[thechat] Crazy spam of the day

Martin Burns yumyum at easyweb.co.uk
Sun Sep 26 04:51:22 CDT 2004

On Sun, September 26, 2004 7:32 am, deacon said:

>>From what I've observed, terrorists seem to be people on the fringe.
> Like all bigots, they are fearful that they are going to be marginalized,
> and I don't think that fear is unfounded. They would seem to be mostly
> low-average in intelligence; there are those with greater intelligence
> but the reason they are are on the fringe is because they have a
> psychiatric conditions, perhaps a personality disorders, that results in
> poor judgment.

Errrr, nice to see that the propaganda is working. I presume you're
observing in The Big Book of White House Press Briefings..?

Trouble is, underestimating your enemy leads to severe screwups... Pearl
Harbour being the seminal example - the US just didn't believe that the
Japanese were capable of planning and carrying out such a raid because of
the racist propaganda of the time. While I'm sure that there are some
psychopaths taking advantage of the situation, generally successful[1]
terrorists[2] are *extremely* smart - to achieve the pressure and
publicity that they do without the resources of a state behind them takes
more smarts than you'd think.

[1] Successful to the extent that you've heard of them, not necessarily
going all the way and achieving their goals

[2] You're forgetting the difference between terrorists and generic
violent criminals: terrorists have a political goal. Of course, using
violence to achieve a political end without legal authority is also a
characteristic of states, and the difference between 'terrorist' and
'freedom fighter' is generally one of perspective.

It's also instructive to note that the current US and UK official line on
terrorists (which you've nicely echoed) is that it's the fault of a few
individuals. This means that when/if those individuals are caught, the
administration can claim "Look! We've beaten terrorism!" If this happens
on the eve of an election (next UK election expected to be 05/05/05), so
much the better.

This allows them to ignore what's much harder, but actually effective:
examining and addressing the *causes* of terrorism. Have you ever stopped
and thought through the question "Why do they hate us?" past the
childishly simplistic "Because we're free" line?

While I'm having a good rant, does anyone else think the current "We
don't/won't negotiate with terrorists" line is entirely daft? We always do
in the end. Subject to the usual "what I can see" caveats and assumptions,
it would seem that al-Zarqawi's aims are not to gain the release of women
prisoners, but to gain publicity, cause instability and demonise the West
- all of which are completely fed by the "Won't talk to terrorists"
rhetoric. I have a sneaking suspicion that actually releasing them
(remember that the two prisoners in question were due for release
*anyway*) would wrongfoot the terrorists. I at least *hope* that the
option was seriously debated within the counter-terrorism community.


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