Sunday, July 31, 2011

Terrorism Is Never Committed out of “Revenge”

     The media and other commentators often report terrorist attacks as “revenge” for this or that act by the government the terrorists oppose, usually based on the claims of “revenge” by the terrorists themselves. The media and other commentators should cease reporting uncritically such misleading statements by the terrorists.

     As I noted again in my last post, terrorism is the targeting of innocent civilians by violence or threat of violence in order to intimidate the populace to pressure their government to give into the terrorists’ demands. Innocent civilians are those who are not responsible for a government’s policies. Therefore, no terrorist attacks are committed out of revenge. As the deliberate targeting of innocent victims, terrorist attacks are morally unjustifiable acts of evil. Revenge against innocent people would be a contradiction in terms, for one cannot gain vengeance by attacking the innocent.

     Making a claim of “revenge” is a terrorist propaganda tactic for justifying their immoral acts by blaming the government the terrorists oppose in the first place for the results of the terrorism. Moreover, as in the case of the recent Norwegian attacks, some claims of revenge, such as an Islamist group’s claim of responsibility for the attacks as punishment for Norway’s participation in the Afghan War, are false.  Such false claims reveal both the terrorists' desire to intimidate the populace into giving into their demands, as opposed to exacting revenge, and the terrorists’ lack of credibility, as should be obvious. Indeed, it is not reasonable to expect that those who target the innocent for violence would ever be honest. The terrorists' claims of “revenge,” whether or not they are responsible for the acts for which they claim responsibility, are lies.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Norwegian Attacks Are the Latest Example of the Misuse of the Word “Terrorism”

     Nearly everyone appears to be calling the recent attacks in Norway “terrorism.” However, the massacre does not meet the definition of terrorism.

     As I have posted previously, terrorism is a strategy that targets innocent civilians (i.e. those who are not responsible for formulating or implementing government policies) with violence or the threat of violence in order to intimidate the populace into pressuring the government to give into the terrorists’ political demands.

     In the attacks in Norway, the Norwegian government and ruling party were targeted. Attacks on government do not meet the definition of terrorism because they are not attacks targeting innocent civilians. The attack on the ruling party took place at a youth camp in which the killer callously killed youths, but it was a political target nonetheless. The killer opposed the policies of that party. He intended to assassinate leading Norwegian political figures. Thus, the massacre at the youth camp was not intended to intimidate the populace, but the party leadership. Both attacks were on the Norwegian ruling class. 

     Assuming the perpetrator of the Norwegian attacks is sane, the attacks were treasonous militant acts intended to spark a revolution, not terrorism. These heinous attacks were evil, but terrorism is even more evil because it is targeted at those who have no responsibility for government policies. Indeed, the less connection the victims have to government and policy (i.e. the more innocent they are), the more effective the terrorist act becomes, as the entire populace, and not only the ruling class, is made to feel targeted. Attacks upon only the ruling class fail to accomplish the strategic goal of intimidating the populace, as the people recognize they are not personally the targets of the terrorists and thus do not feel intimidated.

     The false labeling of the Norwegian attacks is part of a pattern that has existed for decades. Over the last several months, in particular, I had observed several examples of acts incorrectly being classified by government, the media or other commentators as terrorism” and had intended to post about them, but the Norwegian attack has made this matter timely. 

     In one case that was referred to as “terrorism,” a businessman attempted to sabotage a rival by placing vermin in his rival’s business. This attack was economic sabotage directed at one business, not an attempt to intimidate anyone for any political purpose. 

     Another example was also economic sabotage: counterfeiting. Counterfeiting, even if undertaken by an enemy in order to intimidate the populace, is economic sabotage. Although it might create fear, it lacks the element of violence that the vermin example at least had. Furthermore, an essential element of terrorism is that the terrorists must make demands on the government they target, or else the populace cannot be expected to support the changes to policy demanded by the terrorists. Counterfeiters do not admit their crime and, therefore, make no demands.

     “Cyberterrorism” is another example that lacks the element of violence, unless it were specifically used for a violent purpose against innocent civilians. Otherwise, it is only economic sabotage, with the possible additional element of the loss of privacy.

