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A Remarkable Definition of Terrorism from Jimmy Carter:

Carter on Charlie Rose (Transcript from Nexis): "I think any time any powerhouse takes military action when it's a high danger or almost an inevitability that women and children are going to be killed, I think that can be considered an act of terrorism, yes." Note that Carter's definition of "terrorism" means that no "powerhouse" can ever fight any war, no matter how justified, without being guilty of "terrorism" just as bad as the likes of Hamas (see below) or Al Qaeda--war, after all, just about always means a high danger of civilian casualties.

Here's the fuller context, which doesn't make Carter look any less foolish:

JIMMY CARTER I have condemned the shelling of a little town of Sderot, which I visited, and Ashkelon, which I also visited, as an act of unforgivable terrorism, because the people who suffered -- they have been shelling for seven years. Thirteen people have been killed. And the people of Sderot are living in terror. It`s a town of about 20,000 people. We spent a couple hours, two or three hours with the mayor. And you ride through this town and there`s nobody on the street. Nobody on the playgrounds.

CHARLIE ROSE: Right.

JIMMY CARTER: They're afraid of these rockets. Well, if you look at the statistics from last year, 2007, every time one Israeli was killed, 40 Palestinians were killed by attacks by Israel against Gaza. And if you just look at children, every time an Israeli child is killed, eight Palestinian children are killed. So you can't just say that all of the blame lies on one or the other.

So what I try to do...

CHARLIE ROSE: But more [blame on] one [Hamas] than the other [Israel]?

JIMMY CARTER I'm sorry?

CHARLIE ROSE: More one or the other?

JIMMY CARTER: I don`t even say that. You know, I think any time any powerhouse takes military action when it`s a high danger or almost an inevitability that women and children are going to be killed, I think that can be considered an act of terrorism, yes.

CHARLIE ROSE: So Israel is engaging in acts of terrorism?

JIMMY CARTER: I think both are equally guilty, yes.

Rose at some point also said some along the lines that Carter is almost universally considered a great ex-president. Rose doesn't travel is the same circles I do, obviously.

Dude Cool:
I'm only 25, so I don't remember the Carter years. Was he always like this?
4.30.2008 9:54pm
Scote (mail):
Why is it so much more moral to drop bombs from multi-million dollar planes instead of strapped to your body? The innocent civilians are dead either way.

Terrorists deliberately target civilians. The US does not. But we drop so much ordinance that we may have killed just as many civilians as colatteral damage directly or far far more through the indirect consequences of war in Iraq. Why is that "better?" or more moral?
4.30.2008 10:04pm
hawkins:

Rose at some point also said some along the lines that Carter is almost universally considered a great ex-president. Rose doesn't travel is the same circles I do, obviously.


I was not alive during Carter's presidency. But my understanding was, before he became such a lighting rod for controversy over the past few years, that he was very widely (perhaps not universally) praised for the work he had done after his term as President. As opposed to widely criticized for his performance as President.

Do you disagree with my characterization?
4.30.2008 10:04pm
hawkins:

Terrorists deliberately target civilians. The US does not.


There is a clear distinction in moral culpability between the intended results of an action and the unfortunate but unavoidable results of an action.
4.30.2008 10:06pm
Richard A. (mail):
Bernstein is acting like the word "terrorism" is a value judgment. It isn't. It's just the way wars are fought.
All war is based on terror. The side that terrorizes the the other side wins. And yes, one man's terrorist is indeed another man's freedom fighter. The Soviets called both the contras and the mujahedeen "terrorists" when we were backing them against Soviet-backed governments.

Oh and the Stern Gang blowing up the Brits? That was certainly defensible from the Israeli side, just as blowing up Brits was defensible from the Irish side. That's how wars are won.

Americans need to grow up about this stuff. We're living in a fantasy world. If you doubt that, name the war that was won without terror.
4.30.2008 10:06pm
ithaqua (mail):
"I'm only 25, so I don't remember the Carter years. Was he always like this?"

Always a liar? Yes. I don't know how long he's been a traitor (I think there's an argument to be made that his surrender to the Iranian Islamofascists in 1979 was more than mere cowardice and incompetence) but since 9/11/01 he's amply demonstrated his genuine anti-American and anti-Semitic leanings. You'll notice, if you bother to become more familiar with Mullah Carter's spittle-flecked rants, that he always draws this sort of moral equivalence between Israel and Palestine. Even if he was honest, it would be loathsome - refusing to recognize the difference between good and evil is in itself evil - but he doesn't really think the Israeli government is morally equivalent to Palestinian terrorists. Carter's proposed 'solution' is always for the Israelis to unilaterally disarm and give up their right to self-defense, while the Palestinians are to be given aid and comfort and unimpeded access to Israeli land and populations. His actions, that is, reveal his belief that Israel has no right to exist and that Islamic terrorists hold the moral high ground. He is a champion of, and a propagandist for, America's enemies.

Powerline put it best: "Jimmy Carter isn't just misguided or ill-informed. He's on the other side."
4.30.2008 10:08pm
hawkins:
Its reassuring that we can always count on ithaqua for a rational and objective response.
4.30.2008 10:11pm
ChrisIowa (mail):

I was not alive during Carter's presidency. But my understanding was, before he became such a lighting rod for controversy over the past few years, that he was very widely (perhaps not universally) praised for the work he had done after his term as President. As opposed to widely criticized for his performance as President.


Carter was OK when he was building houses.
4.30.2008 10:15pm
ithaqua (mail):
"Terrorists deliberately target civilians. The US does not. But we drop so much ordinance that we may have killed just as many civilians as colatteral damage directly or far far more through the indirect consequences of war in Iraq. Why is that "better?" or more moral?"

There's a difference between an innocent civilian population (for example, the population of New York on 9/11) and a population that dances in the streets when innocents are killed. From the link above, a "moderate Arab" is quoted: "Ninety percent of the Arab world believes that Americans got what they deserved."
4.30.2008 10:17pm
ithaqua (mail):
"Its reassuring that we can always count on ithaqua for a rational and objective response."

It's reassuring to me that you have to resort to an ad hominem attack instead of addressing the content of my (unimpeachably factual and objective) post. :)
4.30.2008 10:18pm
CDR D (mail):
>>>But we drop so much ordinance...


We do drop a hell of alot of "ordinance", but, unfortunately, it is on ourselves.

We drop "ordnance" on the bad guys.
4.30.2008 10:18pm
neilos:
Terrorists deliberately target civilians. The US does not. But we drop so much ordinance that we may have killed just as many civilians as collateral damage
/

Why does a consequence necessarily have to be the primary purpose of an action to make it a deliberate consequence? In the sense that their deaths were known consequences at the time of considering whether or not to bomb, the civilians in Iraq could be said to have been deliberately targeted. Does the fact that their deaths were not the primary or sole objective of the bombing make them meaningfully less deliberate?

There is a clear distinction in moral culpability between the intended results of an action and the unfortunate but unavoidable results of an action.


Perhaps, but I do not think that distinction is whether or not the results were deliberate. Because Israel, or the US, is a "powerhouse" compared to the Palestinians, does that afford us the moral luxury of doing more harm than they in a more moral way?
4.30.2008 10:18pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
This is just stupid. Even International Law (hardly the most "powerhouse" friendly) recognizes the distinction between purposefully targeting civilians and the sometimes unavoidable civilian deaths from targeting military objectives.

Equating the two is like believing in a flat earth -- you've automatically disqualified yourself from any semblance of intelligence.
4.30.2008 10:19pm
Scote (mail):

There is a clear distinction in moral culpability between the intended results of an action and the unfortunate but unavoidable results of an action.


I disagree that that is sufficient when the likelihood civilian casualties is 100%. Dead is dead. Innocent civilians are innocent civilians. The that there would be dead civilians is known to be the case for both terrorists (who target them) and the US Military (who does not). Just because the US Military manages to destroy infrastructure or military targets at the same time does not exempt them for culpability of the civilian casualties.
4.30.2008 10:20pm
Joey22 (mail):
For all of ithaqua's vitrol, he makes the good point that civilians are only off-limits in a war to the extent that they are not part of what the army is doing or when they do not have control over it. In this controversy, there is no sign that either the Israeli public or the Palestinian public really has a problem with killing as many of the "other side" as their troops can. So, while 'civilians' will always fall into a different moral category than 'soldiers', I don't see a purpose of elevating them into such a special category.

On the moral difference b/w targeting civilians and just happening to kill a lot of them with planes while targeting something else, there is a difference, but it is not a large difference - "knowledge" that a result of your conduct will be homicide still gets you for murder in most jurisdictions, even if your purpose is just to get away from the cops, for example.
4.30.2008 10:23pm
hawkins:

It's reassuring to me that you have to resort to an ad hominem attack instead of addressing the content of my (unimpeachably factual and objective) post. :)


Sorry, but posts resorting to absurd name calling ("Mullah Carter") and accusations ("his surrender to the Iranian Islamofascists in 1979 was more than mere cowardice and incompetence") do not merit a substantive response. :)
4.30.2008 10:27pm
Scote (mail):
@ Ironically Named Law Student:

This is just stupid. Even International Law (hardly the most "powerhouse" friendly) recognizes the distinction between purposefully targeting civilians and the sometimes unavoidable civilian deaths from targeting military objectives.

Equating the two is like believing in a flat earth -- you've automatically disqualified yourself from any semblance of intelligence.


Morality is not a science like geology, with testable physical facts. Claiming that the idea of holding killers responsible for deaths they cause is proof of stupidity shows that your mind is closed. Your false analogy does not apply.

It is true that we exempt many military operations for the deaths that are the direct result of those operations, but why should that be so? Why should it be that if one person kills another he is prosecuted, but if he kills hundreds by dropping bombs on them from a plane he is exempted, when by normal arithmetic he should be punished 100 fold? You can **argue** the case, but that is all you can do. You can't prove it, because morality is subjective.

Even the morality in the bible is subjective, and even if you are a fundamentalist. The bible says thou shalt not murder--but then comes the subjective assessment of what is justified killing (stoning adulterers to death, as per the OT) vs. murder--all subjective.
4.30.2008 10:29pm
Nathan_M (mail):

There is a clear distinction in moral culpability between the intended results of an action and the unfortunate but unavoidable results of an action.

I would question how clear this distinction is. If I rob a bank because I like having money, is my moral culpability less than that of a person who robs a bank because he enjoys terrorizing the people inside the bank? I might have better prospects for rehabilitation, but I can't see any clear difference in moral culpability.

That said, I think there is an obvious distinction between an act that terrorizes and endangers civilians but which also accomplishes a legitimate objective and an act which merely terrorizes and endangers civilians. It's a shame President Carter suggested they were exactly equivalent. I think this position is indefensible, and will overshadow any legitimate point Carter was trying to make.

I think that is unfortunate, because I can't imagine a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which does not acknowledge that both sides have a depressingly long laundry list of harms inflicted upon them. I think Carter was saying that the Israelis and Palestinians have to approach negotiations accepting that both sides have suffered, and that they do not represent a morally pure side forced to strike a deal with their wicked adversaries.
4.30.2008 10:31pm
with all due respect ...:
he was very widely (perhaps not universally) praised for the work he had done after his term as President. As opposed to widely criticized for his performance as President.

I must have missed all of this wide praise. I would be hard pressed to name 5 people I have ever met who don't either roll their eyes or laugh when you mention Jimmy Carter's name.
4.30.2008 10:35pm
Seamus (mail):
Why is it so much more moral to drop bombs from multi-million dollar planes instead of strapped to your body? The innocent civilians are dead either way.

Why is it so much more moral to allow automobiles to operate on the highways, when you know that some will run over pedestrians, than to run over pedestrians deliberately? The innocent pedestrians are just as dead either way.

Why is is so much more moral to operate a criminal justice system that inevitably will incarcerate innocent defendants, than to deliberately imprison innocent people (which you might do because, even though they are innocent, they are perceived by the public to be guilty, so that imprisoning them will have a deterrent effect on potential criminals)?

