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Old 02-20-2010   #21
Ken White
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Default Not the correct parameter...

Quote:
Originally Posted by zenpundit View Post
Using a narrow organizational definition of terrorism pretty much eliminates most of the historical examples on which the concept of terrorism itself is based. More often than not, terrorism reprsents an inarticulate but violent political gesture that is not connected to a methodical, sequential, plan to tople the state.
I agree with the last clause but disagree with the first. 'Whodunnit' isn't the issue, what was done is the determinant.

More precisely, the intended effect of what was done (Terror, like other things can fail to achieve a goal) is the defining factor. If the effort by a single actor or a group, organized or not, is intended to provoke a mass or target group reaction then it's terror. If it is a violent act or series of them intended to make a statement, political or otherwise it may or may not be a terroristic act but if it does not provoke a sense of terror or fear in a target population, then it rarely will really be an act of terror.

If it is an action by a deranged individual or collection of them and achieves no significant effect or fearful reaction by a targeted population other than locally, it's a nut or a few doing something stupid and usually wasteful.

I agree with Rifleman. What you call something is important due to human perception triggering reaction. Overuse of the 'terror' tag has sorta cheapened it. As we can see...
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Old 02-20-2010   #22
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Under current definitions, which I believe have been heavily shaped to define the current threat, no, it is not terrorism.

A quick google takes one to ABOUT with several definitions. In 1937 it was terrorism according to the League of Nations:

"All criminal acts directed against a State and intended or calculated to create a state of terror in the minds of particular persons or a group of persons or the general public."

And it may meet the current FBI definition:

"The unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a Government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives."

And certainly it is under the Arab Conventions of 1998; which ironically have about the lowest standard for what qualifies as terrorism. The cynic in me would say it is because it really flies in the face of Arab culture to have to work too hard at anything...:

"Any act or threat of violence, whatever its motives or purposes, that occurs in the advancement of an individual or collective criminal agenda and seeking to sow panic among people, causing fear by harming them, or placing their lives, liberty or security in danger, or seeking to cause damage to the environment or to public or private installations or property or to occupying or seizing them, or seeking to jeopardize a national resources."
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"The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)
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Old 02-20-2010   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rifleman View Post
I believe violent acts should be considered either criminal acts or acts of war regardless of motivation and aims. I don't see "terrorism" as a useful classification for violent acts either foreign or domestic. I see terrorism as a tactic, not a useful legal definition.

I don't think the US or our allies should be engaged in a so called "Global War on Terror." I think we should be engaged in a war on militant Islamic organizations.

After the Pearl Harbor attack, the US declared war on the nation of Japan. We didn't declare war on tactics and techniques like Japanese Naval Aviation or Japanese air raids.



Rifleman, your right to a point...........he was a Revolutionary and he was willing to pay any price to make his point. Bob Dylan recently played at the White House singing some of his songs but I bet he didn't play this one. The Tea Party was an act of Revolution.............most people seem to forget that. H. Rap Brown said "Revolution is as American As Apple Pie." The 70's are coming back and most ain't old enough to remember the Revolutionary groups that existed then or they have forgotten them. The New Breed will be a lot tougher and smarter. So much for my weekend analysis have to go do my "honey do list"

album: Band of the Hand Soundtrack

lyrics

It's Hell Time Man
It's Hell Time Man
It's Hell Time Man

Down these streets the fools rule
There's no freedom or self respect,
A knife's point or a trip to the joint
Is about all you can expect.

They kill people here who stand up for their rights, The system's just too damned corrupt
It's always the same, the name of the game
Is who do you know higher up well.

It's Hell Time Man
It's Hell Time Man
It's Hell Time Man
It's Hell Time Man

The blacks and the whites,
The idiotic, the exotic,
Wealth is a filthy rag
So erotic so unpatriotic
So wrapped up in the American flag.

Witchcraft scum exploiting the dumb,
Turning children into punks and slaves
Whose heroes and healers are rich drug dealers Who should be put in their graves.

It's Hell Time Man
It's Hell Time Man
It's Hell Time Man
It's Hell Time Man

Listen to me Mr. Pussyman
This might be your last night in a bed so soft. We're not pimps on the make, politicians on the take, You can't pay us off.

