November 29, 2004


How to Tell a Terrorist From a Freedom Fighter (Tom Engelhardt, 11/29/04, Tom Dispatch)

Consider this as a description:

The "rebels" or "freedom fighters" are part of a nationwide "resistance movement." While many of them are local, even tribal, and fight simply because they are outraged by the occupation of their country, hundreds of others among the "resistance fighters" – young Arabs -- are arriving from as far away as "Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Jordan," not to speak of Saudi Arabia and Algeria, to engage in jihad, ready as one of them puts it, to stay in the war "until I am martyred." Fighting for their "Islamic ideals," "they are inspired by a sense of moral outrage and a religious devotion heightened by frequent accounts of divine miracles in the war." They slip across the country's borders to fight the "invader" and the "puppet government" its officials have set up in the capital in their "own image." The invader's sway, however, "extends little beyond the major cities, and even there the… freedom fighters often hold sway by night and sometimes even by day."

Sympathetic as they may be, the rebels are badly overwhelmed by the firepower of the occupying superpower and are especially at risk in their daring raids because the enemy is "able to operate with virtual impunity in the air." The superpower's soldiers are sent out from their bases and the capital to "make sweeps, but chiefly to search and destroy, not to clear and hold." Its soldiers, known for their massive human rights abuses and the cruelty of their atrocities, have in some cases been reported to press "on the throats of prisoners to force them to open their mouths while the guards urinate into them, [as well as] setting police dogs on detainees, raping women in front of family members and other vile acts."

On their part, the "guerrillas," armed largely with Russian and Chinese rifles and rocket propelled grenade launchers, have responded with the warfare of the weak. They have formed car-bombing squads and use a variety of cleverly constructed wheelbarrow, bicycle, suitcase, and roadside bombs as well as suicide operations performed by volunteers chosen from among the foreign jihadists. They engage in assassinations of, for example, university intellectuals and other sabotage activities in the capital and elsewhere aimed at killing the occupying troops and their sympathizers. They behead hostages to instill fear in the other side. Funding for the resistance comes, in part, from supporters in sympathetic Islamic countries, including Saudi Arabia. However, "if the mujaheddin are ever to realize their goal of forcing [the occupiers] out, they will need more than better arms and training, more than their common faith. They will need to develop a genuinely unified resistance… Above all, the analysts say, they will need to make the war… even costlier and more difficult for the [occupiers] than it is now."

It's easy enough to identify this composite description, right? Our war in Iraq, as portrayed perhaps in the Arab press and on Arab websites. Well, as it happens, actually not. All of the above (with the exception of the material on bombs, which comes from Steve Coll's book Ghost Wars, and on the beheading of hostages, which comes from an Amnesty International report) is from either the statements of American officials or coverage in either the Washington Post or the New York Times of the Afghan anti-Soviet jihad of the 1980s, fostered, armed, and funded to the tune of billions of dollars by the Central Intelligence Agency with the help of the Saudi and Pakistani intelligence services.

What can you, or need you, say about someone who can't tell his own country from the Soviet Union?

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 29, 2004 11:01 AM

When I see idiots like this guy or Justine Raimondo at, I realize that there are about 100,000 people in the US, we should just round up in the middle of the night, take them to the local soccer stadium, machine gun them down, burn the bodies, and bury the ashes in an unmarked mass grave.

Posted by: Bart at November 29, 2004 11:18 AM

And have Leni Riefenstahl film it for posterity...

Posted by: oj at November 29, 2004 11:33 AM

Pinochet did it in Chile to the same proportion of the population and saved the place. Doing so here could save America.

Posted by: Bart at November 29, 2004 11:41 AM

They were a threat in Chile--they aren't here. Nothing wrong with whacking subversives to save your soviety, but best to avoid it unless necessary; it has a coarsening effect.

Posted by: oj at November 29, 2004 11:50 AM

General Nguyen Ngoc Loan, where are you now that we need you?

Posted by: Lou Gots at November 29, 2004 11:53 AM


They came within 200,000 Ohio votes of winning the Presidency, giving them the perfect opportunity to resume ruining the country. That's too close for comfort.

Posted by: Bart at November 29, 2004 11:55 AM

The jihadists are motivated by "moral outrage"?!?

Confusion this deep can only come from someone so pampered, so blind, and so fearful that he is driven to say the most preposterous things to win the hollow adulation of his peers.

These people should really take the longer view: who remembers anyone from the German-American Bund? Or the CPUSA?

Posted by: jim hamlen at November 29, 2004 12:04 PM

"it has a coarsening effect"

Don't go wobbly on us OJ.

Posted by: h-man at November 29, 2004 12:04 PM


Bill Frist would have still been running the country.

Posted by: oj at November 29, 2004 12:18 PM


The coarsees don't matter, but the coarsers do.

Posted by: oj at November 29, 2004 12:22 PM

What can you say? Well, "moron" is a start.

Posted by: Mikey at November 29, 2004 12:56 PM

What can you, or need you, say about someone who can't tell his own country from the Soviet Union?

doubleplusgood comrade.
doubleplusgood duckspeaker.

Posted by: Ken at November 29, 2004 3:04 PM

Like I said, Ken: "moron." ;)

Posted by: Mikey at November 29, 2004 3:37 PM

Considering that these people loved the USSR, we should be grateful for the love and attention.

Posted by: AML at November 30, 2004 11:47 AM