“George W. Bush: Terrorist.”
I’ve seen you, you pseudo-intellectual college students and aging hipsters of the “Free Love” generation, wearing one of those witty t-shirts in recent years. Those t-shirts are without doubt so clever they induce in your conservative Republican opponents a sort of quasi-introspective trace, don’t they? “George W. Bush is a terrorist? I never thought of it that way. Perhaps I should,” they’ll tell themselves.
I can understand why someone might want to think of President Bush as a terrorist. Let’s assume for a moment the culturally sensitive perspective of a foreigner whose country has been invaded by US forces and has seen fellow civilians killed or harmed by the US military. Why wouldn’t they think of the American Commander-In-Chief as a terrorist? After all, he is using force to achieve political or ideological objectives while he wears the “disguise” of a civilian. Though, I don’t know how much of a disguise a business suit is. Maybe it’s the inflammatory red ties he always wears.
While I am no fan of rednecks, ah, red neckties, calling George W. Bush a terrorist broadens what it means to be such a radical, perhaps to the point of even cheapening the word “terrorist” (at least they don’t try to avoid their duty). Perhaps such name-calling is to be expected though from people who merely wish to pray for world peace instead of taking action as means to achieve their visions of utopia. And while these same opponents of President Bush call for his impeachment (its all the rage these days for American presidents), they cannot do so on the grounds that George W. Bush is a terrorist. The President may be many things—and we can be unfriendly about that—but he is not a terrorist. Breath.
Now that any liberal rage you may have had has passed, let’s think about what defines a terrorist.
We’ll begin with the kind of actions that are to be reasonably expected from someone who is called a terrorist; in other words, they terrorize. Now, causing another person great harm can be either mental or physical in nature. However, a terrorist’s method-of-operation is specifically and primarily physical in nature, and typically targets civilians. If terrorist attacks were instead psychological in nature (instead of an expected result of the primary physical attack), then it would be reasonable to expect to find Catholic and Jewish grandmothers imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay.
The purpose of this physical violence against civilian populations is to install fear in a target populace as a method of coercing a population to meet the political or religious demands of the terrorist or the organization they represent. If the population does not give into the coercion, is expected that terrorist attacks will continue. In this way, the acts of terrorists follow a systematic pattern with which to weave a quilt of destruction.
Moreover, a terrorist characteristically masquerades as a member of the society in which they wish to attack. This tactic is designed to avoid capture by either military or civilian police opposition. This disguise technique causes a target population further concern, because they do not know who the enemy is, much less when and where the unknown assailant(s) will attack. Thus, in an attempt to gain security, a society might lobby their government to give into terrorist demands, such as was the case with the Madrid, Spain train bombings in March 2004. Who knows where they read it, but terrorists certainly make abuse of the phrase, “Better safe than sorry.”
So does President Bush fir the bill of a terrorist? In sending US troops to invade Iraq, the President did not call for specific civilian targets to be engaged. Though civilians might be killed as a matter of collateral damage, they are not the primary focus of any intended violence. In fact, the term “collateral damage” is applied to civilian casualties during military operations exactly because they would be spared any harm if it could be avoided, ideally speaking. If a government’s military intended to kill civilians, they would just go ahead and do it (though it would perhaps be wise to kill all the local reporters as well). Because the US military does not go out of it’s way to kill civilians, their Commander-In-Chief is spared the label of “terrorist.”
It is also exactly because George w. Bush is recognized worldwide as The United States’ Commander-In-Chief that he is not a terrorist. Regardless then of whether he is dressed in a suit and tie or a flight suit stuffed to the nines, he cannot be considered a terrorist because he has explicit ties to the military. Terrorists rarely if ever are connected to a country’s military or governing body, and even when they are, it is not known or disclosed who these people might be.
In order to clear President Bush of any further accusations of being a terrorist, allow me to paraphrase terrorism expert A.P. Schmid who in 1992 defined to the UN what terrorism is: “Terrorism is an anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by clandestine individuals/groups, for religious or political ideals, whereby… the direct targets of violence are not the main targets. The victims of violence are chosen randomly (targets of opportunity) or selectively (symbolic targets) to serve as a message generator.” If we use the Iraq War as an example, President Bush commanded the US military to engage non-random, practical military targets, not civilians. Furthermore, George W. Bush can hardly be considered a clandestine individual.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but George W. Bush is emphatically not a terrorist. He doesn’t fulfill any of the qualifications used to define what a terrorist is. Call him what you want (I prefer the term “Errorist”), but he is not a terrorist.
So yeah, about those t-shirts with The President’s picture on them, branding him a terrorist? Feel free to go ahead and put those unsightly little t-shirts away. You wouldn’t want to be accused of terrorizing the fashion industry, now would you?