We're gonna blow up your home of Voodoo
And watch it burn without any regret
We got the power we're the new government,
You just don't know it yet.

It's Hell Time Man
It's Hell Time Man

For all of my brothers from Vietnam
And my uncles from World War II,
I'd like to say that it's countdown time now
And we're gonna do what the law should do.

And for you pretty baby,
I know you've seen it all.
I know your story is too painful to share.
One day though you'll be talking in your sleep.And when you do, I wanna be there yeaahhh.

It's Hell Time Man
It's Hell Time Man
Band of The Hand
It's Hell Time Man
Band of The Hand
It's Hell Time Man
Band of The Hand
It's Hell Time Man

The Studio Version.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JLoO1S3-QE

Last edited by slapout9; 02-20-2010 at 05:21 PM. Reason: forgot stuff
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Old 02-20-2010   #24
zenpundit
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Default Query

Ken wrote:

Quote:
"If it is a violent act or series of them intended to make a statement, political or otherwise it may or may not be a terroristic act but if it does not provoke a sense of terror or fear in a target population, then it rarely will really be an act of terror."
So, if a bomb explodes in the marketplace, and the media of a regime suppresses the information ( and thus, the spread of fear) the bombing isn't an act of terrorism?
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Old 02-20-2010   #25
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Default Volley...

Quote:
Originally Posted by zenpundit View Post
So, if a bomb explodes in the marketplace, and the media of a regime suppresses the information ( and thus, the spread of fear) the bombing isn't an act of terrorism?
Tell me who made and who exploded the bomb and for what purpose, then describe the actual damage done and I might be able to answer that...

It would also be helpful to know if the news of the bombing, though suppressed, leaked out and instilled a sense of terror resulting in behavior modification of the masses or elements thereof. That will not affect the determination of intent to commit a terroristic act it will merely indicate its success as an action...
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Old 02-20-2010   #26
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Default Contradictions proving the point....

Ken wrote:

Quote:
'Whodunnit' isn't the issue, what was done is the determinant.
Ken also wrote:

Quote:
Tell me who made and who exploded the bomb and for what purpose, then describe the actual damage done and I might be able to answer that...
and also:

Quote:
Seems to me that is true and thus we're describing abberant actions that do not reach a threshold of inspiring terror
Now, I do not disagree that these different and conflicting standards of determining whether an act was terrorism could be useful yardsticks. To me, there's more than one kind of terrorism in the world and multiple causation acting as catalyst for that behavior with terrorists aiming for different objectives.

Pre-9/11, few counterterrorism experts would have counseled airline passengers and crew to resist hijackers because the idea that hijackers would suicidally fly the plane into buildings was not considered to be probable behavior, as the experts were working from the Western and Third World Marxist revolutionary group model to which al Qaida does not fit.

I see terrorism as more of a spectrum phenomena than a neat categorical box.
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Old 02-20-2010   #27
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Terrorism is in the intent, not the effect.

A man places a charge in a fuel truck, drives it to Dodger stadium to blow up a World Series crowd to make a statement for his cause, but accidentally self-detonates on a remote road and no one is aware of his true intent nor is impacted by the blast.

Another man is merely driving his fuel truck through LA to make is scheduled deliveries, and a freak electrical shortage initiates a blast killing him, and 30 bystanders, causing millions of dollars in damage and impacting the populace of S. California for months.

Which one is a terrorist? The one who terrorized or the one who intended to terrorize?

I think our current definitions are overly politicized.

President Bush left office on the one proud metric that post-9/11 "we have not been attacked." This is a record that Politicians want to keep intact; if not in fact, then by simply defining what are clearly terrorist acts, like the last two Texas events, out of that realm.

To imply that one is only a terrorist if they are linked to AQ or some similar foreign organization that regularly employs terrorist tactics to seek its political goals is as obscene as it is absurd.
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"The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)
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Old 02-21-2010   #28
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Talking Neither, Bob. One was an accident, the other failed. C'est la vie...

