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Old 16th June 2006, 04:20 PM   #41
CapelDodger
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Originally Posted by brodski View Post
That would put the bombing raids on Berlin, Dresden, Coventry and London firmly into the "terrorist" camp then.
To my mind, WW2 is best considered in terms of Total War, the dominant philosophy of its time. Perhaps still of our time. War being regarded as a contest of nation against nation, and the nation is not just a king or an army but an economy. War not just as battles but also as erosion of the infrastructure required to fight them. The British blockade in the Great War killed far more children than the pre-invasion sanctions on Iraq, and it was the privations imposed on the German home-front that ended the war, not military defeat.

Total War was the foundation of Mutually Assured Destruction. An unfortunate acronym.
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Old 16th June 2006, 04:28 PM   #42
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Originally Posted by CapelDodger View Post
The modern idea of terrorism derives from the bomb-throwing anarchists of the 19thCE. Their philosophy (?!) was that society is unreformable, it must be brought crashing down and from the rubble would sprout a truly free fairy-land of reason and guilt-free sex. The basic foundation of society is security, we exchange some of our freedom for protection. Bomb-throwers calculated that modern societies were too fragile to provide that security, and with that foundation undermined they would collapse. Recent examples of this thinking can be found in the Baader-Meinhof/RAF and Red Brigades era, for all their Marxist pretensions. (Terrorism is ideological anathema to Marxism-Leninism.)

Naturally the term was used to demonise any politically-motivated violence, even when it had a more rational strategy. The IRA (IRB at the time) London bombing campaign of the late 19thCE didn't have millennialist conceits, it was expected to force a change in Britain's Irish policy but it was still labelled terrorist. The Nazis labelled the French Resistance as terrorists. The British called Begin a terrorist (as did Ben Gurion).

Where do OBL and his pack of imps fit in this analysis? I would say quite definitely that they are terrorist. They seek to bring modern society crashing down (to the level it did in Afghanistan) and see it as fragile. They have an enormous self-regard, they really think their sporadic and opportunistic attacks - which are terribly important to them - can really make a difference in the world. And they will fade away, because normal people like society, they like security, they have chosen to evolve social systems to live in. They will respond to random violence by surrendering even more of their freedom to the social system, if it's that freedom which is being exploited by the terrorists. Or even if that's just what they're told. The end result is that society becomes more robust
whilst i quite like your definition, it does beg the question as to whether "terrorist" is even worth using as a term of description, being as it is such a politically loaded and subjective term. Groups like the IRA, ETA or the Chechyen rebels whilst popularly classed as "terrorists" would not in your definition be regarded as such seeing as how their aim is not the anarchic philosophical overthrow of society, but the nationalistic reform of land ownership....

<godwin> It's similar to how people use the term "fascist" to group together the Nazis, Mussolini's Italy and Franco's Spain.....which is quite neat and tidy seeing as they were all pretty nasty regimes....but in fact their differences are such that it undermines the whole usage of the term. </godwin>

The dictionary defines terrorism as :

The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/terrorism

The interesting point here is the implication that terrorism is something that happens to governments - and is not therefore something which can be carried out by governments. Any use of force against a government would be (by definition of that country's laws one presumes) illegal. The negative connertations of the term therefore castigate any violent resistance to a government - regardless of the nature of that government's rule.
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Old 16th June 2006, 04:36 PM   #43
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Originally Posted by fuelair View Post
Violence purposefully aimed at a civilian / civilian group unless directed at specific civilians who are known to have commited a specific major crime against you, your family or your friends (or by police or military against those known to have committed such crime) is terrorism. (By my definition) By my belief system, terrorists should be killed when necessary to stop immediate harm but otherwise should be invited to provide information (details not appropriate for site) and then used to help the environment. (I feel pretty much the same re: any mafia, gangs ,active fundies etc.) I could be wrong but I suspect most people in the world would just like to do their job, enjoy life and die of simple old age and I would prefer they be able to do that.
The problem is the bold section....
what is the degree of culpability? Is a civilian who votes for a government against which you have a grievence an acceptable target?

