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#2321 07/14/05 07:35 PM
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Why is everyone so biased in considering that terrorism is only related to death being caused by a group to another group? Not that such circumstances should not be considered. But I have been waiting for someone to state the obvious, which didn't happen yet.

If you adopt the view that terrorism targets innocent civilians, then everytime some moron commits credit card fraud, he has committed an act of terrorism. Under the same view, the Enron and Worldcom scandals can easily be viewed as acts of terorism, and it is a fact that a huge number of civilians have suffered and will continue to suffer as a consequence of the acts of imbeciles like Ebbers. Does it matter that they haven't been killed literally? And this would only be the tip of the iceberg.

One reason why such a definition is not given and adopted yet could very well be the liability under the law, so to speak. You cannot give a strictly oriented definition of terrorism (to serve only one purpose, say that of armed conflicts) since the concepts involved in the definition could easily be extended to other social, political and economical aspects of life. Which would be inconvenient for many, to say the least.

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#2322 07/15/05 04:18 AM
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Terrorism is the act of inciting fear in a target group for the purpose of forcing that group to change their behavior in some way.

War is the act of directly changing the behavior of the target group by force.

In general war is overt and terrorism is covert.

War and terrorism can both be carried out by large groups such as nations and by small groups such as religious sects.

However, war is more likely to be waged by the large groups and terrorism is more likely to be waged by the smaller groups.

War is about the power to go in and kick some serious a*s because you have the resources and manpower to do so.

Terrorism is about having to do the job in secret because you don't have the power and resources to act openly with impunity.

The common ground is that both are ways for one group to impose their will on another group against the other groups will.

This post does not attempt to get into the subject of justification for either war or terrorism.


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#2323 07/15/05 04:26 AM
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One who tries to convert you to his religion or belief system by force,violence or by other non-peaceful can be called Terrorist.
But unfortunately after the application of the above definition only very few are left who are not terrorist.

#2324 07/15/05 02:03 PM
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To Yogi who wrote: "In general war is overt and terrorism is covert."

So, by your definition, the CIA is a terorrist organization. The US Navy Seals are a terrorist organization.

You also wrote: "Terrorism is the act of inciting fear in a target group" and "War is the act of directly changing the behavior of the target group by force."

Obviously you have never found yourself in combat. My memories include quite a bit of fear. And an awful lot of trying to make the other guy more afraid than I was.

Come on folks ... surely you can think more deeply than these sound byte phrases.


DA Morgan
#2325 07/15/05 10:35 PM
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To be clear.

I did not say and did not mean to imply that there is no legitimate science in sociology or even psychology.

Political science is a quandry for me, mainly because I am even more ignorant of it than I am of the other two. Economics and Management Science have strong scientific components. (The parts of MS I consider science is actually sociology or psychology.)

I don't think the problems are intractable - at least I have no reason for believing it at the moment.

I don't think that the definition of terrorist is a scientific issue, per se, though I do believe that in this - as in many other areas - science might help inform our decisions.

Very interesting book I highly recommend: "The Breaking of Nations," by Robert Cooper.

BTW, this does not imply that I condone US actions in Iraq or anywhere else in particular. While I'm willing to admit that even scientific words have some flexibility in them, there is a point of stretching the definitions where they have no meaning at all. Defining 'terrorism' in such a way as to include the US is such a stretch (at least based on the 'reasoning' so far offered). One might as well say that all police officers are criminals because they use violence on other people.

#2326 07/16/05 02:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by DA Morgan:
Responses to a few of you:

To: Rusty

Delving into terrorism will not stop it. We know the cause ... if you or I were forced by circumstance to live in those countries under those circumstances likely we too would be carrying an AK47.

We know how to stop it ... (1) stop meddling in their countries in a manner we wouldn't wish to have them meddle in ours? How quickly we forget that we, US and British, overthrew a democratically elected government in Iran because it was threatening to take control of Iran's oil fields away from US and British oil firms. A case of remarkably self-serving and convenient meory. But certainly all of this is not our meddling so (2) terrorism costs money ... lots of it. So far we have done little or nothing to cut off terrorism's oxygen supply.

Which leads to the question you should be asking and that is "Why are we doing almost nothing to actually fight terrorism?"

Why is part of Pakistan off-limits?

Why did we let Osama bin Laden slip away by using totally unreliable people to try to take Tora Bora?

Why is Al Qaida not classified under the RICO act, Racketeering, Influenced, and Corrupt Organizations as organized crime as is the mafia?

Why is it that terrorism financiers bank accounts and financing have not been closed down?

and the list is endless.

When you have the courage to answer the "Why" then you will know that it is almost irrelevant. No one really cares that once in 5 years an incident occured that killed fewer people than alcohol on the highways in one year. It was political fodder used to gain political advantages. And anyone that thinks anything is "actually" being done is a fool.