O.W. Holmes said that even a dog knows the difference between being kicked and being stumbled over. I don't see how. The dog is just as hurt either way.
4.30.2008 10:41pm
Scote (mail):

I must have missed all of this wide praise. I would be hard pressed to name 5 people I have ever met who don't either roll their eyes or laugh when you mention Jimmy Carter's name.


Must be the company you keep.

Carter is the first Evangelical Christian president of the US, and the only one who seems to have any connection to the teachings of Christ to help the poor. Meanwhile, Multi-millionaire Bush is running the economy (and the Constitution) in to the ground. Carter will look like a rose in comparison.
4.30.2008 10:42pm
Cold Warrior:
I'm only now beginning to understand how dangerous it was to have Carter as our president ...
4.30.2008 10:46pm
Scote (mail):

Why is is so much more moral to operate a criminal justice system that inevitably will incarcerate innocent defendants, than to deliberately imprison innocent people (which you might do because, even though they are innocent, they are perceived by the public to be guilty, so that imprisoning them will have a deterrent effect on potential criminals)?


You are only making my point for me. The chance of error an inequality is why I'm against the death penalty, no because I think killers shouldn't be killed. Avoiding irreversible error should be a component of our justice system, and the death penalty is the ultimate irreversible error.

And cars do kill tens of thousands, and not just pedestrians. We should think about the safety of cars. The car manufactures have fought every major safety innovation requirement tooth and nail.

Morality is complicated and filled with trade offs. It is not black and white as people might wish.
4.30.2008 10:47pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Even International Law (hardly the most "powerhouse" friendly) recognizes the distinction between purposefully targeting civilians and the sometimes unavoidable civilian deaths from targeting military objectives.

This is a true statement of international law (though it is not true that international law is unfriendly to hegemonic powers), but it really misses the point (as does Prof. Bernstein's original criticism):

1. International law is quite unsatisfying on this issue of targeting. Theoretically, if you know that one enemy soldier or even one enemy gun is within a building in the middle of a densely populated city, you are allowed to drop a thermonuclear weapon on it and kill millions of people. The point is, despite what international law says, at some point collateral damage stops being collateral and starts being the objective of the enterprise.

2. "Terrorism" has no fixed definition. Targeting civilians is certainly part of it, as is attempting to terrorize the population. Sometimes it is defined to include only warfare by the weak against the strong. Sometimes it is simply used to mean any warfare by a force that the speaker disapproves of. Often times things that would clearly seem to constitute terrorism don't get the label because it is seen as in support of a worthy cause. (Guy Fawkes, the King David Hotel, the bombing of the Cuban airliner, etc.).

That doesn't mean that Jimmy Carter is right. He's using "terrorism" as a political cudgel too. But Prof. Bernstein is acting as if there is a set definition of terrorism when there isn't. "Terrorism" has a lot more political content than it does substantive content. That doesn't mean we shouldn't use the term or that Carter is using it correctly; it just means we should remember that before assuming it has a clearly demonstrable meaning.
4.30.2008 10:47pm
Seamus (mail):
I would be hard pressed to name 5 people I have ever met who don't either roll their eyes or laugh when you mention Jimmy Carter's name.

Or in the (probably apocryphal) words of Pauline Kael, "I don't know how Reagan got elected. I don't know anyone who voted for him."
4.30.2008 10:49pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
In this controversy, there is no sign that either the Israeli public or the Palestinian public really has a problem with killing as many of the "other side" as their troops can.
That is an extremely ignorant statement. Israel came under severe domestic terrorism for inadvertantly killing 13 civilians in the course of "taking out" a Hamas headliner. And the civlian-terrorist ratio for Israeli kills is down well below 1-1, from a much higher ratio because of very strong efforts to avoid killing civilians.
4.30.2008 10:50pm
Kevin Murphy:
JIMMY CARTER: I don`t even say that. You know, I think any time any powerhouse takes military action when it`s a high danger or almost an inevitability that women and children are going to be killed, I think that can be considered an act of terrorism, yes.
I am so very glad that he did not make this kind of feeling known when he was in charge of deterring the Soviet Union. Apparently our escape from nuclear holocaust was much closer than we thought.
4.30.2008 10:51pm
H Bowman, MD:
I think it's great that Carter is an ex-president.

But he is without a doubt the most naive person to get elected president, in this century and (at least) the previous one.

His administration was a disaster of foreign policy...leading to the current problems in the middle east. His actions since then are both traitorous and despicable.

Clearly he's lost control of his faculties - his claim that the State Department 'never told him' not to interfere on his last junket is just an example of how dangerous he is.
4.30.2008 10:54pm
Aukahe:
Dilan Esper,

Your first point is not entirely accurate. International customs on the conduct of warfare does stipulate the force must be proportional to the threat in order to limit collateral damage.
4.30.2008 10:56pm
Seamus (mail):
And cars do kill tens of thousands, and not just pedestrians. We should think about the safety of cars. The car manufactures have fought every major safety innovation requirement tooth and nail..

And even after we "think about the safety of cars," and even build safety features into them, there will still be a lot of innocent people killed. And they will be just as dead as if they were deliberately run down. So by your logic we should not bother driving cars at all (just as, I suppose, armies should not lob shells at enemy territory at all, lest they accidentally kill someone innocent; in both cases, you appear to ignore the benefit to be gained by taking the action and permitting (not intending) the deaths in question).
4.30.2008 10:57pm
Avatar (mail):
One points out that, over the years, the civilized countries of the world have worked out the "morality" of armed forces and killing each other.

When a civilized country goes to war, they do so with the members of their armed forces. These members are uniformed, so that they can be clearly identified (and easily distinguished from the civilian population). They are organized under officers appointed by the government of that nation, and that government is responsible for their actions.

These aren't formalities. They aren't unimportant distinctions. They are central to the conception of "military" versus "civilian". Palestine has chosen to abandon those distinctions in the name of expediency - with no hope of conventional victory, even in a guerrilla war against the armed forces of Israel, they have chosen to hide among their civilian population and to attack the civilian population of Israel.

Thus, the civilian casualties in Israel caused by the Palestinians are due to the Palestinian government - who intentionally targets those civilians. The civilian casualties in Palestine are, ironically, also due to the Palestinian government - by intentionally cloaking their activities with civilians, in civilian areas, they make it difficult for Israel to attack the Palestinian armed forces (such as they are) without also attacking and killing the covering civilians.

In some sense, there is a "heads I win, tails you lose" aspect to the situation. Effectively, there is no path for the Palestinians (or, let's be fair, those Palestinians who are affiliated with terrorist organizations, which is not all of them but -does- include their elected government) to achieve victory. If they engage Israel in conventional military action, they'll be crushed in short order. That's... too damned bad. You don't necessarily get to win; if your opponent is bigger and more powerful and backed by a really heavy player internationally, you probably don't have a chance at all.
4.30.2008 10:59pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Just putting this out there... I'd like to see ithaqua banned. He's worse than crazytrain ever was. He's the first to post on every thread, and no one doubts that he's trying to cause trouble. Why let him get away with it?

I know you like to be tolerant of the idiots, but there have to be limits or these message boards will go down the tubes...
4.30.2008 11:00pm
Scote (mail):

So by your logic we should not bother driving cars at all (just as, I suppose, armies should not lob shells at enemy territory at all, lest they accidentally kill someone innocent; in both cases, you appear to ignore the benefit to be gained by taking the action and permitting (not intending) the deaths in question).


Only if my logic was absolutist. It is not. Morality is complicated, far more complicated than the false position that the definition of "terrorism" is well defined. And the degree to which civilian casualties are "acceptable" in US actions--especially elective wars--is a very real and very legitimate moral quandary.
4.30.2008 11:01pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Back to baby stuff, but please note I was criticizing Carter not for simply claiming that Israel's actions constitute "terrorism" because civilians inevitably die in military action. That would just make Carter a pacifist. Rather, he also says that "Israel's terrorism" is as bad as Hamas's terrorism, which just makes him immoral.
4.30.2008 11:02pm
Smokey:
Behind Carter's stupid grin lies an evil mind. Where does he get off, giving aid and comfort to Hamas? Or meeting with Boy Assad? Carter is eager to sell out Israel, and it shows.

And Jimmuh is only the P.R. guy for Habitat for Humanity. He pounds a few nails for a photo op, then heads to the middle east to undermine any possible agreements.

Our brave ex-prez isn't afraid to play kissy-face with terrorists, but when it comes to a terrorist bunny, he panics.

Rabble-rousing ex-presidents who had their turn and failed have no class.

It's hard to have any sympathy at all for this publicity hound, when I recall his stagnant economy, double-digit inflation, V.A. interest rates at 17 1/2%, FHA at 18 1/2%, and unemployment nearly 10%. And the clueless think the eee-e-evil Bush's economy is the end of the world as we know it. Sheesh!

Carter is the worst/most incompetent president in the last hundred years, bar none.
4.30.2008 11:03pm
with all due respect ...:
Bush is running the economy (and the Constitution) in to the ground. Carter will look like a rose in comparison.

It is really difficult to take you seriously when you pretend that Bush's economy and Carter's are even comparable. Double-digit inflation, high unemployment, and the highest interest rate in U.S. history: that is the Carter legacy. What is unemployment right now? 5 1/2 percent? Take of the blinders and look at the facts.

Must be the company you keep.

If you mean that I keep the company of rational people who recognize that Carter was one of the weakest, most ineffective "leaders" in history, then yes, it must be them. Nearly all of my "company" are Democrats. That does not stop them from recognizing a gross lack of leadership in one of their own.

Are you seriously suggesting that this is not how Carter is viewed generally? That it is not also how he was viewed during his presidency? He had an approval rating of 28%. He won only 6 states in 1980. As the incumbent President, he barely held off a primary challenge from post-Chappaquiddick Ted Kennedy. Sorry, but this has nothing to do with the company I keep. Carter is one of the worst all-time, and pretty much everybody acknowledges that fact.
4.30.2008 11:07pm
Scote (mail):

Carter is the worst/most incompetent president in the last hundred years, bar none.


Where have you been for the last 8 years?

Anyways, calling Carter "evil" and falsely claiming he only photo ops for Habitat for Humanity way over the top, even for you.
4.30.2008 11:08pm
hawkins:

Just putting this out there... I'd like to see ithaqua banned. He's worse than crazytrain ever was.


What was Crazytrain banned for?
4.30.2008 11:09pm
Oren:
There is a clear distinction in moral culpability between the intended results of an action and the unfortunate but unavoidable results of an action.
So if I decide I absolutely have to get to work as fast as possible, and that decision unfortunately but unavoidably involves killing and injuring pedestrians and other drivers along the way, I'm somehow less culpable because my objective was merely to get to work quickly? Such a point of view is short-sighted, at best.

Don't get me wrong, I believe broadly and deeply in Israel's right to exist (and concretely, since many of my relatives live in Israel and serve in the IDF). I would never recommend a course of action that I didn't think was in Israel's best long term interest -- something I think the leaders of the country are completely blind to.
4.30.2008 11:11pm
Displaced Midwesterner:

There's a difference between an innocent civilian population (for example, the population of New York on 9/11) and a population that dances in the streets when innocents are killed.


True. But that difference is not a sufficient justification for differences in targeting. Ok, that's all the troll-food I have for today.

For what its worth, though, the US is actually one of the few nations with anything resembling a military that actually tries to abide by the laws of war for the most part. And its too bad Carter has gone senile. He should go back to doing something with Habitat for Humanity.
4.30.2008 11:14pm
Gaius Marius:
I'm only 25, so I don't remember the Carter years. Was he always like this?

Dude Cool, yes, Jimmy Carter was always a bumbling idiot. He is a disgrace to the Naval Academy and the Navy for almost single-handedly losing the Cold War to the USSR. Were it not for Zbigniev Brezinski, you and I would be greeting each other in Russian right now.
4.30.2008 11:15pm
DangerMouse:
This comment thread is sure to be a long one. Every nihilist lawyer who frequents this blog will jump at the chance to question basic morality that a child could understand. Ideas have consequences: if there is to be no distinction between intentional and unintentional killings, then that's a recipe for disaster.

