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Witless
I have been lurking on the boards without posting so much, so I'll post a thought I had. Like normal I am posting and can't decide what I believe yet.. though if I knew what I thought I'd have given up on thinking about it by now.. so here we go!

Is there a fundamental difference between sending troops into a condition with a extremely high mortality rate (I'm not talking about iraq of today) and insurgents sending in suicide bombers.

I started thinking about this when I started pondering over the the ultimate fusion of military and suicide bomber. I speak of the kamikaze pilots of World War 2. The way I understand it, they saw it as the ultimate honour (much like the suicide bombers of today), and crucially they saw themselves as war heroes making sacrifices to halt the enemy.

I am finding it harder and harder to listen to the view that suicide bombers are nothing more than terrorists. This was especially fortified when I decided to finally have a good indepth read about Rwanda the other week.
For those that don't know I'll try and summarise briefly. In the country there are two ethnic groups, the Tutsi and the Hutu. In the past they mixed a lot and there was very very minor segregation until europeons decided that all people in rwanda had to wear badges to say whether they were Tutsi or Hutu and thus segregation began. One side would blame the other for things going wrong in the country. This all came to head when a Tutsi president was killed in a plane. Tutsi extremist retaliated by killing some Hutu. Then the situation erupted. The problem is that Rwanda was at the time, 85% Hutu and 15% Tutsi. So when the Hutu finally erupted with mass killings it really was a slaughter.
This was no war, the Tutsi had no soliders to speak of it was a mass genocide that ended with 10% of the population of Rwanda killed.

Ok where this links into the post is what the rest of the world were doing at this time. The USA decided that this was part of the random pattern of tribal violence in Africa despite later evidence coming out that they knew better. (Infact the Hutu doing the killing got money from the states for this stuff.) Europe was even worse, Europe defended the Hutu against the Tutsi 'insurgents'. France went as far to send troops in to defend the Hutu. You have to remember that the Tutsi back then had no weapons, no military, and were civilians, women and children. Their 'attacks' were attempts at survival. The only real reason that the Tutsi never went down in history as terrorists was because not enough of the world was really paying attention because this wasn't stuff that affected them much. So people have just remembered it as a generic African conflict.

So back to 'terrorists' in the rest of the world. Where does that leave them? I don't know it's hard to say what I'd feel in their shoes to be honest. What about the suicide bombers among them? I don't know again. It's hard to be objective in the UK. Getting awfully tired of the media bombarding me with adjectives like "evil" and "terror". I'm not sure where my opinion would be if they had been spoken about in a more neutral way for all this time.

More 'acceptable' militarys in the past have sent men to their certain doom many times as part of acceptable losses during desperate times. Is that more ok, because they let their enemies bullets do the killing? Bare also in mind that the punishment in those situations for disobeying orders was being shot. So that really really was certain death then too. But it was part of a greater military strategy that went simply beyond breaking enemy morale (which is what suicide bombers of today are attempting via terror).

The lines a blurry one between the two sides of the fence. Infact the lines blurry on terrorism in general. Terrorism feels like a new buzz word the military throw out everytime they don't like someone. It's not exactly an old word. In the past when people did what the people of Iraq are doing we refered to it as "the people rising up" or at the most positive we'd call it a revolution. But yeah.. all just words. Terrorists are doing nothing new, but the words we use to describe their activities are only being used so commonly since the end of the second world war.

anyways.. yeah I'm done. anything else I type in this opening post will be rambling on off topic things..

P.S I wanted to type this for ages but there's no topic on the boards for it. This is entirely unrelated to everything else in this topic (all power for randomness!)
Other than pearl habour there was another attempt to destroy the USA's resources in World War 2. A solo Japanese pilot flew over the western USA with incendry bombs in an attempt to burn away the entire of the western forest lands all on his own, to destroy US morale. That amused me muchly, especially if you imagine that pilot to look like what I would love him to look like (think manga hair).
pgrmdave
Military action should, although I know it is not always, be against military targets, or targets which provide some tactical advantage to the enemy. Terrorist action strives not to kill the enemy, or to hamper him militarily, but to scare the enemy, to terrify the enemy. To this end, suicide bombers can be either. If, for example, there is a coordinated suicide attack on military targets, it is not necessarily terrorism, but guerilla warfare. If, however, it is mostly on civilian targets, aimed at causing the most disruption, or the most fear, then it is terrorism, as the end goal is not to weaken the enemy, but to scare the enemy.
Witless
QUOTE (pgrmdave @ Dec 20 2006, 03:34 PM) *
Military action should, although I know it is not always, be against military targets, or targets which provide some tactical advantage to the enemy. Terrorist action strives not to kill the enemy, or to hamper him militarily, but to scare the enemy, to terrify the enemy. To this end, suicide bombers can be either. If, for example, there is a coordinated suicide attack on military targets, it is not necessarily terrorism, but guerilla warfare. If, however, it is mostly on civilian targets, aimed at causing the most disruption, or the most fear, then it is terrorism, as the end goal is not to weaken the enemy, but to scare the enemy.



Hmm.. but militaries have attacked non military targets in the past too. Germans in world war 2 for some rther silly reason ceased bombing English airfields and factories after a while and then started bombing London (which ultimately allowed the Royal Air Force to recover), in order to "crush the will of the people". That was the blitz. They basically spent a very long time just bombing homes and residential areas.
Would that then be just plain old terrorism?
pgrmdave
Yes, I would consider any attempt to "crush the will of the people" to be akin to "terrify the people" or "terrorize". The difference between when a military does it and when a terrorist does it is who is the terrorist. In a conventional military, the soldiers are typically merely cogs, and, should terrorizing orders come, I would call the leaders terrorists and the soldiers soldiers. However, in many terrorist groups, the people are there of their own desire to terrorize, and thus are terrorists themselves. People who are merely soldiers for the terrorist group (people in the militia) can be thought of as soldiers. It is not always a clear case, and there isn't always a definite answer, but I'm trying.
alstan
A military is the violent arm of a government. When it is misused, like I think ours has been in recent times, we do, as a democracy, have the chance to vote the offending government out, and I reckon Blair and his chums will be dumped for that very reason come the next election.
Can we vote terrorists away ?
pgrmdave
But then what distinguishes governmental terrorism? Saddam Hussein terrorized his own people, but is he not a terrorist because it was done by the government? Or Hamas in Palestine, terrorizes Israel and was democratically elected - does this mean that they aren't a terrorist organization, just because they are also political?
alstan
Some regimes could well be described as terrorist. Many attempts both, coup and assassination, were made against Hussein and if these had been given better support perhaps history may now be different. The dilemma then becomes should we support the terrorists opposed to a terrorist regime ?
bryden42
terror has always been used as a tool for war, from the medieval idea of catapulting the fallen enemies heads over the defenders wall to war paint to war cries to the hiroshima bombing to the blitz. The difference nowadays is that the masses are a little more informed about this, and popular (western) culture is leaning towards chivalric values when it comes to war, popular culture is pressuring leaders and armies into fighting wars "correctly" and "nicely". Not sure what my point is but it was a thought that occured to me
pgrmdave
That is one thing that bothers me - there is no "nice" way to fight a war, and there shouldn't be. I think that if we acknowledged that war really should be fought totally, there would be fewer wars, as you wouldn't be able to fight a war halfway.
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