Anyone with an IQ over room temperature can hijaack an airplane anytime they want. If airplanes are not being hijaacked it is because no one chooses to do so ... not because we are more secure.
Yes, I realize this, DA. But I'm afraid a lot of people don't seem to. I never said dialogue would solve terrorism, because terrorism is a convenient political construction to differentiate "them" from "us". Strip away the politics, intentions, etc., and look at the casualties and deaths and you can see there is little difference between the players involved. Although the player with the most power, weapons and budget will almost always be doing the most maiming and killing during a conflict.

My point (apologies if this was not clear) is that keeping dialogue on terrorism open is far better than nothing if you want to have people (in your own country) eventually realize that we, the US, Australia, etc., are quite selective, as you say, in our approach to terrorism. As you say: "Why", well yes, exactly. The problem, the one that has to be overcome through constant dialogue on "terrorism", is getting people to at least listen to those who try and draw attention to the opportunistic rhetoric coming from our "team" without shouting them down.

As you say, if people actually feel the need to carry out acts of terror (the symptom) stopping them is more than likely just not going to happen. I know this, you know this, government officials know this, but many people don't seem to (or don't want to) because they appear to believe the politically convenient lines that they are fed via the media.

Know I'm going to look a fool after saying that dialogue should remain open on "terrorism", because I suggest that we move off politics and back to science. Unless someone can offer us some sound scientific reasoning for war and its subcategories.

#2327 07/16/05 02:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by TheFallibleFiend:
Defining 'terrorism' in such a way as to include the US is such a stretch (at least based on the 'reasoning' so far offered). One might as well say that all police officers are criminals because they use violence on other people.
Police can terrorize, or be called terrorists when they instigate aggression without provocation (without a crime, say), not just because they can use violence.

#2328 07/16/05 04:20 PM
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Some police can be called terrorists, but that doesn't justify calling all police terrorists.


"Delving into terrorism will not stop it. We know the cause ... if you or I were forced by circumstance to live in those countries under those circumstances likely we too would be carrying an AK47."

Living "under those circumstances" is vague. The majority of the people who live under those circumstances are not terrorists. The terrorists who struck the OKC, the twin towers, and London were not living "under those circumstances."

There is a crisis in Islamic / Arabic culture that isn't about numbers, but about self-perception.

In a few decades, the oil will be gone and the west will have no interest in what happens in the middle east. We'll see after the westerners are gone whether they magically get their act together or devolve into a nice orderly society like Congo.

#2329 07/16/05 08:37 PM
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Kate: This is precisely what is wrong with this forum software ... it is impossible to link a response directly to the post to which we are responding. Please look for something close to what you had in the past.

Rusty:
Thanks for the clarification. We are far more in agreement than I had thought. I am firmly on the side of opening and/or continuing any dialogue. And I am quite sure having seen a bit of Northern Ireland and Israeli/Palestinian politics that only a moron (read George Bush) would think this could be solved with guns alone.

What bothers me about the current "terrorism" is two-fold.

1. If any terrorist wanted to commit a terorist action in any country, especially the US, they would need a few hundred dollars at most. That these events are not happening is, in and of itself, ample evidence that no one wishes to commit them.

2. That the government of my country has spent hundreds of billions of dollars fighting terrorism and produced not a single thing of value indicates to me that their goal is to spend money ... not to make me or anyone else safer.

Given the results one is left to ponder very unpalatable explanations.

I'd love to move from politics to science ... but I've seen a lot of the former and very little of the later here as Kate does not seem to take making this a science forum much of a priority.
At least it hasn't been filled with theological imbecility for awhile. That is one good thing.


DA Morgan
#2330 07/16/05 08:45 PM
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To: TheFallibleFiend

Some of your points are valid ... other naive.

Not having the personal integrity to label some of the actions of the US terrorist is the grossest of hypocrisy.

Were we justified invading Cuba in '61?
Were we justified invading Panama and taking out Noriega?

The truth, and one you had better get comfortable with is that while we loudly proclaim our desire to bring democracy to the middle east it is us, yes the US, that in 1953 overthrew the democratically elected government of Mohammed Mosadek. I repeat WE overthrew the first democratically elected government in the middle east just to get corporate hands on oil. So don't expect those "terrorists" to see your point of view because I was born here, am a loyal flag waving citizen, and I don't. But then I try not to be a flaming hypocrite too.

Your damned right there is a crisis in Islamic culture. Sort of like saying "gee there's a fire" after you've poured on the gasoline.


DA Morgan
#2331 07/16/05 11:22 PM
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I didn't say we didn't do things that were stupid, wrong, and illegal. I said we weren't terrorists. It is true, however, that we have supported terrorists - at least to some degree.
No problems with my personal integrity on this account.

