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Freedom Fighters or Soldiers

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SOC 802-Section01 (Fall 2010) - Issues in War and Peace | Essay Topic # 4: Soldiers, Freedom Fighters, and Terrorists | | | Wais Ghafoori | 11/10/2010 |

There are profound differences between the soldiers, freedom fighters, and terrorists; there are no profound differences between them; the whole issue is a matter of the observers’ viewpoint, or interests |

Is there a difference between soldiers, freedom fighters, and terrorists? Some may believe there is. Others believe the opposite. To others it may be the observers’ viewpoint or interests. However, I believe it can go anyway. At certain cases there are significant differences between soldiers, freedom fighters, and terrorists. And at other moments they are all the same. I will be examining all sides; whether soldiers, freedom fighters, and terrorists are different or there are no differences between them or it may be in the observers’ viewpoint or interests. One cannot truly understand whether there is a difference or not without understanding all sides of the topic. In a way, once understanding all view points, one would be able to give a more appropriate opinion which they could support or make an assumption about the different sides of this topic while critically assessing all sides. People see terrorists as the enemy, when the terrorist is attacking them or their land/nation. However, the soldiers are seen as heroes when attacking the land of people which the terrorists come from. Yet, we don’t see that soldiers may be the terrorist to them, the foreign nation, which the soldiers are attacking. The most obvious, biggest and most recent cause of this being such a hot topic is the ‘9/11’ attack on the day of September 11th, 2001. Were these really cases of terrorism, or were they freedom fighters fighting for their cause.

“The enemy is terrorism-premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against innocents,” (G. W. Bush, p.113). George W. Bush believes that ‘9/11 attack’ on U.S. soil was the cause of a belligerent act of terrorism from a terrorist group, ‘Al-Qaeda.’ We can believe that the ‘9/11’ attack on the U.S. was an act of terrorism because there wasn’t a very strong supportive reason to their cause that we knew of before their attack on September 11th, 2010 at the World Trade Centre. Even if there was a cause or any reason at all to their act of terrorism, it does not justify killing innocent people. There acts were said to be the cause of religious beliefs and for the unbelievers, that do not believe in the faith of Islam and Allah, were to be punished. I’m Muslim and our religion doesn’t say anything about killing people of different religions. I could go on about this, but the point is they were terrorists. “There was no strategic military purpose involved. The attack was pure destruction, an act designed for one end–terror, (Bolt, p.1).

A person killing another innocent person for any reason is an act of terrorism. There are rules and regulations when it comes to war-fare. Barnett supports this statement by agreeing that terrorism occurs outside the ‘rules’ of warfare and criminal activity, (White, p.119). Terrorists’ main purpose is to put fear and terror into the people they are terrorizing, whether it is in violent bombings or any type of killings of innocent people. Soldiers fight other soldiers for their country. They do not kill innocent people. If a soldier kills an innocent person in Afghanistan, during the American’s infiltration and demobilization of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, than they would be prosecuted in some type of military court hearing under certain circumstances. We have come a long way from how war was fought in the past. We should know that innocent people are not to be killed or harmed in any way. Terrorist would kill innocent people for their cause. That is the difference between a soldier and a terrorist or freedom fighter. I believe a solder fights for an important cause. “The United States has never killed thousands of Muslim civilians on purpose in a military operation, (Ross, p.126). The fact is Osama Bin Laden has killed thousands of American civilians. A soldier, to me, fights to defend and protect his people and country or nation. They do not kill innocent civilians.

It is no doubt that ‘terrorism constitutes the legitimate use of force to achieve a political objective by targeting innocent people,” which is said by Jenkins and Laquer (1987), (White, p.116). Martha Crenshaw (1983) said that terrorism can’t be really defined unless the target, act or possibilities of success are analyzed. Under the same approach, we look at freedom fighters, which use legitimate military methods to attack legitimate political targets, (White, p.117). We can agree that they are differentiated when freedom fighters have some possibility of winning. However, freedom fighters become terrorists when they desert military methods and military targets, or when they fight with no chance of winning, (White, p.117). There is a profound difference between the two, which is assessed by both theorists. I believe that freedom fighters are people who are suppressors of their government and government leaders. They attack on military targets and are seen as somewhat of a ‘guerrilla.’ I would consider Nelson Mandela a freedom fighter who fought for his land and for equal rights. Ghandi was a freedom fighter as well, but he used non-violent liberal methods. Another common day freedom fighter was Martin Luther King Jr. He fought for his beliefs in equal rights between coloured and white people in America. Martin Luther King Jr. also chose to fight without violence, even though after he was murdered there was much violence in America between coloured and white people. There are freedom fighters that fight for what they believe in and in most cases they do use violence to get their point across. However, they attack military targets and avoid killing civilians, unlike terrorists. Freedom fighters engage themselves in a struggle to make a difference and acquire political freedom for themselves and/or others. So, when have this idea of terrorists, we shouldn’t be prepared to treat terrorists as criminals and place them equal with drug traffickers, smugglers, and so forth, because they are highly trained, organized, hugely destructive paramilitary units that were and are conducting offensive campaigns against a variety of nations and social systems, (Carr, p.123). We must understand that terrorism is a method of fighting somewhat greater than civil disorders and somewhat less than guerrilla warfare, (White, p.119).

