Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Friday, April 21, 2006

Types of Political Violence

I think there is a lot of confusion expressed here about conventional warfare, guerrilla warfare, protest, genocide, and terrorism. Largely because I taught a seminar about this once, I feel I have something to offer, but I'm not trying to be canonical. Let me explain. All of these might be classified as forms of political violence, and they all have certain things in common: (1) the motivation for action political; (2) violence, including civilian/bystander death, is legitimate under certain circumstances. The primary difference for this discussion is not the level of violence per se, but the circumstances under which civilian death is acceptable.
At one end of the spectrum are terrorists like Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda had a political motivation, which is different from a political goal. Its primary purpose was to kill civilians. The difference between this activity and criminal activity (e.g., any serial murderer) or mass murder/suicide like Jonestown is entirely in its distinctly political motivation. The difference between this activity and genocide is that the killing of civilians was meant to send a political signal; it was not the desired end in itself. Hamas is not a genocidal organization in the sense that genocide is not its purpose.

The next gradation are terrorists like the ETA, and the PLO. These groups believe killing civilians is a primary means of achieving a political end, but they have a clear political goal in mind, unlike Al Qaeda, which simply wants to inflict a political cost on the USA, period. Al Qaeda cannot negotiate, because it has no purpose behind its violence other than to cause disruption – i.e., we cannot trade the threat of disruption for something else. Negotiation with such groups as the PLO is theoretically possible, and has in fact been done, because – tactics aside – what they desire is not simply to harm the enemy, but to achieve certain political results. Hamas, I believe, is in this category.

The next slight gradation is the IRA, which has both military and civilian targets, and often sends pre-attack warnings, being willing to accept fear as a substitute for civilian death. Whether this is more "moral" is not the point – it is a kind of terrorism that includes guerrilla tactics and is explicitly political in its goals. Put another way, the IRA only wants to threaten English civilians to get what they want – conquest of Protestant Northern Ireland – not for its own sake. Guerrilla warfare involves threats to the civilian population – usually civilians perceived as part of the power structure they oppose – but usually carries out its terrorist-type attacks on military targets (i.e., throwing a bomb in a police station or at a military checkpoint). Guerrillas often terrorize the civilian population as well, burning crops etc., but do not typically engage in killing of random civilians for its own sake.

Conventional warfare also differs in type. Total War, such as WWII, accepts horrific violence against civilians as acceptable so long as the ultimate goal is military, whether tactical (better) or strategic (worse, e.g., achieving surrender). The debate over Dresden and Hiroshima, for example, usually revolves around the military goal, not the legitimacy of targeting a civilian population to achieve that end, whether it was even strategic or just revenge. There is a mythology of Conventional Warfare that marginalizes total war, although that is probably its modal type.
Non-Total conventional war, of the sort the US employed in Iraq or on the Falkland Islands, is warfare where the killing of civilians is considered unacceptable except by a very high degree of military necessity. We like to believe that this is how we have always fought.

Paying attention to differences and to these creteria helps us see the problems of political violence more clearly. All groups that deliberately target civilians are not alike. Deliberately targeting civilians is not even unique to terrorists. September 11th did not change any of the realities of warfare, just American politics.

The distinction between war and crime is the distinction between military and civilian law. Maintaining that distinction is the core of our liberty. We risk losing the "Rule of Law" if we return to a Medieval world where all acts of violence are considered political violence and punished by the military authorities. At the far (Al Qaeda) end of the spetrum, terrorists differ from criminals (destroying lives and property) only because the motivation is political, rather than just anti-social, pathological, or financial. (It is interesting that those who oppose hate crime legislation on the theory that it punishes motivations fail to see that the entire distinction between terrorism and crime is not degree, but motivation). On the West Wing once, a supposedly liberal character said "Of course he's a terrorist, he took a shot at the White House." That was among the most dangerous things I've ever heard.

