Three Thoughts on Terror



Robert Fisk
Middle East Correspondent
The Independent

In the past it was against the Soviet Union, or against communists. Now it’s against terror. The odd thing about terror is: it isn’t substantial. You can’t see it. You can’t write to it. You can’t take pictures of it. It’s just terror. Now everyone uses it. Bashar uses it. Isis uses it. The Saudis use it. The Qataris use it. The Americans use it. The British use it. Till the point where the very word terror, apart from being generic and therefore racist, is absolutely meaningless. But part of what modern intelligence services do, is to make the political world meaningless. They wipe out the reasons for political movement. And the reason for political movement are about justice and injustice. And these two commodities are not acknowledged by the CIA. Because if you’re going to spend your time interfering in other people’s countries, justice doesn’t come into it. You may cause injustice, but you don’t count.

Jeremy Scahill
investigative Journalist
Author Dirty Wars

Terrorism is a relative term, depending on which side of the missile you’re on, or depending on which side of the bombing you’re on. And I think that in general, the position of the United States is that it never engages in terrorism. And that terrorism is something that’s committed by asymmetric groups like Al Qaeda or other militant organizations and that they are attacking civilians. But when the United States conducts a bombing raid somewhere or authorizes a drone strike, and it turns out that they’ve killed a tremendous number of innocent civilians, it’s collateral damage, it’s never terrorism. Both democratic and republican administrations have embraced this idea, that the United States is at war... [ sirens interrupt ] Both democratic and republican administrations have embraced this idea, that the world is a battle field. And that the United States has the right to go into any country around the world to conduct what they call kinetic operations, lethal operations. Regardless of what that governments says. Regardless of what international law says. And one of the starkest examples of how the United States sort of, you know, sticks its thumb in the eye of international law, is its refusal to recognize an international criminal court that would have jurisdiction over US personnel. In fact, at one point in the nineteen nineties, when there was talk of the United States ratifying the international criminal court, some republicans in the US Congress were discussing putting forward legislation that they were referring to as “The Hague Invasion Act”. The idea that if US personnel were ever to be brought to The Hague on war crimes charges, that the US could deploy military forces to The Hague, to snatch those personnel and liberate them from the evil clutches of international law.

Vijay Prashad
Author The Poorer Nations

The great poet of unhappiness was the Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz, who wrote books of poems that critiqued violence, you know, critiqued militarism, furious about even dictatorship. But he never lost his capacity to be sentimental. And one of my favorite poems from him starts with fire but ends with the fire inside your heart. And it runs, you know [ recites in Urdu ] So what he’s saying is... [ recites in Urdu ] Any time the flesh of the worker is sold in the bazaar, in the market place, when the blood of people flows down the avenues, a fire starts to kindle inside my being, my very being, and I lose control of it. In other words, this is not a poem saying “I don’t want to act in the world.” this is a poem that says “what you see around you leaves you with no obligation but to feel something. And if that feeling cannot be controlled, well you have to do something about it.” You can’t refuse this world.