Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Bush on Terrorism and National Self-Determination

I caught a statement by Bush that was based on an implicit but palpable lie even if we all wish it were true: he said something to the effect the Palestinians will get a state not through terrorism but through negotiations.

If he were to add "terrorism alone", he would have been correct. But the sad fact is that if the Palestinians have a state at this point, it'll be because terrorism has focused our attention on the area. No terrorism and the status quo would have gone on indefinitely (and to those who say without terrorism, Israel would have given the Palestinians a state earlier as it would have been less afraid -- I'll respond with the joke who's punchline is "Mr. Rothschild, as a begger and not a banker, I don't go around giving you banking advice, so please, don't give me begging advice").

And this is not true just of Palestine. Consider Ireland, India, South Africa (the ANC), Israel (the Irgun, et al) and even the good ol' US of A (what does Bush think the Sons of Liberty were?). The sad fact is that terrorism works! Otherwise people wouldn't do it. And Bush has, in doing what terrorists want, been the first to admit terrorism works by his deeds even if, in the bluster of his words, he always says the opposite.

But the difference between Ireland, India, South Africa, Israel and the USA is that the terrorists (or their political associates or, e.g. in the case of India, an entirely independent group) provided not just the stick of terrorism to drive the colonial rulers out but also a carrot of a nascient independent government that would be a potential ally and trading partner.

Gandhi, Nehru et al. could not have driven the British out of India without the British being harried as well by terrorists. But Gandhi, Nehru, et al., allowed the British to know that if they left India, India would be a stable country and an ally and a trading partner. Similarly the ANC was a terrorist group, which would not have been successful without its terror campaign. But while they harried the apartheid government, they also made it clear that, if the tables were turned in South Africa (as they eventually were), they wouldn't drive all the white South Africans into the sea.

Terrorism is a huge threat in this world. But denying its benefits to many people isn't going to make the threat go away. We need leaders that don't deny the sad reality of what it takes to get your foot in the door (leaders that understand the concept because they didn't, unlike Bush, have the world handed to them on a silver platter due to family money, would help ... or at least leaders like the Roosevelts who understood fully that they had benefits others don't have -- although in the case of FDR and TR, no doubt their health problems made them more aware of life's struggles) if we are going to try to reduce the incidence of said violent in-door-foot-sticking, but rather leaders who are honest, etc. And hence who understand the importance of carrots and sticks and can really remind others who live by sticks the importance of carrots.

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