Let me put this another way. If we cannot find a place for Al Qaeda-type terrorists in the law, it will destroy the law. That is what Bush, Ashcroft, Gonzalez, etc. are doing. The law is a seamless web, covering all situations. Guantanamo, a place with no law, is a black hole eating away at the web. Destroying the Rule of Law in the west may be Al Qaeda's real objective. If so, they cannot do it -only we can. To my mind, the best way to handle Al Qaeda is to think of it as a criminal organization - like the mafia - that requires military and paramilitary tools to attack. But their prisoners belong in the criminal justice system, not a military system. The reason is that the Uniform Code of Military Justice may be the finest achievement of Anglo-American law, and it cannot bear the weight of punishing terrorists as if they were soldiers.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for explaining that, LTG. I hadn't thought enough about it. So I am glad to have the insight.

So it looks like we have a list of "criteria" for defining these groups and methods.

1. the overall aim or goal of the organization.
2. the primary motivation of the organization
3. the means or strategy employed
4. the principle and intended target of the activity

To this I would add a 5th: the type of power structure.

In addition to the reaasons you stated, LTG, the other reason you can't negotitate with Al Qaeda is because there is no centralized power structure with which to negotiate. There are only personalities that rise and fall depending on the success or failure of their missions. While the IRA is not in the same group as Al Qaeda, it by contrast had a very well organized political wing and a very well organized and well supplied militant wing. This made negotiation possible.

Along these lines, NPR reported this morning on a paper that is circulating on the Israeli Lobby . The two writers, John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard are catching a lot of flack for the paper and having some nasty allegations tossed their way. I haven't read the paper itself, but am reading the London Review of Books article that they wrote. The article points out something equally important about terrorism: "'Terrorism'is not a single adversary, but a tactic employed by a wide array of political groups." That about sums it up right there.
 

// posted by USwest

Anonymous said...

I understand USWest's point, but I disagree somewhat. Negotiating with Al Qaeda is not the same as negotiation with all Muslim extremist terrorist groups, to be sure. But each cell/group could be negotiated with. Perhaps it is illustrative that IF they had a real political goal, they WOULD be organized. 

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

I disagree with LTG that Hamas is not a genocidal organization. They openly call for the "extermination" "eradication" and "wiping off the map" of Israel. In public statments, they use a careful code substituting "zionist" for "jews." But the rhetoric bears a frightening similarity to other genocidal movements.

Here is what Hamas says about Jews  in their own charter. Pay particular attention to article 22. The thinly veiled rhetoric about secret socieities and "their money" "control of the media" and the like are clasic racist stereotypes about Jews. Like Hitler, Hamas blames Jews for World War I and saw that war as a world wide effort with primary purpose of targetting their community.

Splitting hairs between Hamas being "anti-Israel" and being genocidal risks legitimizing a loathesome and backward organization that thrives on the socio-economic dysfunction of a priest/mullah and oil plagued Middle East. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

I don't think I'm splitting hairs. Read my post again. Anti-semitism is not the equivalent of having genocide as the primary goal of an organization. If Hamas' primary goal is to kill Jews, then there's no negotiation possible. If, on the other hand, that's only instrumental to some political goal, then there is a possibility of talk. Hamas' primary goal is expulsion of the Jews from political power in Palestine, and refers repeatedly to the success against Crusaders (a military, not a genocidal triumph).

I'm not a Hamas apologist! I hate it when anyone who speaks in less than black-and-white terms is deemed an apologist. I'm a realist. There are shades of ugly, and Hamas may, under all that f***ed up rhetoric and suicide bombings, have rational demands that can be the subject of negotiation, just as the PLO largely did. In fact, Hamas has been repeatedly saying things like, "Stop asking us to bow down and change our rhetoric, and start talking to us." I would take them up on the offer, since as a lawyer I am accustomed to posturing and nastiness as part of negotiation.

 

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

LTG, you added quite a bit to your orginal post since I first read it.

Several months (maybe a year) ago, I put forth the idea that we had to start treating "terrorist" acts as regualar crimes, sort of like the French have done. RBR supplied us, back then, with a link to a report on French counter-terrorism measures. I tried to dig up the posts on this but couldn't find them. Bottom line, the French figured out that they would have to create a special division in the Court of Paris to deal with it. 

// posted by USWest

Anonymous said...

LTG says "If Hamas' primary goal is to kill Jews, then there's no negotiation possible. If, on the other hand, that's only instrumental to some political goal, then there is a possibility of talk. Hamas' primary goal is expulsion of the Jews from political power in Palestine, and refers repeatedly to the success against Crusaders (a military, not a genocidal triumph)."

