The Spanish Civil War and the Global War on Terror


There is ever increasing evidence of citizens and long-term residents of Western democracies picking up and heading off to Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and Afghanistan, to do their bit in the so-called "global war on terror". Not to strike a blow against terrorists mind you, but to contribute what they can to the efforts to resist a perceived war on Islam. Just this week, two more such young men were arrested in the U.S., allegedly with plans to go to Somalia to assist the Shabab of all groups.

The right-wing will leverage such news to demonize Islam and its adherents. But that would be a mistake. What is important to understand is the extent to which the characterization as a global war what should be a narrow conflict with an extreme terrorist organization, often using language reminiscent of crusades, has radicalized people and romanticized the struggle. In a sense the global war on terror has become the Spanish Civil War of our age, but on a global scale. (Continued...)

Double Standards and Supporting Terrorism


Ronald Reagan made famous the aphorism that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." He was actually criticizing the idea, and yet in the post-9/11 world the double standard that is at the heart of the idea is of vital importance - and it appears to be alive and well in U.S. law and policy.

Consider that earlier this month the Supreme Court of the United States handed down its judgment in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, in which it upheld a law that made it a criminal offense to "knowingly provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization." The key issue in the case before the Court was the scope of the term "material support or resources", which was defined to include not only financial and logistical support, weapons, training, and the like, but also "expert advice or assistance". Such "expert advice or assistance" was argued to encompass legal advice or even the provision to political arms of such organizations (such as the PKK in Turkey or the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka) explanations regarding international law and human rights, and peaceful dispute resolution mechanisms. The argument before the Court was that the law violated the freedom of speech rights of the First Amendment. The Court, in a 6-3 judgment, held the law to be constitutional, and thus affirmed that the professional communication with persons who are members of such organizations is support for a terrorist organization in violation of federal criminal law.

This is of course not an abstract matter.(continued...)


©2009 The Radix | Template Blue by TNB