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Author Topic: Terrorism- the heart of the problem.
Sir Harrison
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What causes people to become terrorists?
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sharpshin
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A sense of extreme humiliation, and the resulting anger towards the perceived cause of same, appear to be major factors.

[ December 02, 2006, 02:55 AM: Message edited by: sharpshin ]

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Sir Harrison
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Humiliation? As in embarassment?
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TommySama
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Probably being poor as crap; recognizing that your entire ethnicity of 300 million runs on oil money that is generated for wealthier people; pure, unadulterated hatred.... propoganda...
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Sir Harrison
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Do you think that American intervention has made the situation worse- more terrorists now than before?

[ December 02, 2006, 03:24 AM: Message edited by: Sir Harrison ]

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Sir Harrison
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Perhaps, angered by acts of violence against their communities and families, moderate people are driven towards tactics of terrorism?
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seekingprometheus
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There was an interesting thread germane to this topic here.
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DonaldD
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What do you think, Sir Harrison? Was the IRA terrorist in nature? Is the ETA? What about the Sons of Liberty? The Taliban, and before them the Afghani mujahedeen? If so, which of their actions are terrorist, and why do you think they chose those specific actions?

What is your definition of terrorism?

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sharpshin
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quote:
Originally posted by Sir Harrison:
Humiliation? As in embarassment?

Look into the work of Jessica Stern, author of Terrorism in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill and The Ultimate Terrorist.

Jessica Stern

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kenmeer livermaile
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My current definition of terrorism is narrower than that of the past. My definitin now says that if you're willing to blow yourself up along with whomever you're blowing up, you're a terrorist.

Anything less than that is, well, less.

I think it helps to distinguish the roots of terrorism, which are what are discussed so far in this thread, and the growth -- foliage, if you will -- of terrorism. Terrorist training camps, terrorist indoctrination, et cetera. These take on a life of their own, as things tend to do once they achieve a certain solidity.

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RickyB
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What if you just plant a bomb in a marketplace? Isn't that a terrorist?
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kenmeer livermaile
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That's so... 90s, man.

But seriously, the moral appeal/faux justification of self-martyrdom has become a very large element of terrorism.

It's got, as Tony Montana would say, balls.

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EDanaII
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To me, terrorism is nothing more than a violent form of Counting Coup:
quote:
Counting coup was a battle practice of Native Americans of the Great Plains. A nonviolent demonstration of bravery, it consisted of touching an enemy warrior, with the hand or with a coup stick, incurring a risk of injury or death should the warrior respond violently, then running away unharmed. The phrase "counting coup" can also refer to the recounting of stories about battle exploits.
Poverty, rage, oppression, while possibley related to such acts, in my view, are more excuses than reasons. The main reason, IMHO, is "See what I can do to my enemies?" See how I make them tremble? See how brave I can be?"

There are plenty of other methods for handling poverty, rage or oppression, but few as spectacular as "blowing yourself up for Allah," and all of which are probably more effective since all the latter really does is piss your enemies off pretty severely.

Ed.

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kenmeer livermaile
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I think what you describe, Ed, is the sociological outgrowth of the roots of terrorism. I believe the roots of terrorism are very rationally and politically calculated.

I think the use of religion in modern terrorism is because it is an extremely powerful 'carrier wave' that thrives under the worst conditions. It gives people faith that their cause is not hopeless.

But once the phenomenon has become sufficiently popular, it then succumbs to gang turf psycho-drama motivations as you describe.

Mere thuggery results.

[ December 02, 2006, 03:16 PM: Message edited by: kenmeer livermaile ]

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velcro
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If it is poverty and humiliation, why were most of the 9/11 hijackers middle class and educated?
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kenmeer livermaile
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"If it is poverty and humiliation, why were most of the 9/11 hijackers middle class and educated?"

Why does anyone of comforable circumstances care about the less fortunate? Empathy and compassion are not necessarily blindly radiated fields of sensitivity. It is often selective.

For example, it was a good while before Americans in general began to focus their empathy and compassion on Iraqi casualties. At first, it was mostly focused on our own soldiers.

Right or wrong, it is very humanly possible to deeply care about one's own unfortunates so much that onew cares naught for the deaths (911 casualties) one causes to change conditions for those unfortunates.

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Jesse
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Sorry Ken, but making a Suicide Attack against a military target just isn't "terrorism".

Well, at least no more so than all military attacks are in a sense terrorism.

Middle Class and Educated folks could speak english and drew a lot less attention in the US. What's more telling is that Bin Laden could only come up with 18 of them, while he had thousands in his training camps.

It sure isn't generally well off Palestinians that blow themselves up to kill Israelis.

