Strong opinions, weakly held

Yes they are terrorists, but …

I was shocked to read the following from Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah yesterday:

If I had known that the operation to capture the soldiers would lead to this result, we would not have carried it out.

I think I’m so disillusioned at this point that I’m surprised when anyone in a position of leadership actually admits to a regret or mistake. It’s a shame that a terrorist leader is setting the example here.

I was also glad to read that the Fox News journalists were freed in Gaza. It’s hard out there for a journalist in the Middle East these days, but the job they do is vitally important.


  1. An unprovoked invasion of another country is almost always a mistake.

    I do agree it’s amazing that an elected official actually admitted to making a mistake. I can’t even follow election politics because politicians won’t admit they are wrong. See 2004 and John Kerry being asked if he owned a SUV. He replied, “No” and the reporter asked, “What about that one in Idaho?”. Kerry stammered for a few and finally said, “The family has it. I don’t have it.”

    How hard is it to admit you make a mistake? We are humans. If we don’t make a few mistakes daily it’s because we are six feet under and stone cold.

  2. They are more accurately described as a quasi-state guerilla organization. Saying “yes they are terrorists” makes it seem like you’re buying into the whole “war on language”

  3. I agree with your description, but I would also say that they are terrorists, if by terrorist you mean someone who uses terrorism as a tactic. Hezbollah clearly does, and so can be described as a terrorist organization. (At least as far as I’m concerned.)

  4. That’s true. Although I guess it also comes to down to what “using terror as a tactic” really means. Certainly the people of Iraq were terrorised by the US army, including abductions, random shelling and bombing, murders, rapes, etc. Certainly the Lebanese were killed, more or less randomly, in great numbers, terrorised by jet flyovers, cluster bombs, destruction of ambulances, and other tactics outside the generally accepted rules of war. But I would highly doubt that you would describe the Israelis or Americans as “yes, they’re terrorists, but…” In any case it’s kind of an academic debate when we’re talking about real people being killed, which is perhaps why the whole language issue IS so bothersome. Words have such power, even the power to excuse one form of terror.

  5. Your point is well taken. I don’t think you can say that the uniformed soldiers of a country are “terrorists” when acting in their official capacity. When they intentionally or indiscriminately kill civilians, they’re something just as bad, but they’re not terrorists (in my opinion).

  6. Ted,

    I believe the difference is one of intent and of policy. Neither the United States or Israel has a wanton disregard for human life. Both countries adopt as part of their military doctrine policies to reduce the threat of civilian casualties even when it increases the risk to their soldiers. Do mistakes happen and a bomb goes astray? Yes. Do some soldiers snap and commit crimes? Yes. Are these mistakes and crimes regretted, investigate and punished? Yes. Now take a look at the terrorist in Hezbollah or Iraq. They make harming civilians a GOAL. Sending snipers after worshipers at a pilgrimage? Yup. Sending unguided rockets toward population centers? Yup. Bombing buses, mosques, shopping districts? Yup. Yup. Yup.

    You can get caught up in language all you want. War is never going to be calm and peaceful. Those stuck in it WILL experience terror. By your definition ANYONE who commits a violent act is a terrorist. Whether it be an adict mugging someone to get cash for their next fix, a soldier following orders or someone who flies a jumbo jet into an office building. Personally, I like to call a spade a spade and a terrorist a terrorist.

  7. I’m not sure I’d answer yes to all of those things you answered yes to. We are lax at best about punishing crimes by soldiers, and the US and Israel (and every other country that goes to war) has wantonly slaughtered civilians when it suited them to do so.

    Terrorism has a fairly specific definition. Using violence against noncombatants to achieve political ends.

    In that regard, you’d have to say that the bombing of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Drezden in World War II were all classic examples of terrorism. We intentionally killed civilians in order to compel our enemies to surrender.

  8. Lebanon Update

    News from Lebanon. The interim, Hezbollah reorients, retreats.

  9. I also wonder if it comes down to money. Do you think if the terrorists in Iraq had F-16s, they’d be shooting into crowds or blowing up cars? I doubt it. Most likely they’d be in television explaining how they don’t intentionally target civilians.

  10. Leaving aside the linguistic discussion, it’s important to note that this regret of Nasrallah is exactly why the Israelis made a big response — to nip in the bud an increasing frequency of low-level provocations and attacks. They would argue that not responding just leads to more attacks; of course, the converse (that a big response will stop any more attacks) does not automatically follow. However, this entire line of reasoning is behind the Bush Administration response to the leaderships of Iraq and Iran (of course, here we’re considering military response to diplomatic or other annoyances, rather than to small military incursions, a nontrivial difference).

  11. UN: The United Nations on Wednesday described as “shocking and immoral” the fact that Israel dropped well over 90 per cent of its cluster munitions in Lebanon during the last three days of the conflict – when it was already clear there would be a cessation of hostilities.

    From the Financial Times

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


© 2019 rc3.org

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