Defining terrorism during war
Posted by aogFriday, 04 April 2003 at 17:21 TrackBack Ping URL
I half agree with Fred Kaplan — the current suicide attacks on our troops in Iraq are not terrorism against our troops. Kaplan's main point, with which I agree, is that attacks on military targets targets, even if by irregulars or militants disguised as civilians are not terrorism. I have often seen it said that the attacks of the Palestinians would be much less loathesome if they were directed against military targets instead of civilians and orphanages. I've always agreed with that. Making attacks while hiding among civilians may be a dirty war but it's not terrorism. Even David Kopel agrees.

On the other hand, these attacks do appear to be terrorism against the Iraqi people. Forcing civilians in front of militants or forcing them to drive into checkpoints in cars full of explosives — that's terrorism. Kaplan conveintly ignores that aspect of the issue because it would detract from his bashing of the Bush administration. Although, to be fair to Kaplan he does quote Ari Fleischer as saying “We're really dealing with elements of terrorism inside Iraq that are being employed now against our troops” which can be taken by a reasonable person to indicate the the claim of terrorism is based solely on the actions taken against our troops. I think that the Bush administration could just clean up the language a bit and be fine and lay a nice little rhetorical trap.