To view the phenomena of Islamic terrorism through the lense of 9/11 exclusively is not the way to understand it.

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Rallan
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quote:
Originally posted by TommySama:
Probably being poor as crap; recognizing that your entire ethnicity of 300 million runs on oil money that is generated for wealthier people; pure, unadulterated hatred.... propoganda...

So you're saying being an arab is a prerequisite of being a terrorist? [Smile]
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kenmeer livermaile
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Don't Afghanis count?

"Sorry Ken, but making a Suicide Attack against a military target just isn't "terrorism". "

I thought I made it clear that that was just my very personal opnion these days on what I felt the leading edge of 'terrorism' is these days.

I know that Roman crucifixes were terrorism devices. IED: Instructively Exhibited Deaths.

I know that fire-bombing Dresden was terrorism.

But while it's true that:

"To view the phenomena of Islamic terrorism through the lense of 9/11 exclusively is not the way to understand it."

It is also true that such is precisely the lens by which our culture anc country ARE viewing terrorism, with Palestinian and Iraqi self-dynamiters providing the Cecil B. deMilleian background cast of thousands.

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hobsen
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People who are living hand to mouth are too concerned about survival to worry about politics. Revolutionaries always appear among those who are better educated and have a little more money.

People in the Middle East can quite sensibly worry about what will happen when the oil runs out. Oil production, after all, is an extractive industry; there is only so much of it. Meanwhile the fantastic profits have I presume resulted in explosive population growth. When there is no more oil, can all those people go back to the lives they led in the time of Mohammed? If not, how will they survive?

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Adam Masterman
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quote:
What causes people to become terrorists?
People falsely assuming they know the answer to this has been our biggest handicap in the WOT. Middle class Americans are the least equiped people on the planet to understand the motivations of terrorists. It almost entirely alien to our cultural mindset. Thats why some of the most ridiculous attempts to answer this question, such as the imfamous "they hate freedom", haven't been laughed off stage.

When someone tells you they "know" what terrorists are thinking, step back and question how likely that is. If the person you are talking to is a middle class white American, I'm going to say that that likelyhood hovers very close to zero.

That's not to say that one can't educate themselves to an extent. Karen Armstrong's Battle for God (for example) touches on this question indirectly, by examining the very different experience many middle easterners had of the process of modernization. There is a good reason for their puzzling abhorence of much of modernism, and it speaks in a general way to how post-colonial history has shaped Islamic attitudes about the west.

But, at the same time, studying history gives one an appreciation for how different the life experiences are for middle easter peoples. In my experience, the more one learns, the less likely he or she becomes to make sweeping statements about why terrorists are the way they are. Its a very complex situation, which warrants serious but cautious analysis. The easy answers aren't serving us well.

Adam

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Jesse
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Who YOU calling middle-class?

[Big Grin]

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Everard
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"It sure isn't generally well off Palestinians that blow themselves up to kill Israelis."

Erm. It isnt really the poorest ones either.

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Jesse
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Nope, they aren't as dialed in to the society of vile old men who encourage and redirect the natural and nearly universal drive of healthy young men to try to improve their society and benefit their community.

We can talk about the incidental grandmother, but the 16-30 year old male is still pretty typical.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"...the 16-30 year old male is still pretty typical..."

You know how guys are: just love to blow things up [Wink]

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Athelstan
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quote:
I know that fire-bombing Dresden was terrorism.


From my perspective Dresden was not an act of terrorism. It seems to be the fashion these days to only mention Dresden and to forget the German Doodlebugs or the German destruction of Warsaw at the end of the War. All acts of war would be covered by the definition of Terrorism. My wife can use the threat of verbal violence to my eardrums to coerce me into doing something I don’t want to. It’s her idea that we should have a tidy garden whereas I favour the wild look. I married a terrorist. It’s just a matter of perspective. Obviously not an original thought but not bad, in my opinion, for a Sunday morning.
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RickyB
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Ev - with Palestinians it actually is generally the pretty damn poor. With international jihad you have the middle class engineers seeking the 72 virgins and alla that. With Palestinians not so much. I'm sure you can dig and find a few, but most are poor and hopeless for a change for the better.
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Rallan
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On a serious note, there's really only a few criteria needed to turn someone into a terrorist.

1) a belief that violent means are necessary in extreme situations.

and

2) a belief that the problem you're trying to solve is so insurmountable that it can't be solved without violent means.