The fact is, anyone who questions that distinction is an amazing hypocrite, including Carter (or else a psychopath). They darn know well the difference, but they don't care when it comes to their enemies.
4.30.2008 11:15pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
1. I'd stand by the assessment a friend made when Carter was still in office. A helluva nice guy, if he was my neighbor I'd have him over for BBQs anytime, but gad is he a terrible president!

2. Terrorism has something of an arbitrary definition. It cannot be defined without included "non-governmental," since war consists of using force and terror to influence policy, too. On the other hand, governments that use force and terror tend to follow at least some rules. I.e., they can surrender and then the fighting stops. The same is not true of informal murderous bands.

3. How 'bout just "the enemy?" Ignore the moral issue. They need killing. If we minimize civilian casualties (ignoring the ambiguity of civilian vs. military when you are dealing with murderous informal bands) that's nice but not a matter of moral dimensions. At least, unlike the air war in WWII, we do not deliberately target civilians (along the lines of Douhet's theories).
4.30.2008 11:18pm
loki13 (mail):

Just putting this out there... I'd like to see ithaqua banned. He's worse than crazytrain ever was. He's the first to post on every thread, and no one doubts that he's trying to cause trouble. Why let him get away with it?

I know you like to be tolerant of the idiots, but there have to be limits or these message boards will go down the tubes...


I disagree. Ithaqua is no more than the concentrated ramblings that we get from (other posters' names redacted). Just as I sometimes need to immerse myself in the loony left to come back to the center, maybe Ithaqua is doing Volokh a great service. Maybe some posters can see a little of themselves in Ithaqua's postings, and retreat from the ledge.

But I wouldn't count on it.
4.30.2008 11:21pm
AnonLawStudent:
The relatively straightforward answer for those who question the moralities involved is to consider it a "golden-rule" contract. If you don't want your civilians killed, then adhere to the rules of warfare established by civilized nations for the protection of those civilians. If you don't want to adhere to those rules, that's fine too, but don't cry when the other side ceases to follow them and/or executes those who don't.
4.30.2008 11:21pm
AnonLawStudent:
Gaius:

I always cringed when the powers-that-be would talk about President Carter as a distinguished graduate. Right up there with Montel Williams.
4.30.2008 11:24pm
Nathan_M (mail):

Rather, he also says that "Israel's terrorism" is as bad as Hamas's terrorism, which just makes him immoral.

That's not a fair characterization of what Carter said. Rose tried to pin Carter down on which side was more guilty ("More one or the other?") and Carter dodged that question. Then Rose asked Carter if Israel was guilty of terrorism, and Carter answered: "I think both are equally guilty, yes."

Now that is consistent with your characterization of what Carter said, but it is also consistent with the view that both sides were guilty of committing act(s) of terrorism (as per Carter's controversial definition of that term).

For example, I believe Nelson Mandela and Osama bin Laden are equally guilty of ordering acts of terrorism (they've both admitted to having done so), but I do not believe Nelson Mandela's terrorism was as bad as bin Landen's.

Now Carter might think what you accused him of, but given that he declined to say so when directly asked I think it's unfair to interpret his other remark that way.

On another topic, I completely agree with Daniel Chapman's comment, if anyone is counting votes.
4.30.2008 11:26pm
Gaius Marius:
It is really difficult to take you seriously when you pretend that Bush's economy and Carter's are even comparable. Double-digit inflation, high unemployment, and the highest interest rate in U.S. history: that is the Carter legacy. What is unemployment right now? 5 1/2 percent? Take of the blinders and look at the facts.

I agree. President George W. Bush can certainly be characterized for mishandling the War on Terror and spending money domestically like a drunken sailor on shore leave in a New Orleans whore house. However, the economy under President Jimmy Carter was much, much worse. There were literally lines of cars outside gas stations waiting to get fuel due to shortages.

Furthermore, communisim was on the march through South and Central America thanks to Castro and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. You think illegal immigrants are bad news. Imagine what America would have been like if illegal immigrants who happen to be hostile communists were marching through our southern borders?

Moreover, how can one forget the Iran hostage crisis. I mean Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, Jimmy Carter really bungled that whole crisis to high heaven. Sure, Carter can claim that he ultimately got the hostages released in the final minutes of his presidency. However, there was simply no excuse for failing to rescue those hostages within the first week.

The fact of the matter is that Barack Hussein Mohamad Obama reminds me a hell of a lot like Jimmy Carter did in 1976. The similarities between these two knuckleheads is striking. Both knuckleheads were newcomers to the national political stage. Both knuckleheads are intellectuals. Both knuckleheads were hailed as political agents of change. Unfortunately, both knuckleheads also think Israel is the problem and are willing to sell out Israel to Hamas and Iran.
4.30.2008 11:30pm
DeezRightWingNutz:
I have to admit that I really don't see too much of a problem with terrorism as a tactic. My biggest gripe with Islamic terrorists is their target.

If the Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe had a chance of undermining support for the war-effort and the Holocaust by blowing up civilians, I would've said go for it.

It seems to me that all really is fair in war (don't know about love). Most people have empathy, so don't like to see unnecessary suffering. Most western governments also seem to have decided that they prefer to fight wars by the Marquis de Queensbury rules, rather than bare-knuckled. I guess that's their perogative, and it's even more understandable since they frequently have the advantage in a "fair fight."

Frankly, sometimes I wonder if the US would be better off prefer we fight fewer wars/battles much more ruthlessly.
4.30.2008 11:37pm
Gaius Marius:
Frankly, sometimes I wonder if the US would be better off prefer we fight fewer wars/battles much more ruthlessly.

War must be hell, lest we grow too fond of it.
4.30.2008 11:40pm
Oren:
There were literally lines of cars outside gas stations waiting to get fuel due to shortages.
The OPEC embargo was not Carter's fault! What did you want him to do, starting pissing oil?
4.30.2008 11:41pm
PDXLawyer (mail):
Carter has published a number of books on morality and Christian thought. I've read some and I've found them thoughtful and well written (though I am not a Christian). I've never seen any basis for questioning his sincerity.

Of course, sincerity is not the same thing as good judgment. Carter combines strong pacifist leanings with a readiness to impose his views by coercion short of deadly force. I don't think this leads to good results outside of relatively civilized contexts because it burdens violent principled action far more than violent unprincipled action. But to say that he is wrong is far different than to say that he is an unthinking fool.
4.30.2008 11:49pm
curious:
His administration was a disaster of foreign policy...leading to the current problems in the middle east. His actions since then are both traitorous and despicable.

Wow. Just wow.
4.30.2008 11:49pm
David Schwartz (mail):
I think a very common mistake in calculating moral accountability is being made in this thread. If a man is threatening to blow up a bomb in a school and is holding a physical hostage in front of him so I can't shoot him, I can and will shoot through the hostage.

This is a pure moral evil. An innocent person has been deliberately killed. However, the important question is this -- who is <b>accountable</b> for the murder? The answer is that the person who created the situation is responsible for the outcome, not the person who did his best to minimize the harm.

Bombings that kill innocent civilians are horrible moral evils. The question is not whether such things are good or bad -- the question is who is responsible for them?
4.30.2008 11:54pm
David Schwartz (mail):
By the way, I confirmed that the word "accountable" would appear in bold by checking in the preview. Then, for some reason, the tags appeared in the post as text! Looks like a bug of some kind.
4.30.2008 11:55pm
therut:
SCOTE-------------Not all Christian theologians will agree with your idea of helping the poor. Not all Christians see the Bible as preaching an earthly economic or any political order of things. If you can show me where Jesus tells us to set up a governmental system where Peter is allowed by law to steal from Paul through a coersion system that can by the force of wordly law throw Paul into jail for not doing the work of the STATE please let me know. Somehow I do not think you will find Jesus preaching about the modern day welfare STATE. Nope. He was not interested in such petty political things. He wants you and me to give FREELY to those in need to show the goodness of HIM by doing so. Otherwise it means nothing. I am sick and tired of those who make Jesus out to be a marxist.(or a Capitalist for that matter). Good Grief.
5.1.2008 12:00am
NYNY (mail):
To borrow the MPC mens rea language: Terrorists usually purposely kill civilians; The U.S. sometimes knowingly does.
5.1.2008 12:03am
cjwynes (mail):
Carter may have a point here. For example, the Nazi bombing runs of London were designed in part to demoralize the citizens of London and create fear. It had that effect anyways, whether or not the intent is essential to the definition. I think the definition of terrorism might be broad enough to encompass that sort of thing. His example is a town that has been shelled for several years, where the people are living in fear. I have no idea whether his claim is factually true, but if it is then I think that's a similar sort of situation. It's not that unreasonable.

An earlier comment from Richard A. has the right idea about this. The issue of whether a particular action is morally reprehensible or not has nothing to do with the label applied to it. The label is just useful rhetoric to take advantage of the people who pay more attention to the connotation of words than they do to substantive arguments.
5.1.2008 12:05am
NattyB:
This strikes me (no pun intended) as the difference between de facto and de jure.

Israel does not purposely target civilians, but yet, they end up killing many more civilians than the Palestinian terrorists groups. Substance over form people.

I don't care what the intentions are. A human life is a human life.

Oh by the way, that anti-Israel newspaper Haaretz thinks Jimmy Carter has been a force for good in the region: Our Debt to Jimmy Carter.

So the question is, just how naive is the Haaretz editorial board?

And the chutzpah for seeking to open a line of dialogue with the democratically elected party in the Palestinian territories. Right, the election that Israel and the United States promoted. But we can never speak with HAMAS because they're crazy and seek the total destruction of Israel. "Into the Sea," right? Like, there's no way that could just be a negotiating starting point.

So let's starve Gaza and actively support Abu Mazen, because that's a winning strategy. Oh no, wait, it isn't. Because the Palestinian public is bound to rally around whichever party the United States and Israel openly support.

I wonder what's going to be edited out of this post. Marketplace of Ideas. Persuade me.
5.1.2008 12:10am
Scote (mail):

If you can show me where Jesus tells us to set up a governmental system where Peter is allowed by law to steal from Paul through a coersion system that can by the force of wordly law throw Paul into jail for not doing the work of the STATE please let me know.


Please show me where I stated any such thing. I'm not going to wait for you since I never said any such thing.

I said Carter was proper Christian who followed the teachings of Jesus to help the poor. Habitat for Humanity is a perfect example of that and has nothing to do with your alleged refutation.
5.1.2008 12:10am
Oren:
DS, while the bomber is ultimately morally accountable for the civilian's death, I think I have a reasonable ethical preference that you make all reasonable efforts to avoid it.

Similarly, if a bank robber takes a hostage and is subsequently surrounded by the police and I have only two options (with perfect execution): let him go or kill them both, I will always chose the former. If you chose the latter (suppose it's your day to be hostage negotiator), I wouldn't hold you morally accountable for the hostage's death, but I would still express the preference that next time, you chose a course of action that doesn't lead to the death of an innocent, even at the price of letting a dangerous criminal go.
5.1.2008 12:13am
randal (mail):
Note that Carter's definition of "terrorism" means that no "powerhouse" can ever fight any war, no matter how justified, without being guilty of "terrorism" just as bad as the likes of Hamas (see below) or Al Qaeda...

Let's look at how ridiculous this sentence is. First it acknowledges that wars may be more or less justified. Then it implies that all "terrorism" is equally bad. That's weird!

Let's assume that terrorism, like war, can me more or less justified. Oh! Now Carter's statement makes perfect sense.

In other words, you don't get to say, as David so often does, that "your tactics are illegitimate, and mine aren't, objectively, and oh by the way, as a totally unintended consequence, you lose."

You don't judge the legitimacy of an action solely by its means, whether the means are suicide bombings or arial bombings. Carter's point is that there's not much meaningful distinction between Israel's tactics and Hamas' tactics. (He doesn't even mention Al Queda, David, Jesus Christ!)
5.1.2008 12:16am
Richard A. (mail):
Anyone care to comment on the Stern Gang?
5.1.2008 12:21am
jccamp:
History will remember Carter as an ineffective and weak one-term president He was elected over the electorate's disgust with post-Watergate Washington-as-usual politics. Unfortunately, no one really knew anything about him (except he had a peanut farm) until it was too late. (Sound familiar?) Since then, he has abandoned the traditional respect ex-presidents have for each other, and has time and again sought to grandstand and subvert the public policy of this country's elected leaders.