Once again wouldn't your definition include the bombing of nagasaki? - or is there a distinction during a time of war - and who defines when "war" is being waged?
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Old 16th June 2006, 04:50 PM   #44
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Originally Posted by fuelair View Post
Violence purposefully aimed at a civilian / civilian group unless directed at specific civilians who are known to have commited a specific major crime against you, your family or your friends (or by police or military against those known to have committed such crime) is terrorism. (By my definition) By my belief system, terrorists should be killed when necessary to stop immediate harm but otherwise should be invited to provide information (details not appropriate for site) and then used to help the environment. (I feel pretty much the same re: any mafia, gangs ,active fundies etc.) I could be wrong but I suspect most people in the world would just like to do their job, enjoy life and die of simple old age and I would prefer they be able to do that.
I entirely agree with your last sentiment. The vast majority of people would like to see out their lives without major trauma, having been well-regarded by their peers as decent sorts, and having seen their children and grandchildren set up in life at least as well as they were. People do not demand change except at the margins, humans are conservative. Revolutions have to be forced upon them by real crises. The defining human myth is the Golden Age that's passed, not the one that's to come.

By my definition, terrorists are not worth worrying about. Kill them, set psychiatrists and sociologists on them, whatever. Underneath the terrorist you'll find a social inadequate.

Underneath a mafiosi you'll find something else.
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Old 16th June 2006, 05:22 PM   #45
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Originally Posted by andyandy View Post
whilst i quite like your definition, it does beg the question as to whether "terrorist" is even worth using as a term of description, being as it is such a politically loaded and subjective term.
It probably isn't in general conversation. I've tried to define it objectively, as I understand "objectively".

Quote:
Groups like the IRA, ETA or the Chechyen rebels whilst popularly classed as "terrorists" would not in your definition be regarded as such seeing as how their aim is not the anarchic philosophical overthrow of society, but the nationalistic reform of land ownership....
I wouldn't refer to them as terrorists, nationalists or wannabe gardeners. I would refer to them as "insurrectionists". Or rebels.

Quote:
<godwin> It's similar to how people use the term "fascist" to group together the Nazis, Mussolini's Italy and Franco's Spain.....which is quite neat and tidy seeing as they were all pretty nasty regimes....but in fact their differences are such that it undermines the whole usage of the term. </godwin>
"Fascist" is just a catch-all term to describe the anti-democratic but also anti-socialist movements that emerged in the Western world during the Great Depression. It was invented by socioligists so that they could appear to understand it. Which they didn't. And still don't, because it's a silly word.
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Old 16th June 2006, 07:46 PM   #46
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Originally Posted by CapelDodger View Post
Total War was the foundation of Mutually Assured Destruction. An unfortunate acronym.
Unfortunate, or appropriate?
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Old 16th June 2006, 08:35 PM   #47
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Explanations

Originally Posted by andyandy View Post
The problem is the bold section....
what is the degree of culpability? Is a civilian who votes for a government against which you have a grievence an acceptable target?

Once again wouldn't your definition include the bombing of nagasaki? - or is there a distinction during a time of war - and who defines when "war" is being waged?
actually, I thought specific major crime would have covered it but (and this won't be complete, so, no offense to anyone, I'm not going to respond to "well what about" type questions). Remembering the group of people for whom I stated the circumstance, I would include for any or a part: rape, murder, purposeful damage/dismemberment, major theft/successful identity theft (only because we are in the computer age and this can do major damage now), getting them started on drugs, damaging their health with fake remedies, etc. Would not include at that level yelling at them (though in my presence that could be inadvisible), basic insults, small thefts or proven accidents). I do not regard Nagasaki as terrorism - as I use the term - because, although I would not do that to a purely civilian city, taking out areas that have military signifance (manufacturing, transport hubs, military communication centers/headquarters) is militarily necessary and following a rule I agree firmly with (don't want you to die for your country - make the other poor bastard die for his country) destroy what you need to in whatever gives the least possible to your troops.
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Old 16th June 2006, 10:36 PM   #48
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Originally Posted by andyandy View Post
whilst i quite like your definition, it does beg the question as to whether "terrorist" is even worth using as a term of description, being as it is such a politically loaded and subjective term.
The word "worth" is itself a politically loaded and subjective term. Does something need a precise definition to be meaningful?

