David Brooks, in a moment of real clarity, points out who the enemy is in Iraq:
Um Haydar was a 25-year-old Iraqi woman whose husband displeased Saddam Hussein’s government. After he fled the country in 2000, some members of the Fedayeen Saddam grabbed her from her home and brought her out on the street. There, in front of her children and mother-in-law, two men grabbed her arms while another pulled her head back and beheaded her. Baath Party officials watched the murder, put her head in a plastic bag and took away her children.
Try to put yourself in the mind of the killer, or of the guy with the plastic bag. You are part of Saddam’s vast apparatus of rape squads, torture teams and mass-grave fillers. Every time you walk down the street, people tremble in fear. Everything else in society is arbitrary, but you are absolute. When you kill, your craving for power and significance is sated. You are infused with the joy of domination.
These are the people we are still fighting in Iraq. These are the people who blow up Red Cross headquarters and U.N. buildings and fight against democracy and freedom. They are the scum of the earth. And they are being joined in their lairs by the flotsam and jetsam of the terrorist world.
Their scumminess is our great advantage. People like this will never lead a popular insurgency. They have nothing positive to offer normal, decent people. They survive only by cruelty and the power of intimidation.
Meanwhile, in a display of the shallow fecklessness typical of those on the far left or those whose only concern is attacking this administration so that Democrats may have electoral success in 2004, Josh Marshall is concerned only with the language used to describe the enemy:
Words ARE important, John.
Let me be a contrarian for a second: was George Washington a terrorist? Would the British circa 1776 have been within their rights to consider him one? And what about Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee? Were they terrorists during the Civil War?
I think it’s an oversimplification to call the Iraqi resistance a terrorist movement. I’m fairly certain there are terrorist types involved with them now. I’m not certain they all are. A lot of them may just want the US out.
And, yes, they ARE Bad Guys. Anyone shooting at my fellow citizens is a Bad Guy, especially if those fellow citizens are in uniform.
To sum up (IMHO): All terrorists are Bad Guys. But not all Bad Guys are terrorists, no matter what President Bush and David Brooks say.
I agree that “terrorist” is overdone. But it seems a lot of people get worked up over the simplisme of “Bad Guys”.
I’m sticking with “enemy”, myself. I don’t think a whole lot needs to be added to that. Anyone that aims to kill you or yours is the enemy. And although the “why” of it is interesting, I’m not giving it such a high priority that one of mine has to risk death.
“People who kill soldiers are not, at least not by definition, ‘terrorists.’ They’re guerillas or insurgents….
For Josh’s edification, they are terrorists, they are enemies of freedom, and they are guerillas and insurgents.”
You’re quite right, Mr. Cole. Marshall can only make this argument by ignoring the fact that, while people who attack soldiers are indeed insurgents, people who blow up Red Cross buildings are, “by definition,” terrorists. For Marshall’s (and apparently, JKC’s) further edification, the Administration has been quite consistent about stating that we face *both.* Marshall may not like seeing the phrase “enemies of freedom”applied to our opposition in Iraq but that is most assuredly an accurate description of the ousted Ba’athists – and an entirely separate category from “terrorists.”
That’s not what we did in the English Dept., jackass.
My parents are both English professors at colleges. I know not everyone did that in the English dept, ‘jackass,’ but enough do waste their time and ours with this sort of flatulence.
Funny, I interpreted Brooks’s column as a backhanded admission that the prewar explanations for our invasion (WMD, Al Qaeda links) are inoperative.
Americans are not dismayed by the casualties. They are dismayed that the Administration was dead wrong (and quite unapologetic) about why the war was necessary, and about its cost, difficulty, and duration. Brooks makes it sound as if liberals are trying to make the American public unworthy of the glorious adventure. Actually, our leaders are unworthy of the American people.
It’s too bad your parents couldn’t have taken some time to teach you about logic and deductive reasoning, and about the importance of writing clearly and concisely.
BJ- Heh. I took the logic and critical reasoning courses from the Philosophy Department, and my parents are hardly to blame for my inability to write clearly and concisely enough for you. Right now I am in danger of committing the inductive fallacy- everything you have comented in the past was blather, I am just going to assume your retort to this reponse will be blather as well.
I agree that there are terrorists in Iraq (or that there are insurgents using terrorist tactics, which is the same thing.) I reject the oversimplification that they’re either Ba’athist holdouts or al-Quaeda types. Some of them just may not like Americans on their soil. They may want freedom on their own terms.
They’re still the enemy* as long as they’re shooting at us. I can’t lose the uneasy feeling that we’d be dealing with fewer enemies if we’d done a better job at the beginning of the occupation.
*Better, Dave? :)
George Washington was NOT a terrorist, according to British definitions. He WAS a traitor, since he was in rebellion against his King. (He was, therefore, by definition also a rebel.)
But Washington fought in open battle, with forces that, in general, had some kind of discipline, formed some kind of military formation, in what would be considered battles.
Marion and Sumter, OTOH, were likely considered not only rebels/traitors, but also terrorists, since their forces fought almost entirely as guerillas.
Similarly, Robert E. Lee (and Stonewall Jackson, Beauregard, and Hood) would be considered rebels and traitors, but NOT terrorists. Lee, in fact, specifically rejected the idea of “going guerilla” at the end of the march to Appomattox.
OTOH, Nathan Bedford Forrest might be considered a terrorist (although his wartime actions, except against black regiments, were within the laws of war, iirc). And Quantrill would definitely be considered a terrorist.
In general, the line between terrorists and criminals, both in methods and distinguishing characteristics, are very limited. And, certainly, not every rebel is a terrorist.
JKC – fair enough.
Brooks’ moment of clarity is clearly stupid. Did Hitler have anything to offer normal, decent people? Did Pol Pot? Just because insurgents are scum doesn’t mean that they can’t become popular.