The Corner

Re: Terrorists Are Terrorists

From Dave at Garfield Ridge:

Jonah–  

I’d like to agree and disagree with both of your emailers on this subject.   RE: the Pentagon being a legitimate military target, of course it is. But just because it was a legitimate military target doesn’t make me any less angry and vengeful over the attack, which is contrary to the David Westin argument, which sounded a lot like “we had it coming.”  Also, like you, I recognize the attack on the Pentagon as terrorism not only given the method in which the Pentagon was attacked (hijackings, slitting throats and all), but also because of *who* was doing the attacking.   Likewise, when your Depleted Uranium Guy talks about an “organization with a terrorist doctrine,”  that’s not quite enough by itself to define terrorism, as many legitimate armed forces have at times resorted to tactics that come close to a definition of terrorism– the Viet Cong’s assassination campaign and Japan’s kamikazes come to mind– yet they were not terrorist organizations but instead legitimate armed forces.  Even irregulars are afforded that classification, as long as they fight “fair.”  The issue here is whether the Iraqi insurgents targeting American forces constitute *legitimate* armed forces– preferably in uniform, but even if not, one that is accountable to a chain of command and follows the recognized rules of war (treat prisoners fairly, spare non-combatants, etc.).  Unfortunately, even if most Iraqi insurgents never deliberately killed innocent Iraqis– good lucking finding any of those!– they likely still wouldn’t be considered lawful combatants, Chomsky-like fantasies/wish fulfillment of “revolutionary struggle” aside.   I’m not a military law-talking guy, but I’m sure one of the Corner readers can succinctly rehash that whole “lawful/unlawful combatant” deal– it doesn’t just apply to Al Qaeda, but also to the Iraqi insurgency.  Anyway, I am generally sympathetic to the amnesty argument insofar as it may ultimately be the only realistic option for peace (can’t kill or imprison every bad guy, nor would we want to, Derb-like daydreams aside).  And the day the war is over, I can’t begrudge a rank-and-file lawful combatant for fighting an *honorable* war against our soldiers.  That said, I’d feel a lot more comfortable agreeing to amnesty Iraqi insurgents if they bothered to follow the rules of war before we decided to treat them as lawful combatants, instead of as criminals, bandits and murderers they act like. Bottom line: amnesty may be necessary, even inevitable, but it’s going to be a bitter pill to swallow in this particular war– as it should be. Anyway, that’s personal my take on it.  Cheers,Dave at Garfield Ridge

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