Hamas has never said "political power." Their oft stated goal is the destruction of Israel and the expulsion, or murder should they resist, of its Jewish population. Hamas is not yet talking anything like the PLO - that is they are not talking about tranforming Israel or getting the best arrangement from Israel they can.

The legal definition of genocide  is:

"The crime of genocide has two elements: intent and action. “Intentional” means purposeful. Intent can be proven directly from statements or orders. But more often, it must be inferred from a systematic pattern of coordinated acts.

Intent is different from motive. Whatever may be the motive for the crime (land expropriation, national security, territorrial integrity, etc.), if the perpetrators commit acts intended to destroy a group, even part of a group, it is genocide.

The phrase "in whole or in part" is important. Perpetrators need not intend to destroy the entire group. Destruction of only part of a group (such as its educated members, or members living in one region) is also genocide. Most authorities require intent to destroy a substantial number of group members – mass murder. But an individual criminal may be guilty of genocide even if he kills only one person, so long as he knew he was participating in a larger plan to destroy the group." 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Dr. Strangelove said...

Very interesting post, LTG. Your remarks re Guantanamo really put that whole issue in context for me. I am curious about your remark about the UCMJ as the finest achievement of Anglo-Saxon law... in what sense did you mean that? The gradations you described in the spectrum of terrorist organizations make good sense, and I agree with you that it is the context of the violence and not its raw level that chiefly distinguishes groups.

I think you are correct that the most egregious Hamas rhetoric is just rhetoric, and underlying their murderous acts are political demands. In other words, causing harm to Jews is not an end in itself for Hamas, but a means to an end: obtaining control of all Palestinian and Israeli land. (Al-Qaeda provides the counterpoint, as their goal is, in fact, simply to cause harm.)

Though it's a pretty darned tenuous straw to grasp, I can see why those who want to revive the peace process are willing to grasp that straw. But I am not convinced that a revival of the peace process is a desirable outcome.

The Oslo accords have served their purpose. The purpose was never really to end the game, but to move to the endgame. (The final settlement was always deferred, and all tough issues were always deferred to a final settlement.) Oslo did not solve the problem, but despite the best efforts of those who opposed it on both sides, the "peace process" did indeed establish in the minds of most people what the ultimate solution would look like. Approximate boundaries were established and the framework for a Palestinian state was implemented.

The right thing for Israel to do now is to implement that solution on its own. Hamas opposes it; they would undo all the progress that has been made towards a solution; they are not willing to play the endgame yet. Israel has no partner for peace in the Palestinian government now. Israel should build the wall. Disengage. There will be time for final negotiation with Hamas later, once the facts on the ground change once again, and both sides are ready for the end.

Anonymous said...

I think Dr. Strangelove is right about the Israeli need to disengage. Israel is powerful enough militarily and economically (because of US aid, and trade with Europe), to do this for the medium term. They can be rocks against which the Hamas led waves of violence crash.

What Israel should not do is wage their own genocidal campaign against Palestinians. There are those on the right wing of Israeli politics who want such a campaign. And I believe it would play right into the hands of Hamas.

Regarding the Palestinian's motives for voting for Hamas. I think US West and LTG are correct that most Palestinian voters were more concerned about corruption and bad governance from the PLO than the peace process. But that means we should try to engage the Palestinian people - if at all possible by bypassing Hamas.

We should not fear doing things that might improve the Palestinian economy. In the short term Hamas might take credit for these developments but in the final analysis Hamas thrives on socio-economic dysfunction. People will be less likely to support or join suicide terror campaigns if they have a stake in the status quo and hope for the future. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that this started being about Iran and ended up being about Hamas. In some substantive ways, our response to both groups should be similar. I have more hope for the efficacy of diplomacy with Iran. Iranian society is less screwed up than Palestinian society is. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

The UCMJ, to which the military is fairly passionately committed, is an assurance that even in the midst of armed conflict, our military views itself as subject to law. The main reason we know about Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib problems is that the military views itself as law-abiding, not as simply an expression of power, and recoils from the lawlessness.