Quote:
<godwin> It's similar to how people use the term "fascist" to group together the Nazis, Mussolini's Italy and Franco's Spain.....which is quite neat and tidy seeing as they were all pretty nasty regimes....but in fact their differences are such that it undermines the whole usage of the term. </godwin>
I'm not sure about the others, but in the case of Italy, the term "fascist" was applied by Mussolini himself. It's not like historians have retroactively invented the term.

PS There's no "r" in "connotation".
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Old 17th June 2006, 02:20 AM   #49
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The word "worth" is itself a politically loaded and subjective term. Does something need a precise definition to be meaningful?
well, not always of course - but in this case it is important to have a precise definition because of the US "war on terrorism." If you start out on a war, it's normally a good idea to know what you're fighting......

Quote:
I'm not sure about the others, but in the case of Italy, the term "fascist" was applied by Mussolini himself. It's not like historians have retroactively invented the term.
Sure, "fascist" originated in Mussolini's Italy. But it is applied to both Nazi Germany and Franco's Spain - two other widely different regimes. So "fascist" as a term may only be pertinent to truly describing Italy. If the "war on terror" is fundamentally about al-queda then the term "terrorism" is too loose and il-defined. A "war against al queda" would be much more appropriate.
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Old 17th June 2006, 11:36 AM   #50
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Originally Posted by andyandy View Post
well, not always of course - but in this case it is important to have a precise definition because of the US "war on terrorism." If you start out on a war, it's normally a good idea to know what you're fighting......
...
Perhaps it would be better to find a more precise description of what we are doing than to debate the meaning of a word. How about "Management of Violent Islam?"
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Old 17th June 2006, 03:46 PM   #51
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Originally Posted by Art Vandelay View Post
I'm not sure about the others, but in the case of Italy, the term "fascist" was applied by Mussolini himself. It's not like historians have retroactively invented the term.
The problem is that the term was extended to include subsequent anti-democratic inter-war regimes, not so much by historians as by sociologists and political theorists. That's what makes it pretty useless. Like "terrorist", it becomes simply pejorative.
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Old 17th June 2006, 10:36 PM   #52
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Seems to me the real expansion of the term is by socialists, who apparently consider any country that isn't socialist/communist/Marxist to be "fascist".
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Old 17th June 2006, 11:53 PM   #53
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The problems with defining terrorism are the same as defining any non-formal term. Try (to use Wittgenstein's example) defining "chair". For every definition you could use, I could give you some "chairs" which do not fit it. Obviously this is far more true in the case of "terrorism", a much more complicated and nuanced word.

But that hardly means chairs do not exist, or that terrorism does not exist, or that terrorists are morally indistinguishable from lawful combatants or from civilans, or that one should not fight terrorism, as some here seem to suggest.

By the same token, one could argue, "rape" is a vague term--it depends on the society, the situation, the persons, one person's rape is another person's fulfilled fantasy, and so on.

Use any definition you want: rape is painful? So is consensual sex to some, in fact some people enjoy painful sex. Unplanned? Much consensual sex occurs "on the fly". With a stranger? Look at singles' bars. Forced? What about a man who "forces" his wife to have sex when she's not really in the mood, or emotionally forcing someone into sex? Without consent? How about foreign societies where young brides are married at their parents' decision without much consent--this might indeed be rape by western standards, but do we really want to say that, in effect, all married men in such societies are rapists, on par with, say, Ted Bundy? Outside the home? Much consexual sex occurs there...

Etc., etc., etc.

Does this mean rape does not exist, or that there is no moral difference between a rapist and a non-rapist? Does this mean all sex is rape? Of course not.

