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by suskind Tue Aug 2nd, 2005 at 08:17:50 PM EST


The UN has a big problem, and it's not John Bolton.  For the last five years the 191 member countries have been trying to put a stop to terrorism by finalizing their Convention against it ... the problem is they cannot yet define it.  Here's the most recent statement released last Friday .. see if you can find what the snag is:

We (the world leaders) affirm that the targeting and deliberate killing of civilians and non-combatants cannot be justified or legitimized by any cause or grievance, and we declare that any action intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants, when the purpose of such an act, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population or to compel a government or an international organization to carry out or to abstain from any act, cannot be justified on any grounds, and constitutes an act of terrorism."

The UN is saying that war is terrorism when it targets civilians and non-combatants.  Like the destruction of Fallujah, for instance.  Under the above definition that was an act of terrorism.  Civilian casualties are not "collateral damage" -- they are a fact of modern warfare.  Civilian casualties in the First World War were 15%, in the Second World War were 65%, and in all wars since are more than 95%.  This is not an accidental side-effect of war... this is how wars are won, or are they?

Here's another definition, this time from Dr. Hassan El-Najjar:

Terrorism is terrorizing or being terrorized, a mode of governing, or of opposing government by intimidation.  The term should be used to describe individuals, groups, and governments, which are involved in terrorizing the civilian populations. Corporate media journalists use the term routinely to describe individuals and groups but never use to describe the governments which target the civilian population by killing them, destroying their homes and fields, or by subjecting them to collective punishment. For a balanced approach, both terms of terrorism and state terrorism should be used.  (Source: Conflict Terminology)

While the UN cannot quite say yet what terrorism is, Kofi Annan has said, again, what it is not.


Annan dismissed the charge that terrorism is being driven primarily by religion. "It's not Islamic," he said. "I don't attach it to any specific religion. We've had it in England; we've had it in Spain; we've had it here."

Asked about the London bombings that were carried out by people who were born and raised in Britain, Annan said: "You do have violence in situations where people are in despair."

"And the main thing is to deal with the perpetrators, for who they are and what they are. And of course, it is difficult to generalize along the lines that it only occurs in societies governed by despotic leaders," he added.

Another Voice:

Egypt's interior minister Al-Adli said it was not yet known who was behind Egyptian bomings that left more than 88 dead, "but whoever it is, or whatever groups they belong to, this is ugly terrorism, and there's no humanity or values or feel of belonging in these acts."

Asked whether he thought the blasts might be related to Islam, he replied, "What Islam? This terrorism has nothing to do with any religion, because all religions do not allow aggression and do not allow killing civilians in innocence. Those don't belong to Muslims. They are a gang of criminals."

Now I'm sure I heard that exact same thing said before, and it was from the late Pope Paul II. But it's very unfashionable to quote the late Pontiff on religious, anti-war and humanitarian matters.  But at the time he said it he was hosting an international day of prayer in an effort to stop what looked like an inevitable war of aggression against Iraq.  He gathered 200 world religious leaders to pray for peace in January of 2003.  When the Pope puts away crucifixes lest they be offensive to Buddhists, Jews and Muslims, I think we can say he's made an extraordinary effort to be inclusive and respectful of the diversity of the world's religions.


..We do well to remember that the modern practice of diplomacy arose in Europe only after the horrors of the wars of religion convinced European statesmen to separate power politics from religious belief.  (George W. Bush's Holy War; By Michael Lind; The Globalist; Sunday, March 23, 2003 (This was just 3 days after the bombing of Baghdad -- the beginning of the 'official' war on Iraq)

Demand That Johnny Come Home Counterpunch; August 2, 2005

..If one recalls General Boykin's remarks calling the Muslim religion idolatry and the Iraqis as Satan, it's not a far jump for a Marine or GI to make the same claim, especially if they come from a conservative Christian background to begin with.

Well I for one find it impossible to forget General Boykin.  I can't forget that GW Bush and Colin Powell declared war in church the Sunday after 911.  And a Holy War, at that.  I can't forget that Bush called the war on terrorism a crusade, or that during the crusades in the 16th century Christians used the severed heads of Muslims as missles, catapulting them over the walls of their enemy's fortresses.

The Gospel of General Boykin

Preaching in his military uniform before a religious congregation in Oregon this June, General Boykin proclaimed, "we're a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christian. Did I say Judeo-Christian? Yes. Judeo-Christian."

He continued, "The enemy that has come against our nation is a spiritual enemy. His name is Satan. And if you do not believe that Satan is real, you are ignoring the same Bible that tells you about God."

To that same congregation, still in military uniform, General Boykin said of George W. Bush that, "He was appointed by God" to be leader of the United States.

To another religious group in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, General Boykin declared that the true enemy in George W. Bush's wars "is the principalities of darkness. It is a demonic presence in that city that God revealed to me as the enemy."

In a religious flyer, General Boykin is quoted as saying, "Bin Laden is not the enemy. No mortal is the enemy. It's the enemy you can't see. It's a war against the forces of darkness."

Comparing himself to a follower of Islam, General Boykin offers the taunt that "my God is bigger than his."

...Confronted with these comments, the Bush Administration supported General Boykin. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld refused to criticize General William Boykin's ideas about an American holy Crusade against Islam, or even to say that his remarks were diplomatically unfortunate.  (Source: Is Bush's War on Evildoers a Holy Crusade? Irregular Times, September, 2004)

The problem confronting the UN is to define terrorism without including state terrorism, to address its causes being despair, without referring to the illegal war in Iraq, and to diffuse the international timebomb of racism and religio-fascism which has been played out in the streets of London over the last three weeks.  The UN must address the issues of locating and bringing terrorists to justice without mentioning racial profiling, the loss of civil liberties, human rights, quality of life, and without mentioning the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes.  

The challenge for the UN with the newly positioned Bolton is to carry on the business of the civilized world as if the US were not there, the way the US has carried on its crimes for the last several years, as if the UN were not there.  When the UN finally nails down the definition of "terrorism" it might have to address the illegality of the war in Iraq.  Now would be a good time.


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