Do You Value Terrorism?

Values define you as a Terrorist or Other Than a Terrorist

You are known and understood by others by what you value which is reflected in your interests and actions, how you spend your time and also in what you say. Oftentimes people will say one thing and do something else. This is called hypocrisy and when someone behaves hypocritically it calls into question what they truly value and helps us see the real importance or priority they place on things. For example, telling your children not to take up smoking while you snuff out your own cigarette tells them that you value smoking more than not smoking, no matter what you say your actions speak louder than your words. These same rules apply to organizations from teams to companies, groups and even countries. Everyone is perceived more by their actions and these actions define their values.  When you live your values, you live with integrity.

“Many of us believe that wrongs aren’t wrong if it’s done by nice people like ourselves. Author Unknown

Recently I saw this article: “CIA shifts focus to killing targets” . The article in the Washington Post declares many things including:

  • “The drone program has killed more than 2,000 militants and civilians since 2001.
  • The CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, which had 300 employees on the day of the attacks, now exceeds al-Qaeda’s core membership around the globe. With about 2,000 on its staff, the CTC accounts for 10 percent of the agency’s workforce, has designated officers in almost every significant overseas post and controls the CIA’s expanding fleet of drones.
  • Even the agency’s analytic branch, which traditionally existed to provide insights to policymakers, has been enlisted in the hunt. About 20 percent of CIA analysts are now “targeters” scanning data for individuals to recruit, arrest or place in the cross­hairs of a drone. The skill is in such demand that the CIA made targeting a designated career track five years ago, meaning analysts can collect raises and promotions without having to leave the targeting field.”

“We have two kinds of morality side by side: one which we preach but do not practice

and another which we practice but seldom preach.” ~Bertrand Russell

As I read this article it sounds to me as if we have become another terrorist organization just like the ones we are hunting. Our country is paying our citizens and even foreign citizens to help find “enemies” to kill or capture. Isn’t this what the terrorists are doing too? They don’t have our level of resources and sophistication so they have to rely less on technology and more on courage, guile and deceit, but wait that’s what we rely on too isn’t it, except we also have the technology.

Does America value terrorism?

One of my values learned as a young boy was the value of human life. I was raised a Catholic, same as my Mother, but my Father was a Methodist and an attorney and his Father-in-Law had been a Methodist Minister. So, I got a lot of morality training from my parents, priests, nuns and teachers as I developed as well as a good understanding and respect for the law. As a child I thought there existed common values shared by all American’s such as a respect for human life, that people were to be considered innocent of a crime until proven guilty in a court of law and judged by their peers. These were important values to me which is why I was so outraged on September 11th, 2001 when the World Trade Center was “bombed” by airplanes commandeered by terrorists. These terrorists were obviously guilty, they were caught in the act and would have been punished if their terrorists acts had not also been a martyrdom to causes they allegedly believed in. ( Perhaps, some of them were simply sociopaths who wanted to kill lots of people or get even.) We’ll never know, but I was glad they had died in the plane crashes along with those others they murdered through their selfish acts of terrorism. I was also supportive of actions to capture those responsible so that they could be tried in a court of law and punished for their crimes as valuable lessons to others who contemplated the commission of terrorist acts. While I supported the effort in Afghanistan to oust the Taliban and Al Qaeda I did not support the invasion of Iraq because it was obvious before the war that it probably had no real basis and sure enough, no weapons of mass destruction or secret plans by Saddam Hussein or direct connections to al-Qaeda were ever found. Now ten years later Osama bin Laden is dead, al-Qaeda is not the p0werhouse we imagined it was or used to be, and there are other terrorists cells, individuals and groups who would also attack symbols of western influence in pursuit of furthering a fundamentalist Islamic regime. While some people say it is not a religious war, that’s blatantly silly. Of course it is a religious war. It is a war against a fundamentalist form of a religion that we in the West find intolerable.

There are fundamentalist forms of Christian religions we also find intolerable but since they are not currently attacking us in the direct, violent confrontations but instead trying to buy greater influence through our somewhat corrupted political processes we tolerate them. Why? Because at heart the powerful know that we are a nation that believes in separation of church and state and although the former might be able to greatly influence the latter it is a difficult process unless we amend the constitution which has been tried off and on, unsuccessfully, since the mid 1800’s. During the Civil War Christian Leaders used the “wrath of God” argument claiming that the Civil War was occurring as punishment for not including a stronger Christian affirmation into our constitution. When we were in the cold war fighting Communism in the 40’s and 50’s it was tried again and also in the 60’s and 90’s. Fortunately, this has never occurred and those who are smart enough to understand why also understand it would be the source of a greater tear in the fabric of our constitution and civilization than a thousand al-Qaeda’s.

When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of,

he always declares that it is his duty. ~George Bernard Shaw

How to value or define terrorism?

This has been an ongoing debate leading to no international agreed-upon definition so I’ll use the one from the U. S. Code (Laws) which is paraphrased as:

Terrorism means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncambatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.

Noncombatant is interpreted to include, in addition to civilians, military personnel who at the time of the incident are unarmed and/or not on duty.

By our own definition we are not terrorists.  Our “targets” are not noncombatants but sometimes the civilians get in the way or are killed as “collateral damage”.  Using this definition, one could argue that all people killed on 9/11 were “collateral damage” by al-Qaeda as it tried to destroy buildings that were symbols of the Western political and economic influence. We have formed our own justifications for our actions which are fuzzy border lines to rationalize our actions.

By our own actions we may be terrorists.  What values are represented?

Well, for one we demonstrate that America truly does not value human life or the power of the law above  revenge or due process.  Or perhaps, we simply value safety, law and order and our western institutions and influence over these other values which we often profess.  Whatever motivations we claim or values we claim for our behaviors, our actions will speak louder than our words.  We value killing one ‘high-value’ target at the expense of “collateral damage’ in women, children and others who happened to be in the “kill zone”.  And by doing this every day, we strike terror in the hearts of our enemies, civilians and others who happen to live where these enemies live.  We have become the terrorists we deplore but we put a better “spin” on our murders.

The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be. ~Socrates


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