Similarly, the whole discussion about the definition of "terrorism" misses the point. It is of little importance that it cannot be exactly defined; that doesn't mean it doesn't exist or that terorrists are the same as non-terrorists.
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Old 18th June 2006, 05:12 AM   #54
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Quote:
The problems with defining terrorism are the same as defining any non-formal term. Try (to use Wittgenstein's example) defining "chair". For every definition you could use, I could give you some "chairs" which do not fit it. Obviously this is far more true in the case of "terrorism", a much more complicated and nuanced word.

But that hardly means chairs do not exist, or that terrorism does not exist, or that terrorists are morally indistinguishable from lawful combatants or from civilans, or that one should not fight terrorism, as some here seem to suggest.


Similarly, the whole discussion about the definition of "terrorism" misses the point. It is of little importance that it cannot be exactly defined; that doesn't mean it doesn't exist or that terorrists are the same as non-terrorists.

5 years into a "war on terror" that forms the cornerstone of US foreign policy, and no one can even define what "terrorism" means. How can that be of little importance?
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Old 18th June 2006, 08:05 AM   #55
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Originally Posted by andyandy View Post
5 years into a "war on terror" that forms the cornerstone of US foreign policy, and no one can even define what "terrorism" means. How can that be of little importance?
In the same way that humanity has been making chairs for thousands of years yet you won't be able to find an exact definition of what "chair" means, or that rape had been a crime for thousands of years yet we still don't agree what "rape" means.

Shocking, isn't it? Surely, we should at least stop making chairs, or prosecuting rapists, until we are COMPLETELY CLEAR on what we mean by "chair" and "rape".

Right? Of course not. Why? Because trying to find an absolutely precise definition for "chair" and "rape" that covers all possible eventualities is impossible, and that the lack of such a definition is of little relevance, if any, to the making of chairs or prosecution of rapists?

...exactly. Same way, it's no requirement at all to the "war on terror", whatever its merits or demerits, to have some absolutely precise definition of "terrorism" before doing anything.
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Old 18th June 2006, 08:28 AM   #56
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Originally Posted by andyandy View Post
5 years into a "war on terror" that forms the cornerstone of US foreign policy, and no one can even define what "terrorism" means. How can that be of little importance?
There is no general war on terror from a legal standpoint. The statutory definition of those with whom we are at war is fairly specific.
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Old 18th June 2006, 11:15 AM   #57
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Originally Posted by Skeptic View Post
In the same way that humanity has been making chairs for thousands of years yet you won't be able to find an exact definition of what "chair" means, or that rape had been a crime for thousands of years yet we still don't agree what "rape" means.

Shocking, isn't it? Surely, we should at least stop making chairs, or prosecuting rapists, until we are COMPLETELY CLEAR on what we mean by "chair" and "rape".

Right? Of course not. Why? Because trying to find an absolutely precise definition for "chair" and "rape" that covers all possible eventualities is impossible, and that the lack of such a definition is of little relevance, if any, to the making of chairs or prosecution of rapists?

...exactly. Same way, it's no requirement at all to the "war on terror", whatever its merits or demerits, to have some absolutely precise definition of "terrorism" before doing anything.
you can make spurious posts all you like,
chairs don't dictate US foreign policy, but "terrorisim" does. Of course there are plenty of words on which we can have semantic discussions on - but that doesn't mean it isn't a valid exercise to try and define what "terrorism" means. The US has declared a war on terrorism - how can anyone know when that war is won if no-one can fully define what that term means?
Last time I checked, there wasn't a "war against chairs" being waged.....maybe i missed it....
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Old 18th June 2006, 11:40 AM   #58
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Originally Posted by andyandy View Post
The US has declared a war on terrorism - how can anyone know when that war is won if no-one can fully define what that term means?
Nor is there a war on terrorism in any legal sense.
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Old 18th June 2006, 12:26 PM   #59
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well i never......

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_on_chairs

there is a war on chairs
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Old 18th June 2006, 03:06 PM   #60
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Originally Posted by andyandy View Post
5 years into a "war on terror" that forms the cornerstone of US foreign policy, and no one can even define what "terrorism" means. How can that be of little importance?
There's also no precise definition of "war" or "on".
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Old 19th June 2006, 03:36 PM   #61
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Al Qaeda's "War on Modernity" is not going at all well. How much of that is down to the War on Terror is debatable. Crushing the Taliban regime was a definite plus. Not moving on into Pakistan missed a trick, though.