The Brits were the primary consumers of that oil, but they asked us to help and we did. The Brits were right to argue against Iranians profiting from oil manufactured in plants that they stole from the brits themselves. So the CIA backed successful efforts to oust him. It's not clear to me whether we were acting ethically, but I'll grant that it was questionable. Far short of 'terrorism', though. OTOH, you did not say it was terrorism, per se. You said it was adding gas to the fire. Perhaps. But that's not the same thing as being a terrorist. This is the same logic used by islamist fanatics during the Satanic Verses troubles - they insisted that what Rushdie did was morally equivalent to assassination and so it was only right that he himself should be assassinated.

The impending crisis in Islamic culture hasn't got anything to do with us pouring gasoline on anything. It's an inevitable juggernaut. There were already serious problems in the ME and no sign that they were about to improve.

There was a web site I was browsing. It listed contributions by Arab culture throughout history. I don't recall the exact date, but I think the last one was about the 14th century.

The problems are innumerable and they haven't got anything directly to do with equity or even democracy. They have to do with institutions and self-perception.

BTW, Mossadeq may have been "democratically elected," but he was backed largely by communists and radical islamists. Had he succeeded, Iran would have been exactly the sort of democratic haven that it is today.

#2332 07/16/05 11:50 PM
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Quote:
BTW, Mossadeq may have been "democratically elected," but he was backed largely by communists and radical islamists. Had he succeeded, Iran would have been exactly the sort of democratic haven that it is today.
I think that this is exactly the wrong kind of attitude that has led the US interfere in other countries with disastrous consequences. On the long run it is much better to let people inside a country ''fight'' over their future without outside interference.

#2333 07/17/05 01:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by DA Morgan:
To Yogi who wrote: "In general war is overt and terrorism is covert."

So, by your definition, the CIA is a terorrist organization. The US Navy Seals are a terrorist organization.

You also wrote: "Terrorism is the act of inciting fear in a target group" and "War is the act of directly changing the behavior of the target group by force."

Obviously you have never found yourself in combat. My memories include quite a bit of fear. And an awful lot of trying to make the other guy more afraid than I was.

Come on folks ... surely you can think more deeply than these sound byte phrases.
I love the way some people can bend words to their meaning. The words overt and covert can be applied to many different enterprises besides war and terrorism. All I was doing was pointing up some differences between war and terrorism.

You do not have to be at war to do something overtly and you do not have to be a terrorist to do something covertly.

And yes, sometimes seemingly complex situations can be simplified to "sound byte phrases" and still contain useful information and meaning.


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But they will never forget how you made them feel
#2334 07/17/05 12:45 PM
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Yogi ... you wrote: "All I was doing was pointing up some differences between war and terrorism."

My problem with what you wrote is that you didn't do that at all. What you did was concoct a definition, of sorts, that labels covert military operations, such as CIA and Navy Seals, as terrorist operations.

I'm not making a value judgement here as to whether you are correct or not. Merely pointing out the implications of your definition.

Sound bites are worthless except to those incapable of complex thought. I suggest you get a copy of Neil Postman's book "Amusing Ourselves To Death."


DA Morgan
#2335 07/17/05 12:56 PM
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TheFallibleFiend ...

You wrote: "I said we weren't terrorists."

And I have very clearly given you a few examples out of a very long list in which we have been and still are. Deal with it.

If you think I am incorrect, and that is your right, then by all means point to specific laws that give us the right to overthrow the lawfully elected government of another country without a declaration of war or hostilities?

You wrote: "It's not clear to me whether we were acting ethically"

It is certainly clear to me that we engaged in an activity with the moral authority of a pirate. And what is more important is that it is equally clear to those we did it to.

You wrote: "Far short of 'terrorism'"

If you truly believe this nonsense then demonstrate that belief by justifying, in any reasonable manner, our '61 Bay of Pigs invasion. And also include the arguments why the reverse application of your logic wouldn't justify Cuba having invaded Florida.

You wrote: "There was a web site I was browsing. It listed contributions by Arab culture throughout history. I don't recall the exact date, but I think the last one was about the 14th century."

So by your reckoning it was morally and ethically justified to give the blankets with smallpox to the American Indians ... after all ... they never contributed anything to anyone. And lets see:

1. You were at an anonymous web site
2. Created by person or person's unknown
3. With agenda or political leanings unknown
4. And therefore you believe what you read

I pray you are still in middle school and are years away from being given the right to vote.


DA Morgan
#2336 07/17/05 06:35 PM
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Quote from Yet Another Crank :"A terrorist is someone who tries to extort political change by threatening a civilian population with death and destruction.

That's pretty much it."

