Why Terrorists Aren’t Soldiers

My apologies if this got covered last week (I’ve been out of town and still haven’t caught up), but thank you General Wesley Clark for hitting the nail on the head in this op-ed from last week:

Treating terrorists as combatants is a mistake for two reasons. First, it dignifies criminality by according terrorist killers the status of soldiers…By treating such terrorists as combatants, we accord them a mark of respect and dignify their acts. And we undercut our own efforts against them in the process. Al Qaeda represents no state, nor does it carry out any of a state’s responsibilities for the welfare of its citizens. Labeling its members as combatants elevates its cause and gives Al Qaeda an undeserved status.

For all these reasons, the more appropriate designation for terrorists is not “unlawful combatant” but the one long used by the United States: criminal.”

“The second major problem with the approach of the Bush administration is that it endangers our political traditions and our commitment to liberty, and further damages America’s legitimacy in the eyes of others. Almost 50 years ago, at the height of the cold war, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the “deeply rooted and ancient opposition in this country to the extension of military control over civilians.”

“A great danger in treating operatives for Al Qaeda as combatants is precisely that its members are not easily distinguished from the population at large. The government wields frightening power when it can designate who is, and who is not, subject to indefinite military detention.”

As I have been arguing for years now, the “war on terrorism” is indeed a phony war based more on semantics and the politics of fear (see also: Turd Blossom’s resignation).

These people are not soldiers. They’re criminals. And if you don’t believe me, go ask General Wesley Clark.

Cross posted from AoF

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3 Responses to Why Terrorists Aren’t Soldiers

  1. alrudder says:

    This is a tough matter to handle, but very important in the ’08 election. Gordon Brown just banned the phrase “war on terror”, for all the reasons Todd mentioned. The most intellectually honest phrase that can fit on a bumper sticker comes from Obama “assault on terrorists”. Also “Global Counterinsurgency” is gaining popularity, but it has too many syllables.

    The high-wire act for Democrats is to do these two things at once:
    1. Stop dignifying terrorists as warriors.
    2. Make it clear to the voters that you will not hesitate at a moment’s notice to use the military to fight these people.

  2. Stuart ONeill says:

    Wes Clark should be in this race! He’s qualified on many levels not just foreign policy.

    It’s a sad statement that he believes the reality of the race will keep him from competing. That translates to speeding the last two years building a future organization and getting funding sources.

    Wes Clark spent the last two years working to get Democratic Congresspeople elected. He thought that was the honest thing to do.

    Money keeps him out of this race. It is sad beyond comprehension. He would elevate the discourse.

    Read what he said to Charlie Rose:

    Charlie Rose: You have not ruled out a candidacy this year.

    GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: No, I haven’t. No, I haven’t. I think about it every day. I’d love to be able to run.

    Charlie Rose: Why can’t you?

    GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: It’s- There are several preconditions that have to be met, and they haven’t been met. And, and I’ve worked with them, and I’ve tried to work around them, and I haven’t been able to. It was a great, it was a tremendous honor and a great experience to run the first time. If you run the second time, you, you want to really have a shot at winning, and that means you’ve got to have the money and the organization behind you. And I’ve worked to, on this from several different angles and until and unless I believe that there’s a genuine candidacy out there, I can’t do this. I, it, it’s not enough to just go out there and say, ‘I’m running, because I believe in it.’ There’s a lot of people who want me to run, but I haven’t met the preconditions I’ve set for myself.

    Check his lastest statements, including this one.

  3. Darrell Prows says:

    It must have been fun for Bushie Boy, this far into it, to have his strongest foreign partner say “We’re just not going to have a War On Terror anymore.” What it must have been like to be a fly on that wall! And then to be told in no uncertain terms (because it must have happened) that this is just not negotiable. Dude hasn’t had near enough of that over the years.