     The murder in Germany of two American troops by a citizen of Kosovo was called “terrorism,” even though the target was the military, not innocent civilians. The killings were a violent example of jihad carried out on behalf of militant Islam. This case was noteworthy for another pattern exhibited by government and the media of judging whether an act is terrorism if the perpetrator has a link to terrorists. A perpetrator’s intended target, not his link to terrorists, determines whether an act was terrorism. It is important to recognize that some terrorists alternate between terrorism and attacks on military or other government targets (e.g. al-Qaeda) or between innocent civilians and targeted individuals whose activities the perpetrator opposed (e.g. the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski). Therefore, a perpetrator may be linked to terrorists or is himself a terrorist, but his action may nevertheless not be terrorism.

     The misuse of the word terrorism is diluting its meaning. Now, any acts of violence are called “terrorism,” even those taken in defense against terrorism, especially by the Islamist enemy that seeks to place itself on an equal moral level by accusing the government it opposes of the same thing they do, as if to justify their continued terrorism. Other anti-Americans on the Left eagerly agree with the charge for their own purposes. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Obama Administration’s missile strikes from aerial drones have been called “terrorism.” The United States does not target innocent civilians, only terrorists and other militants. Terrorists and other militants are usually civilians, but not innocent ones. Those civilians who harbor or finance the terrorists or other militants are not innocent civilians, either.

     We conservatives must use the word terrorism correctly.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Autopsy Proves Allende Was Not Killed by the U.S.-Backed Coup

     One of many myths long believed by the Left is that Chilean President Salvador Allende was killed in a coup d’etat backed by the United States. This myth can now included in the growing list of liberal historical beliefs that have been proven false, some of which I have posted about previously. The release of the results of a recent autopsy reveal that Allende was not killed, but committed suicide during the coup to avoid being captured, which is consistent with witness accounts and even the belief of his family.

     Backed by the Soviet Union, Allende won a plurality in a close election in 1970 to become the first Marxist in the world to be elected democratically. He began to nationalize industries, ruin the Chilean economy and rule in an authoritarian manner. The judicial and legislative branches of Chile’s government called for his removal from power. The Chilean military overthrew Allende in a violent coup d’etat in 1973.

     Although it did not necessarily participate in the coup, the U.S., under President Richard M. Nixon, did at least foster the conditions that helped lead to it. The Americans were not only concerned about their business interests there that were threatened by Allende’s socialist policies, but also the spread of Communism during the Cold War. Indeed, the Monroe Doctrine did not permit the establishment of Soviet puppet-states in the New World.

     The Left especially hates the coup that overthrew Allende because it led to the military 1973-1990 dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, who kept Chile independent and at peace with its neighbors and fostered its prosperity. When he left office, he left Chile free and democratic. Although Pinochet, who had to prevent Communists from taking power, was more brutally authoritarian than his predecessor, his legacy of accomplishment sharply contrasts with Allende’s.

     Liberals, especially pro-Communist leftists, could never appreciate the benefits of anti-Communist U.S. allies, like Pinochet, as opposed to Communist puppets of the Soviets, like Allende. Pro-Communist leftists claim to be more concerned over human rights abuses committed by U.S. allies than enemies out of concern for the American image, which is an excuse to conceal their communist sympathies. The pro-Communist Left had to make the coup that overthrew Allende seem evil by blaming his death on the U.S. in order to impugn the motives of the Americans.

     Liberals, including those who are not pro-Communist, do not want to acknowledge that an anti-Communist dictator put in power by the U.S. could do any significant good for his country. As I have noted in previous posts, they tend to support democratically-elected leftist leaders, even when those leaders become authoritarian, over any pro-American leaders who seize power by force, even if the pro-American leaders are not authoritarian. It seems as if liberals believe that elections legitimatize dictatorship, while coups necessarily deligitimatize any restoration of liberty. Therefore, they will ignore any positive results of the coup that overthrew Allende, regardless of the circumstances of his death. 

     Both pro-Communist leftists and other liberals claim to be more concerned about American image than defending liberty against threats, such as from Communism. Thus, they appear to have a double standard that holds U.S. allies to a higher standard than its enemies.

