Is ISIS/ISIL a terrorist organization? Or is it being labeled as one so Obama and congress can avoid constitutional and legal requirements to authorize war?
In a statement today, President Obama called ISIL "barbaric terrorists," as he described the air onslaught and ground materials support being provided to defend Mosul, Iraq.
That's a mistake an intentionally misleading political label.
ISIL is terrifying, deplorable in many ways and murderous and brutal, so brutal that in 2014, according to wikipedia, "al-Qaeda cut all ties with the group, reportedly for its brutality and "notorious intractability".But that's not the same as terrorist.
Let's take a look at what Wikipedia has to say about terrorists:
The word "terrorism" is politically loaded and emotionally charged, and this greatly compounds the difficulty of providing a precise definition. Studies have found over 100 definitions of "terrorism". In some cases, the same group may be described as "freedom fighters" by its supporters and considered to be terrorists by its opponents. The concept of terrorism may be controversial as it is often used by state authorities (and individuals with access to state support) to delegitimize political or other opponents, and potentially legitimize the state's own use of armed force against opponents (such use of force may be described as "terror" by opponents of the state). At the same time, the reverse may also take place when states perpetrate or are accused of perpetrating state terrorism. The usage of the term has a controversial history, with individuals such as ANC leader Nelson Mandela at one point also branded a terrorist.
ISIS has stated that it's goal is to create a caliphate that rules the world. It identifies itself as a caliphate, in other words, a nation or state. It was relatively dormant while the US was present in Iraq, and grew considerably in Syria, for all we know, with the help of extreme fundamentalist Sunni interests and possible even with the help of the US and Europe, as a way to erode the power of Syria's Assad.
ISIL is a concrete manifestation of very extreme religious fanatics. Wikipedia states,
"In its self-proclaimed status as a caliphate, it claims religious authority over all Muslims across the world and aspires to bring much of the Muslim-inhabited regions of the world under its direct political control,beginning with territory in the Levant region, which includes Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Cyprus, and an area in southern Turkey that includes Hatay. The group has been officially designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United Nations Security Council, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, and has been widely described as a terrorist group by Western and other media sources.
I would argue that all of the nations classifying it as a terrorist state are choosing to muddy the water on the use of the word and idea of terrorism. Terrorists do not claim to be nations. They do not assemble armies. Terrorists operate using asymmetric warfare. Some nations do too, but ISIL brings something new to the table-- an intention and approach that is brutal, which threatens the very existence of the western world and way of life.
Was Nazi Germany a terrorist state? Would it have been called one today?
Was Japan, upon attacking Pearl Harbor a terrorist state? The label wasn't used much back then. Would it have been used today? Would that have been a useful frame for characterizing Germany, Japan, Italy, even Vichy France?
One thing is clear. ISIL has already taken such a hold over major parts of Iraq that Obama, in the Q & A session after his press conference, stated that it was necessary to "Create a safe corridor so these people can move." That indicates that ISIL already has control over major swathes of Iraq. That makes it more than a "barbaric terrorist" group. That makes it a conquering nation. In the past, instead of terrorist, the worde "horde" was used, as in "conquering horde," which was pejoratively used to suggest barbarian, non-civilized forces.
My point is that the idea of terrorism and terrorists is one used to justify massive funding to the tune of billions of dollars. Calling it terrorism instead of war, which is what happens when one nation is in conflict with another allows the president and congress to evade the responsibility for declaring war, for getting official authorization.
ISIL is bad news. Mis-labeling it is also bad news. It further worsens the fog of war and perpetuates the failure to hold the president and congress accountable.
Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect,
connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media.
He's given talks and workshops to Fortune
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more detailed bio:
Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind. Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big) to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization (more...)