Quote:
Originally Posted by zenpundit View Post
Pre-9/11, few counterterrorism experts would have counseled airline passengers and crew to resist hijackers because the idea that hijackers would suicidally fly the plane into buildings was not considered to be probable behavior, as the experts were working from the Western and Third World Marxist revolutionary group model to which al Qaida does not fit.
You have neatly encapsulated why I'm deeply suspicious of experts. An ex is a has-been, etc.
Quote:
I see terrorism as more of a spectrum phenomena than a neat categorical box.
Totally agree, thus my agreement with Entropy that it's an eye of the beholder thing and with Bob's World that our current definitions are overly politicized. I also agree with Bob on this:
Quote:
To imply that one is only a terrorist if they are linked to AQ or some similar foreign organization that regularly employs terrorist tactics to seek its political goals is as obscene as it is absurd.
therefor I'm glad I implied no such thing...

Nor do I think anyone here did that though I acknowledge others on all facets of the political spectrum have. That's why I believe the term to be over used and urge caution in its application.
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Old 02-21-2010   #29
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Default the road to hell is paved with 'em...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
Terrorism is in the intent, not the effect.
Well, yes -- however one man's terror is another's 'so what...'
Quote:
This is a record that Politicians want to keep intact; if not in fact, then by simply defining what are clearly terrorist acts, like the last two Texas events, out of that realm.
Mmm, not IMO. Hasan, yes and I agree; the Austin IRS Fly-In not so much. As you say, it's the intent. Who do you think he was trying to terrorize?
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Old 02-21-2010   #30
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Default You imply a "scale" and "success" criteria

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Well, yes -- however one man's terror is another's 'so what...'Mmm, not IMO. Hasan, yes and I agree; the Austin IRS Fly-In not so much. As you say, it's the intent. Who do you think he was trying to terrorize?
Which I don't see in many of the definitions. Not saying there isn't something to that. I think the SWJ community is a fairly sensible lot on these things, but also recognize that it is not a respresentative slice of America either (lest one feel either too good or too bad about some of the responses they receive to their thoughts posted here)

Valid points on a subjective topic.

But I am biased. I think "counterterrorism" is a mission set that does far more damage than good. In name alone it shifts the focuse to attacking the symptoms of problems; and away from the problems themselves. It also shifts the focus and funding to those organizations that engage those symptoms and away from those who are mandated with addressing the problems, thereby accentuating their previous failures that facilitated the rise of terrorism to beging with. A viscious circle.

Now we have a State Department that does Counterterrorism and Nation Building as what appears to be its new primary purpose in support to the Defense Department. Sad.

What we really need is a State Department that looks beyond states, but is focused on the diplomacy and policies needed to mitigate the need for such symptomatic approaches.

I guess I'm just irritated with our nation's approach to everything related to terrorism these days and it makes me grouchy. Sorry.

As to Ken's question though, of "who did he terrorize." Probably a few thousand bureaucrats.

More important question: Who did he inspire?
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"The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)
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Old 02-21-2010   #31
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Default I understand the argument and I still disagree...

I can see terrorism as a tactic. I can also see it as an effect - did someone get real scared because someone else was threatened or killed? Well, then they were terrorized, weren't they?

I still don't think it's a useful legal definition, regardless of the perpetrators motive or intent. We have crimes. We have acts of war. We even have war crimes. What else is needed?

What useful purpose does debating whether or not an act of violence or intimidation should be called domestic terrorism serve? Is it not enough to call it murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault, arson, property destruction, stalking, etc.?

I see the term "terrorism" as Wilf seems to see terms like manuever warfare, 4GW, OOTW, etc. It's a hip term for an ancient tactic/effect that serves no useful purpose and diverts attention away from the essence of what's really going on.
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Last edited by Rifleman; 02-21-2010 at 01:39 AM.
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Old 02-21-2010   #32
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Wink That's a totally acceptable outcome...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
I guess I'm just irritated with our nation's approach to everything related to terrorism these days and it makes me grouchy. Sorry.
Not a problem, as Bill would say, I feel your pain. Now you know why I'm grumpy and have been for forty plus years...
Quote:
As to Ken's question though, of "who did he terrorize." Probably a few thousand bureaucrats.
That's the acceptable outcome. Desirable even.

