Jim Naughtie on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning put it to the Prime Minister that the definition of terrorism was a legal minefield, and therefore ‘encouraging terrorism’ in the Government'latest draft legislation was even more difficult to define. Tony Blair said the definition of terrorism was easy, “It’s killing innocent people indiscriminately” he said.
That simple, eh? So where does that leave, for instance, Churchill after Dresden, Truman after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Sharon after Sabra and Shatlia or even George W. Bush after Fallujah? There is probably not room on this server to list all of the other names of those who have either directly ordered the killing of innocent people indiscriminately, or encouraged others to do so (Kissinger’s relationship with Pinochet over the murder of Allende, for instance). In fact, Churchill seemed to define himself as a terrorist when justifying using mustard gas against the Kurds he said it should be used “against recalcitrant Arabs as an experiment.” He dismissed objections as “unreasonable.” “I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes to spread a lively terror."
So, thinking about this definition, I thought perhaps terrorism should be more correctly labelled as “the indiscriminate killing of civilians by those not in power.” With that definition, surely we can get around the legal problems of the UN dragging Tony forward to answer charges of collaborating with George W. before the courts on charges of encouraging terrorism, and all of those other brutal regimes whose Heads of State regularly sip out of Buckingham Palace’s best China.
Talking of China… it tells me that there are still problems with this definition. Mao, for instance, and Uncle Joe Stalin, are now almost universally regarded as having conducted large scale acts of terror against their own people…. and yet they were actually in power at the time. So Stalin is a “terrorist”, but Vladimir Putin isn’t? Gerry Adams used to be such a dangerous “terrorist” we were not even allowed to hear his voice in case it encouraged us all to go around making semtex parcels (my spellchecker just tried to get me to change that to semen, but I’m sure it was semtex) and Nelson Mandela was a “terrorist” before he was declared a saint.
So, here goes with Bob Piper’s latest definition of terrorism: Terrorism consists of acts of violence against innocent civilians by those people we don’t like or who disagree with us. Any problems with that, you pinko, commie liberals?