[OPE-L:5942] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: RE: Re: Re: Re: the wages of war

From: Ian Hunt (Ian.Hunt@flinders.edu.au)
Date: Tue Sep 18 2001 - 07:50:44 EDT

I agree that the killing of over 5000 people (from a number of countries
and social classes) was completely unjustified and utterly appalling. I
also think it was terrorism as opposed to an act of terror in the course of
a liberation struggle (jerry's encyclopaedic knowledge is, as always,
useful here: he points to the antecedents of modern 'terrorism' and the
role of terrorist acts in struggles for national independence). For the
perpetrators of the WTC attack seem to have thought such acts to be the
primary, possibly the only, means to protest against and defeat detested US
power and policies. But I think the action was deeply misguided (and evil)
rather than 'mindless'. (I think, incidentally, that the attack brought
death and destruction on a far greater scale than the attackers ever
imagined - if the engineers and architects who built the WTC were surprised
at its collapse, then no doubt those behind the attack would probably have
been surprised too). The US state, and by (unjustifiable) extention, the
country and its people, is hated by many in the arab and muslim world for a
blockade of Iraq that has led to the deaths of many thousands of children
there, and for supporting Israeli policies in palestine whose only outcome
can be submission of palestinians to an apartheid style state (highly
unlikely) or the expulsion (more likely) of palestinians by force from the
West bank and Gaza strip - ethnic cleansing of palestinians and
'terrorists' is the only logical outcome.
The reasoning behind the terror is that it would be effective retribution
for those wrongs. I think this is a mistake: it is a mistake to think
simply in retributive terms about the undoubted oppression that the US is
responsible for in the middle east - it is also a mistake to think that
such retribution will effectively weaken the capacity of the US to continue
with such policies. No doubt it has struck fear in the minds of many
ordinary americans, but its main effect will be to lend support to attempts
by the US to consolidate its position as an imperial power. The US will
have a greater ability to impose sanctions on states that it lables
supporters of terrorism, and greater ability to support the state of
Israel's oppression in palestine.
If we have working class interests at heart, we need to distinguish sharply
between, on the one hand, bringing the perpetrators of the undoubted crime
at the WTC to justice  and, on the other hand, supporting a 'war against
terrorism', which will mean (as it has already under the Israeli occupation
in palestine) attempts to suppress protest against the oppression for which
the US and its allies are responsible. This is not to give a blank cheque
to the US government in pursuit of justice - clearly anyone accused of
being behind the attack is unlikely to get to get a fair trial in the US -
but it is to support some state action against crimes like murder. (I have
little trouble with murderers being brought to justice, although I have
deep trouble with what goes on under the name of justice in the US in
particular, where the criminal justice system is also a means of
suppressing - even terrorising - the working class)

The depressing thing is that governments around the world (mine included)
seem ready to fall over one another to give the US government a blank
cheque in its 'war against terrorism' - and this has considerable popular
support. But this only underlines how counterproductive terrorism can be.
Ian Hunt