The Iraq War has demonstrated the weakness of Al Qaeda. They couldn't establish a presence there, and had to franchise the name to Zarqawi in the end. A mistake from OBL's point of view, he's not only the guy who hides in holes while Zarqawi was right there in the action but now he's been out-martyred.

My greatest concern about the foreign jihadists in Iraq has always been that they will take their experience back to the places whence they came, just as the "Afghans" did after the Soviet withdrawal. Going by current reports it looks likely that not many will get out of there. Between the Iraqi Sunnis, Jordanians, Syrians and Saudis they're going to get rolled-up. Zarqawi's most egregious error was bombing a Jordanian wedding. From that moment he was a dead man walking.

The whole jihadist movement is in serious decline. There might be some more sporadic attacks but it's going nowhere, and such things need momentum. 9/11 was meant to presage a relentless assault on the westernised world that would bring it crashing down, well, we're still waiting. Getting bored now. These guys have all the glamour of sad-acts pushing Marxism Today in the High Street on Saturday mornings when they should be having the **** they were too drunk for on Friday night.

Looks like we dodged the bullet again.
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Old 19th June 2006, 04:16 PM   #62
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Originally Posted by andyandy View Post
well i never......

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_on_chairs

there is a war on chairs
That is so special.

Britain and Iceland had a Cod War (another tabloid gem), which was cute to those sad enough to register another meaning of cod (fake or invented). It inspired much jingoism at the time but has been terminally overshadowed by the Falklands War. Aka the "Argie-Bargie War" according to Murdoch's people.

Time was there were Wars Of rather than Wars On. The War Of The Spanish Succession, the War of Jenkins Ear, the War of 1812 (uninspired, admittedly), the War Of The Worlds. The English never had a War On France, they had wars in France. The Scots never had a War On England, they had wars against England. And may do again, who knows.

When I hear of a war on something I metaphorically reach for my revolver.
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Old 20th June 2006, 01:57 AM   #63
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just out of interest, when did it become popular to declare "war" on ideas or actions?

I'm thinking the "war on drugs" - which was coined c.1970 might be the first.....

that war's going well

ooh....here's an earlier one...

"war on poverty" was first introduced by Lyndon B. Johnson during his State of the Union address on January 8, 1964. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_on_poverty)

and an earlier one!

"war on want"

War On Want is a campaigning charity based in London, England, which highlights the needs of poverty-stricken areas around the world, lobbying governments and international agencies to tackle problems, as well as raising public awareness of the concerns of developing nations while supporting organisations throughout the third world.

The organisation was formed in 1951 after a letter from Victor Gollancz to The Guardian was read by the future Prime Minister Harold Wilson, who coined the name.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_On_Want)

so is harold wilson to blame for all this "war on....." nonsense?
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Old 20th June 2006, 02:07 AM   #64
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This is a pretty eloquent critique of the "war on terrorism"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critici...r_on_Terrorism

Jason Burke, an expert in radical Islamic activity, has this to say on the terms "terrorism" and "war against terrorism":

"There are multiple ways of defining terrorism, and all are subjective. Most define terrorism as 'the use or threat of serious violence' to advance some kind of 'cause'. Some state clearly the kinds of group ('sub-national', 'non-state') or cause (political, ideological, religious) to which they refer. Others merely rely on the instinct of most people when confronted with an act that involves innocent civilians being killed or mainmed by men armed with explosives, firearms or other weapons. None is satisfactory, and grave problems with the use of the term persist.
"Terrorism is after all, a tactic. the term 'war on terrorism' is thus effectively nonsensical. As there is no space here to explore this involved and difficult debate, my preference is, on the whole, for the less loaded term 'militancy'. This is not an attempt to condone such actions, merely to analyse them in a clearer way." ("Al Qaeda", ch.2, p.22)


war on militancy anyone?
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Old 20th June 2006, 10:53 AM   #65
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Originally Posted by andyandy View Post
just out of interest, when did it become popular to declare "war" on ideas or actions?
I don't know if it has been pointed out yet, but there has been no declaration of war on terror or any other idea nor has there been a war on any action in this case.

