The killings do, however, bring up an interesting question regarding the term "terrorism." We have been told that the current occupation of Iraq is part of a more general "War on Terrorism." And we are told that we shouldn't mince words: those who kill innocent people, even if they do so for the sake of some coherent political or religious objective, are "terrorists." My question is this: Will any news organization in the West ever refer to the Marine in the video as a "terrorist"? If he is arrested, will a news organization say that the U.S. has "arrested a terrorist" in Falluja?
Of course, we all know such a question is ridiculous. No U.S. person fighting for U.S. hegemony could ever be a terrorist under any possible scenario imaginable. Evidence might conclusively establish that innocent people have been tortured or killed, but such actions are always justifiable under the notion of American exceptionalism. Americans are intrinsically moral, ipso facto any perceived wrong-doing is a mistake--a momentary lapse in discipline. Of course, the whole argument breaks down if we simply remove a few adjectives and replace a few nouns with their equivalents. Can you imagine, for example, an news article reading, "Today a group of Iraqis stormed into a U.S. town in their drive to prevent the U.S. from developing more WMDs. Occupying a church, soldiers began executing unarmed civilians, including an unarmed elderly man who was lying down in the sanctuary of a church."
The Arab press is fuming over the incident. (The Bush administration seems to publish another Al Qaeda recruitment poster on a monthly basis.) What would our reaction be if the tables were turned?
A Relative Path has a good write up on this with links and there's also an article on this over on Al Jazeera. Truth Out informs us that "Top United Nations human rights official Louise Arbour has called for an investigation of alleged abuses in Falluja including disproportionate use of force and the targeting of civilians." See also Tom Dispatch's post on the "Carthaginian solution," a call to wait for the facts before commenting on this issue at A Texas Native, and a defensive apologia via Power Line.