American revoltionaries were terrorists!

Actually, the point I was making is that it was a fairly major campaign, with the express purpose of being as destructive as possible. I think that qualifies as “stated official policy”, or close enough.

Yep. But if they are declared enemy combatants, and the attacks are made by uniformed regulars, it doesn’t fit under a “terrorism” definition. One of the other characteristics is unidentified, ununiformed attackers. Washington’s troops were open in their destruction. I’m quite sure that this is small comfort to the Iroquois, who would such actions “terrorism.”

I would agree that it’s not terrorism, but nor it is necessarily playing fair. Even between combatants war does have rules; non-uniformed personnel attacking in the guise of civilians isn’t considered kosher in warfare.

Hmmm. The strategic bombing campaign of Sir Arthur Harris from the beginning and that of the US eventually was purposely directed at civilians. The RAF bombed them at home at night and the US bombed them a work during the day.

Even more conjecture would place the blame on the PLO and/or their allies in Lebanon as payback for Sabra and Shatila.

Indeed that’s a very salient point. I’ve seen more than a few documentaries which have contended that the capacity for German industry to repair itself through the entirety of WWII (particularly by placing mission critical production underground) was so great that the consensus is that the Allied bommbing capaigns effectively had nil effect on Germany’s industrial capacity to wage war. In that context, the targeting of Dresden in particular remains one of the great shames on our copybook I’d suggest.

Sounds like terrorism to me.

If I may ask, what was the feeling of the crews about this? Yes, they still carried out their orders but was there certain disquiet amongst them or in those days of total war was it all seen as fair play and revenge for the Blitz etc.

I grant you that.

I don’t know about other groups but I never noticed any doubts in the one I was in. As for me, I was never bothered then or since.

The defining characteristics of terrorism are: the attackers operate covertly, are not regular military, militia or guerrillas, and do not wear uniforms or any identifying isignia; that they attack civilian targets to bend a civilian population to their will; and that their motive is primarily or exclusively political.

If an act doesn’t meet all three of these criteria, it isn’t a terrorist act. It may deplorable and horrifying, but it isn’t terrorism.

Now, can we please stop playing these silly word games?

No doubt about it, “terrorism” is thrown around too much. However the express purpose of the bombing of German cities as laid out by the Air Ministry and the so-called Casablanca Directive was to break the morale of the German work force.

The purpose for the fire-bombing of Japanese cities was to terrify the civilian population as well as to ruin the infrastructure needed for war production.

The Boston Tea Party was a terrorits act. There were many other acts like this in Boston. Officials houses had bricks tossed through windows in the middle of the night. The events that lead up to the Boston Massacre, (which it wasn’t) include people throwing stones at the soldiers who had been ordered not to respond. When two soldiers chased someone down they got surrounded by a mob. The rest of the soliders came to bail out their buddies.

The ‘Powder Alarms’ that lead up the battles of Lexington and Concord had the colonists acting in terrorist ways. Soldiers on orders to pick up the King’s property, gunpowder, cannons, ammuntion, were harrassed at every turn and had their way blocked by the colonists. A few times the army backed down because the only choice would have been to start shooting.

And remember, everyone here spoke the same language.

True, but these actions don’t meet the first criteria, so they don’t count as terrorism.

The Mafia used violence to terrorize civilians, and they weren’t regular or irregular military so they satisfy the first two criteria. But they acted primarily to gain personal power and wealth, so they don’t satisfy the last criterion. Some of the attacks taking place in Iraq don’t meet the third criterion, so they’re simply criminal rather than terrorist.

The Viet Cong committed acts of violence (political assassinations, among other things) to intimidate civilians and they acted on political motives. However, they may have been members of an irregular military organization, so they may not satisfy the first criterion. It all hinges on whether or not you consider the VC a legitimate military organization. I’m not sure that I do.

Elements of the Ku Klux Klan in the '20s and '60s used violence to intimidate civilian populations, weren’t members of regular or irregular military units, and were acting primarily out of political and ideological motives. That was terrorism by these criteria. So were the actions of the Symbionese Liberation Army of the '70s, despite their use of military titles. The Manson Family might qualify. They weren’t regular or irregular military, and their leader was motivated by a crackpot religiopolitical philosophy, but most people seem to think their actions were merely criminal rather than political.

As it is with everything, there are some gray areas.

All I see in the OP is an intent to create moral and semantic confusion to conceal or obscure the moral nature of the enemy we’re fighting, and to suggest that we are somehow no better than they are. And that’s like comparing Churchill and Roosevelt to Hitler.

The 1989 invasion of Panama ironically named “Operation Just Cause”. If there is one thing Americans excel at, it is justifying their crimes.

Most of the direct attacks on soldiers are not terrorism per se. OTOH, they’re being carried out by foreign murderers who routinely kill random civilians. They are terrorists even if their specific actions agains US troops are not.