Some may argue that terrorists, solider and freedom fighters all fall into the same category. Soldiers, terrorists and freedom fighters could all predominantly be categorized as killers. A soldier would kill another person to defend his country. Terrorists would kill mainly for political or religious reasons. Freedom fighters fight for the rights and freedom of themselves and/or others against the suppressive government. They are all similar in a way. It would be fair to say that freedom fighters, terrorists, and soldiers are similar psychologically, in a way. They all have the mind set to kill for their purpose, whether a soldier is being told to kill, or a terrorists killing for his religious beliefs. Killing another human being is still murder. Yet, the reasoning may be different for why one is killing another or others. You could consider a soldier in a foreign country a terrorist, and a terrorist a freedom fighter fighting for his country and beliefs. Also, a freedom fighter could be considered a terrorist in their own country by attacking government officials or military targets. All three could be defined as one another, terrorist, freedom fighter or soldier.

Terrorists could even be government officials. Herman (1983) argues that repressive policies have resulted in more misery for more people than any other form of state-sponsored terror, when citing corrupt Latin American governments, (White, p.116). Michael Stohl (1983) also agrees, in the same article that governments most frequently use terrorism to maintain power, (White, p.117). This supports my theory that soldiers too can be used to become terrorists in other countries. When we look at past history, we see how neighbouring countries would fight with one another to maintain power and land. That is how America became to own all of its land. It had terrorized and pushed Mexico and Spain out of their territory to rule over and own their land to make it a part of the United States of America. If, the definition of terrorism under the FBI is “the unlawful use or threat of violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce (bully) a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives,” (White, p.118), than wouldn’t America be labelled as a terrorist country. They had done it in the past by having their soldiers bully and become terrorists to their neighbouring countries. So, I would think America was a terrorist country before, but now that they have all this land and they feel as if they are a power house in the world today as we see it, than they are no longer a terrorist country, instead they are chasing them. I understand America is overseas fighting for the battle against terrorism, but I believe they are going to Afghanistan and Iraq to acquire their resources and build an American head quarter there because they will not want to leave. So, America will have some power overseas, and I am sure I’m not the only one that believes this. Now that could be somewhat of a characteristic of terrorism. They obviously found a lope-hole by having a legitimate reason for being there, but they are increasing American power by having soldiers sent to the middle-east to fight this war. One could argue this opinion. Another example could be if a criminal attacks another person or a gang member and takes over a part of another territory in the city. That person could be considered all three, a terrorist, freedom fighter and soldier. He/she could be considered a terrorist because that person is terrorizing another territory in the city and a freedom fighter because he/she may be fighting to bring food for his family and other people. Also, he/she may be seen as a soldier because he/she is creating more territory for his gang to create more money to feed their families. We can look at this example in many different ways, yet, they all have a similar characteristic. If, that person kills someone to gain that territory it would support my theory even more because killing someone is a similar characteristic of a freedom fighter, terrorist, and soldier.

Terrorists, freedom fighters, and soldiers are often linked together in different situations. They may differ or have similarities depending on how one would look at the situation. “Terrorism usually fluctuates according to the interest of the group defining the term, (White, p.116) and it depends who uses it in what term to whom they are describing. Would a person killing another person for money be an act of terrorism just because he needs to survive and by food for him and his family? Some people believe that killing an innocent person is an act of terrorism but how would that be justified. There are over one hundred definitions for terrorism, how would one understand what a terrorist really means. Jonathan White explains it beautifully in his article, ‘Terrorism and Homeland Security.’ “Governments call violent opponents terrorists... Some people believe the target matters. When groups target military forces it’s not terrorism, but when they attack civilians, it is. Militant pro-life supporters call doctors who perform abortions terrorists, where as pro-choice advocates use the same term to describe their opponents. The meaning changes when differing groups use the term.” (White, p116).