RBR, I think we should reckon the preferences of Hamas less by their rhetoric than the real pressures on the organization. Particularly in the middle east, there is a cultural preference for chest-beating over-the-top rhetoric. Americans make a mistake when they take this at face value. We also make a mistake when we forget that people from that part of the world naturally discount our own rhetoric, even when we're actually being straightforward about our own preferences (or even understated, as is our cultural preference). SNL did a great satire about how we should talk to Saddam Hussein some years back, threatening to kill him brutally, along with his herd of goats, then hide the body so that "his sons will not know where his bones are buried."

Whether or not Hamas can be a partner in negotiation remains to be seen - its rhetoric and its charter are not particularly relevant.

 

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

First, a general comment and observation: it never ceases to amaze me how strong American feelings are about a civil war being fought on a little sliver of land along the Med. sea. We aren't fighting in it. Most average citizens have no understanding of what the Intifada is about. Yet it doesn't take long for discussion to get heated. When I was teaching, I decided to do a unit on the Arab-Israeli conflict and I was cautioned by many people that I was taking a risk in even broaching the subject. In the end, the only real problem I had was getting my students to understand the whole thing. But it is illustrative of how ignorance paired with perception has made constructive discussion difficult even on this side of the ocean. Imagine being one of the parties to the conflict and trying to discuss things?

I agree with LTG about rhetoric and the Arab world. A lot of it is posturing.

Having looked at the Hamas charter globally, my take would be that it's your typical Islamist organization. The charter contains Islam's greatest hits- duty to defend the faith (jihad), duty to reject foreign notions or ways that are not in accord with Islam, duty to respect others so long as they don't impose on your ways or beliefs, the role of women, etc.

If you see it from their point of view, they have land and a way of life that has been under siege since 1948. They are fulfilling a religious duty to defend themselves. If the perpetrators weren't Jewish Zionists, but Vulcan settlers, the response would have been the same. And there would have been something equivalent to Art 22 that was a thinly veiled statement about Vulcans. So I am not sure that Hamas is after Jews because they are Jews, which would make Hamas anti-semitic, but because it just so happens that Jews are the ones who turned up next door.
I guess my main point is that you have to take the Hamas Chater as a whole, not just one article.

I would point out that under the "legal definition" of genocide, the Israelis are equally guilty. According to the legal definition, " Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part . . . " is genocide. It is ethnic cleansing, which has effectively taken place in Israel. In a recent interview with Ehud Olmert, on Frontline, he said flat out that the goal of many hard line elements in the Israeli government was to "run the Arabs into the sea". Olmert, himself, was once part of that group but has since moderated his attitudes. I'd feel pretty save in saying that it isn't only the Palestinian society that is pretty screwed up. The Israeli society is equally twisted.

The idea behind the Gaza Pull out was to tighten control over the West Bank so as to squeeze out Palestinians. It wasn't not a step toward peace anymore than the wall that is being built. The long held belief of conservative Israelis has been that the Palestinians have a country, it is called Jordon.

It always takes 2 to tango. At this point, the U.S. and its allies would do well to continue funding the Palestine Authority. Cutting off all aid, as has been pointed out earlier, only hardens Palestinian support for Hamas. And if we here in the U.S. were really brave, we'd would start sanctioning Israel unless some peace deal is negotiated. That is how we'd treat any other state operating in a similar fashion.
 

// posted by USWest

Anonymous said...

I have said on this blog before that our approach to most places in the world with ethnic conflict is to insist on multi-ethnic inclusive democracy, not to side with one party and ask for partition. Bosnia and Ireland are two good examples. Iraq too, we are opposed to separate states. Why support a Jewish state in Israel but not a Kurdish state in Kurdistan? Why not support Basque or Quebec separatism? Our approach to Israel is different from our approach to other ethnic conflicts.

That being said, I find little value in trying to compare Israel to Hamas, or in invoking the word "genocide" to describe the actions taken by Israel against Palestinian Arabs. Yes, Israelis are guilty of wishing the Palestinian problem, and the Arabs, would somehow go away. Israel has not desired to find any permanent political solution to the problem of the Arab inhabitants of the occupied territories, preferring a gradual approach of political instability and "settlements" that would gradually push them off the land. They are guilty of other human rights violations in the occupied territories. They are not, however, guilty of using the rhetoric of mass murder, nor do I believe the Israelis would ever engage in mass murder.

