P. Edronkin

Terrorism And Hypocrisy

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One of the things that victims of terrorist attacks have to survive is the clout of political consequences of each terrorist act. Terrorism is a way to wage war but is seen as a relatively simple criminal act by many; this induces the public opinion to judge too hastily and too rapidly the retaliation of states, which is belligerent by nature because that is how they survive. The public is not accustomed to widespread destruction, death and so on, so people are keener to see quite rapidly the actual defenders as the ones perpetrating the massacre.

And as distance is directly proportional to jingoism and chauvinism, so it is proportional to the magnitude of the double-standard morals applied to terrorism-related events, because it is all too easy to judge how victims react after they go in pursue of the perpetrators, since the perpetrators have escaped and they need to be found out. Of course, this should not be sued as an excuse for barbarism or the use of excessive force, but it is very important to know the context of each event before judging.

There are certain cases like the response of the Israelis to the terrorist attacks of various Muslim groups on their territory, citizens and so on: now, the events in Lebanon and the Palestinian lands are seen as a war of liberation, but we should not forget that terrorist attacks against Israel began long before they occupied Lebanon - remember the Munich hostages in 1972? The Lebanese country was invaded by Israel in 1982- the Gaza strip or whatever: in fact, its Arab neighbours declared war on Israel in 1948 as the same time it received its independence, obviously before they even had time to say 'Let's pester the Arabs.'

The Israelis are harsh in their responses; they are heavy handed, that's true, but the neighbours of Israel started the whole thing. History proves this and there is no point attempting to discuss the facts: even the Gaza strip was occupied during the 1967 war, when half a dozen Arab countries decided to attack Israel. Israelis are not saints, of course, but let's not forget those who started the whole mess because they bear the biggest share in responsibility.

In the case of Argentina and Chile, something similar happened: if you bother to check historical records, old newspapers and so on, you will see that terrorist groups were busy murdering people - including military officers - years before Pinochet or the Argentine Junta took power, and there was a clear-cut in terrorist activities quite shortly after the armed forces used their iron fists inside steel gloves. Their repressive methods were brutal, illegal and whatever you may call them, but at the same time effective: there was no more terrorism after that in the austral tip of South America.

The United States finds itself in a similar junction now: the country must be defended against terrorists and that is something that can only be achieved conceiving the matter as a war, and not as a police investigation. But U.S. leaders should keep in mind that there seems to be a predisposition of public opinion to judge the victim as perpetrator in matters of terrorist activity, so, U.S. forces will always be watched as they do what they do.

Excesses in the war against terror are bad, make no mistake, but the world should cease to be so hypocritical regarding these matters, and at the same time, those fighting terrorism should explain things better instead of trying to hide themselves behind pretensions of legal immunity, secret jails and disappearances of people. However, no such measures will suffice while the public opinion thinks that human right are only for those who do not fight for a state; human right are a necessary thing, but they are for all persons.

I personally do not think that any trial for human rights abuses is worth the title of justice unless perpetrators of both sides are being sent to court at the same time, judged at the same time, under the same laws and with no differences. Let's stop this nonsense that consists in thinking that brutality coming from a state is intrinsically worse than cruelty committed by terrorists: violence kills all the same.

And as long as we don't judge such violence using the same standards and punish it severely, there will always be individuals willing to become terrorists.

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