Tuesday, March 21, 2006

BBC wonders if Bush = terrorist

This morning on BBC radio’s Five Live Breakfast program (about 20 minutes in), presenter Nicky Campbell was interviewing the UK’s Secretary of State for International Development Hilary Benn about the situation in Iraq, and specifically with regard to an American military investigation into allegations that American soldiers deliberately targeted and killed some Iraqi civilians. After asking Benn if he thought American soldiers were “acquitting themselves well” in Iraq, Campbell attempted to elicit further comment with the following:
I spoke to John Reed yesterday and he continually referred to the insurgents as terrorists. But there are those who say that George Bush is as bad.
Well, yes there are, but that doesn’t mean that it is an opinion with enough merit to be aired on the BBC, much less a subject requiring comment from serious public figures. Unfortunately Benn responded politely, simply expressing his disagreement with the notion. What he should have done was treat both the claim and Campbell with the contempt they deserve.

While the BBC has an obligation to air a range of viewpoints, it has no such obligation to air all viewpoints. It is indicative of just how radical editorial opinion at the BBC is that, in its judgment, the idea that George Bush is the equivalent to terrorists is a respectable opinion worthy of serious discussion amongst serious people.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quite so. Despite the anti-war population's hysterical claims, rarely do the US/UK governments adequately punch back (Rumsfeld perhaps the only exception).

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Alasdair said...

"Hilary Benn" - now *there's* a combination to strike fear into the hearts of the rational on *both* sodes of the pond ...

12:00 AM  
Anonymous Mark T said...

serious discussion amongst serious people...I think that answers it. Blithering between fools is all it is worth.

2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not suggesting for a moment that GWB is a terrorist, but there's an interesting philosophical question here - what defines a terrorist?

Addressing the UN General Assembly in September 2005, Condolezza Rice said:

"Today, I call on the nations of the world to ratify the Comprehensive
Convention on Terrorism. No cause, no movement, and no greivance can
justify the intentional killing of innocent civillians and
non-combatants. This is unacceptable by any moral standard."

(taken from a broadcast on BBC News 24 at the time. I don't have a link).

Now, this seems to me like a fairly uncontroversial statement. "the intentional killing of innocent civillians and non-combatants" is a good working definition of terrorism.

If you apply that to American and British military operations in Iraq, it seems that our military forces have intentionally killed innocent civiliians and non-combatants. they have done sp in pursuit of broader long-term goals, and accepted civilian damage as 'collateral damage' along the route to attaining those goals. At the risk of getting into technical points of English criminal law, they can be said to have had an 'oblique intention' to kill - that is to say, it was not their objective to kill, but they knew that their actions would, inevitably, lead to the death of civillians.

Terrorists could be accused of the same intention - killing innocent civillians is not an end in itself, but simply a horrific and inexcusable means to achieve broader political and/or economic objectives.

Now, if you accept that as a sound working definition of terrorism, how can it be that when committed by a state, this kind of violence is a legitimate act, but when committed by a group of individuals outside a government hierarchy (who may, in some cases, have a mandate from a large number of people across the world) it's terrorism? I'm not condoning either war or terrorism, but I find it very hard to see the moral dividing line between the two types of activity.

I'd certainly appreciate any comments anyone has on this. I also know some very intelligent people who've asked the same question. "Blithering between fools" perhaps doesn't do justice to the very fine distinctions and issues involved.

6:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps Scott Callahan should head back to the States and view his own countries news services before being so critical on the UK versions.

3:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Terrorism is the intentional killing of innocent civillians and
non-combatants to cause "terror" in the remaining populace. This fear is used to persuade the established rulers to concede to the terrorists demands. In the case of Islamic terrorists, the goal many times seems to be revenge or punishment rather than accomplishing a specific goal.

Collateral Damage of civilians in a military operation is by nature unintentional. In the case of US military operations in Iraq, collateral damage of civilians is in fact detrimental to our objective as we are trying to establish a democracy that is friendly to the west.

Its a far-cry between the two. Anyone that calls GWB a terrorist is:
A) a fool
B) lying in order to promote an agenda

4:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All good people should watch what they say. Bush may think your a terrorist, and send the s/s to kick down your door and take you into custody.
I love my country.
I never trusted the moron in charge. Darned! Too bad impeachment doesnt work anymore.

11:56 PM  

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