Thursday, November 12, 2009

What gets Jonah Goldberg and Glenn Greenwald to agree?

A really smartly-written piece. It's not long and it's very much worth reading the entire thing.


Lachlan said...

Jonah Goldberg is one of my favorite columnists, and I have a deep respect for Glenn Greenwald's consistency, but I have to disagree here. Patterico explains.

Evan said...

"Which is to say, it’s attitudes like Greenwald’s that helped Nidal Hasan kill 13 people at Fort Hood."

A bit of hyperbole doesn't help Patterico's case.

But anyway, I think Greenwald's bigger point is twofold -- first, the point Patterico attacks, but second, can any attack on a military base be considered terrorism? I'm not sure it can be. Certainly it's violent, and it can also certainly be illegal. But it's a decidedly non-civilian target. We've used terrorism in the past to apply to all attacks by non-state foreign actors (including the Cole bombing, the bombing of the Marine barracks, etc.) but I think Greenwald is onto something when he says that these attacks aren't really...terrorism. Which isn't diminishing how awful they are--but it isn't the same thing as an Oklahoma City bombing or 9/11.

Lachlan said...

I agree. He does make a fair point. The question is how we define terrorism. I would be inclined to say it is an attack of a non-military nature (ie not taking place in a war zone, and not carried out by enemy combatants, in the informal sense of the term) intended to promulgate fear (terror) for political, religious, or ideological ends. Totally debatable though.

Lachlan said...

It's also a question of means vs. ends. If we define terrorism according to the means of the attack, than it is fair to say it is or is not terrorism based on who is targeted. But if the ends are what determine terrorism, than the motive of the attack must be considered. Hasan's motive was seemingly to lash out at an entire nation (or at least its military) for religious, not military reasons (that is there was no military objective of his attack, only an ideological statement he was trying to make).