I mean let's face it, terrorists aren't crazy people who kill because it gets them excited. They're folks who - for whatever reasons - feel very passionately about a cause and have come to the conclusion that peaceful means won't achieve that cause. Thet're the abortion clinic bombers who think that secular America is destroying traditional values. They're the Catholic extremists who think the UK government is in a conspiracy to make Ireland protestant, or the Protestant conspiracy theorists who think the Irish government is in a conspiracy to wipe out Northern Ireland's protestants. They're the ultra-orthodox jews who are willing to murder people rather than see a gay pride parade turn Jerusalem into a latter-day Sodom. They're the Palestinian militants who think the Isreali government wants to wipe out the non-Jewish people of Isreal to establish a purely hebrew state.

Doesn't matter what conflict you pick, or which side you take, terrorists aren't insane sociopaths. They're folks in cultures that encourage violence, who decided that violence is an acceptable political tool. Their reasoning might be based on propaganda (or in some cases, based on pure paranoid insanity), but to them its every bit as solid as the reasons nations go to war.

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Eric
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A better question might be, "What causes people to engage in asymmetrical warfare?"

The answer: 'Cause it's the only tool they got. Governments with large standing armies don't engage in asymmetrical warfare, although they might equip, fund and support such groups--like Iran and Syria with Hizballah--when it serves their interests.

The motivating factors for people to resort to AW are as widely varied as the groups themselves. IRA wanted (wants) independence from the British crown. ETA wants wants an independent ethnic Basque state. FARC wants a communist government in Colombia. The big Islamic groups (Muslim Brotherhood, Hizb ut Tahrir) want a world-wide Islamic caliphate, the smaller ones a local government based on sharia law (think globally, act locally!).

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Eric
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Rallan --

You make some very good points, but I'd argue that one whack job (Eric Rudolph, for instance) who blows up a few abortion clinics doesn't qualify as a "terrorist", even if he employs terror tactics.

Otherwise, I agree. One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"From my perspective Dresden was not an act of terrorism. It seems to be the fashion these days to only mention Dresden and to forget the German Doodlebugs or the German destruction of Warsaw at the end of the War."

Somehow discussions and definitions of terrorism tend to accept the idea that two wrongs don't make a right.

Terrorism en masse we call Total War a la Sherman.

Dresden wasn't a militarily meaningful target. It was bombed with a technology deployed in a manner designed to take maximum human life. Civilian life, since residential areas are geographical citizenry.

What is really being decided in such discussion, in my opinion, are reasons for deciding to approve or disapprove of various means of terrorism.

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EDanaII
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quote:
Otherwise, I agree. One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.
Don't expect THIS man to consider them HIS (or anyone elses') freedom fighter. They're still thugs to me.


@ kenmeer livermaile:
quote:
Dresden wasn't a militarily meaningful target. It was bombed with a technology deployed in a manner designed to take maximum human life. Civilian life, since residential areas are geographical citizenry.
Dresden: Reasons for the Attack:
quote:
Early in 1945, the Allies' political-military leadership started to consider how they might aid the Soviets with the use of the strategic bomber force. ... The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) had come to the conclusion that the Germans could reinforce their eastern front with up to 42 divisions (half a million men) from other fronts and that, if the Soviet advance could be helped by hindering that movement, it could shorten the war. They thought that the Germans could complete the reinforcement by March 1945. The JIC's analysis was backed up by Ultra Enigma-code intercepts, which confirmed that the Germans had such plans. ... RAF Air Staff documents state that it was their intention to use RAF bomber command to "destroy communications" to hinder the eastward deployment of German troops, and to hamper evacuation, not to kill the evacuees. ... Soviet military intelligence asserted that trains stuck in the main station were troop trains passing through Dresden to the front. This proved incorrect, as they were trains evacuating refugees from the east.
You confuse a mistake in intelligence for deliberate intent. Please do not compare the tragedy of Dresden with the likes of the terrorism.

Ed.

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flydye45
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I think there are factors which make a "terrorist"

1. The use of violent means for a political objective.

2. The use of violence DIRECTLY against a civilian population PURELY to create fear or gain attention.

3. Asymmetry isn't required.

4. It usually isn't a legitimate political leader.

So Sherman who destroyed infrastructure but left the civilian population alone wasn't a terrorist, but American troops who engaged in Indian massacres would be.

Lenin, who starved his own populations was engaged in terrorism, as was Carthage. Bombing Dresden wasn't.

Afgans attacking Russian military forces isn't terrorism. Nor Iraqis attacking Americans. Planting bombs in Shia neighborhoods IS terrorism.

An opinion.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"So Sherman who destroyed infrastructure but left the civilian population alone wasn't a terrorist"

I must have misread that bit of history. I assumed Sherman's troops did bad things to civilians. Or so I was taught on my mammy's and grandmammy's knees as a child born in South Carolina. Mea cupla if I got this wrong.

