The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Friday, April 30, 2004

THAT DEPENDS ON WHAT YOUR DEFINITION OF... OH, NEVERMIND

A lot of the right-wing blogosphere is throwing a party over a State Department report that 2003 saw the fewest terror attacks since 1969. (Here, here and here.) From CNN's report:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- International acts of terror in 2003 were the fewest in more than 30 years, according to the U.S. State Department's annual terrorism report released Thursday.

The Patterns of Global Terrorism report said 190 acts of international terrorism occurred in 2003 -- a slight drop from 198 attacks the previous year and the lowest total since 1969.

The figure marked a 45 percent decrease in attacks since 2001, but it did not include most of the attacks in Iraq, because attacks against combatants did not fit the U.S. definition of international terrorism.
Suddenly the right loves the State Department.

Hey, wait a minute! Gee, I could swear that I heard Dubya say at one, maybe two points that Iraq was a "central front" in the war on terrorism. I could also swear that the RNC put out an ad in autumn 2003 that claimed "some are now attacking the President for attacking the terrorists", clearly referring to Iraq. I also remember that every time an RPG or IED used by insurgents caused the death of American troops, more than a handful of right-wing hawk pundits referred to those who committed these attacks as "terrorists".

And now, suddenly, when they need a tally for annual terror attacks that's favorable to them... the insurgents aren't terrorists? Isn't this a bit hypocritical of Bush supporters, both inside and out of the blog arena, to trumpet?

Look, I don't think the insurgents are terrorists. They're a guerrilla insurgency. Many of them want Saddam Hussein, a bad man indeed, back in power. My point, though, is that right-wing Iraq hawks and many others have so mangled the definition and proper usage of the word "terrorism" that it is blatantly hypocritical of them to celebrate the State Department numbers, because doing so would require them to revert -- an almost Oceanic fashion -- to the textbook definition of terrorism, as if they had never been running around calling everybody terrorists.

Furthermore, one of the arguments floating around among the warbloggers is that these numbers dispel the "myth" that American actions in Iraq have only resulted in more terrorism and less security for America. (click on the 2nd of the above "here" links) This is idiocy of a pretty high order. To those who make this argument, I ask: From conception to execution, how long did the September 11th plot take to develop? And I also ask: Did 9/11 constitute 1, 2, 3, or 4 attacks, and given your answer, would that constitute a good or bad year in terms of terrorist attacks, in itself?

Guys, don't count your chickens. I remember Bush's 2003 State of the Union address, in which with his face set to its most cocky smirk, Bush referred to Al Qaeda:
All told, more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. Many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way -- they are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies. (Applause.)
13 and a half months later, trains exploded in Madrid. Of course, those weren't Bush's chickens.

UPDATE: I'm an "-ist"! TFM happily proclaims, "finally!"

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