For him to draw a moral equivalent between Hamas and Isreal, or any powerful nation's armed forces and terrorists is not surprising. Like it or not, the greatest U S presidents have been those who did not shrink from using armed force when necessary. When Carter was in charge, there was always a sense that he would use the military only if they promised not to hurt anyone.

See Avatar's post above @ 9:59 PM.
5.1.2008 12:26am
Brian G (mail) (www):
How could we have possibly voted this man out of office? I mean, what wisdom. Plus, just look how he handled the Iranian hostage crisis, keeping us out of war for 444 days. And, sending unarmed F-15's to Saudi Arabia as a message to Iran. Stroke of genius. No wonder they let our hostages go only a year or so after. Plus, that decision to cheat our athletes who worked for years to get to the Olympics in order to show the Russian commies how angry he was about Afghanistan was another stroke of brilliant leadership.

In all seriousness, Mr. Carter is a scumbag. He's a bitter man towards this country for throwing him out on the street. Ironically, had Carter dropped a few bombs on Tehran and demanded our hostages back or he would bomb them into the 12th century, he might have been re-elected. I was very young at the time he was President, but even then I felt we were emasculated as a country with him leading it. Carter made me what a call "a non-liberal" and a "non-Democrat." I suspect that there are many other like me thanks to him.
5.1.2008 12:31am
Hoosier:
Anyone care to comment on the Stern Gang?
Oh for Pete's sake. YES. Terrorists. But not currently running the Israeli government, which is what Carter was talking about.

The decision to avoid civilian casualties no matter what the circumstances amounts in practice to the decision to allow any violent group to do anything, and have anything, they want, as long as they are ruthless enough to put civilians at risk . Just as a decision never to fight is a decision to put yourself in the power of the most ruthless individual/group/state in the community.

You may think this is the right thing to do. Fine. But it is not at all clear to me that someone in public office has the right to make this decision for the rest of the polity. This is where I see Carter's primary intellectual weakness coming through: He still want to hold government to the same standards of morality to which he holds himself.

But governments are not individuals. They will always exist to serve people with varying senses of right and wrong. And their first order of business is to protect the lives and institutions of the people of the nation they govern. Carter always seemed out of his depth in the Middle East after the question moved off of bilateral Egypt-Israel diplomacy and on to regional interrelations and the internal security problem faced by the Israeli people.

I will concede that some acts of war carried out by states have been terroristic. The atomics bombings of Japan, if carried out today, would warrant that label. They were carried out in order to use violence against civilians to create fear which would then pressure the Japanese government to meet American political demands.

I hesitate to call Truman's actions "terrorism," however, since this would be an anachronism: The political "terror" then still meant a nasty phase the French Revolution, and could not have been employed by American decision makers to evaluate their potential actions. I don't hesitate to call incinerating tens of thousands of people in a weak enemy state morally reprehensible.

But Israel conducting acts of "terror"? Truman had options, and these options would have allowed him to avoid severe damage to the US and huge casualties among our people, while avoiding directly killing Japanese civilians.

The PM of Israel is not in the same boat. He needs to protect his people and nation, and his enemy hides among civilians. What is his option? Truman was wrong, in my judgment, to have bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to end the war more quickly than it would be one had he chosen other means that were also at his disposal. But had Bomber Command posses two a-bombs in August, 1940—after France had capitulated and Hitler was visibly gathering the barges for Operation Sealion? I do not think I could condemn Churchill for obliterating Hamburg, and letting Berlin know that it was next on the list.


Churchill's (theoretical) choice would have been: Either we do this to them, or they do that to us. Truman's was: Either we do this to them, or we do that to them. There's a huge difference. And the Israeli PM does not have the leisure of Truman's choice.

Does that answer everything?
5.1.2008 12:51am
hawkins:

Like it or not, the greatest U S presidents have been those who did not shrink from using armed force when necessary.



had Carter dropped a few bombs on Tehran and demanded our hostages back or he would bomb them into the 12th century, he might have been re-elected. I was very young at the time he was President, but even then I felt we were emasculated as a country with him leading it. Carter made me what a call "a non-liberal" and a "non-Democrat."


Thanks for clearing this up for me, guys. I didnt realize the quality of a President depends on the quickness of his trigger finger.

For a while now Ive thought Bush was a great President (I just see it when I look into his eyes). Now I have the theory to support me belief.
5.1.2008 1:07am
cac (mail):
Anyone care to comment on the Stern Gang?
Oh for Pete's sake. YES. Terrorists. But not currently running the Israeli government, which is what Carter was talking about.


Technically true. But one Benjamin Netanyahu who is a current political figure recently drew a distinction between the activities of the Irgun and those of the Palestinians, something which eludes me - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_David_Hotel_bombing
5.1.2008 1:07am
Oren:
Hoosier, I suppose our primary disagreement is going to be the extent of the threat to Israelis. For all their bombast, the total casualties caused by rockets (both from Lebanon and Gaza) ~100. For comparison, Israel had ~250 murders and ~1000 car accident casualties in the same time period.

By comparing Hamas and Hezbollah to Imperial Japan or Germany, you are elevating them to the status of "serious threat to world peace" when, IMO, they are pathetic, spent force capable of little more than firing wildly inaccurate rockets and strapping bombs to their children's chests. What is curious, however, is that they have found a way to amplify their barely-existent military power into a political tool capable of vetoing the actions of large powerful states. They have that power because we acknowledge their actions as significant when they aren't. As soon as we stop, they lose the last pathetic card that they hold.
5.1.2008 1:13am
Avatar (mail):
Hoosier, there's a weakness in your analysis of Truman's decision-making - the fact that failing to drop the bomb would also cause casualties, especially civilian casualties.

Surely you realize that the atomic bombings weren't the deadliest air raids of '45... we killed almost twice as many people in one fire-bombing raid on Tokyo. Nor were the air raids the only way we were killing Japanese - attacks on transportation infrastructure, the complete severing of all sources of petrochemical imports, the aerial mining campaign all contributed to the destruction of the Japanese economy, including the system of food distribution. Take a look at the starvation levels in the winter of '45-'46, and keep in mind those are with MacArthur calling in all the food aid he could lay his hands on; what would they have looked like if he'd been calling in field artillery for an invasion instead?

That doesn't even address the nightmare scenario of overseas Japanese garrisons failing to surrender with the collapse of central authority.

And, just to pile on, consider that the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had been spared the fire-bombing campaign (along with a small number of other cities) specifically to provide intact targets for atomic weapons; in the absence of the atomic bomb drops, it's likely that those cities (especially Hiroshima and Kokura) would have been partially destroyed and that a significant number of the very same civilians would have died anyway.

So yeah, Truman caused many Japanese civilians to die by ordering the atomic bomb drops. But it's pretty easy to say that he saved many, many more.
5.1.2008 1:31am
Bob in SeaTac (mail):
Rose at some point also said some along the lines that Carter is almost universally considered a great ex-president.

This has to be a misquote. Rose undoubtedly said: It is almost universally considered great that Carter is an ex-president.
5.1.2008 1:31am
EH (mail):
And the civlian-terrorist ratio for Israeli kills is down well below 1-1, from a much higher ratio because of very strong efforts to avoid killing civilians.

Since when, Jenin?
5.1.2008 2:18am
Bama 1L:
I will concede that some acts of war carried out by states have been terroristic. The atomics bombings of Japan, if carried out today, would warrant that label. They were carried out in order to use violence against civilians to create fear which would then pressure the Japanese government to meet American political demands.

I disagree with Hoosier for reasons that differ somewhat from Avatar's above.

Hoosier seems to be saying that the atomic bombings were calculated to create a mood of terror among the civilian population of Japan that would induce the Japanese government to end the war. During WWII, this is what was meant by "terror bombing": a sharp attack that would obliterate civilian will to resist.

But by summer 1945, the Japanese had suffered horrendous civilian casualties from aerial bombardment with no effect on civilian morale that changed government policy. American planners, mindful of the experience of Germany and Britain, had no reason to suppose such a development could actually occur. The prewar theories suggesting that it could (Douhet et al.) had been discredited. Although not completely germane to the analysis, postwar investigation revealed that the Japanese government did not believe it could, either.

I think that the point of the atomic bombings was to demonstrate to the Japanese that the Americans possessed a superweapon that would obliterate any target. Resistance was thus futile. There was nothing at all that the Japanese could protect. The Japanese analysis was slightly different, as the surrender decision was colored by the Soviet Union's declaration of war on Japan and stunning advance through Manchuria, a development that neither the Americans nor the Japanese had foreseen. The dual shock of the atomic bombings and the Soviet land offensive caused the Japanese to surrender.

The Americans actually did have a terror strategy to force Japan's surrender: the air and sea blockade of Japan, which as 1945 progressed promised to cause large-scale starvation. American planners expected this to result in the collapse of Japanese authority and expected the Japanese government to surrender before it occurred. Sure enough, this was exactly what the Japanese government feared in late summer 1945. They believed that the population would remain loyal despite bombardment and even invasion, but would rise up and overthrow the government if starvation loomed.
5.1.2008 2:23am
The Unbeliever:
Carter's point is that there's not much meaningful distinction between Israel's tactics and Hamas' tactics.

If that was really his point, then Carter's an ass. There's got to be some federally appointed acronym agency that can ban him from re-entering the US...
5.1.2008 2:24am
Dave N (mail):
Carter was an awful, awful President. Dreadful. Spin all you want but I can't think of a single accomplishment of his administration.

In the sense that Carter worked for Habitat for Humanity and things of that nature, he has been a very good ex-President (contrast that with the $100 million that Clinton has raked in). I give Carter credit that he has not "cashed in" the way Clinton has.

But when he speaks on issues like terrorism, he comes across as a self-righteous ninny.
5.1.2008 2:30am
Richard A. (mail):
So was the IRA "terrorist" when they blew up that hotel in which the leader of the opposition army was staying?
Would the U.S. be "terrorist" if we blew up a hotel in which Bin Laden was staying?

"There are those who say that to kill Martin (a British sergeant) is terrorism, but
to attack an army camp is guerrilla warfare and to bomb civilians is professional
warfare. But I think it is the same from the moral point of view. Is it better to
drop an atomic bomb on a city than to kill a handful of persons? I don't think so.
But nobody says that President Truman was a terrorist. All the men we went for
individually — Wilkin, Martin, MacMichael and others — were personally
interested in succeeding in the fight against us."

Yitzhak Shamir
5.1.2008 2:43am
Seamus (mail):
Would the U.S. be "terrorist" if we blew up a hotel in which Bin Laden was staying?

It depends. Would the U.S. forces who blew up the hotel be people bearing arms openly, or would they be people in civilian clothes who snuck into the hotel under false pretences, like those who blew up the King David Hotel, and planted a bomb?

Or are we going to argue that those who hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 weren't terrorists because they crashed the plane into the Pentagon, which was a military target like the King David Hotel? I certainly hope not.
5.1.2008 3:09am
PeteRR (mail):
On the eve of Gulf War I, Carter secretly lobbied members of the UNSC, including China and France, asking them to vote against the resolutions calling Saddam to account for his invasion of Kuwait. We only found out when the Canadian PM called to inform us.

(From NRO)
At their first meeting — in 1990 — Carter boasted of his toughness toward Israel, assuring Arafat at one point, ". . . you should not be concerned that I am biased. I am much more harsh with the Israelis." Arafat, for his part, railed against the Reagan administration and its alleged "betrayals." Rosalynn Carter, taking notes for her husband, interjected, "You don't have to convince us!" Brinkley records that this "elicited gales of laughter all round." Carter himself, according to Brinkley, "agreed that the Reagan administration was not renowned as promise keepers"
5.1.2008 3:13am
Oren:
Pete, as an avid supporter of Israel (see above), I support harshness with the Israelis because sometimes the Israelis will not listen to anyone else (or reason, for that matter).
5.1.2008 3:25am
ewannama (mail):
Some have noted that civilians are dead whether targeted or not, so Israel deserves blame. I'll suggest that if I'm cornered by a shooting thug, I don't loose my right to self-defense just because he's drug along his wife and kid. If I choose to survive and hit the kid, I'll certainly suffer guilt, but can also blame the thug for his child's death.