"Planting bombs in Shia neighborhoods IS terrorism."

Agreed. Even when such plantings are (as increasingly seems to be the case) without the 'sanctity' of martyrdom by suicide, this is raw violence aimed at creating more raw violence. I don't by any means say that such is THE definition of the T word, but it is as essentially terrible and terrifying chaotic a form of violence as can be. Even Mike Meyers of "Halloween" oly wnated to kill himself, not get others to take up the butcher knife.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"Bombing Dresden wasn't."

I still stand by what I claimed. The whole purpose of such massive bombings was to reduce popular will to resist. This is no different than Lenin's starvation of his own people.

The difference between the two is that at the time we bombed Dresden, we were so focused on winning the ear that we no longer questioned our actions. News reports of the time called the bombing of Dresden 'precision bombing'. Well, it was, but in the meaning that expression had just two years before, when it meant 'intended to and capable of hitting only ilitary targets while sparing civlian casualties to a morally eccceptable degree'. Granted, the original definition was vague enough. But when it was used in reference to Dresden or Tokyo, it actually was more correct in terms of 'precision' and 'bombing' if not at all in terms of sparing civilians.

What 'precision bombing' meant, in factual correlation, was that we (Curtis LeMay, to be precise) had learned how to drop bombs in criss-cross patterns that created perfectly all-consuming holocausts within a given sector.

It was a form of localized genocide applied when genocide wasn't the aim. (We didn't intend to exterminate the German or Japanese races, did we?) What can one call unintentional yet deliberate genocide? It IS a puzzle.

One the tenets by which we all insist terrorism must be defined is intentionality. Did we intend to commit genocide or did we intend to bleed the enemy to a standstill or did we intend to terrify them?

I submit that we didn't truly know at the time.

Does the jihadi who blows himself up in a market square intend to bleed the enemy into submission? Is the enemy the people he bombs? Does he intend to incite more killing, period? Does he know? OBviously, these ambiguities will remain. We can't know.

What we CAN state with certainty is that the jihadi INTENDED toblow up innocent civilians. What we can say with certainty is that the Curtis LeMay-dominated WWII USA Air Force INTENDED to burn to death innocent civilians.

The T-word, to me, remains a military-political fad. Who can define rock'n'roll? It either rocks you or it doesn't. Same with terrorism and definitions thereof.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"You confuse a mistake in intelligence for deliberate intent. Please do not compare the tragedy of Dresden with the likes of the terrorism."

That's funny. The methodology of Dresden makes it very clear that an all-consuming Holocaust, that would inevitably kill 99.99% of life within its area, was what was planned. The consequences of this were known, based on well-known intelligence... like hundreds and hundreds of years of mundane German history.

I've read some on the topic too. AT that point of WWII, our leadership was as capable of blowing smoke up their collective but factionally divided asses.

But Curtis LeMay knew exactly what they were doing, and, bless his ruhthless soul, didn't mess words: "Killing people."

If you find moral comfort behind the 'mistaken intelligence' argument for the bombing of Dresden, I can then more readily understand how you can find comfort in the mistaken intelligence arguments applied to our invasion of Iraq. Compared to the former, the latter is a feather puff.

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Jesse
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It's absolutely true that there was a rail hub in Dresden. It's also true that creating a firestorm throughout the city was part of a progam Harris sold as "De-Housing".

We had mistaken intelligence that would have jutified bombing rail stations. To say that this justified creating the Firestorm that we (well, mostly the Brits) did is to say that Nuking Beirut to destroy Hezbollahs offices, or Nuking San Diego to destroy the Harbor, would be justified.

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kenmeer livermaile
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We'll bomb 'em with euphemisms!
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Athelstan
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quote:
From my perspective Dresden was not an act of terrorism.
I did not live during WWII but played in a devastated London and talked to the survivors. There are no niceties in war and the purpose of bombing Dresden and all the other German cities, according to those that lived through it, was to kill Germans. The view at the time was that we should go on bombing Germany until there were no Germans or they gave up. Call it total war, revenge, self defence or even murder but there was no wish to coerce the Germans into any political, ideological or religious structure. That is my understanding of what terrorism means. The Londoners I spoke to just wanted the Germans to stop bombing them and surrender. The last V1 rocket landed in England on 27 March 1945 which is a month after Dresden. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but if I’d lived with the thought of those rockets dropping out of the sky (over 9000 in all) I might have wanted to kill Germans.
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Michelle
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quote:
What causes people to become terrorists?
Early indoctrination-before they are old enough to think for themselves...

I suspect stockholm syndrome plays a role in the adults.

[ December 03, 2006, 05:27 PM: Message edited by: Michelle ]

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