Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 2, 2003
WAR: Are The Fedayeen Terrorists?

One of the hot issues du jour is whether the varied attacks by the Saddam Fedayeen (DOD now aptly calls them 'Death Squads') can fairly be called 'terrorism,' as the Pentagon's people seem to be doing. Suicide bombings and ambushes may be traditional terror tactics, but they are not terrorism on the field of battle, because they are aimed at combatants. We should be very careful about how we use the term 'terrorism', because maintaining a clear definition is hugely important in a war where (1) we have chosen to define 'terrorism' as the enemy and (2) irresponsible critics love nothing better than to misuse the term to describe anything America does that they find distasteful.

But: two points. First, disguising combatants as civilians does cross the line -- not to terrorism, perhaps, but to unlawful combatant status. This violates every accepted norm of the laws of war, precisely because it makes the shooting or bombing of civilians more likely to happen. International law can be pretty malleable, but some basics (don't harm diplomats or surrendering soldiers and don't dress soldiers as civilians) long predate the existence of any international institutions.

Second, as Slate's Will Saletan -- no hawk -- has pointed out, the ease and rapidity with which the Iraqi regime has embraced terror tactics goes a long way to show its coziness with terrorism all along.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:57 AM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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