P. Edronkin

What Kind Of Terrorism Do You Prefer?

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In these times in which the fight against terrorism has taken planetary proportions and abuses have become rampant both in the case of terrorism provoking the war and then by the hand of those fighting those terrorists, I think it is very important to clarify some ideas that people have around the whole issue.

The main question that we should ask ourselves is whether state-sponsored is worse or the same as the terror caused by individual, private terrorists following their own agenda. Here in Argentina, where I am writing this article, there are many that say, given Argentina's history, that state terrorism is indeed more condemnable and worse than private terrorism.

But in my opinion, that differentiation is absurd: terrorism is by its own nature an act of war, and within such a framework, the people involved only have two priorities: first of all, their own survival, and secondly, to destroy the capacity of their enemy to continue the struggle.

In extreme cases, the reality of combat is determined only by force - laws, treatises, human rights and ethics will always take a second place -, and this is a fact: if you, the reader, were in combat against the worst butcher on Earth, you will try to defend yourself, even if it means killing that person, and - take this for granted - you will not think about laws or human rights until you are done. In other words, the only reference arguments used in combat are to survive and prevail, no matter what; legal problems are only consequences of staying alive, like it or not.

People who see themselves in dire survival situations tend to forget about laws, so we can say that armies and armed groups who commit abuses are indeed in fear, and that such abuses are directly proportional to their fear of losing the battle. Winners can be magnanimous, victims cannot.

So undoubtedly, abuses must not go unpunished, but the differentiation between what a state makes and what individuals make is stupid: those who kill just kill, and for those who die it is all the same what inclination or preferences does the trigger puller have.

Moreover: When people are in panic, they tend to commit all sorts of atrocities. We should just remember what happened at Heysel stadium, in Belgium, in 1985, when otherwise ordinary football fans just trampled one over the other killing dozens of people. Fear is fear, period.

On the other hand, stating that state terrorism is essentially worse than private use of terror is just a double standard when you consider that at the same time, legal systems assume that state entities can even leave their debts unpaid. In the case of Argentina that reaches the degree of absurd idiocy: for the local law it was bad that the army killed leftist terrorists, but it is ok that the state doesn't pay its debts leaving thousands in bankruptcy and committing fraud.

And added to this, establishing a differentiation between both forms of terrorism only encourages individuals to act in such a way, knowing that those who will have to respond will have their hands tied. So, in my opinion - and I have seen the effects of both forms of terror - those who pretend to justify the use of terror by one side as more just than by the other, are either doing that out of sheer ignorance, or because they have a second agenda and are trying to lessen the moral rejection related to the deeds of people with their ideological inclinations.

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