Just don't terrorize Congress or they'll pass some REALLY dumb laws.
Quote:
More important question: Who did he inspire?
Most likely no more than a few copycats who may or may not be successful, more or less. As I believe Slap will agree, that factors into a lot of criminal acts.
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Old 02-21-2010   #33
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I too don't think his inspiration will do much. Why? No Causation.

In America many complain about the government, but we recognize it's legitimacy and we believe in our ability to control it, vice the other way around. This is what immunizes a populace from Insurgent motivation, be it ideology, leadership, or acts like this.

Most populaces don't have anything even close to what we enjoy in America in this regard; but I assess downward trends on both of these critical metrics over the past 20 years; and that is a trend we would be wise to address sooner than later. Good COIN is done years before the acutal insurgent is ever even born.
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"The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)
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Old 02-21-2010   #34
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Quote:
You have neatly encapsulated why I'm deeply suspicious of experts. An ex is a has-been, etc.
"An expert is someone who has made all of the mistakes that can be made in a narrow field" - Niels Bohr
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Old 02-21-2010   #35
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Nobody else has asked, so I will.

Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that he is a terrorist. Let us also assume that he was acting alone - a lone wolf, a loner, a loser, whichever you like. Now, for the question: so what?

If he is a terrorist, should this make his crime more troubling than if he were not a terrorist?
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Old 02-21-2010   #36
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Thumbs up That recognition of legitimacy and belief in our ability to control it

may be changing: LINK. I saw another poll but cannot find it wherein IIRC, about 60+ % of the people thought that they were not in control of the government while about 60+ % of the Political class (whatever that is...) thought the people were in control. That is not a good transposition because it giver the pols carte blanche to keep doing what they're doing -- which generally is not good.

So your point about a downward trend is valid and, as you say, good COIN is done BEFORE there is a problem...
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Old 02-21-2010   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rifleman View Post
I can see terrorism as a tactic. I can also see it as an effect - did someone get real scared because someone else was threatened or killed? Well, then they were terrorized, weren't they?

I still don't think it's a useful legal definition, regardless of the perpetrators motive or intent. We have crimes. We have acts of war. We even have war crimes. What else is needed?

What useful purpose does debating whether or not an act of violence or intimidation should be called domestic terrorism serve? Is it not enough to call it murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault, arson, property destruction, stalking, etc.?

I see the term "terrorism" as Wilf seems to see terms like manuever warfare, 4GW, OOTW, etc. It's a hip term for an ancient tactic/effect that serves no useful purpose and diverts attention away from the essence of what's really going on.

That is why I think all the analysis of terrorism/terrorist is really missing the larger point (motive) he was a Revolutionary. He used violence to impact a specific Government Policy or Policies....that is what Revolutionaries do as in "My only regret is that I have one life to give for my country" type stuff.

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Old 02-21-2010   #38
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Man bulldozes his own home because of IRS and Mortgage problems.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dqb6Z...ayer_embedded#
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Old 02-21-2010   #39
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Default Schmedlap

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Nobody else has asked, so I will.

Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that he is a terrorist. Let us also assume that he was acting alone - a lone wolf, a loner, a loser, whichever you like. Now, for the question: so what?

If he is a terrorist, should this make his crime more troubling than if he were not a terrorist?
Excellent question!

Yes.

A guy going postal because of personal issues doesn't have the attractive or inspirational potential of politically motivated terrorism. In other words, terrorism can have an effect on the psychological/moral level in a way that a guy slicing up his neighbors in his apartment and eating them with fava beans and a nice chianti does not. The former is a cause, the latter, a curiousity.
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Old 02-21-2010   #40
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In other words, terrorism can have an effect on the psychological/moral level in a way that a guy slicing up his neighbors in his apartment and eating them with fava beans and a nice chianti does not. The former is a cause, the latter, a curiousity.
Now I need to ask a follow up, since you mention psych thing and the causal thing.

Is this any more troubling than some high-profile school shooting that is likely to cause copycat shootings?
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