--Gen. Franz Halder, Chief of the German General Staff, 1944
One critical question he raises is the difference between terrorism and resistance.
During World War II, after German occupation of Europe was complete, there arose underground resistance movements. Prominent among these were the French and the Norwegians. When I was in high school in the 1950 's I was a World War II buff. After all, the war was not long over and many men in our small community, including my father and his three brothers all fought in WWII.
Many have disparaged the French resistance as too few in number and ineffectual. But while in high school I recall reading a story of a husband and wife in the French resistance. One day they were in a cafe' when the Gestapo stormed in, guns drawn, and advanced toward their table. The husband pulled out his pistol, shot his wife in the head and then killed himself. They knew the end was at hand and that before death there would be torture. It took incredible courage to do that. That was 40 years ago and I have never forgotten that story. When your homeland is occupied by foreign troops, extraordinary courage seems to come naturally.
Anther story I recall vividly from those same high school days was that of the Norwegian resistance discovering a traitor amongst them, a man who had given over names of the resistance to the Nazis. He was confronted by the resistance in his home with his family. They tied him to a chair and then summarily executed his wife and three children in front of his eyes, and he was allowed to go free, to live whatever life was possible for him.
So, what defines terrorism? Was this terrorism? Or was it resistance against an occupying force?
This episode echoed the thinking of the French anarchist, Emile Henri, discussed recently by Alexander Cockburn:
"Asked at his trial in 1894 why he had killed some many innocent people ...Henri explained to the court that anarchism 'is born in the heart of a corrupt society which is falling to pieces; it is a violent reaction against the established order. It represents egalitarian and libertarian aspirations which are battering down existing authority; it is everywhere, which makes it impossible to capture. ' So, said Henri as he faced the guillotine, "il n'y a pas d'innocents". "There are no innocents, " at least among the privileged classes. "
And to add one more note to this saga, let me cite a recent article by former Sen. Gary Hart in the Boston Globe. Hart writes that, "In 1812, Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Russia and ...marched on and occupied Moscow. Napoleon and his generals took over the palaces of the court princes and great houses of the mighty boyars. "
"Sadly for Napoleon, the Russians had different plans for their nation. Within days after abandoning their city to the French army, they torched their own palaces, homes, enterprises, and cathedrals. They burned Moscow down around Napoleon. Denied his last great triumph, the disappointed emperor abandoned Moscow and started home. Along the way, he lost the world's most powerful army. "
So, now when we look at Iraq, we see the same thing. Even with the ethnic strife and potential for civil war, Iraqis want their country back from the U.S. occupiers. In fact the civil strife has worsened to the point that U.S. military commanders are ordering their troops to stay in their barracks as much as possible. So, one asks, why are our troops there if they are only hiding out in their barracks? What exactly is their mission now?
The sickening answer is they are to save George Bush 's "reputation. "