Mountain Sun

Mountain Sun

Monday, September 13, 2010

American Terrorism

One of the big advantages terrorism and terrorists enjoy is our collective failure to think clearly about terror--our seeming inability to clearly define what these things are.  While some aspects of terror seem fairly clear and widely held, other aspects see less agreement.  Perhaps one of the most widely accepted hallmarks of terrorism is that terrorist acts always have two targets, in which the immediate victim is actually of secondary importance: 

"Terrorism is an anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, ... whereby...the direct targets of violence are not the main targets. The immediate human victims of violence are generally chosen randomly (targets of opportunity) or selectively (representative or symbolic targets) from a target population, and serve as message generators" (Schmid and Jongman 1988).
Or consider this:

The purpose of terrorism is to exploit the media in order to achieve maximum attainable publicity as an amplifying force multiplier in order to influence the targeted audience(s) in order to reach short- and midterm political goals and/or desired long-term end states.

Terrorists do not primarily aim at the physical, but on the strategy that primarily relies on the symbolic strength of the act. The use of terror serves not primarily the purposes of fighting, injuring or destroying the opponent. Rather, its primary purpose lies in the conveying of messages to the target audience(s). Terrorists perpetrate their acts without regard for war fighting conventions. The symbolism originating from terrorist acts and media marketing thereof is intended to address the public, to use them as a vehicle and a communication channel to influence the political representatives/decision makers and other target audiences.

Considering the above, the "why" of terrorism--its intended purpose--appears to have wide or even universal agreement.  But other aspects of the definition, dealing with "who" terrorists are, and "how" they attack, find less agreement.  For example, some terrorism definitions (such as that used by the FBI) require that a violent act be perpetrated against innocent civilians, while other standards are more extensive and accept not just actual violence but also symbolic violence, or acts that threaten future violence.  

Another point of disagreement centers on the "who" of terrorism, in that some definitions exclude individual actors, or others might exclude state actors.  An example of the latter case was related by former US Ambassador Edward Peck to Democracy Now:

"1985, when I was the Deputy Director of the Reagan White House Task Force on Terrorism, they asked us—this is a Cabinet Task Force on Terrorism; I was the Deputy Director of the working group—they asked us to come up with a definition of terrorism that could be used throughout the government. We produced about six, and each and every case, they were rejected, because careful reading would indicate that our own country had been involved in some of those activities.

After the task force concluded its work, Congress got into it, and you can google into U.S. Code Title 18, Section 2331, and read the U.S. definition of terrorism. And one of them in here says—one of the terms, "international terrorism," means "activities that," I quote, "appear to be intended to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping."

Yes, well, certainly, you can think of a number of countries that have been involved in such activities. Ours is one of them. Israel is another. And so, the terrorist, of course, is in the eye of the beholder."

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Shell Game in Iraq

It appears that this is the season for presidential shell games, with the attack on Social Security, the sham Israeli/Palestinian peace talks, and the "removal of all combat troops from Iraq" all competing for the honor of being the most misleading scam on American citizens.  

Before the moment gets too far removed, I want to note the Iraq "no combat here" story in particular.  In the YouTube piece below, Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies unmasks the shell game recently sold to the American public about our basing and status in Iraq (with great thanks to The Real News--please consider supporting them).  She points specifically to the new deployment of a combat unit, the 3rd Armored Cavalry Brigade from Fort Hood, Texas, as directly contradicting widely-published claims that our combat troops are all coming home--a message conceived of and controlled by this administration for many months now. 

But even if 3rd Armored Brigade had not deployed, there is ample and equally-clear evidence elsewhere.  The 4th BCT of the 3rd Infantry Division, 4th BCT, 1st Cav and 116th Cav BCT all are either deploying to Iraq as part of "Operation New Dawn" or they are already there.  Each one is clearly a combat unit.  

As I noted in an earlier post on the Iraq shell game, it is remarkable that something so obvious and easily proven has been so, dishonestly...reported.  

But, the issue of combat troops aside, an even more glaring trick by Obama may well backfire on him.  He has branded this partial withdrawal of combat forces as a cessation of US combat in Iraq, and it has already become obvious that this claim is empty, too.  This is because Obama no longer controls (if he ever did) whether his troops engage in combat or not.  That control has gone over to a diverse and often competing or conflicting array of Sunni, Shia, and other forces whom we term "the insurrection:"

Assault on Iraqi military HQ kills 12; U.S. helps out
Suicide bombers struck a Baghdad military headquarters on Sunday and killed 12 people, two weeks after an attack on the same site pointed to the failure of Iraqi forces to plug even the most obvious holes in their security.
U.S. troops at the military compound to train Iraqi forces helped repel the attack, marking the first time American forces have been involved in an exchange of gunfire in Baghdad since the U.S. officially ended combat operations in Iraq less than a week ago.

There's a word for 'exchange of gunfire' between hostile forces in a war zone.  It's called "combat".

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Swedish Authorities Reverse Themselves Again in Assange Case

The Swedish Prosecution Authority has announced yet another course-change in the Assange case.  To quickly review, the initial "on-call" prosecutor in the case had brought rape and 'molestation' charges, only to have the rape charge dropped by a second overseeing prosecutor hours later.  The initial charge and immediate withdrawl by SPA was documented here (among many other venues) and brought criticism to SPA's handling of the issue.  While the rape charge was almost instantly dropped for lack of evidence, the lesser charge remained.  Today, the SPA released the following statement:

Decision on the request for review

Director of Public Prosecution Ms Marianne Ny has decided on the request for review in the Assange matter.

The investigation concerning rape will be reopened.

- There is reason to believe that a crime has been committed. Considering information available at present, my judgement is that the classification of the crime is rape. The basis for further considerations is not sufficient at the moment. More investigations are neccessary before a final decision can be made.

The investigation concerning molestation will be extended to include all allegations in the original police report.

- There is reason to believe that a crime has been committed. Based on the information available, the crimes in question come under the heading of sexual coercion and sexual molestation, respectively.

Director of Public Prosecution Marianne Ny will be leading the further investigations. She will be assisted by Deputy Chief Prosecutor Ms Erika Lejnefors.

- Due to the investigation and the persons involved in the matter, I cannot give more information concerning details in the investigation.