Monday, August 22, 2005

i know it when i see it.

That's what the United Nations says about terrorism, sounding a bit like the United States Supreme Court when it tries to define pornography. Why do we have so much trouble defining, describing in no uncertain terms things that are offensive and dangerous?

"But attempts to provide a definition have failed because of terrorists' strangely hybrid status in the law. They are neither ordinary criminals nor recognized state actors, so there is almost no international or domestic law dealing with them. This gives an out to countries that harbor terrorists and declare them "freedom fighters." It also lets the United States flout its own constitutional safeguards by holding suspects captive indefinitely at Guantánamo Bay. The overall situation is, in a word, anarchic." [from Legal Affairs]

Anarchy? Did someone mention anarchy? And what's more anarchist than pirates? Thus the convenient connection between piracy and terrorism:
"More than 2,000 years ago, Marcus Tullius Cicero defined pirates in Roman law as hostis humani generis, "enemies of the human race." From that day until now, pirates have held a unique status in the law as international criminals subject to universal jurisdiction—meaning that they may be captured wherever they are found, by any person who finds them. The ongoing war against pirates is the only known example of state vs. nonstate conflict until the advent of the war on terror, and its history is long and notable. More important, there are enormous potential benefits of applying this legal definition to contemporary terrorism.

AT FIRST GLANCE, THE CORRELATION BETWEEN PIRACY AND TERRORISM seems a stretch. Yet much of the basis of this skepticism can be traced to romantic and inaccurate notions about piracy. An examination of the actual history of the crime reveals startling, even astonishing, parallels to contemporary international terrorism. Viewed in its proper historical context, piracy emerges as a clear and powerful precedent

War on piracy? Let that be Pres. Bush's next national cry! Arrrrrgh, mate!

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