What is a terrorist?

Another point - the U.S did not start a world wide feeling of terror after the bombing of Japan. Sure, the treat of the use of the bomb caused many people to be nervous, but I think that at this time it detered many nations from embarking on similar campaigns.
A terrorist attack will spread the feeling of terror right accross the globe, the term freedom fighter should be reserved for those who don’t hurt innocents.

killing people is wrong.

you can’t justify nagasaki or hiroshima or any of the conventional firebombings in wwii any more than you can terrorist attacks like the one on the world trade center.

now i’m an american, i see the logic of the atomic bombings as it was outlined above and i think truman made the right decision and the only decision he really could have.

now i’m sure that al-qaeda and their supporters can make some kind of similar case, and while i think their goal is political domination of saudi arabia and other countries, with the isreal issue merely serving as a ready-made flag to wave, i have to admit there is logic to their case too.

right or wrong is relative in such conflict, but winning and losing are absolute. i think formosa is very wrong, these al-qaeda don’t have the full support of their own people but they have raised a very large percentage of the entire world against them, including a number of powerful countries not accustomed to caving in under any circumstances. personally i don’t think very highly of their ultimate chances.

I disagree. Killing people is sometimes wrong. Other times, killing is justified.

I think Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombs can be justified. The WTC bombing was nothing like WW2.

The US was fighting in reaction to aggression by Japan. Modern Islamic Terrorists are fighting to institute a non-democratic barbaric medeival system of religious rule over a people that are ignorant and unrepresented in the matter. The US decision to drop the bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima quickly ended a worldwide conflagration that had already cost MILLIONS of lives, civilian and combatants alike. The terrorist decision to fly commercial jetliners into the WTC has escalated viloence and resulted in many more deaths of both civilians and combatants.

Yes. Do you think that you could say likewise that the terrorists had no choice but to hijack commercial airplanes and fly them into the WTC?

They cannot make a similar case. As I stated above, The US was fighting in reaction to aggression by Japan. You have stated that Al Qaeda’s goals are political domination of saudi arabia and other countries. There is no comparison.

I agree, winning is absolute. But I disagree… right or wrong can be measured objectively. There may be few cases where one side is completely right while another is completely wrong, but degrees of right and wrong can be determined objectively.


Here is an abstract thought experiment for you all: the UN drops a nuclear weapon on ****(choose a spot in the Middle East), correctly realising that it will cause so much death and fear among the civilians that it forces their political masters into a long-term peaceful solution to the conflict that over the years saves even more lives than the bomb cost.

Would that be terrorism? If so, do we need to call it “justifiable terrorism?”

Unfortunately there IS a comparison to be made, and that is our long-standing support for a nation which stole arab land and has caused quite a few arab deaths as a result.

From the perspective of a palestinian refugee whose home was stolen and relatives killed, I would strongly disagree with you.

He may be in the minority compared to the American people, but is his experience, his right and wrong, to be discarded?

In 1945 a political decision was made. It was unacceptable to simply leave Japan as it was before the war. The atomic bomb was a convenient agent towards this end as it held the promise of saving American lives.

We have no one to thank but ourselves for getting involved in a situation that is as intolerable to many people as the continued existence of the Japanese empire was in 1945. Would al-qaeda be getting people to do its bidding if not for this issue? I doubt it. I am sure they could give a poke at a doughnut about 1945 and are highly motivated by their sense of right and wrong.

I am going to love reading TigerMans reply - I just love the way he can take apart any argument - daltongang, if you want to get your point accross I suggest you follow Tigermans style. First, quote the opposing argument, then rip it apart. If you don’t this could go on for quite some time.

I have no pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian stance. But Jews have a history of living in Palestine, too. A nation state is a new idea for Arabs and Israelis. It is not as clear-cut as Israelis stealing Arab land. Both have claims.

We should at the very least be honest about why we annilhated Hiroshima and Nagasaki out of respect for the 200,000 men, women and children who died there.

We did it for two reasons: to terrorize the Japanese populace and government into quick submission and to pay them back for the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Neither of these goals would have been served by a more purely military use of the bombs. In that case we would have followed the strategy outlined for Iraq which is to hit only purely strategic targets and avoid civilian deaths as much as possible.

Another very effective but humane use of the first bomb would have been to stage a demonstration of its power close offshore with threats of more to follow if surrender wasn’t immediate.

Hey I am a pacifist. I am not sure I ever think that the use of force is justified. But Guest, what would have been served by detonating a bomb off the coast? I am not sure it would have “threatened” the Japanese at all.