>None of the postings that I am responding to, especially the one appended
>below by P. Bullock, has to do with whether an individual is or is not
>considered a terrorist by the US govt. The federal government's terrorist
>list is clearly constructed for political ends and since it omits state
>terrorists who are friendly to US and may include as terrorists anyone the
>state department currently finds objectionable, e.g., Yassir Arafit was on
>the terrorist list in the past, but is off today, and may be included again
>in the future if it suits the objectives of the federal government. Rather,
>the discussion has to do with what do people on this list consider
>terrorist behavior.
>I don't know what it means to say that I'm making the mistake of thinking
>rationally in irrational times. Precisely, when is it appropriate to equate
>British self-defense against a Nazi invasion or the African National
>Congress liberation struggle with the aimless massacre of 5,000 people
>associated with the destruction of the WTC?
>I have a student in my class. Her pregnant sister died in the WTC. I have a
>work-study student in my office who lost two uncles in the WTC. What,
>precisely, is a rational explanation for their loss? Or, even an acceptable
>irrational explanation?
>For me, there is unbridgeable moral chasm between mindless murder and
>legitimate self-defense/liberation struggles.
>patrick l. mason
>At 10:16 AM 9/17/01 -0700, you wrote:
>>Ridiculous or not, he was on the State Department terrorist list.  The
>>talk of terrorism means that anybody whose policies the government
>>dislikes can be a terrorist -- the category is not grounded in objective
>>behavior as Patrick suggests.  Patrick, you are mking the mistake of
>>thinking rationally in irrational times.
>>On Mon, Sep 17, 2001 at 01:13:44PM -0400, Patrick L. Mason wrote:
>> >
>> >
>> > This discussion is bizarre. Mandela, a terrorist!!! Pure garbage.
>> >
>> > To conflate terrorism with a legitimate freedom fighter is mind boggling.
>> > Everyone on the face of the earth who cared to know, knew the purpose of
>> > the ANC's struggle. On the other hand, no one knows (for certain, at the
>> > moment) who was behind last week's insanity or what possible goal the
>> > perpetrators were trying to achieve.
>> >
>> > People who target buildings with day-care centers are simply evil. The WTC
>> > included people of every religion, political ideology, economic class,
>> skin
>> > color, sexual preference, etc. among human beings. The only definable
>> > target was human life.
>> >
>> > Blowing up the world trade center (through the suicidal hijacking and
>> > destruction of planes that also contained a vast variety of people) is an
>> > extraordinarily vicious, utterly futile, and stupidly meaningless act.
>> > America has an $8.5 to $9.0 trillion GDP. This senseless act will have
>> zero
>> > longrun economic impact. Politically, it will only make it more difficult
>> > to create a more humane world. This horrific event eliminated all
>> > discussion of the World Conference Against Racism from the print and
>> > electronic.
>> >
>> > The public works injection associated with rebuilding New York and
>> > expanding the military will increase the size of the GDP. The American
>> > military-industrial complex will only be made stronger. Neither the
>> > Palestinians nor any Arab/Islamic political group fighting for a more
>> > democratic government or any form of economic justice will be helped by
>> > this act.
>> >
>> > To equate Mandela and the African National Congress with the
>> > nation/organization/individuals that carried out the actions of the past
>> > week is deeply insulting to anyone who thinks that morality, ethics,
>> > values, and the preciousness of life, especially human life, are something
>> > more than "contemptible bourgeois concepts." The ANC had as its policy
>> that
>> > only economic infrastructure and military targets were legitimate targets.
>> >
>> > Only degenerate, hedonistic, psychopaths murder thousands of people for
>> the
>> > sheer joy of killing.
>> >
>> > Maybe, I don't understand the mentality of some on "the left" anymore.
>> > Maybe, I never did. Many leftist wish to save whales, protect rain
>> forests,
>> > stop the senseless of baby seals, and (some) encourage humans to quit
>> > eating meat. Okay, that's all good.
>> >
>> > I'm all for saving whales, rain forests, and old growth forests and
>> spotted
>> > owls. But, I also think human life is worthy of salvation. I'm totally
>> > against the senseless murder of animals. I live in a wooded area with
>> > rattlesnakes, mocassins, copperheads, and coral snakes. I'm even against
>> > killing these deadly snakes.
>> >
>> > I have no idea who carried out this horrific action, but common decency
>> > would suggest that the perpetrators have nothing in common with the ANC or
>> > British teenagers training to fight off a Nazi invasion.
>> >
>> > patrick l mason
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> > At 04:48 PM 9/17/01 +0100, you wrote:
>> > >During the WW2  British boy scouts, from the age of 11 to 16 were
>> taught how
>> > >to sabotage an expected German invasion force, in ways which were almost
>> > >certainly 'suicidal'... ... no doubt we might have regarded this as
>> > >terrorism if we were with the Wehrmacht.
>> > >
>> > >Your question is  strikingly naive, if you will excuse me saying so.
>> > >Mandela, Makarios, and many other post colonial leaders were well
>> > >established 'terrorist' leaders.
>> > >
>> > >What are the 'objective' or material causes of these acts? that is the
>> > >point.
>> > >
>> > >
>> > >
>> > >-----Original Message-----
>> > >From: Chai-on Lee <conlee@chonnam.ac.kr>
>> > >To: ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu <ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu>
>> > >Date: 17 September 2001 11:21
>> > >Subject: [OPE-L:5922] RE: Re: Re: Re: the wages of war
>> > >
>> > >
>> > > >Dear All,
>> > > >
>> > > >Could anybody distinguish between the terrorist and the guerrilla?
>> > > >I am purplexed.
>> > > >
>> > > >Chai-on
>> > > >
>> > > >
>> >
>>Michael Perelman
>>Economics Department
>>California State University
>>Chico, CA 95929
>>Tel. 530-898-5321
>>E-Mail michael@ecst.csuchico.edu

Associate Professor Ian Hunt,
Director, Centre for Applied Philosophy,
Philosophy Dept, School of Humanities,
Flinders University of SA,
Humanities Building,
Bedford Park, SA, 5042,
Ph: (08) 8201 2054 Fax: (08) 8201 2784

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