Note that the attacks today are carried out predominently by foreign fighters, not Iraqis. They are not defending their nation; they’re attempting to conquer one. And even the former Iraqi opposition was really just a one sect who didn’t like the fact they were no longer able to dominate the rest of the country.

As for WW2, I agree that terror was used as a weapon by the allies. I do not consider this a fault. Proper conduct in war entails the consideration of numerous weapons, and fear and intimidation are among them.

More to the point, it was the German civilians themselves who made themselves targets. Such is the nature of unleashing industrial-age warfare. With the weapons and armies of the time, leaders often felt they had no choice but to attack civilians because with Industrial Age warfare, the distinction between a civilian making guns and a soldier using them had essentially vanished.

Indeed, most of the contraversy of these things nowadays is not the result of any moral growth but the shear fact that we can take greater pains to differentiate civilians from soldiers, and that massed labor is longer so important.

I wouldn’t exactly call that terrorism. It was destruction of property (and ergo criminal under British law), but that’s not neccessarily a moral fault. Fear was not the reason, but the demonstrate that the colonies would not be exploited and controlled solely for England’s gain, even if it did not hurt them. There was a clear attempt to intimidate British agents, but this sort of thing is hardly terrorism.

It wasn’t particularly a crime. Noriega declared war on the U.S., which led to the death of an off-duty Marine by Panamianian soldiers. As the U.S. was not pleased with Noriega’s drug trading, President Bush (I) sent in some troops. The govenrment of Panama rather quickly deposed Noriega, and he eventually surrendered (after famously being annoyed with the Marine’s speakers fpor days on end).

For some reason, we put him on trial and he was convicted of drug offenses. This was technically illegal. OTOH, since we’d sort of conquered Panama, we were pretty much free to do anything wanted, so I suppose he should just be happy he got a trial.

No, I think the intent of the OP was to question folks–especially our president–who throw around the term terrorism so loosely. If you listen to our presidents weekly radio addresses you often hear him say the word terrorism several times in sentence.

I think this conceals the fact that we are fighting a real enemy with real goals (to end the occupation of their country.) I think it’s valuable for us to admit this. We are fighting guerillas not just terrorists.

I think alot of the acts of terrorism in Iraq are a product of the Civil war that is erupting there. Bombs that target our military convoys are not terrorism. There is a distinction.

I don’t think this is just an issue of semantics. I think it’s important to analyze our own history in order to do the right thing now.

But it’s not that simple. One of the tools of the insurgency is terrorism…blowing up mosques during worship services, blowing up crowds of children, hacking the heads off of journalists and sending the videos to Al Jazeera, stuff like that. Other stuff is borderline, like blowing up Iraqi police stations. Other stuff they do isn’t terrorism, like shooting at American soldiers.

OK, so not everything they do is terrorism. When they eat dinner they aren’t engaging in terrorism. When they shoot at US soldiers they aren’t terrorists, they are enemy soldiers. When they kill peaceful civilians they are terrorists.

Pretty simple. You can be a terrorist who blows up children and also non-terroristically fight US soldiers.

And all this is secondary to the fact that shooting US soldiers is a very bad thing, because the insurgents who want the US to pull out of Iraq want to establish…what? Some form of dictatorship, either secular or theocratic. They want to enslave Iraq. We don’t want to let them. So we fight them. Pretty simple, no?

There are dictatorships all over the world. Don’t you think it’s odd that we are so concerned about this one. Perhaps we should attack Saudi Arabia because they are a Despotic country that needs democritizing–no they’re on the payroll. Howbout Kuwait–no they’re on the payroll too.

Anyone who believes that this war is not about Oil is misguided.

Let’s be frank: this is self-serving bullshit. This is the definition that allows people to commit the exact same acts in different costumes and in one case call it despicable terrorism, and in another necessary war efforts.

As far as I’m concerned, attacking civilian populations to instill fear and break their will and try to influence them politically is terrorism, period, if the word is really going to have the sinister moral overtones people try to use it for. That means, however, that just because you have a bunch of fancy stars, a uniform and think yourself a serious guy making hard choices in hard wartime, you don’t get a special excusal from having your acts called terrorism.

So, yeah, you’d BETTER believe that Hiroshima, Dresden, and any number of other acts by us in the past were flat-out terrorism. So was giving smallpox-infected blankets to Indians (likely the first known modern use of biological warfare). We can give all the fancy justifications for those acts we want, but that shouldn’t affect the definition of the tactics being used. If we believed that terrorism was justifed in those instances, well there are plenty of people in the Middle East that think their causes are just as morally important and justified. The debate then is who is correct about the justness of their cause and the means they use to achieve it: not who is the terrorist.

The U.S. has to its credit rejected the use of terrorism in the last few decades, at least directly.