Friday, 27 August 2010

POLITICS OF TERRORISM: Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC

Originally published in 2005 at:

"Professor Hilton's analysis and commentary on the "two faces of FARC" raises important questions about the definition and the politics of terrorism. Just as the Cold War produced its own rhetoric and oversimplification of "international Communism", a generic term that did not mean very much, similarly we have today an industry of people analyzing terrorism as a generic concept. Is FARC a "terrorist" organization because the Bush administration placed it on its Terrorism list, is it one because it uses tactics that may fit a dictionary definition, is it so because the Colombian government sees it in that light, or is it so because there is some international understanding, let us say an OAS consensus, that designates it so? The word terrorism evokes emotion and the concept is politically subjective. To the Zionists in the 1940s, Manachem Begin was a freedom fighter, but not to the British and the Palestinians. To the white South Africans, Nelson Mandela a terrorist when he was struggling to end white rule in the 1960s, but he was a freedom fighter to the majority of the population. Political violence assumes various forms, including random destruction of innocent civilians targeted largely for symbolic significance and publicity for a cause. Individual groups engaged in political violence for the sake of achieving a goal that may include social justice as in the case of FARC is unacceptable, it lacks legitimacy, it is "terrorism." Mass killings in the form of state-sanctioned warfare have always carried a sense of glory, virtue, and honor, though the end result is destruction just as in the case of guerrilla groups carrying out political violence. Is FARC a terrorist organization? Created in 1964 by the Colombian Communist Party, FARC was a response to endemic poverty in southern Colombia, to concentration of land-ownership, government repression, and La Violencia that devastated the country from 1948 to 1958. Organized society produces guerrilla organizations like FARC or the New Peoples' Army in the Philippines, Sendero Luminoso in Peru, etc. as a response to state-sponsored violence and oppression. This is not to say that the tactics of such organizations should not be strongly condemned, but modern societies, whether the U.S., Russia, the EU, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, etc. do not address the conditions that give rise to insurgent organizations. Instead, they opt for the military solution which actually exacerbates political violence. Only a political solution that takes into account social justice can end political violence".

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