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Political Comment

IS TERRORISM A FACT OF LIFE?
James Skinner

‘When George Bush made his speech to the world condemning three large and independent countries, Iran, Iraq and North Korea by labelling them under the umbrella of terrorism as ‘The Axis of Evil’, he was demonstrating his ignorance of a long and historical system of worldwide murder. Whoever handed him the infamous script knew as much about terrorism as flying a kite to the moon. Whether or not in today’s world, certain political regimes support, harbour or instigate the murder of innocent human beings on a massive scale does not necessarily address the main issue of what constitutes terrorism. The core of the evil has been around as long as prostitution. The difference is that, like all horrors invented by humanity it is no different to other facts of life. It moves and changes with the times. It is a true chameleon in the criminal history of mankind. The real tragedy is, it just won’t go away!

Terrorism, as most dictionaries describe it, are acts of violence on innocent people perpetrated by opponents of political institutions in order to assert their own supremacy of power. Quite a statement. In fact it is as broad as broad can be and goes back to the early days of the Roman Empire. Caligula in AD 37-41 used all kinds of foul play in order to subjugate his adversaries whilst Robespierre instigated terror as a means of achieving his goals during the French Revolution of the 18th Century. From then on we can trace all kinds of evil organisations and beasts from the Ku Klux Klan to super monsters like Adolph Hitler.

There is one subtle point that always hangs in the balance in defining or at least trying to interpret the long history of human carnage carried out, literally in the dark by other human beings. As the definition itself implies, politics have played an active role. Whether it is Imperialism versus Nationalism, Democracy versus Communism or Fascism versus everyone else, what does it matter? The fact remains that the world has invariably interpreted over indulgence of power from one sector of society over another that reverts to death and destruction as plain and outright terrorism. However, politics have not always been the reason for terrorising people. Religion has always played a major role alongside or hiding behind the up front political issue causing the strife. The period of the Spanish Inquisition is a classic example of the church imposing its authority through arrest, torture, execution and, horrendously enough annihilation of vast numbers of human beings in the name of God. But the best example of the combination of politics and religion to create terrorific mayhem occurred in Britain towards the beginning of the 17th Century.

A little known ‘short arsed’ soldier, by the name of Guy Fawkes persuaded by a more prominent English citizen called Robert Catesby decided it was time to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London. The reason for their conspiracy was both religious and political. As staunch Catholics they needed to teach England a lesson and send the whole damn lot of the Protestant ruling party to outer space. It included King, Queen, Prime Minister, his merry parliamentary men and anyone else who may be around. This could be considered as the first real terrorist plot in history as we know it today. Story goes that our Guy had placed 20 barrels of gunpowder in a cellar below the Houses and on the 5th of November, 1605 when he was about to light the fuse, he was caught! Someone had spilled the beans and England was saved! Funny thing is that every 5th of November since that date, most of the population of the United Kingdom build a huge bonfire and then, in the name of Guy Fawkes burn an effigy of the devil chanting, ‘penny for the guy, penny for the guy!’ Mad dogs and Englishmen? Nevertheless, true religious terrorism was born.

Open the door to the encyclopaedia of today’s sinister acts and you have a revelation of methods and reasons for concealed mass violence in the name of a multitude of causes; modern day terrorism - it’s all there. Organisations, infrastructures, financial support, sophisticated weaponry and all kinds of off shoot groups are ready to contribute to the worldwide networking of supposed murder of innocent victims. For the past thirty or forty years, in every corner of the earth there is someone or some bunch of nutcases poised to pull the trigger, push the button or pull the lever to destroy whatever is left of human decency in today’s world. From the Contras to the OAS, the PLO to the Red Brigade, ETA to the IRA, you name it they’ve been or are there. Ah! But there is still an overwhelming question to be answered. Is war and terrorism the same thing? This is the crux of the matter, hence the criticism of George Bush and his simplistic accusations.

The United States of America and barring the tragedy of Pearl Harbour during WWII had never really experienced an act of indiscriminate and unannounced attack on innocent human beings. For most of their short history, the government and the armed forces were engaged in a multitude of wars and skirmishes throughout the world supposedly in the cause of freedom and democracy. It may sound corny but this great nation always upheld the principle of ‘fair play’ and obedience to a sort of human rights code. At least on paper. In practice, they were involved very deeply in all kinds of rotten skulduggery in a list of countries the length of your arm, in some cases as covert action supporting puppet dictatorships. These actions were recognised by others as down outright terrorism. Reason? Democracy versus Communism! But along came September 11th. The destruction and massacre at the World Trade Centre shook the core of the very foundation of the Constitution of the United States of America. It broke the complacent safety mould of everyday Americana. However, the question was on every citizen’s lips. Why?

The answer is simple. America never understood the difference between war and terrorism. Fighting for freedom in Vietnam, supporting Iraq against Iran, giving a blind eye to the Israel Palestine fiasco without mentioning the whole mess in Latin America since Che Guevara went on a bicycle ride promoting Communism, America has had a finger in most terrorist activities from the north to the south pole. The tragedy is that they never realised it! Once again, the party line was ‘we’re fighting the commies, come hell or high water!’ But deep down under, a more sinister and devious demon had been raising its ugly head that had nothing to do with the Cold War. Islamic fundamentalism.

Enter bin Laden, al Qaeda, the Taliban and who knows how many more murderous Moslem brotherhoods are yet to surface. Suddenly Uncle Sam graduated and did something about it. Despite the great propaganda surrounding the war in Iraq, the tumultuous demonstrations worldwide condemning it, George Bush stood aloof and uttered a simple statement, ‘enough is enough!’ Whether the Anglo-American coalition that has recently ‘liberated’ the Iraqi people from the oppression of Sadam Hussein was right or wrong, one thing is certain, Bush, probably ‘with eyes wide shut’ has done the right thing. America has shown its gritty teeth to the ever increasing threat of Islamic terrorism that has been threatening the democratic world for the past 30 years. What is more, America has exposed modern day religious terrorism for what it is. Murder of innocent human beings.
War as we’ve know it, is a thing of the past. America proved that. Terrorism, though is another matter. Is it here to stay? For whatever reason, it is simply not justified if the future of humanity is to survive. There is still a long path ahead. The ultimate aim, at least as far as religious terrorism is concerned, is the reconciliation of all faiths, regardless of the different earthly representation of the Almighty.

© James Skinner. 2003.
jamesskinner@cemiga.es
Vigo Spain

Terrorism Here to Stay


HUMPTY DUMPTY SAT ON A WALL
James Skinner on Iraq and Texas


The Media At War
James Skinner on embedded journos

Islam v Consumerism
James Skinner
on the origins of the current conflict


‘DIVIDE AND CONQUER’
‘Is this the coalition’s slogan as they forge their way through Iraq to destroy oppression and liberate the people?

The Sinking of The Prestige
James Skinner on the poisoned beaches of Spain
'Much too little too late'


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