You might be conflating slogans and statutes.
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Old 20th June 2006, 11:23 AM   #66
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GWB in his own words.....

"...today's war on terror is like the Cold War. It is an ideological struggle with an enemy that despises freedom and pursues totalitarian aims....I vowed then that I would use all assets of our power to win the war on terror. And so I said we were going to stay on the offense two ways: one, hunt down the enemy and bring them to justice, and take threats seriously; and two, spread freedom. "

are we going to have a debate over the meaning of "war" as well?
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Old 20th June 2006, 12:15 PM   #67
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Originally Posted by andyandy View Post
...are we going to have a debate over the meaning of "war" as well?
No - if you're comfortable using a slogan or concept to define war, then the point pretty much become moot. The US will be at war with terror for ten years, one hundred years or ten times ten thousand years. It's one of those things that should define us as a country and define civilization itself.

It is and should be war without end.
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Old 20th June 2006, 01:25 PM   #68
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I disagree that terrorism is a tactic. It is an ideology. It says that whichever group is willing to stomach the most violence gets what it wants. It says that rule should be established through destruction rather construction.
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Old 20th June 2006, 02:25 PM   #69
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Originally Posted by Art Vandelay View Post
I disagree that terrorism is a tactic. It is an ideology. It says that whichever group is willing to stomach the most violence gets what it wants. It says that rule should be established through destruction rather construction.
"terrorism" is a means to an end for whatever group or individual adopt its tactics....it's not an ideology - but a way of fighting for that ideology....therefore it has to be viewed as a tactic.....
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Old 20th June 2006, 03:27 PM   #70
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Originally Posted by Art Vandelay View Post
I disagree that terrorism is a tactic. It is an ideology. It says that whichever group is willing to stomach the most violence gets what it wants. It says that rule should be established through destruction rather construction.
Even for the original terrorists (19thCE bomb-throwers) terrorism was a tactic, a means to and end not an end in itself.

Irish Nationalism is an ideology, the terrorism (more loosely defined) it has sometimes employed was a tactic. The terrorism employed by the Irgun was a tactic, not an ideology. Palestinian terrorism is a tactic. Chechnyan terrorism is a tactic.

Ideology manifests in your post as "what it wants". Ideology defines the thing that is wanted.
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Old 20th June 2006, 03:37 PM   #71
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Originally Posted by Art Vandelay View Post
It says that whichever group is willing to stomach the most violence gets what it wants.
No, that is reality.
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Old 20th June 2006, 04:05 PM   #72
CapelDodger
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Originally Posted by andyandy View Post
just out of interest, when did it become popular to declare "war" on ideas or actions?
I've been pondering that myself (and thanks for the historical research). Two things have come to mind. One is about scansion, meaning that it's about rhetoric and sloganising. The two-syllable "against", with a gutteral, a sibilant and a plosive, is clumsy and detracts attention from the money-words - "War" (meaning we're serious about this) and fill_in_here. "On" has no such disabilities. You get a "bip-bip-bip" cadence. War On Want. War On Drugs. Pigs In Space. Even "Terrorism" has the stress on the first syllable.

The other thought is that "on" suits an open-ended and ill-defined campaign against an amorphous opponent. "Against" doesn't work nearly so well for that, it works much better for a well-defined foe who can definitively be defeated. The War Against Germany, the War Against Japan, the War Against Communism. "For us or against us" implies a defining, existential contest.
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Old 24th June 2006, 04:29 PM   #73
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Originally Posted by Art Vandelay View Post
As you yourself said, "What is the point of debating with someone whose method of debate is to puke out stupid filthy lies about the person debating him?"

Considering how dishonest you are, there would be little point in trying to explain my claim. And I notice you've run away from my challenge.
So, you have no evidence for your stupid filthy lies, have you? That would be because they are stupid filthy lies for which there is no evidence.
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