Ranger Comment of the Day:
ETA is 50 years old. They have survived both
French and Spanish efforts to destroy them.
Ranger will be long gone when al Qaeda
celebrates its 50th.
And celebrate they will.
democracy and communism fuck smack and pot
and red ripe tomatoes fuck joseph fuck mary fuck
god jesus and all the disciples fuck fanon nixon
and malcom fuck the revolution fuck freedom fuck
the whole muthafucking thing
all i want now is my woman back
so my soul can sing
--Feeling Fucked Up, Etheridge Knight
Ev'rybody's talking about
Bagism, Shagism, Dragism, Madism,
This-ism, That-ism, is-m, is-m, is-m
--Give Peace a Chance, John Lennon
The Basque separatist group ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna: Basque Homeland and Freedom) had an explosive reappearance on the national scene recently after detonating several bombs in recognition of the group's 50th anniversary.
ETA's reappearance brings several issues to the fore. First, Spain sees this terrorist group rightly as criminals, and Spain's former justice minister Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar says they will have their day in court.
"Their only future is the dock of the accused, justice, conviction and jail," he said, though he warned that while the group had been weakened it would always prove attractive to disillusioned youth.
"'No society is free or has immunity from the threat of organized crime and its capacity to attract members from the marginalized and socially excluded elements in society,' he said (Car Bomb in Spain Proves ETA's Resiliance)."
Aguilar understands these truisms about terrorist movements.
Another point of ETA's story is that is that though their "No. 1 leader was nabbed in France last year" and his replacement lasted only weeks, these actions could not keep the group down.
Historically, killing or attritting the leadership only leads to new generations which arise to assume the mantle of leadership, thereby filling in the void. And usually, the new generations are more violent than the preceding. It is a dance of death in which we foolishly believe that we control the orchestra. We may control government violence, but we do not set the beat.
The groups are then forced to cross-fertilize in order to gain experience and training, in addition to funding. This ensures an escalation of violence.
Another revealing fact comes in the news coverage itself. In short order, ETA is referred to as a "separatist group," "insurgency," murderers, savages and lunatics, a "major armed group," "soldiers" and "organized crime."
Not once in the AP story were they termed "terrorists". ETA knows who they are, but it is obvious reporters can't define them. It is the same squeamishness they bring to discussions of al Qaeda or the Taliban. This is a key issue -- understanding and defining terrorism and the resultant groups is the key to countering the threat.
"In its half-century of existence, ETA has outlasted every other major armed group in Europe, including the IRA in Northern Ireland, Italy's Red Brigades and Germany's Baader-Meinhof." Read "major armed groups" to mean terrorists.
However, ETA and the IRA have a glimmer of legitimacy, as they can be construed as separatists and in possession of a legitimate political agenda [American Revolution, anyone?] The same cannot be said of RAF, Red Brigades, Action Directe and Baader-Meinhof, all of whom had little claim to legitimate objectives.
Those groups were nihilistic in nature. Al Qaeda is also nihilistic, as their violence is theatre and for violence's sake alone, and lacks any legitimacy. However, the Taliban has an understandable agenda. They want a homeland that is (fill in the blank) in which they are in charge of their destiny. This is as legitimate as the actions of Saudi Arabia's government; the only difference is, the Taliban doesn't sit on oil reserves.
Nobody but an idiot could believe that they could ever destroy our way of life, nor should it be presumed that they want to. Nihilist groups cannot be defeated by armies. The Euro terror groups were destroyed by coordinated police and law enforcement intelligence.
Both Germany and France had major anti-terror functions centralized in their national police and tactically in their respective border police functions. The military did not enter into the equation.
It is not correct to say that ETA has outlasted the IRA. It is safer to say that the IRA is not active at this time, but rather lies dormant. The IRA is not, however, dead. The IRA has elected to resolve their issues in a political manner.
"Politically, ETA also suffered a serious setback earlier this year when Basque voters for the first time chose a government allied with the ruling Socialists, rejecting a party that favored greater autonomy. Several parties closely allied with ETA were banned from taking part."
ETA and sympathizers are denied a political avenue to express their grievances and agendas because they are effectively barred from the political process. Ranger sees this as a needless incitement to violence, since political expression is being blocked by Spanish policy. Terrorism is often a tool of desperation.
"In early 2007, Spanish authorities told AP that they believed ETA had only about 15-20 'soldiers' left, supported by perhaps 100 more collaborators who would give them shelter and other logistical support."
It is interesting that the Spanish government considers ETA a criminal enterprise, yet calls their shooters, "soldiers". Shooters for terrorist groups are not soldiers.
Terminology must be applied properly in order to define the problem. Definitions are mandated prior to development of counter strategies. A large percentage of terrorist operations take place in the media, and their aura is enhanced by misstatements and vague notions.
The larger point is that we have insurgencies, separatist movements, crazies, criminals, crusaders, religious zealots on all sides, and all manner of ideological groups: vivisectionists, environmentalists, eco-terrorists. . . and then attempt to define the problem with a simplistic overlay like terrorism. Simple it is not.
Every nation has a distinct approach and orientation, and elements within nations have different notions as to the problem, as well. U.S. policy is riven -- the Department of Defense, Justice, FBI, CIA, DIA, NSC, NSA and BB King all have different takes and approaches to the subject. We can't agree internally, but gladly attempt to impose our viewpoint on other nations.
Terrorism just ain't that simple.