Friday, July 14, 2006

Why the Phrase "War on Terror" is Stupid

Cross-posted at Running Scared

Barry at Cynical Nation puts up the following cynical Q&A:

Q: How does the U.N. determine when to call for a ceasefire?

A: When Israel starts shooting back.
My comment to him:
I understand that the world seems to be worried right now that they've given Israel too much unquestioning support, but you've nailed it on the head, there.

Know why a cease-fire wasn't called for before this? Because no one else doing the attacking represents any kind of government that the U.N. can officially reprimand.
DivaJood over on Journeys with Jood weighs in with a similar observation:
With yesterday's kidnappings of Israeli soldiers, Hezbollah acted as a sovereign state. The militants' raid is a sign that it sees itself as an independent force in Lebanon and beyond.

Hezbollah chief Sheik Hassan Nasrallah went on Lebanese television, acting every bit like a head of state. In a not-so-veiled threat, Nasrallah said that criticism of the raids and kidnappings would be colluding with Israel. "To the Lebanese people, both officials and non-officials, nobody should behave in a way that encourages the enemy to attack Lebanon, and nobody should say anything that gives cover to attack Lebanon," he said.

Hezbollah has attempted this attack, unsuccessfully, before. This has been long planned, and it has nothing to do with the kidnapping of Corporal Gilad Shalit by Hamas in Gaza. While Nasrallah attempts to link the two, it really is a message to the rest of Lebanon, other neighboring states, and the West. Hezbollah is laying claims to being an independent state, at a time when Lebanon is trying to get them to give up arms.
So if I'm making the point that Hezbollah (the way I've decided to spell it from now on, because I don't like the look of "Hizbollah") is not actually a nation in itself, then why would Israel treat an attack by this terrorist group as an act of war by Lebanon, and bomb the Beirut airport? It could be plain old-fashioned Military strategy. NBC's Robert Windrem writes:
Analysts say there are two possible reasons and they are not mutually exclusive. Israel wants to keep Iranian arms from getting in and Israeli captives from being flown out.
At least that makes some kind of sense to me.

Now, back to my statement about there not being a central government for the U.N. to scold. It's just true. If we are, in fact engaged in a "War on Terror", then who is it that we're fighting? Al Quaeda? Iraqi insurgents? Are they really terrorists?

What about Hezbollah, and Hamas, and Islamic Jihad? Palestine Liberation Front? Is the IRA still considered to be a terrorist group by our government? Should we be fighting them, too?

Terrorism used to be viewed as a crime, and those who committed acts of terrorism were considered to be criminals. By declaring this a war (as if that was all it really took to legally make one), I feel like Bush has almost legitimized terrorist efforts. In a war, there are two sides, and neither is necessarily wrong, they're just both trying to protect their own (conflicting) interests. Sometimes stalemates are reached, and peace settlements can be made through negotiations and treaties. The current terminology makes it easy to forget we're not supposed to be negotiating a treaty with criminals; we're just supposed to arrest them.

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