability about them. Some of them may even manage to win the grudging respect and affection of their people.

To take them on militarily, because “we know best” is imperialism of the most arrogant kind. So far, we have not jumped into the abyss, this time around. But if we follow the neocon global agenda after the shooting stops, we will jump. So I would like to say Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Cheney, and their more anonymous buddies, “Thanks, fellas, for winning the war. Now please leave.”

Bad deal though it is, tyranny is not the absolute evil of terrorism. We make war against terrorists because once it is active there is no political solution to it. . There may be political solutions to its causes, but not to its practice. The terrorists we fight do not need to be connected with each other, either. All they need to be is our declared enemies, by their own word and act.

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