September 11, 2006

What About OUR Terrorism?

Scott Burchill, Senior Lecturer in International Relations in the School of International & Political Studies at Deakin University:
In Australia the discussion of terrorism is distorted by a doctrinal fiat that the Federal Government and its ideological supporters insist can never be challenged - the West is always the innocent victim of terrorist attacks, never its perpetrator.

The contemporary analysis of terrorism is therefore a quest to discover why others - our enemies - commit crimes against us. This is usually explained by their psychic disorders, their hatred of our superior values and freedom, their fanaticism or their resentment at our innate goodness.

The subject ‘Western state terrorism’ is therefore a non-subject because no such phenomenon has ever existed. If it is ever raised, usually by left wing academics, it is simply the bile of conspiratorial minds afflicted by “anti-Americanism” and “moral relativism” - people with an irrational hatred of their own society, and the West in general.

It is therefore unsurprising that when the non-subject of Western state terrorism occasionally rears its ugly head in print, attempts are made to immediately censor it. Such is the fate of Paul Gilby’s Power and National Politics, which has the temerity to suggest that a serious examination of terrorism should include an analysis of acts of terror committed by the West (see: Textbook links US, Israel to ’state terrorism’.)

The examples Gilby cites are unremarkable - US terrorism in Nicaragua (Cuba is an even more outrageous example), Israeli state terror in Palestine, Russian crimes in Chechnya, Turkey’s attacks on Kurds, Indonesia terrorism against East Timorese, Achenese and West Papuans. He might also have mentioned US attacks in Iraq since 2003 - most notably the siege of Falluja in November 2004, which is almost certainly a grave war crime. The victims of state terrorism dwarf in number the victims of private, retail terrorism - such as Al Qaeda - by a figure that would be difficult to overestimate.
Via Antony Loewenstein.


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