     By contrast to the questions that had surrounded the circumstances of Allende’s death, there is no doubt that President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam was assassinated after being captured in a U.S.-inspired coup in 1963 under President John F. Kennedy. The Americans had intended that the anti-Communist dictator Diem, who was an ally of the U.S., be given safe passage into exile, not executed. Not surprisingly, the Left is less outraged by the murder of the Vietnamese President, which it is careful to point out was unintended by Kennedy, because it opposed Diem, than it was over Allende’s death. Even now that we know that Allende was not murdered, because of their double standard, liberals are likely to continue to be more outraged over the coup that overthrew him than the one that resulted in the murder of Diem.

     Liberals will continue to deligitimatize the Chilean coup by focusing only on the bad results that came from the regime that replaced Allende, while ignoring the good. At least now, because of the release of the autopsy results, Allende’s death can no longer be used as by the anti-American Left as proof of American evil. Instead, the results expose how willing the Left is to believe the worst about the United States a priori and how false those beliefs can be.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bombay vs. Mumbai; Peking vs. Beijing

     The media has adopted the current trendy practice of renaming certain foreign cities, replacing their traditional, historical English names with the current local spelling and pronunciation of their names.

     This confusing practice reflects cultural selectivity, as it is only being applied to Asian names. In fact, specifically it is only being applied to certain Asian states. We do not pronounce Paris (pah REE) instead of (PAA riss). We do not write Roma for Rome, Torino for Turin, Athina for Athens, Salonika for Thessaloniki, Munchen for Munich, or El Qahira for Cairo for example, even though all of these local spellings are well-known, nor do we even write Krung Thep for Bangkok.

     Therefore, for Indian cities, we should continue to use Bombay, not Mumbai, Madras, not Chennai, Calcutta, not Kolkata, for example. For Burma (note I do not use the official name the Burmese military junta calls their state, “Myanmar”), Rangoon should be used, not Yangon, for example.

     For China, we should continue to use Peking, not Beijing, Canton, not Guangzhou, Nanking, not Nanjing, and Tientsin, not Tianjin, for example. I should note that Beijing is pronounced (bay JING), not (bay ZHING), as many in the media pronounce it. Regardless, Beijing, as well as these other alternate spellings, are the pinyin renderings of Mandarin Chinese words into the Latin alphabet. Pinyin was made the official style of rendering by the Communist Chinese. The use of pinyin has extended to all of China, even to areas beyond where Mandarin Chinese is the native language. For example, Urumchi has become Urumqi. Thankfully, even the liberal media has resisted the Communist Chinese effort to erase the name Tibet by replacing it with the pinyin Xizang, but the political effort to Sinicize non-Chinese peoples is nonetheless apparent.

     The practice of adopting local spellings or pronunciations of foreign cities and other place-names is historically confusing, inconsistent and politically biased. We conservatives especially should be careful not go along with this trend when speaking or writing to an audience that primarily comprises English-speakers, especially if the audience members do not share the same ethnicity as the people who created the local place-name.  An acceptable practice would be to note the current local spelling or pronunciation for any place-name, but use the traditional English one primarily.

     I am going to take this opportunity to criticize another media practice in regard to foreign cities. The media often includes the entire metropolitan area of a foreign city when reporting its population, without making it clear that it is referring not only to the city itself (the area within the city limits), but also its environs (the surrounding area, including its suburbs). This distinction should be made clear. Otherwise, it is false reporting. Although the population of the metropolitan area may be a useful datum in certain cases, it is misleading in a political or administrative context.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Independence for South Sudan

     The Republic of South Sudan became an independent state today, splitting from Sudan after a referendum in January. As I have noted in previous posts, Sudan, which had been Africa’s largest state by territory, is dominated by Arab Muslims, while South Sudan is populated by Christian and animist Africans. The northern Sudanese had oppressed their southern countrymen, which led to a two-decades long civil war that killed millions. The referendum for independence had passed overwhelmingly.

     The oil-rich border region of Abyei remains a source of contention between Sudan and South Sudan. A referendum there on whether to join the north or south has failed to take place. Violent clashes have occurred. Other problems concern residents of Sudan’s South Kordofan province who wish to join South Sudan, as well as Southern Sudanese who live in Sudan. 

