Transcendental Bloviation

Politics, Space, Japan

Sunday, July 04, 2004

"Terrorist" to "Freedom Fighter" - avoid headlines on the way

Gwynne Dyer sheds a few crocodile tears for the plight of Iyad Allawi in a July 1st column, headlined at the Columbus Dispatch as Iraq’s new leader in perilous, perhaps fatal, position. Somehow, I like's headline better: Allawi torn between two masters. The Trinidad Express went with Allawi's dillema, and most others chose variations on that headline.

As Dyer points out, Allawi should be glad that Bush didn't make a secret trip to Iraq to preside over the handover. How could he hope to be taken seriously in proposing amnesty for insurgents so soon after shaking hands with Bush? Not so long ago, even remote suspicions of being party to attacks on American soldiers could mean permanent teethmarks from a U.S. GI's German shepherd in Abu Ghraib. Suddenly, though, that's all to be forgiven - just turn yourself in, and you'll be declared nothing worst than a loyalist, an Iraqi nationalist. So you flipped out and shot at occupation soldiers? It could happen to the best of us.

British Labour MP Tony Benn's 1998 remarks come to mind:

I spoke in Trafalgar square in 1964, in the week of the Rivonia trial. As anyone who reads the transcript of that trial will see, Nelson Mandela admitted that he was a terrorist. The next time I met him, he had won the Nobel peace prize and was President of South Africa. The number of people whom I have met who spent time in British prisons and ended up having tea with the Queen--for what that is worth--is a reminder that all the anti-colonial movements involved an element of force.

One lump or two, Prime Minister Moqtada al-Sadr?


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