Israel doesn't have a serious choice to disarm. When it targets valid military targets, it is not to blame when its enemies have launched attacks or built arsenals and staging grounds in residential areas, schools, mosques. It does have to respond proportionally, but for those unfamiliar with Int'l Humanitarian Law, that does not mean the same number of casualties. It does not even mean the same weapon, but merely the most appropriate. (Maybe a military rocket or SWAT raid to counter a homemade rocket.)
5.1.2008 3:35am
A. Zarkov (mail):
If you want to hang a "terrorist" rap against the US then look at the aftermath of WWII. The Allies killed more German civilians after the war than during the war. There's absolutely no excuse for that other than pure revenge against anything that spoke German. This includes ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland, East Prussia and other German ethnic communities throughout Europe. This is completely different than unavoidable collateral damage to civilians as part of a war effort.
5.1.2008 3:56am
Joey22 (mail):
If what Professor Bernstein says is true that the Israelis take all measures they can to avoid civilian casualties, then I retract my statement about neither side seeming to have a problem with butchering the other.
5.1.2008 3:59am
A. Zarkov (mail):
I know two people who went to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity work. They left after finding numerous safety violations. One of the two was in the construction equipment rental business and found that the scaffolding they were using was dangerous and in violation of construction codes.

Of course this was only one site, and Carter is not necessarily to blame. Nevertheless anything connect to Carter seems odious.
5.1.2008 4:01am
Scote (mail):

One of the two was in the construction equipment rental business and found that the scaffolding they were using was dangerous and in violation of construction codes.


Well, then, he was in a unique position to step up to the plate.
5.1.2008 4:18am
Ricardo (mail):
Scote wrote:

You are only making my point for me. The chance of error an inequality is why I'm against the death penalty, no because I think killers shouldn't be killed. Avoiding irreversible error should be a component of our justice system, and the death penalty is the ultimate irreversible error.

And cars do kill tens of thousands, and not just pedestrians. We should think about the safety of cars.


You seem to be arguing against the idea that there is a clear boundary between right and wrong and that the U.S. and Israel are on the right side and Hamas is on the wrong side. I don't see where DB or anyone else made that exact argument, though.

Part of the problem with these arguments is that the term "suicide bombing" really obscures what Hamas does. The reality of Hamas's operations is that someone takes a certain amount of high-powered explosives, wraps nails, tacks, bolts and other metallic objects around it (the better to rip flesh away from bone in order to horribly and painfully disfigure those who aren't killed by the force of the blast) and place that bomb in a cafe or shopping center during peak time in order to cause maximum casualties. Failure to cause death and injury to innocent people would be regarded by Hamas as a failure of its strategic objectives. You cannot say the same of Israel.

Since you have conceded that morality often involves trade-offs and grey areas, the implied question is simple. What exact trade-off can justify the kind of activity described above?

I think the point is that no civilized person can defend such sadism and wanton destruction. On the other hand, reasonable people can debate the precise tactics that Israel uses against the Palestinians and whether they are appropriate. The fact that these tactics are debatable by reasonable people is to say that Israel's leaders and military officers may be wrong in some of their decisions but they cannot be equated with the moral monsters who head Hamas. Israel's military activities belong in a fundamentally different category than Hamas's.
5.1.2008 4:42am
Scote (mail):

Since you have conceded that morality often involves trade-offs and grey areas, the implied question is simple. What exact trade-off can justify the kind of activity described above?


I never endorsed terrorism, nor do I now. Good Grief. You've done a fine job of doing a 180 on my post. What I did was suggest that military operations shouldn't get an automatic free pass just because our country can afford to project force using billions of dollars worth of equipment.
5.1.2008 6:26am
Hoosier:
Since when, Jenin?

There was no Jenin massacre. That is a canard. Stop repeating it.

Re: Atomic bombings—I didn't mean to get us off on the topic of Harry Truman. My (relevant) point is that: (1) I do not reserve the category "terrorism" exclusively for Islamists (I'm an Irish-American, and you won't ever find me defending the IRA); and (2) there are distinctions to be made when assessing governmental actions that will cause civilian casualties. I suppose the important analogy is not to Truman but to Churchill: If your nation and people are besieged, your CINC has a moral (rpt: moral) obligation to seek to lift the siege.

As to the objection that Israel in 2008 is not under the same threat as Britain in 1940: True. And thus they are not responding with all-out measures. Unlike Churchill, they do have nuclear weapons. But they have not used them. So I think we can all hug and sing Kumbaya on this one.
5.1.2008 6:39am
Hoosier:
the moral monsters who head Hamas

Only if by "moral monsters" you mean people who deliberately target civilians, then hide among other civilians in hopes that the reprisal attacks will kill innocent people on their own side as well.

On the other hand, if by "moral monsters" you mean "Israelis," then I am pretty sure Hamas are innocent of that charge.

So, you see, this is really just a matter of semantics.
5.1.2008 6:44am
Stephen F. (mail) (www):
Rose at some point also said some along the lines that Carter is almost universally considered a great ex-president. Rose doesn't travel is the same circles I do, obviously.

A 1993 episode of The Simpsons referred to Carter as "history's greatest monster," so Rose obviously doesn't travel in the same circles a lot of people do.
5.1.2008 9:32am
Michael B (mail):
"A Remarkable Definition of Terrorism from Jimmy Carter"

File under caveat and context. As the source is Jimmy Carter, this falls entirely within commonplace, predictable and unremarkable categories - rather than remarkable. Joshua Muravchik, in Commentary, has written a measured review of Carter's profoundly corrupting influence, Our Worst Ex-President.
5.1.2008 9:52am
H Bowman, MD:

So the question is, just how naive is the Haaretz editorial board?


70 Years ago they're the ones who would have been saying "See? It's a nice train ride into the country".
5.1.2008 9:52am
Bama 1L:
To be sure, the Simpsons reference was in the context of Springfield Park Commission using bake sale proceeds to purchase a statue of Carter rather than the promised statue of Lincoln.
5.1.2008 9:55am
H Bowman, MD:

If you want to hang a "terrorist" rap against the US then look at the aftermath of WWII. The Allies killed more German civilians after the war than during the war. There's absolutely no excuse for that other than pure revenge against anything that spoke German. This includes ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland, East Prussia and other German ethnic communities throughout Europe. This is completely different than unavoidable collateral damage to civilians as part of a war effort.


Well, sure. If by allies you mean the Soviet Union and by killing Civilians you mean the slaves that the SU forced into work camps in the gulags....
5.1.2008 9:58am
Seamus (mail):
If you want to hang a "terrorist" rap against the US then look at the aftermath of WWII. The Allies killed more German civilians after the war than during the war. There's absolutely no excuse for that other than pure revenge against anything that spoke German.

What was done to the Germans after World War II wasn't "terrorism," because it wasn't intended to intimidate the Germans into doing or not doing anything. In most cases, it wasn't even deliberate killing, but at worst was merely the result of reckless indifference to the fate of the Germans (like the deaths of most of those who died on the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma).

In any event, you can't really pin those deaths on the United States anyway. The ones doing the killing were primarily Poles, Czechs and Slovaks, and of course Russians.
5.1.2008 10:09am
DG:
{Or are we going to argue that those who hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 weren't terrorists because they crashed the plane into the Pentagon, which was a military target like the King David Hotel? I certainly hope not.}

The pentagon was and is a legitimate military target under the laws of war - its a c-cubed-I site of importance, obviously. The attackers were terrorists because of the weapon they used - a plane full of civilians. It is not an act of terrorism for one military to bomb another country's military bases, even if civilians working on that base are killed.

The Stern Gang were terrorists. Of course, some terrorists are more sympathetic than others. I don't think the PUK is as bad as Hezbolah, and I don't think the MEK is as bad as the PUK. That being said, its all degrees of bad.

The underlying problem is that the Palestinians have perfected the art of hiding their belligerents inside civilian areas, in the hopes of either dissuading attacks (which is HIGHLY effective against the Israelis) or causing collateral damage (they're martyrs, so its ok, in their view). The Israeli military takes far greater pains than even the US Military in avoiding civilian deaths, on either side. Jenin is a great example - conventional military doctrine is to reduce by artillery bombardment. The sort of house-to-house fighting that the Israelis did was widely considered insane in military circles because it exposed their soldiers to such risk.
5.1.2008 10:52am
Ben P (mail):

There's a difference between an innocent civilian population (for example, the population of New York on 9/11) and a population that dances in the streets when innocents are killed. From the link above, a "moderate Arab" is quoted: "Ninety percent of the Arab world believes that Americans got what they deserved."


God Forbid, I'm quoting Ithaqua, but I think this goes to the heart of the problem.

It doesn't necessarily matter what Carter says or what we say.

What matters to some degree is what *they* think.

Of course we view Hamas (or some crazy subgroup thereof)as terrorists. They target and kill Israeli civilians.

But does anyone here seriously think that they could go to a Palestinian who's lost a close relative in some Israeli action and actually convince them that their relative's death was acceptable byproduct of a legitimate military operation but that the Israeli civilian's death was the evil result of an evil act?

When you get down to it there's basically three ways to "win" any given war.

1. you destroy the enemies physical ability to continue fighting, through destroying them entirely or denying them fundamental tools to fight.

2. you destroy the enemies mental ability to keep fighting, you convince them that whatever the result of submission will be, it's a better option than the alternative.

3. you press them sufficiently enough that they agree to something advantageous to you, while still preserving something of their own.


Now think about this in terms of an insurgency like the Palestinian one.
First, the material requirements for running an insurgensy are sufficiently low that it's a supremely difficult military objective to end it completely, and all out destruction is not a viable option because of outside consequences.

Second, the idea in their heads that they're fighting for their "homeland" gives them a very deep reserve of morale that simply cannot be totally broken. Given what they see as th alternative, you can't convince them that submission is the better option.

This leaves us with the third option. Obviously the idea of any settlement is controversial here because the stakes are so high. But a fundamental part of any settlement is a recognition of common ground.

I think it's undisputable that hamas engages in terrorism. But when you're just talking past each other saying "when we kill civillians it's collatoral damage, but when you kill civilians it's terrorism" they're going to look at you like you're crazy, and assume that you're crazy.
5.1.2008 10:52am
yankev (mail):

So let's starve Gaza

Actually, it's Hamas whose been doing that, by blowing up checkpoints, razing green houses, blowing up fuel depots, turning Aza into one extended missile launching platform, and generally doing whatever they can to increase the misery of the people who elected them.

As to EH's comment about Jenin, the IDF suffered unnecessary casualties in Jenin in an effort to keep enemy civilian casualties to a minimum. Under the laws of war, Israel would have been justified in using aerila bombing. They sent ground troops instead. The PLO had filled Jenin with booby traps and ambushes. Despite all the hysterical CNN, British and UN charges of a massacre, 52 Arabs were killed, not thousands as the NGO's originally charged, and at least 34 of those killed were armed combatants. The terrorists based in and around Jenin had killed over 100 Israelis in the month before the battle. The IDF lost 33 soldiers, whereas few or no Israelis would have been killed has the IDF simply used aerial bombing. Sorry if the facts disturb your little fantasy.
5.1.2008 10:59am
PersonFromPorlock:
There seem to be more lawyers than soldiers here.

In fact, while there may be a certain amount of moral posturing to start with, wars are ultimately fought using whatever tactics and weapons work; moral judgements have to wait until after the war, when we see what the victor does with his victory.

The Germans were treated far better by the (Western) Allies than, say, the French were by the Germans: this is what lets us claim virtue for the Allies, not any nicety in killing people.
5.1.2008 11:11am
Ben P (mail):

There seem to be more lawyers than soldiers here.

In fact, while there may be a certain amount of moral posturing to start with, wars are ultimately fought using whatever tactics and weapons work; moral judgements have to wait until after the war, when we see what the victor does with his victory.