In fact, I am sure it would have just caused a retaliation. Which, then, according to my very limited understanding of world politics…and the US thought process years before we were all born, would have resulted in the US dropping the bomb anyway. JMHO

Who is being dishonest?

We used the bombs primarily to end the war quickly and to spare as many lives as possible. Whether we did so also secondarily to show the Soviets our new weapon is perhaps likely, but still debatable. I don’t think the bombs were dropped as “payback” for Pearl. In fact, more Japanese were killed by the fire bombing of Tokyo than by the A-bombs. If the desire was to extract flesh as punishment, we could have simply prolonged the agony by fire-bombing Japan.

As indicated above, fire-bombing inflicted more casualties than did the A-bombs. Thus, pay-back could easily have been inflicted with conventional bombing. However, there would be no guarantee that conventional bombing would end the war quickly. The experience to that time was that bombing with conventional bombs “hardens” the resolve to resist.

This was, AFAIK, considered. There was, however, a concern that the bomb might not work.

OK. No one took on the thought experiment. Can’t blame you. Here’s the trick: If we say its not terrorism, thenimagine a pro-Arab group bombs NY, kills and terrifies US citizens so their government forces peace in the middle east and in the long run, many more lives are saved.

I changed only WHO and WHERE, not HOW and WHY. And I do not believe any definition of terrorism should be sensitive to just WHO and WHERE.

Conclusion: Nagasaki and Hiroshima must also be seen as terrorist acts. You may, however, wish to classify them as justifiable terrorism.

thanks bassman, I think i was aware of that technique :slight_smile: how did tigerman ever think of that :slight_smile: but there’s more than one way to argue.

we used the bomb simply because we had it and because we definitely were going to invade. the strategy was to create enough of a shock in the japanese government that they would surrender, thus sparing the ALLIED soldiers who would be involved in the invasion–saving Japanese civilian lives if even thought about was a very secondary concern. in the context of the war, this was a valid goal and proved to be a startlingly succesful strategy. however, i tend to agree with iybf–the only thing that seperates this from terrorism is that it was done by the victors of a long full-scale war. a thin line in my opinion.


I stand by what I said.

Stole Arab land? Israeli land-grabs have all been in response to Arab aggression and designed to create buffer zones. If you take a swing at me and in my defense, I knock you down, you cannot reasonably complain about being knocked down.

No doubt the palestinian refugee has a rather bleak perspective. However, that doesn’t mean that his perspective is correct. Just as if he were looking through dirt-encrusted glasses, his perspective is distorted by lies propogated by the Palestinian Authority and the ignorant state in which he is kept. If I mistakenly believe that you stole my car, does that entitle me to destroy your car?

If he is unable to be objective, and if his “right and wrong” are at odds with the facts, then, yes, his perception of “right and wrong” can and should be discarded.

And Japanese lives also.

First, the creation of the state of Israel owes little to the efforts or mistakes of the US. Israel’s existence does owe much to US support.

OBL’s fight with the US has nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and any attempt to connect the 911 terrorist attacks to US policy towards Israel is factually incorrect.

The 911 terrorist attacks are merely part of OBL’s past terrorist activities aimed at US interests, as well as several significant attacks OBL carried out against secular Muslim regimes. These attacks were aimed at advancing OBL’s goal of rebuilding the world in accordance with his extremist interpretation of Islam.

The lack of progress in the Mid East peace process too is unrelated to the 911 attacks. In accordance with OBL’s view’s, any progress in the Arab-Israeli peace process threatens OBL’s Jihad.

Statements by al-Qaeda after the 911 attacks, blaming Israeli policy for causing terrorism is merely another transparent exercise by those who blame the West in general, and Israel in particular, for all the ills of the Middle East. OBL saw in the early 1990s, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, that agulible world could be diverted by attacking Israel.

Evidence that the 911 attacks are unrelated to the Israel-Palestinian conflict can be found in the planning stages of the 911 attacks. Preparations for the 911 attacks began at least as early as June 2000 - when the peace negotiations between the sides showed great promise and before the Israeli-Palestinian summit at Camp David failed.

The linkage that some draw between the terrorist attacks on the United States and America’s long-standing support of Israel is thus unfounded.

Showing understanding for terrorists’ motives is very dangerous as it simply excuses and encourages further terrorist acts.

No doubt the terrorists believe that they are “right”. But that doesn’t prevent the rest of us from objectively viewing the conflict and determining ourselves who is at fault, or more at fault.

