Specifically, I ended up at a post of Al's where he reproduced (very kindly in full) my contribution to a debate of the time.
I hope he doesn't mind, but I am going to reproduce it here.
This is not a case of narcissism on my part, but rather a small lesson of sorts to a nasty little gent (not the one referred to in my opening para) who has as many aliases (on the one comments page at times) as the Hydra of old mythology had heads. Actually, the Hydra metaphor is even more apt given the nature of the beast. The specific comment is found here round about post number 49 or 48... -
People like stevie and probligo and tequila would disagree of course. But of course, they are the quintessential Left in my view so I cannot really expect them to comprehend the essence of others. I got tired of partisan differences a few years ago. Sure, it is good for training, and for neophytes to the political arena, but eventually you transcend the limitations of party and politics.
To show Y how little he knows of me and my politic...
I was thinking of posting this as a comment to your item, but it grew like the proverbial and so it has become a full blooded e-mail instead.
With respect, I believe that you have missed the point that FitzGerald was making. This is how I hear what he is saying...
1. Do not recognize the terrorist groups. So doing gives them legitimacy as "enemies", and gives them the validation that they seek. It occurs to me that this idea could be supported by the example of AlQaeda and its progressively aggressive tactics from USS Cole through Kenya to the ultimate of 9/11 when they did finally get the response that they sought from the US. They were immediately "recognized as a force that even the US could not ignore". From that response they have gained their public legitimacy as the "fighters in the war against the Great Satan".
2. Do not recognize the conflict with terrorists as "war". That again legitimises the terrorist group's "war" against... It is not a war. They are very well organized, heavily armed criminals. They are groups of armed thugs. They have no validation other than as murderers and killers of the innocent. That makes them criminals, not an opponent in war. Look at last night's bombings in Iraq. Who was killed? Iraqi civilians. Who do the Iraqi people blame? The Americans. Why is this? As I read FitzGerald, it is the consequence of "war". The Iraqi people are persuaded (by the Islamic extremists) that America is there fighting ITS war in Iraq. It is NOT IRAQ's war. Therefore (by the terrorists' logic) America must be responsible for the killing. ...Note that FitzGerald REFUSED to speak with either IRA or Sinn Fein. In his mind "they did not exist".
3. Do not alienate the local populace... see 2.
4. Closely allied to 3. is being able to recognize the valid "freedom fighters", the "liberation army" trying to remove an illegitimate or oppressive government. Examples? Well, take your pick in Chechnya; I am not going to judge that one at present. The Taleban in Afghanistan against the Russians? Obviously they were freedom fighters because the US backed them (a slight note of sarcasm here?). If there were to be terrorist action in Burma, Islam against the Burmese government, would that be liberation army or terrorists? Take a look in Zimbabwe... how much effort should there be from the international community to support any effort to overthrow Mugabe? Would such a movement be terrorist or freedom fighters if they came out shooting? The same in Sudan; are the Junjaweed government troops or terrorists?
Al, I am trying hard here not to be judgmental about the actions taken by the US. My personal feelings on the whole matter over the past three years run something like -
1. The response in Afghanistan was well justified, based upon the reasons given for that action.
2. Since the commencement of that action, the US has not followed a particularly consistent path.
3. I have always believed, in the case of the wider Middle East and Iraq in particular, that there had to be "a better way". Not one that is easy to find, or easy to "justify".
Perhaps, just perhaps... no... maybe the FitzGerald interview expressed for me the shape that alternative may have had.
As it is, we the people of this earth, are faced with new history, history in creation, that has a very heavy momentum. For that reason, changing its course is going to take time and great effort. The effort being expended now? Is it in the right direction or the wrong? Personally, I have to go back to what I said above…
"Look at last nights" bombings in Iraq. Who was killed? Iraqi civilians. Who do the Iraqi people blame? The Americans. Why is this? As I read FitzGerald, it is the consequence of "war". The Iraqi people are persuaded (by the Islamic extremists) that America is there fighting ITS war in Iraq. It is NOT IRAQ's war. Therefore (by the terrorists' logic) America is responsible for the killings...."
Turning that just a little...
The terrorists argue "America 'is at war with terrorism'. There are no terrorists in Iraq. There are only Iraqis in Iraq. Why then did America invade Iraq? Because they are the Great Satan and it is every man’s duty and religious destiny to join in that great jihad against the Great Satan..."
"America says that it brings freedom and democracy. Where is freedom while our country is occupied by the Great Satan?"
I have said before that I have no truck whatsoever with people who suppress and withhold the rights of others. Terrorism, IMO falls into that category. I say that because terrorists (generally) have the objective of their own and all is subservient to those ends. There is more often than not a desire to impose political, cultural and/or religious precepts on a generally unwilling populace.
Now consider first that I wrote that in 2004, after reading an extensive article covering FitzGerald's political life in the period of the IRA terrorism in Eire and Northern Ireland and posting on it here.
Nearly two years later, I have no reason to change my agreement with the comments I made, nor my support for FitzGerald's argument.