The Germans were treated far better by the (Western) Allies than, say, the French were by the Germans: this is what lets us claim virtue for the Allies, not any nicety in killing people.


I'd tend to agree with you, but the problem with this is outside observers.

In World War II there weren't any objective observers of significant power. Pretty much everyone was involved in some fashion, and was within that "either we win or we lose" paradigm. (and rightfully so)

Whereas in localized conflicts like the Israeli Palestinian conflict the opinions and potential actions of outside powers are an actual force that has to be considered, especialyl when you have to still interact with them.

Although, it's probably much less controversial if I can discuss this in historical terms. Say I'm the prince of one of the German principalities and I want to invade a neighboring state. I'm convinced I can probably beat them, but I do have to consider that as a Catholic state they're friendly with France. I think I'm powerful enough to make it not worth the french's blood and treasure to defend this particular ally, but I know I can't go too far otherwise I risk making a situation where the French can't help but intervene.
5.1.2008 11:24am
LarryA (mail) (www):
But my understanding was, before he became such a lighting rod for controversy over the past few years, that he was very widely (perhaps not universally) praised for the work he had done after his term as President. As opposed to widely criticized for his performance as President.
Pretty much the way I remember it. Carter ran on the platform that he didn't know anything about D.C. He proved himself right.
And yes, one man's terrorist is indeed another man's freedom fighter.
People who fight so they can live their lives the way they want to are freedom fighters. People who fight to make others live their lives the way the fighters want them to are terrorists.
5.1.2008 11:28am
Q the Enchanter (mail) (www):
President Bush once insisted that his administration will "never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people." It's a good thing that spoken remarks can always be construed as a reliable and complete indicator of the speaker's actual beliefs about complex issues of policy.
5.1.2008 11:54am
Tony Tutins (mail):
I agree Carter was one of the two worst presidents since Warren G. Harding. He could not bring his middle east crisis to a satisfactory resolution, and on his watch the dollar sank against European currencies.
5.1.2008 12:03pm
Smokey:
I am somewhat astonished to read, on this particular blog, a poster calling for the silencing of another poster who, as I re-read his posts above, has done nothing to violate the posting rules. At time others come significantly closer to violating the posting rules, so it is clear that Daniel Chapman simply wants to silence an opposing view.

Mr Chapman stated that he wants ithaqua banned. Then he states:
I know you like to be tolerant of the idiots...
It appears to be Chapman who is violating the posting rules by disparaging another poster as an "idiot." But Chapman never presents a refutation of ithaqua's arguments.

The 1st Amendment wasn't written for those who agree with you; it was specifically intended to allow political points of disagreement to be aired without the retribution that Chapman demands.

In 1823 Jefferson wrote to Lafayette, "The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary -- to keep the waters pure."

In pestering this site to ban a poster whom Chapman disagrees with, we all lose a little more of our freedom to express our views. A brick in the wall and all that.
5.1.2008 12:08pm
Don Miller (mail) (www):
Too many of the people who write international law on war have no idea what it takes to win a war. They try to pretend that war will have no consequence for the civilian population, as if they are innocent bystanders.

From a military standpoint, wars are won and loss upon the support of the civilian population. Without the cooperation of the civilian population in Lebanon and Gaza Hamas couldn't hide, they couldn't recruit, they couldn't finance their operations.

Without a civilian population working in the factories of Germany and Japan, they couldn't have produced their war machines, they couldn't have fielded their armies.

A supportive civilian population is essential to victory.

Proportional response? You have to be kidding, its the fear of disproportional response that keeps countries from going to war in the first place.

Wars are won and loss by breaking the will of the otherside to continue the conflict. Its that simple. It maybe the loss of all their armies, complete invasion, destruction of their infrastructure, toppling their government. Doesn't matter the trigger, but at some point you break the will.

That is the true reason our efforts in Iraq are in trouble. Not because we can't win militarily, but because we are losing our will as a nation to continue the fight.

It is a repeat of Vietnam. We lost our will to do what was necessary to win militarily and eventually the will to do what was necessary politically as well.
5.1.2008 12:08pm
Ben P (mail):

That is the true reason our efforts in Iraq are in trouble. Not because we can't win militarily, but because we are losing our will as a nation to continue the fight.

It is a repeat of Vietnam. We lost our will to do what was necessary to win militarily and eventually the will to do what was necessary politically as well.


and therein lies the problem of fighting wars that are not intimately connected with our national survival. Which is at least arguable with Iraq as it was in vietnam. You can certainly say they're very important interests, but I couldn't argue with a straight face that either allowing saddam to stay in power, or the communists taking over the whole of Vietnam in 1956ish (if we had never bailed out the French in the first place) would have resulted in the end of the United States as a cohesive unit.

Was the war in Iraq justified by an important interest? Sure it was. If for no other reason than we can say that deposing an inhumane dictator is an important goal. Further, I think you're crazy if you say that Oil doesn't matter. If Iraq didn't have oil, it'd be like sudan, no one would care, and promoting political stability in such an oil rich region is also a goal that is very important to the united states.


But once you note that this is an important goal. You have to ask yourself the question. How much of our blood and treasure is it worth to achieve that goal? At what point does the expense of the war cause more harm than the the benefit of the goal we're trying to achieve?
5.1.2008 12:21pm
ATM (mail):
and on his watch the dollar sank against European currencies.

I'm not sure what this has to do with anything, unless this is aimed as a slight against Bush. The truth is that the dollar has been severely overvalued in relation to European currencies and the Japanese Yen. Look at per capita GDP of the original Eurozone countries, the UK and Japan and you will find that they were significantly lower than that of the US. Do you really believe that Europe was so unproductive and that the US worker was putting 50% more output out?

The truth is today the US$ is fairly valued in relation to the European currencies, and still overvalued in relation to Asian currencies, including the Yen.
5.1.2008 12:22pm
Bored Lawyer:

Technically true. But one Benjamin Netanyahu who is a current political figure recently drew a distinction between the activities of the Irgun and those of the Palestinians, something which eludes me -


1. What do you mean, technically? The Stern Gang was an indepedent group of terrorists circa 1945-48. The current government of Israel is not.


2. Try this: the Irgun phone the local British authorities ahead of time and warned them to evacuate the King David Hotel (then being used as an administrative office of the British Mandate). The warning went unheeded.

Ever hear of a Palestinian terrorist warning about a bombing ahead of time?
5.1.2008 12:52pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Do you really believe that Europe was so unproductive and that the US worker was putting 50% more output out?

For decades, the US manufacturing worker has been one of the most productive in the world, second only to Denmark, and making the Japanese look like slackers. Is that what you mean?
5.1.2008 12:54pm
rarango (mail):
Historians will have the ultimate say on Mr. Carter's presidency--but I, for one, do remember national malaise and stagflation. Double digit interest rates on home mortgages were no fun.

As a former soldier, I do think from my experience, our military went to, and now goes to great lengths to avoid civilian casualities--to the point of passing on targets where the bad guys purposely intermingle themselves with civilians. I will leave it to the professional moralists to make distinctions between terrorism and more conventional military actions, but as for me I don't have any problems sleeping at night because of mine, or my military's actions.
5.1.2008 12:57pm
EKGlen (mail):
The fact that Bernstein is unable to conceive of the idea that the killing of women and children might be terrorism says much about Mr. Bernstein.
5.1.2008 1:05pm
Smokey:
Back to Jimmy Carter for a moment. Carter actively encouraged America's friend and ally, the Shah of Iran, to stop paying off the mullahs -- who were meek and compliant as long as they received their monthly stipend from the Shah.

When they were cut off at Carter's suggestion [Carter thought other governments shouldn't pay for a state religion], the mullahs, led by Ayatollah Khomeini exiled in France, began rabble rousing in earnest. Khomeini started sending Iranian supporters hours-long cassettes every week, with his speeches aimed at the teeming masses. I still recall nightly news clips showing 20-something young men practically swooning with adoration over the speeches; even more so than today's speeches by the dead bin Laden's stand-ins. Khomeini was an Iranian rock star.

Next, Carter repeatedly encouraged the Shah to leave his country for medical treatment in America. The Shah was not a strong willed person, but he was the country's leader. If the leader goes half way around the world during a domestic crisis, he has abdicated. That's what Carter repeatedly encouraged, and the Shah eventually relented and vacated Iran at the height of the crisis.

As described in the riveting account of the situation, On Wings of Eagles, SAVAK and the Iranian military were overwhelmingly pro-Shah. But when the Shah left the country, the military began to see which way the wind was blowing; it is extremely demoralizing when your leader skedaddles.

In the event, there were a few battles and skirmishes, but the demoralized military didn't know whether to fire on civilians attacking them or not. We all know the result. The Ayatollah returned to Iran as an all-conquering hero. And, thanks to Jimmy Carter's meddling, he was.

America's friend and ally, the Shah of Iran, was double-crossed by Jimmy Carter and died in exile [those Americans demanding democracy in Iran at the time were silent about Iran's neighbors, such as Saudi Arabia, which remains a kingdom today].

Prior to the Shah's deposition, Islamic militancy was pitiful, and was essentially disregarded by the entire world. But the elimination of Iran's leader by Islamic militants, at the instigation of Carter, changed the world's view. Suddenly, Islam was a force to be reckoned with.

Thus, the entire rise of Islamic militancy, with its ever rising terrorism culminating in the destruction of the World Trade Center and the invasion of Iran, must be laid at the incompetent and inept feet of Jimmy Carter -- who continues his rabble-rousing even today, at the expense of our country.
5.1.2008 1:10pm
Smokey:
[Of course, I meant the invasion of Iraq, above].
5.1.2008 1:16pm
PLR:
The fact that Bernstein is unable to conceive of the idea that the killing of women and children might be terrorism says much about Mr. Bernstein.

I posted something similar to this a while back, and didn't get any particularly effective rebuttals. Maybe everyone agrees.

Bombs dropped from great heights: not terrorism.

Bombs left at curbside: terrorism.

Missiles launched toward an unseen target by expensive guidance system: not terrorism.

Missiles launched toward an unseen target by cheap shoulder-mounted launcher: terrorism.

Cluster bombs, if placed by uniformed personnel: not terrorism.

Remote control IEDs, if placed by non-uniformed personnel: terrorism.
5.1.2008 1:27pm
Hoosier:
Historians will have the ultimate say on Mr. Carter's presidency

Yes, we will. That's the nice thing about the job: Our colleagues in Poli Sci, econ, and journalism get called to do TV commentary. But then we get the last word. Nice work if you can get it.

I was debating a poli sci colleague a few years ago--Big name, but thinks of himself as a HUGE name. We were talking about the way the Iraq War would be viewed, and after he finished, I made the observation that in the future it will be viewed in whatever way(s) historians in the future decide to portray it.

He made some (semi-)joking comment about how sad it was that historians got the last word in any matter of politics. (I told him to watch his words, since who did he think would be writing his biography? It ended on that note.)
5.1.2008 1:30pm
Hoosier:
PLR--

So:

Guy who pushes granny into path of train

and

Guy who pushes granny out of path of train

Both = Guys who push old ladies around?

Give me some relevant context--see above--since I cannot assess an action based simply on the technique of its execution. Nor can you.
5.1.2008 1:34pm
Scaldis Noel:
If Israel promised that it would never attack another Palestinian again unless fired upon first, and followed through on the promise, would the Palestinians continue to attack Israel? I am confident that the answer is "yes".

If the Palestinians promised to never attack another Israeli unless fired upon first, and followed through on the promise, would Israel continue to attack Palestinians? I am confident that the answer is "no".

The Israelis primary goal is to live without fear of attack within their own land. The Palestinians primary goal is to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Believing that there is moral equivalence between them is either evil or delusional. Jimmy Carter is either evil or delusional. It is getting to the point that I am less inclined to believe that he is simply delusional.
5.1.2008 1:38pm
EKGlen (mail):
PLR - yes, this is baffling.

The thinking, apparently, is that the Palestinians need to wear proper uniforms and only engage in frontal assaults on fortified military bases or something.