Nonetheless, we should not fall for the tactic of the Israeli right who argue that radical Palestinian/Arab rhetoric justifies political repression.

Palestinian Arabs have legitimate political demands which we should seek to satisfy. They deserve either full citizenship in Israel, or in their own state, and redress for the loss of their patrimony. For example, Israelis often claim that the purportedly voluntary flight of Palestinians from the territory now part of Israel, during the 1947-1948 war, justifies the permanent seizure of their land. It becomes a big deal for Israelis to prove that Palestinians left voluntarily, and are thus not "refugees," as if that mattered. It is irrelevant, and an argument nobody would seriously make elsewhere in the world.

Once we have establish framework for satisfying legitimate Palestinian needs, it remains to be seen whether they are actually hellbent on genocide. Israelis believe they need not negotiate or compromise based on the sort of rhetoric RBR cites as "proof" that Hamas has no legitimate demands and must simply be held at bay like dogs. I don't buy it. The rhetoric of Hamas, and even acts of terrorism, are not an excuses for refusing to work towards solutions to the real problems, and are certainly not excuses for bulldozing Palestinian homes and expanding settlements.

 

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

Yes, there are elements in the Israeli politi that are interested in a continued campaign of genocide. I think this disengagement policy is a big departure from that and should at least be watched with neutrality if not actually supported.

As for the difference between rhetoric and action: When we spout off on this blog we are merely engaging in rhetoric. When the Prime Minister of the PLA and leader of Hamas says that a sucide bomber's murder of a number of more or less innocent and randomly targeted Jews is "self-defense" that is more than just rhetoric. It is policy.

Also, I'm reluctant to adopt a standard of moral relativism where certain percieved cultural differences are used to excuse statements and actions from some leaders that we progressives would never tolerate from American leaders. The "oh, you can't take that call for total anihilation seriously, they have a cultural tendancy towards exageration" approach to this is dangerous. We can understand why they talk like that without accepting it, condoning it or granting it more tolerance than we would from some other culture that supposedly knows better. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

Again, attempting to understand another group of people through culture is not "condoning" it or "accepting". Nor is it a form of moral relativism. No one here is letting Hamas off the hook. But we are saying that you can't take it at face value because they are playing to an audience. It's just like when Bush shows up in front of his cronies and plays to the base. As LTG pointed out earlier, it isn't black and white. Furthermore, I don't think anyone here has indicated that this type of rhetoric is more acceptable coming from one group than from another.

I want to clarify as well that we are taking about a particular group of Islamists, not Arabs as a whole. Most Arabs think Hamas' rhetoric is over the top as well. So let's be careful that we don't confuse Arabs with Hamas or Islamists. I fear that when we talk about Hamas or Islamists that we are really thinking "Arabs". That is unfair.

I understand a lot about Arab culture. Some of it I admire, some of it I do not. I even understand a little about Islamic culture. But since you can't change people, and since you have to deal with them and listen through the noise in order to decifer the message, you have to understand what makes them tick. There is a logic behind people's actions and thinking. Unless you understand a little about that logic, you will not be able to negotiate or fight, as the case may be.

As for Israelis and genocide, I wasn't accusing them of that. I was actually using it to show how absurd the "legal definition" can be when applied strictly and literally. If you are going to start throwing genocide around by referring to legal definitions, then you have to apply the term fairly.  

// posted by USwest

Anonymous said...

I think we agree that Hamas should not be seen as a proxy for all Arabs or Muslims. I'd go further and say that Hamas behaves they way they do, not because of their essentialy Arabness or Islmicness but because of what they share with similar nationalist-extremist-genocidal movements from every other culture.

I do think people can change and the force that changes them the environmental conditions in which they live (espcially the socio-economic). Culture isn't constant, neither is it a neccessary or sufficient condition for eplaining behaviors commonly observed around the world and throughout history. Because of that, culture makes for a poor basis for true understanding of phenomena like groups like Hamas and the support they get.