Terrorize the citizens and let the citizens pressure the government to change.
The only way a government can be terrorized is with threat of expulsion of those in power and only the citizens can do that in today's world. In the past governments could be terrorized with the threat of invasion, expulsion and killing of its leaders but that's pretty much out of the question now. So what's left is to go after the citizens. Terrorize them.
Of coarse negotiation and compromise is the best way to bring about change but it's hard to negotiate with an entity that wants you dead. When wanting you and yours dead is the change the other party desires, it makes negotiations really tuff.

#2337 07/18/05 10:19 PM
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I like that quote: "A terrorist is someone who tries to extort political change by threatening a civilian population with death and destruction."

So when the German's in WWII dropped V2 rockets on London ... that was terrorism. Ok. And when we fire bombed Dresden that too was terrorism. Ok. And when we fire bombed Tokyo that was terorism. Ok. And when we vaporized the civilian population of two Japanese cities of no military or strategic value that too was terrorism. Are you seeing a trend here?

Once again I implore those of you willing to engage in this mental joust ... think more deeply ... apply a few synapses to the discussion. These shallow responses are worthy of Fox News but not thinking people in a science forum.

It is not that I have a problem with the definition. It actually seems pretty reasonable to me. But do understand that when you create an accurate definition you MUST also have the ethical and moral integrity to acknowledge its implications.


DA Morgan
#2338 07/18/05 11:05 PM
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"So when the German's in WWII dropped V2 rockets on London ... that was terrorism. Ok. And when we fire bombed Dresden that too was terrorism. Ok. And when we fire bombed Tokyo that was terrorism. Ok. And when we vaporized the civilian population of two Japanese cities of no military or strategic value that too was terrorism. Are you seeing a trend here?"

I'm not 100% up on my history and I don't feel like looking up the fire bombing of Dresden and Tokyo so I'll shrug on those. But the V2 rockets dropped on London, the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki yes, that was terrorism. Some of it worked and some of it didn't but it was terrorism.

#2339 07/18/05 11:24 PM
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"deal with it?"

This is the kind of argument you learned in college? You haven't produced any evidence that you think you have produced. You've produced an invisible line of reasoning and ordered, suggested, requested I deal with it. I know that this is what the average college student learns as 'reasoning', but here's your first lesson - It aint.

Overthrowing the governments of other countries is not necessarily terrorism and not necessarily even criminal. Though I think there is legitimate reason for claiming that the action against Iraq was illegal, that doesn't make it terrorist. Slobodan Milosovic was also democratically elected. Few people outside Serbia argue that the international community wasn't justified in removing him from power.

You know snippets of history, but nothing of substance. You remind me so much of the campus pseudointellectuals who spent more time in political rallies than they did in class - and then got As from soc and poly sci professors who attended the same rallies. If you'd quit parotting what you were told and read a book, you'd know that both Nagasaki and Hiroshima had "HIGH" military significance. Look it up on wiki for highlights. I'm not sure that justifies what we did, but at least get the basic facts straight.

I don't think you've demonstrated that you're qualified to judge the shallowness of the responses of anyone else in this forum - same for ethics.

I've never said that what we did was noble or right. I've only said we aren't terrorists and we're not acting like terrorists right now.

To summarize:
I don't consider poly sci to be science, per se.

I think that it (or at least part of it) is capable of becoming scientific.

I agree that science or its methods might nevertheless enlighten the discussion.

I don't think that the definition of terrorist, per se, is amenable to scientific definition.

I don't consider the US to be a terrorist state (by any reasonable definition of the term), albeit I agree we've done a lot reprehensible things.

I'll give you the last word, as this subject is not of interest to me.

#2340 07/19/05 04:29 PM
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Thank you j6p of demonstrating a willingness to face up to the consequences of a perfectly reasonable definition of the word. You really should, however, look up and learn about the fire bombings. They were not exactly one of our proudest moments. Which is not to say I wouldn't have endorsed them at the time. But hardly something to be proud of.

FalliableFiend ... you wrote: "Overthrowing the governments of other countries is not necessarily terrorism and not necessarily even criminal."

Actually it is. Unless, of course, you are one of those people that thinks the international agreements your country agreed to abide by are worthless.

You are a strange bird to accuse me of engaging in debate society behaviour. So far you've dodged addressing a single substantive issue. Why? Lacking in knowledge? or courage? or integrity?

Was our vaporization of two civilian cities in Japan an act of terrorism? Yes or No?

Was our firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo acts of terrorism? Yes or No?

Was our invasion and overthrow of the democratically elected government of a sovereign country terrorism? Yes or No?

Why not stop the posturing and address the specific issues that have been put forward.

I understand self-criticism takes courage but it is quite cathartic. And you can not address the issue if you are not willing to be honest about your own country's failings.


DA Morgan
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