I would consider Hitler a terrorist because of the enormous amount of innocent people he killed. He was a terrorist to his own country by certain people. But to others, he was an activist, a leader and someone who was looked up to. He was a freedom fighter of the world because he believed in his cause. To some peoples’ view points and interests he may have been a freedom fighter, and to others he was a terrorist. A soldier to his people would be a quote on his statue if he had been successful in dominating the world. It’s the view point of others that made him what he was. I certainly believe Hitler was a terrorist who fought for a cause which I could never really understand. He was supposedly this very brilliant man, but I don’t think so. He may have been a brilliant military strategist. But I could ask my nephew in the future a rhetorical question. I would ask him if killing innocent people is something a soldier or freedom fighter would. He would probably tell me no and say he was a terrorist of his century. If, I asked a Natzi activist in the 21st Century the same question I would most likely get the opposite answer. Colin Ross makes a bold statement, “From the perspective of the citizens of America, we are perfectly justified in taking bin Laden dead or alive. Bin Laden’s perspective is the flip opposite. He feels fully satisfied in killing innocent children at the World Trade Centre. What is the difference between Al-Qaeda and America, then?” (Ross, p.126). If, Americans or even Canadians have the same mind set as Bin Laden, than how are we any different. If, all these soldiers have this hate and feel this way for Bin Laden, than how are they any different than a terrorist.
They are different in many ways but similar in a few ways as well. They all have different ways of killing people, different terrains in which they fight on, and so forth. I believe that majority of people see terrorists as the bad guys because that is what the media feeds our minds. We have not looked at the other side or been there. Although, some might have, but I’m sure there is a large number of people who haven’t. We always see terrorists in movies as foreign people attacking America. However, middle-eastern people might believe that America is the terrorist who just wants to control their land for their resources just so they can be a bigger powerhouse in the world. I could be wrong because it seems as if foreigners migrate to America because they might want to live a better life or whatever the reason may be. So, we have this idea that America may be the terrorists to middle-eastern countries, such as Afghanistan and Iraq. America’s soldiers are fighting Muslim terrorists and Muslim freedom fighters are fighting American terrorists. I believe that terrorists are judged on their motive. Colin A. Ross states, “Osama bin Laden has defined America as Satan... and he is locked in a fight to death with the Evil America. He is the victim and America is the perpetrator, in his mind. For America, bin Laden is Satan... and the goal is the capture and death of bin Laden...,” (Ross, p126). We see that there are two different view points from opposite sides, the terrorists’ viewpoint, and the freedom fighters or soldier’s viewpoint. But which is which?

In another article, ‘Terrorists or Freedom Fighters: What's the Difference?” John Bolt states, “...the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter is purely a matter of perception. When our guy kills in battle, he’s a freedom fighter; when our enemy does, he is a terrorist. Similar acts get different labels depending on who is doing the labeling,” (Bolt, p.1). The statement that Bolt wrote in his article is a simple way of putting it. Terrorists, freedom fighters and soldiers are all viewed in the observer’s viewpoint and interests. One cannot be judged without the other. It seems that people’s minds are corrupted because of the society we live in and what we see and hear controls what we hate and love. Terrorist, freedom fighter or soldier; it could be all the same, different or be a matter of the observer’s view points. I will repeat a famous quote which has been said before and heard numerous times, ‘One person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter.’

Bibliography

George W. Bush. (Sept. 14, 2010). The National Security Strategy of the United States 2002: Issues in War and Peace (p. 113-115). Toronto: Ryerson University Bookstore, Fall 2010.

Jonathan R. White. Terrorism and Homeland Security: Issues in War and Peace (p. 116-119). Toronto: Ryerson University Bookstore, Fall 2010.

Caleb Carr. The Lessons of Terror: Issues in War and Peace (p. 120-124). Toronto: Ryerson University Bookstore, Fall 2010.

Colin A. Ross. Know Your Enemy: A Psychological Profile of Terrorism: Issues in War and Peace (p. 125-126). Toronto: Ryerson University Bookstore, Fall 2010.

John Bolt. (Nov. 14, 2001). Terrorists or Freedom Fighters: What’s the Difference? Action Institute: Acton Commentary Publications. Online <http://www.acton.org/pub/commentary/2001/11/14/terrorists-or-freedom-fighters-whats-difference> (Nov. 1, 2010.)…...

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Freedom

...centuries the word "freedom" has been a topic of debate, and for good reason. There are so many different views of what freedom truly means and what influences it has on our daily lives. According to the American Heritage College Dictionary the word freedom means "The Condition of being free of constraints. To me, the word freedom is being able to achieve anything you want to. It is being able to change your surrounding environment how you want it to be. Many questions have been asked about whether we are truly free of constraints or if everything is predetermined by events that have already transpired. Some believe that it is indeed true that we are not free, that nothing happens freely, and that nothing happens by chance, everything is determined to happen precisely as it does down to the smallest detail. If this statement is true then we are not free, we live a life of predetermined events. In this paper I will discuss many topics regarding freedom including the idea of predetermined events, the use of consequences, and a look back in history at freedom and how it has c... ... middle of paper ... ...ll I am able to choose what I want and change to who I want to be. Living in the United States also plays a big role in my freedom. The United States differs from all other nations. The right to freedom is a gift that is taken for granted. The right of freedom is a gift that no one can take away, a gift that is unseen, but invaluable. Your right to freedom may not be......

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