There is also a curious overlap among those who condemn terrorists for not following the "rules of war" and those who defend the United State's torture of captives.
5.1.2008 1:39pm
EKGlen (mail):

The Israelis primary goal is to live without fear of attack within their own land. The Palestinians primary goal is to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.

I'm no expert, but I think the Palestinians might say that their goal is to expel the people who are occupying their (Palestinian) land.

There really isn't much support for either position that I can see so it is just a power struggle.
5.1.2008 1:43pm
Seamus (mail):
Try this: the Irgun phone the local British authorities ahead of time and warned them to evacuate the King David Hotel (then being used as an administrative office of the British Mandate). The warning went unheeded.


Similarly, the Weathermen used to issue warnings when they bombed buildings. I guess that makes it OK.
5.1.2008 2:00pm
Seamus (mail):
The pentagon was and is a legitimate military target under the laws of war - its a c-cubed-I site of importance, obviously. The attackers were terrorists because of the weapon they used - a plane full of civilians.

So when the Weathermen planted a bomb in the rest room at the Pentagon in 1972, that wasn't a terrorist act, because the Pentagon was a military target?
5.1.2008 2:03pm
HipposGoBerserk (mail):
EKGlen,

By your reasoning, Israel ought to ethnically cleanse Gaza so as to remove the threat posed by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc.; blow the snot out of southern Lebanon so as to depopulate Hezbollah's base; and preemptively nuke Iran. I am not sorry that they are unwilling to engage in such acts.

To the thread generally -

"Terrorism" ought to be limited to reference to the deliberate targeting of civilians by combatants. Thus, the poster above was correct that targeting the Pentagon was only terrorism due to the weapon used. Similarly, the bombing of the King David Hotel was not terrorism, as it was a British HQ building (you want Israel in the wrong, some of the military ops in the 50s are better choices, as is the Lavon Affair). Similarly, Israel is wrong to lable guerrilla attacks on its troops as terror attacks.

Note - the Stern Gang had no official place in the proto-Israeli state and, together with the Irgun, was FORCIBLY suppressed (Jewish blood shed by Jews) by the Israeli state during the first cease fire of the War of Independence. It is not reasonable to equate the actions of these fringe groups with the broadly supported (as polling indicates) acts of all the armed Palestinian groups.
5.1.2008 2:05pm
HipposGoBerserk (mail):
Seamus,

I would consider the Weathermen's bombing of the Pentagon a legitimate act of war by a guerrilla group, if they so qualified - given their lack of legitimate grievance, I don't think I'd grant them that. Therefore, I consider it a criminal act.

It was morally reprehensible, but not nearly as bad as blowing up a busload of random people and delighting in killing little kids.

HGB
5.1.2008 2:09pm
EKGlen (mail):

By your reasoning, Israel ought to ethnically cleanse Gaza so as to remove the threat posed by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc.; blow the snot out of southern Lebanon so as to depopulate Hezbollah's base; and preemptively nuke Iran. I am not sorry that they are unwilling to engage in such acts.

What in the world are you talking about?

"Terrorism" ought to be limited to reference to the deliberate targeting of civilians by combatants.

So the bombing of Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, etc were terrorist acts?
5.1.2008 2:13pm
Ben P (mail):

If Israel promised that it would never attack another Palestinian again unless fired upon first, and followed through on the promise, would the Palestinians continue to attack Israel? I am confident that the answer is "yes".

If the Palestinians promised to never attack another Israeli unless fired upon first, and followed through on the promise, would Israel continue to attack Palestinians? I am confident that the answer is "no".



I could agree, or disagree, depending entirely on the context and definition of "Israel" and "Palestine."

Neither Isreal nor Palestine is truly a cohesive whole, but the Palestinians are far far more fragmented.

So, for example.

If Israel withdrew to the pre-1967 Borders (including East Jerusalem), and removed Israeli settlers from contested territory, would the official government of Palestine or even it's primary components (Hamas and Fatah) (IE the PA) continue to attack Israel? I think there's a pretty significant possibility the answer would be no.

But would that prevent relatively small and extreme groups within the Palestinian population attempting to perpetrate violence that couldn't be stopped with 100% certainty? Probably not.


Likewise, If Israel made the agreement, never to attack any palestinian again unless attacked first, including swearing not to come to the defense of Israeli settler communities within the West Bank, would the Israeli government abide by this promise. Probably, (although the political will would be very diffficult)

But would that keep some of the settlers using force against palestinians for self defense or some other reason? probably not.


Both sides in this issue, the palestinians to a greater degree, and the Israelis to a lesser, are held hostage by relatively small minorities within their communities that refuse to accept any situation that differs from their ideal. There ARE is Israelis out there who believe Israel has an absolute right to occupy land that's outside of the present day bounds of the state of Israel, and there ARE Palestinians out there who believe Israel has absolutely no right to exist at all.
5.1.2008 2:15pm
PLR:
Guy who pushes granny into path of train

and

Guy who pushes granny out of path of train

Both = Guys who push old ladies around?

Those don't have commonality of outcome.
5.1.2008 2:25pm
Oren:
Note - the Stern Gang had no official place in the proto-Israeli state and, together with the Irgun, was FORCIBLY suppressed (Jewish blood shed by Jews) by the Israeli state during the first cease fire of the War of Independence.
Lehi was integrated into the IDF and all the members granted total amnesty.
5.1.2008 2:33pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Similarly, the Weathermen used to issue warnings when they bombed buildings. I guess that makes it OK.

And further, Bill Ayers' present affiliation, the University of Illinois, is not the same as his previous affiliation, the Weather Underground. So no one can criticize Obama for associating with the U of I professor, because he is separate and distinct from the bomb planter.
5.1.2008 2:35pm
Seamus (mail):
I would consider the Weathermen's bombing of the Pentagon a legitimate act of war by a guerrilla group, if they so qualified - given their lack of legitimate grievance, I don't think I'd grant them that. Therefore, I consider it a criminal act.

Of course it was a criminal act. But that's not the question. The question is whether it was a *terrorist* act. Whether or not an act is terrorist has (or should have) nothing to do with the righteousness of the cause for which the act is committed. Or are you arguing that if the cause is just, whatever you do to further that cause is ipso facto not terrorism? If so, then it truly is the case that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."
5.1.2008 2:51pm
Oren:
Seamus, on a purely emotional level, I just can't condemn the South African terrorist campaign against the apartheid government (and it was just that). When the government treats you as being outside the polity, then the rules no longer apply.
5.1.2008 2:59pm
Rq (mail):
@ Avatar

...They are central to the conception of "military" versus "civilian". Palestine has chosen to abandon those distinctions in the name of expediency ... they have chosen to hide among their civilian population and to attack the civilian population of Israel....



Given this logic, Israel is then responsible for the deaths of Israelis as well, in that the one crutch that Hamas and others use to allow their killing of civilians is the fact that every Israeli citizen must train and serve in the Army, excluding children. Now unless I am wrong on this issue, that makes every Israeli (excluding minors) a member of the military, be it on or off-duty, and sufficiently blurs the military/civilian distinction in a way similar if not equivalent to Palestinians hiding amongst the civilian population.

If this is the case then yes, both sides are wrong and both sides are terrorizing each other.
There is nothing immoral in this statement
5.1.2008 3:04pm
HipposGoBerserk (mail):
Seamus,

I thought I was clear - not terrorist. Legitimate acts of guerrilla warfare are not acts of terror. What I was getting at is that legitimate guerrilla movements (the proper place for the concept embodied in the "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter) are outside criminal law. When the Maquis attacked the Vichy they were committing crimes, but I excuse that as a just cause. In my mind, I'm reaching towards a jury nillification concept.

EKGlen,

You appeared to me to be endorsing the idea that all violence is equivalent and war should be fought without rules - if you weren't endorsing that I apologize. I should've addressed those further up the thread who clearly stated that, but I'm too lazy to figure out now who they are.

As to Dresden, Nagasaki, etc. - I think it's a hard call. Hard as it may be to believe, the articulated goal of those bombings was the reduction of the enemies capacity to produce war material and to destroy the capacity of the enemy to wage war. I think some of Churchill's comments imply that those reasons were a fig-leaf. To the extent they were, they were war crimes. To the extent that was the honest statement of intent (largely true, and certainly true of Truman's decision to use the A-bomb), they were legal.

Oren,

True, but I don't see how it's relevant. A state in desparate straights acquired available manpower. That in no way grants legitimacy to acts the non-state acts of those individuals prior to their being drafted. I'll admit I was being lazy in incompletely contrasting against the Palestinians who recoil in horror at the thought of a civil war that would allow their proto-state to assume sole possession of military forces.

HGB
5.1.2008 3:05pm
EKGlen (mail):

You appeared to me to be endorsing the idea that all violence is equivalent and war should be fought without rules

I see. I agree with you that rules of war are a splendid idea, but I don't think that anyone really follows them.


As to Dresden, Nagasaki, etc. - I think it's a hard call. Hard as it may be to believe, the articulated goal of those bombings was the reduction of the enemies capacity to produce war material and to destroy the capacity of the enemy to wage war.

If the Palestinians were to detonate a nuclear bomb in Israel's capitol, it seems that they would be able to argue that their goal was to reduce their enemy's capacity to wage war as well.
5.1.2008 3:43pm
EKGlen (mail):
Or to put it in a different context, if Native Americans were to declare war on the US and detonate a nuclear bomb in Washington D.C, they would be able to claim that their goal was to reduce their enemy's capacity to wage war.
5.1.2008 3:45pm
Brian G (mail) (www):

Thanks for clearing this up for me, guys. I didnt realize the quality of a President depends on the quickness of his trigger finger.



No, Hawkins, the quality of a President depends on how he reacts to an international problem, because the President is front and center to the world. Carter let a joke of a country Iran hold our hostages for 444 days and did nothing of substance. They should have been free after a day or two.

Another thing, the quality of a President depends on how the world views him. And I don't mean that a President needs to be popular or well-liked in the world. A President needs to be respected and feared by the world, especially our enemies, a la Reagan. I never cared one bit when liberals used to complain that the world hated Reagan and have never cared one whit about how Bush is hated in the world. To me, that has always been a plus. Why should I give a damn if some French guy or some trilingual Swiss babe hates the President?
5.1.2008 4:00pm
ewannama (mail):
PLR points to the weapon types and delivery mechanisms. Once again, the key is the targeting. Internal discipline may also be a factor. The Israeli and US armies investigate actions which result in civilian deaths. They punish those who do not act according to Int'l Humanitarian Law. Terrorists don't bother to investigate civilian deaths because that was their primary target/purpose.


Don Miller suggests that war is about the use of disproportionate/overwhelming force. Outside of population centers this is true, but when we turn to attacks in residential areas and other protected sites (medical/educational/religious) which have lost some of their customarily recognized/Geneva status, proportionality is in play. The classic WWII example of a sniper in a steeple illustrates this nicely. The Brits had the capability to send in troops for a dangerous mission, or bomb/burn the church down. They picked option three, blowing the steeple off and leaving the rest of the church intact. Perhaps there would have been no punishment if they'd burned the entire church, but you can bet that nuking the church for a single sniper would not be accepted as legitimate use of force, even in clear wartime.
5.1.2008 4:17pm
Seamus (mail):
I thought I was clear - not terrorist. Legitimate acts of guerrilla warfare are not acts of terror. What I was getting at is that legitimate guerrilla movements (the proper place for the concept embodied in the "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter) are outside criminal law. When the Maquis attacked the Vichy they were committing crimes, but I excuse that as a just cause. In my mind, I'm reaching towards a jury nillification concept.

This means that "terrorists" are bad not because of the means they employ but because they employ those means for bad ends. The problem with that approach is that "terrorism" is generally understood to refer to the means employed, and embodies a judgment that certain means are immoral in and of themselves, regardless of what end they further. It reflects a confused morality if you mean to imply, not simply that certain ends are moral and certain other ends immoral, not simply that certain means are moral and certain other means immoral, but that certain means are moral *because* of the ends they further, and certain other means immoral *because* of the ends they further.
5.1.2008 4:43pm
Hoosier:
Hippos--I don't want to feed the troll, which really must have a bridge somewhere that desperately needs sitting under. But I've posted earlier on my opinions on strategic bombing of civilians. So I think I started this whole debate. Might as well reply--to you. Not Mr. Underbridge.