     As I have noted in earlier posts, former United States President George W. Bush labored for years for the 2005 cease-fire in the Sudanese Civil War, elections in Sudan and the referendum on independence in South Sudan. CNS news reports that although the Obama Administration acknowledged two Bush Administration officials, Colin Powell and John Danforth, it gave no credit specifically to Bush, while giving itself the lion’s share of the credit. The Obama Administration deserves credit for helping to ensure that Sudan respected the process set in place by his predecessor, but today’s independence for Southern Sudan ought to be considered Bush’s legacy. 

     South Sudan joins East Timor as territories once controlled by militant Muslims that have broken away after violent oppression, followed by referenda supported by the international community. Militant Muslims believe that once a territory is claimed for Islam, it cannot be relinquished. The international community has a responsibility for the support and defense of South Sudan, especially during this War on Terrorism against militant Muslims. 

     Southern Sudanese independence was one of the required steps for the removal of Sudan from the U.S. State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. Sudan had infamously harbored Osama bin Laden. Sudan must take other required steps in order to be removed from the list and escape the harsh sanctions that the U.S. imposes on states on the list.

     The Southern Sudanese conflict predates the genocide being committed by Arab Sudanese with government backing in the western province of Darfur against black Muslims.

     South Sudan is the 194th foreign state in the world, including the Republic of China (Taiwan) in addition to the 50 states in the American Union. I congratulate the Southern Sudanese. May God bless South Sudan.

Governor Corbett Signs Pennsylvania’s Budget and Welfare Reform Legislation

     Pennsylvania’s Republican Governor Tom Corbett kept his campaign promise to eliminate the Commonwealth’s $4.5 billion deficit without raising taxes.

     Pennsylvania is constitutionally required to balance its budget. The deficit had been run up during the last year of Democratic Governor Ed Rendell, together with a Democratic-controlled state House of Representatives. Governor Corbett signed a balanced budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year that was approved by the new Republican-majority legislature on time. Passing budgets on time has been a rare occurrence over the least several years.

     The new budget is balanced because it cuts wasteful spending. Corbett resisted pressure to impose an additional tax on the Marcellus shale natural gas industry in particular on top of the already-high corporate taxes paid by every industry, pending the recommendation of a study group he formed to consider an unnecessary so-called “impact fee.” It was excessive spending, not a lack of higher taxes, that had caused the deficits in the first place. Avoiding a tax increase will prevent harm to the Keystone State’s economy. 

     Some of the Governor’s critics claimed that there was a budget surplus that should have mitigated the spending cuts. There was no surplus, only a larger amount of revenue than projected, which did help reduce some of the budget cuts to education. Governor Corbett also successfully reserved some of the extra revenue to replenish the Commonwealth’s rainy day fund, which Rendell had drained. Regardless of whether there was a surplus in the general fund, even the general fund balance does not take into account the over $3 billion Pennsylvania still owes the federal government for unemployment compensation. 

     Public and higher education spending had grown in Pennsylvania much faster than inflation, which made it a reasonable part of the state budget from which to eliminate wasteful spending by forcing school districts and the four state-owned universities to make the same sort of sacrifices that private industries and citizens are making. Furthermore, most school districts had spent the Obama stimulus money in their general funds projects instead of on temporary projects, as they had been advised to do. The end of the stimulus does not represent a cut, as many liberal big-spenders in the education industry claim, but a return to the previous level of spending. Those districts that followed the advice not to spend the stimulus money except on temporary projects were well-prepared for the state budget cuts because they had already factored the end of the stimulus into their budgets.

     The welfare reform bill Governor Corbett signed into law will provide for better enforcement against waste, fraud and abuse, thereby saving Pennsylvania taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, in addition to the recently-approved budget cuts. One provision would require those convicted of drug felonies to be tested thrice a year. Other provisions of the new welfare law will reduce some reimbursement rates and require more co-payments for recipients of certain benefits who earn twice the poverty limit. Unlike other states, Pennsylvania had hardly implemented any welfare reform in the 1990s. The Commonwealth allows too many loopholes and bureaucratic discretion for any effective reform. The new law will reduce the amount of payments to those who are not eligible, but more fundamental reform is needed. Nonetheless, it is a good start. I urge the Pennsylvania legislature to consider more significant welfare reform.