Intelligence, Iraq, and Terrorism
aquiran at ugr.es
Fri Mar 5 04:37:55 EST 2004
May I say that the definition of terrorism depends on which side you're on.
As a fictional character in Carl Sagan's Contact said, "if they're on our
side, we call them freedom fighters; if they're not, we call them terrorist;
and, for the case we don't know whose side they're on, we call them
We are confident we're the good guys. So are they. But that is not something
which is always clear. Quoting Mike Lewin:
"Most experts on terrorism agree that most international terrorism has
developed within the ranks of X who believe that Y poses a critical threat
to their way of life and must be defeated at any cost."
In the Lewin equation X=islamic fundamentalists, Y=western democracy. But the
same equation can be used by Castro (X=capitalists, Y=socialism), or the axis
powers (X=nationalsocialism/Japan's glory, Y=decadent democracies). Ample
examples can be given for those "any cost" tactics, either Reagan's dirty war
in Central America or SOE's support to resistance fighters (=terrorists for
Do I sound farfetched? Lewin again (nothing personal, just quoting):
"The frequently misused example of covert intelligence assistance to the
Mujahedin in Afghanistan was not assistance to terrorists but rather was
support to a people who were trying to defend their homeland from a foreign
takeover. It was an American policy reaction to Soviet expansionism."
It's far from misused. The same bin Laden which is now Free World'l number 1
enemy was a "freedom fighter". The soviets had all the right to call him
terrorist, while he was calling for a jihad to expel all invading infidels.
What's the difference to Iraq, where US soldiers are being killed by
"terrorist attacks"? Now Islamic forces (whoever the are) see themselves in
another jihad against American expansionism.
Apologies if this sounds too un-american. My point is that, as we say in my
country, nothing is black or white but depends on the color of the glass
you're looking through. And perhaps that's the best reason why intelligence
should be kept away from ideology.
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