And I do think you guys (US West and I think LTG?) are making some partial excuses for Hamas. You may not intend to but when you say that we should ignore it - or at least take it less seriously - when Hamas makes over the top references to murder, you are suggesting that we should not take them to task for such comments. And that you offer references to Arab or Muslim culture as support for this view, you are suggesting that we should take people task for similar comments if they come from other cultures. That's a dangerous approach and one not likely to get to the real bottom of the Hamas phenomenon (see also NAZI, Young Turk, Hutu, Fascist, Khmer Rouge, Theocrat etc etc).

 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Dr. Strangelove said...

Yes, Hamas is guilty of using overly dramatic language to play to their base. Yes, not all their advocacy should not be taken at face value. But the real issue with Hamas is not their rhetoric.

According to the
MIPT Terrorism Database, Hamas has committed 545 terrorist attacks since its founding, including at least 2892 injuries and 595 deaths. Over 80% of Hamas' attacks have been aimed at private citizens. Their most recent attack on record was January 28, 2006.

I'll spare you the pictures.

Anonymous said...

Estimates for the number of Palestinian dead from 2000-2004 are 2000-2700. Total # of Israeli dead are estimated at about 900.

I don't want to minimize the deaths caused by Hamas, which are horrific civilian murders, but to put in perspective that to call its actions "genocidal" seems out of proportion. 

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

I don't think it is out of proportion. What I suspect is that Hamas has killed as many private Israeli citizens as they possibly could given the capabilities Hamas currently possesses. Israel on the other hand could - in some nightmare scenario - wipe out everyone in the Gaza Strip and West Bank if they weren't stopped by a major power.

Consider the following thought experiment. If Hamas had at its disposal, a military force similar to the IDF, would there long be any Jews left alive in the Middle East? I think the answer is no. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Dr. Strangelove said...

RbR: Discussing what Hamas might do if it had an army is not much more productive than musing on what Israel would do if it could press a button to get rid of all the Palestinians. The situation in the West Bank and Gaza would have evolved very differently over the past few decades if the Palestinians had the economic capacity to field a conventional army--there probably would be no Hamas at all.

As for the issue of calling Hamas "genocidal" or not... I think "mass-murdering terrorist organization" is good enough. I would leave the word "genocide" to describe the killing of hundreds of thousands--of which, alas, there are quite a number of modern examples.

Anonymous said...

There is no question culture can and does change. I don't have any fundamental disagreement with RBR on that and I understand his point. I would say that culture and socio-economics blend. Each influences the other in fascinating and complex ways. Neither LTG nor I are ignoring socio-economic realities in our evaluation of "culture" either. It is a question of how you approach your analysis of a situation. Some of us throw culture into the mix of our analysis, others of don't. That's OK, too.

I don't see how any comments we made would indicate that we are somehow treating Hamas differently than we would any other group. RBR is focusing on extremist groups generally, which we opposes and refused to acknowledge that they may have some valid arguments. I take a more practical approach here. Hamas' rhetoric is offensive, and they have taken concrete action to demonstrate their opposition to Israel, no doubt about it. But they are now, for better or worse, part of Palestinian government. They won a free and fair election, just like some of the more extreme elements of Israeli politics (National Religious Party , United Torah Judaism , Shas to name a few) were elected to the Knesset. That is how messy democracy is. If you take the position that "we will not speak or listen to them" because they have this rhetoric, you will only give their stated cause more power. It is counterproductive for everyone involved. Then again, the predominate view in the past has been that people can use whatever rhetoric they want in any form they chose, regardless of the consequences because it is free speech. So . . . .

In addition to the numbers presented by LTG, I have read that for every Israeli killed, 3 Palestinians have been killed, well over 50% of them being children. When Israel sends in a helicopter which a huge cannon on the front to take out a single person in what we call a "targeted killing", and wipes out half a city block in the process (and city blocks in the Territories are narrow alleys, it kills a lot of innocent civilians.

The bottom line in this whole thing is that both groups (Israelis and Palestinians) and their extremist elements are equally guilty of either committing atrocities, or supporting those that do. War is ugly regardless of who fights it. And, as a Jewish friend told me, we really have no idea what is really going on. We only see things from afar and through the lens of government and media. That is why this discussion is always lengthy and sometimes heated, and perhaps misinformed.
 

// posted by USWest