The idea of strategic bombing was twofold, before it was actually implemented. The first conceptionwas primarilly military in nature--Destroy the enemy's infrastruture for war-production and supply. The second was the approach adopted by the Luftwaffe during the "Blitz"-stage of the Battle of Britain--Political terror and intimidation through killing/'de-housing' civilians.

I'm not going to say anything about the second, since I cannot find any justification, except in the extreem case of the survival of the polity itself. (The stuff of imagination: "If the residents of the Warsaw Ghetto had possessed an atomic bomb, and hidden it somewhere in Berlin . . ." I can dream, can't I?)

On the first justification, though: It gets tricky from the start. In WWII, the goal of disrupting the enemy's war-supply capability could often be attempted by strategic bombing with little risk to major population centers: People don't build houses or schools on roads, rail lines, and bridges.

But this did not prove all that effective (That's the consensus among air-power historians. I have to admit that seems odd to me. But they've done the work, and I have not.)

The real problem comes with cutting enemy war production. When I first read an Army Air Corps analysis paper from 1942--early in the war--it was striking to me how "innocent" the planners were. Often, these were college-age guys, or right out of college. From impressive universities. Good quantitaive background. And no sense at all of what bombing from up high actually meant on the ground level. (Bob McNamara was one of these guys, and never did figure it out.)

Anyway, they concluded something like: The Air Corps's bombers should focus on military targets. Those targets should produce key components of the German war machine (Japan was still out of bomber range). The richer the area in targets the better, to allow the B-17s to cluster in defensive formation. (No long-range fighter escort capability had been developed. BIG problem for the allies at this time, as it turned out.)

Thus we should choose as targets: complexes of factories; in the vicintiy of significant workforce housing (i.e., we want witnesses to spread the word that the Allies can strike at will into the heart of Germany); and close to major transportation and infrastructure hubs.

These were the targets that best fit with strategic bombing doctrine inheritted from the inter-war period.

And such targets are what we, in English, refer to as "cities." Oops.

To annoy the reflexively anti-American denizens of the boards, I must add that the American response was characteristic (If you don't agree that this is characteristic of Americans, go get your own damned Hoosier): Unlike the Brits, we would bomb cities during the day, so that we could target military-value items, and not simply bomb a region of a city. And further, to minimize civilian casualties while maximizing military damage, we will come in low.

The result, of course, was the basis for the titlwe provision in Catch-22. American bomber pilots were killed in droves by flak and by interceptors (which couldn't operate at night). And now the number-kids at Stat Control had to come up with a "sliding-scale" matching the number of runs over Germany to percent chance of being killed on any given run. Thus would each crew be given a 50-50 chance of reaching their total of raids and getting to head home.

Eventually, it got too awful to sustain. Commanders were literally cracking under the psychological starin of sending guys out to die at mathematically-predictable rates. So we started flying high and dark. Like British Bomber Command. And our killing of civilians went way up.

To my mind, MUCH more complicated than the Dresden and Tokyo fire-raids or the atomic bombings. But a severe moral compromise and, in the the end, a waste of life on all sides.

(Cool. One less lecture to outline for my fall "Total War for Europe" course. Thanks for the opportunity!)
5.1.2008 4:54pm
Hoosier:
Seamus--Well, so far as I can see you've got the Catholic just war doctrine-stuff down pat. ("Seamus"? I wonder why . . . )

And that's the origin of so much of our current law of war, as well as perceptions of what is allowed and what is not. Agustine: War is evil. But so is the world. And you need to live in the world. Aquinas: Too much to summarize pithily, since he did so much to codify Church teaching on the matter. CCB: War is rarely justified, and certain things are off limits entirely. But the moral person is not obliged by virtue of that morality to be a pacifist in the face of grave evil.

The matter of ends is central: You must be seeking to remedy an evil greater than that which you inflict through fighting. Having said that, if your ends are justified, you still cannot simply do whatever the Hell it takes to win.
5.1.2008 5:02pm
EKGlen (mail):
Hoosier - its interesting that you jump into an exchange between me and Hippo and then pronounce that I am a troll.

Apparently your definition of trollish behavior changes to suit your purposes just like the words "terrorism" and "justified".

But if you feel up to stating why the atomic bombing of Hirosheim and Nagasaki was not the ""Terrorism" ought to be limited to reference to the deliberate targeting of civilians by combatants.", please feel free to have at it.

That is what Hippo and I were discussing before you dropped in.
5.1.2008 5:07pm
EKGlen (mail):
should say

But if you feel up to stating why the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not the "deliberate targeting of civilians by combatants", please feel free to have at it.
5.1.2008 5:24pm
Fred the Fourth (mail):
All of you arguing about the relevance of military uniforms, civilians vs terrorists vs irregulars vs national military, etc.
might find Bill Whittle's essay "Mercy" interesting.
5.1.2008 5:27pm
HipposGoBerserk (mail):
No offense intended, but I'm about done with this.

HOWEVER

"This means that "terrorists" are bad not because of the means they employ but because they employ those means for bad ends."

Seamus, you have that completely backwards. The means -- targeting civilians instead of the organs of the state -- are what's objectionable defines the terrorist. That was my point. That's why I distinguish terrorism from guerrilla warfare. They are different in the means they use to pursue their goals. Both are options for the weak: one is acceptable to the extent you support their goals, one is never acceptable.

If Hamas wants to defeat the IDF or destroy the Israeli government, they are welcome to try. I will oppose them, but not condemn them. If they simply want to kill as many women and children as they can (which appears to be the case), they demonstrate such contempt for the values necessary for civilization and they deserve our complete and utter rejection.
5.1.2008 5:35pm
EKGlen (mail):
Got a linky there, Fred? Google didn't point me to it.
5.1.2008 5:35pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Well, it was predictable that 'terrorism' would become an entry in The Mad Hatter's Dictionary as soon as it became a source of funding. There's no longer any point in trying to define it, it means whatever you want it to mean.

Hoosier: we bombed cities in WW2 because cities were about the smallest targets we could hit - or even find. For instance, six US B-24 bombers dropped 12.5 tons of heavy explosives and 12 tons of incendiaries on Zurich, Switzerland, under the impression it was Aschaffenburg (300 km to the north).

Even the postwar B-52, with vastly better trained crews and the best optical bombsights 1950's technology could produce, were only good for about an 800 foot Circular Error from altitude.
5.1.2008 6:07pm
Hoosier:
EKGlen--You ask me that question, and also ask why I think you are a troll?

Trolls get on to post crap. Not to discuss crap and hear what others think about crap.

Item: I've twice given my thoughts about Hiroshima and Nagasaki on this thread. Yet you are challenging me to say why I think the bombings do not fit our current, agreed definition of "terrorism"?

How 'bout if I show I've been paying attention to the threads by asking you to make your case that Obama should be banned from the White Houise due to his church affiliation?

I mean, you clearly are just assuming what I think about the atomic bombings based on what I think about Obama, right?

"He who thinks Obama is unqualified also thinks that bombing Hiroshima was justified."

"The presidency is not an entry level position" = "Nuke the gooks!"

Now how, pray tell, does that follow?
5.1.2008 6:16pm
with all due respect ...:
Let's get back to the real topic here. Jimmy Carter was a bad President.
5.1.2008 6:17pm
Hoosier:
Porlock--That's also true. And why I said strategic bombing was a waste of life. (as it was in Vietnam.) The ordnance was still gravity-guided dumb bombs. Night raids were never very successful at destroying targets, unless the involved incendiary bombs, which produced just horrible results.

It just didn't achieve much, and the costs were great on all sides.
5.1.2008 6:20pm
EKGlen (mail):

Item: I've twice given my thoughts about Hiroshima and Nagasaki on this thread. Yet you are challenging me to say why I think the bombings do not fit our current, agreed definition of "terrorism"?

Hippo was responding to a post I made and you jumped into that exchange and failed to directly address the subject we were discussing. I have no idea whether you have anticipated our discussion up thread or not and, sorry, life is to too short to read through hundreds of post and look for your thoughts upthread.

Here's a tip, why not just state your position directly instead of launching into an unrelated diatribe about other threads. That is, assuming, you aren't being trollish. (And I think if you will ask around, you'll find that people agree that dragging in unrelated disputes from other threads is a pretty good working definition of "trollish."
5.1.2008 6:28pm
Oren:
the fact that every Israeli citizen must train and serve in the Army
The orthodox are exempt from the draft (and the army does even want them anyway).
5.1.2008 6:58pm
PLR:
PLR points to the weapon types and delivery mechanisms. Once again, the key is the targeting. Internal discipline may also be a factor. The Israeli and US armies investigate actions which result in civilian deaths. They punish those who do not act according to Int'l Humanitarian Law. Terrorists don't bother to investigate civilian deaths because that was their primary target/purpose.

That would be a valid distinction, except that the discipline appears to be the exception and not the rule. I'm not aware of any investigation of the massacre at Fallujah, for example. If anything, the Pentagon and the DOD seemed rather proud of themselves.
5.1.2008 7:02pm
Janson K. Hendridge (mail):
May I suggest that Jimmy Carter isn't really the issue but rather a symptom of a more complex disease? The real issue is that we want Israel to survive and we give them military support which ends up killing innocent people collaterally.

I believe the first priority is the safety of the United States. Giving military support to Israel does not make us safer, in fact, I would argue it makes us less safe by engendering harsh anti-American sentiment throughout the Middle East.

Therefore, I propose that we stop any and all military support to Israel.Israel can defend itself without our support. If and when all relevant parties are ready to accept a two-state solution and cease with violence, then the U.S. should engage.

All of this debate about what is or is not terrorism as well as the debasing of Jimmy Carter(ironically the only president to negotiate a lasting peace between Israel and a previous enemy in Egypt) is in no way relevant to our security here at home.
5.1.2008 9:02pm
Smokey:
Hoosier, please don't feed the troll. It only encourages him.

Over and out.
5.1.2008 10:05pm
Smokey:
Janson K. Hendridge:
All of this debate about what is or is not terrorism as well as the debasing of Jimmy Carter... is in no way relevant to our security here at home.
As George Will has pointed out, there is no other country in the Middle East where we can fly in and out of without any problem whatsoever.

Isn't that conducive to our national security?
5.1.2008 10:09pm
Kirk:
Fred*4, by "Bill Whittle's essay Mercy" do you perhaps mean "Sanctuary"? It seems to have a lot to do with wearing uniforms, and "mercy" figures in at least part of it.
5.2.2008 2:07am
Hoosier:
Smokey--You are right, of course.
5.2.2008 3:40pm
Gaius Marius:
All of this debate about what is or is not terrorism as well as the debasing of Jimmy Carter(ironically the only president to negotiate a lasting peace between Israel and a previous enemy in Egypt) is in no way relevant to our security here at home.

Jimmy Carter would have accomplished nothing if it were not for President Anwar Sadat's willingness to be a martyr for peace. Sadat knew that he had signed his own death warrant when he signed the Camp David accords.
5.2.2008 9:01pm
Janson K. Hendridge (mail):
Smokey; Whether we can fly into or out of another country may speak to issues that are regional or internal to that particular country. But it is a very low threshold as far as national security. The United States was fine before the powers that be created modern day Israel.

Gaius: Exactly the point I was making, until the parties are ready for peace, we should stay out of it as our involvement creates fodder for Islamofacists. And to not to give Carter any credit is an emotional rather than rational response. It is customary that we acknowledge and give credit, or blame, to any president that negotiates a particular treaty doing his administration. One can certainly argue that Carter's was a weak presidency but still give him credit where it is due. Failure to do so only weakens your position.
5.3.2008 1:03am
Janson K. Hendridge (mail):
...uh..that should read "...during his administration..." not "doing"
5.3.2008 1:05am
Steve2:

To borrow the MPC mens rea language: Terrorists usually purposely kill civilians; The U.S. sometimes knowingly does.


And under strict liability regimes, mens rea is irrelevant because the action is judged by its effect. Which is an approach that has a lot of appeal to some people.
5.3.2008 2:04am