[quote=“imyourbiggestfan”]Here is an abstract thought experiment for you all: the UN drops a nuclear weapon on ****(choose a spot in the Middle East), correctly realising that it will cause so much death and fear among the civilians that it forces their political masters into a long-term peaceful solution to the conflict that over the years saves even more lives than the bomb cost.

Would that be terrorism? If so, do we need to call it “justifiable terrorism?”[/quote]

I think it is important to draw distinctions where they exist. Call it “intellectual squirming”, if you like. but its still important.

In your hypothetical above, the sacrifice of so many at one time is made in order to prevent the sacrifice of even more over a long, drawn-out period.

How is this different than the US decision and act of dropping bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

In the US decision, there was an intense conflagration going on that involved nearly the entire world and MILLIONS of people had died and MILLIONS of others had and were suffering otherwise. There was good reason to believe that without the bombing, another MILLION lives would be lost, including approximately 100,000 US soldiers. The bombing ended the war and put a stop quickly to the killing, at a cost of several hundred thoudsand Japanese lives. Thus, not terrorism, as the obligation to minimize deaths was adhered to in a rational way.

In the above hypothetical, an A-bomb would be dropped on a people in a mid-east nation to shock the peoples into sitting down and settling differences. However, the mid-east conflict, although now spread around the globe, is not nearly of the proportionate size that WW2 was. Moreover, several of the issues causing strife in the mid-east are really not related. Thus, for instance, after a nuke was dropped on a mid-east nation, what exactly would compel the US to sit down with Al Qaeda to discuss anything?

Moreover, as the death toll from the mid-east conflicts is nowhere near the level of the death toll in WW2, and because there is actually a chance for settlement in the mid-east, why would nuking a mid-east nation be deemed the best choice, when more peaceful alternatives still exist?

I think nuking a mid-east nation, per your hypothetical, would be an act of terrorism.

Like I said, call my distinctions “intellectual squirming”, but I do see an important distinction.


I stand by what I said.[/quote]

You said that the land was stolen from the Palestinians. From the site you provided:

First, leave it to the UN to report history in a less than comprehensive manner. No mention above that the War of 1948 was initiated by the Arab states and that Israel’s taking of land was an attempt to create buffer zones.

Secondly, why no outcry at these lands “stolen” by Jordan and Egypt?

By Gerald G. Gross
The Washington Post
July 1, 1946

Aboard the USS Appalachian, Bikini (Monday), July 1 – An unearthly brilliance that petrified observers flashed from Bikini Lagoon as the world’s fourth atomic bomb was loosed at 5:00:00 p.m.(Washington time) Sunday.

Twenty seconds later, that fearsome blaze of light was followed by a giant rumble which reached this command ship 18 miles from the Bikini target area, where 73 guinea pig ships were testing the force of the man-made atomic monster.

A creamy canopy of cloud, tinged with pink writhed and twisted 5 miles high, temporarily blotting out the result of history’s greatest experiment.

End Quote


No one can be sure that millions witnessing – and feeling – this cataclysmic event for the first time in history ten miles off the mouth of Tokyo Bay wouldn’t have had an equally terrified reaction and clamored for peace. Especially if followed by loud and clear threats. There was no real threat of a counter-attack by the Imperial Japanese Army. The threat was of a protracted war of attrition on Japanese soil. But time was not an issue as far as that threat was concerned. The US could have afforded a few days more and a single atomic weapon in a first demonstration strike in order to avoid certain hundreds of thousands of civilian casulties.

I realize no American apologest can ever afford to admit to the moral ambiguity of ever using weapons of mass destruction on purely civilian targets for fear that the wheel of history will turn on them so I’ll leave them to debate that among themselves.

This much I do know though. As a believer in an afterlife, I would never have made that choice knowing that I would have had to eventually face the souls of tens of thousands of infants, children, grandmothers and grandfathers – none of whom had any say in the conduct of the war whatsoever – and tried to explain to them that I had had no other choice but to incinerate them and their entire families. I would rather have died a thousand deaths in battle myself.

You can put blinkers over your eyes if you want. I prefer to look at things as they are.

The Japanese have admitted that they too were working on a bomb - we were aware of this - and the Japanese have admitted that they intended to use it against the US. Even if saving japanese lives was secondary to saving Allied lives, it was still a goal, and an obligation.

Sometimes the only distinction between “right” and “wrong” is a “thin line”. Often, in such cases, we must choose the lesser of two evils. But where would we be if we failed to observe the distinctions indicated by these thin lines?