I really like reading Glenn Greenwald’s commentary and I think that this last one really put things into a necessary perspective. Prosecuting terrorists and murder-driven fundamentalists as individuals is crucial because it does a few things:
1) It measures their actions in the context of what they did… regardless of what the US did, ‘Umar Farouk ‘Abdulmutallab tried to blow up an airplane and he should and will be prosecuted for that exact action.
2) It delineates the terrorist from the “military man”.
3) It makes us realize that the military resistance challenging US actions and injustices is actually NONexistent.
4) It can help otherwise rational justice-seeking people who are searching for an alternative to US aggression to more rationally understand contemporary ‘terrorism’ and global politics without sympathizing with what they think is a ‘lesser evil’.
Someone that I love very dearly always reminds me that we cannot control what people do, we can only control how we react to their actions. To a certain extent, this principle illustrates Greenwald’s observations and asserts the true definition of justice in an unjust world – or at least a country that believes in conditional and selective justice.
Looking back in my email, I found the text of one of the Barsamian interviews with Edward Said and I am not surprised that he made the same assertion before the shadow of the 9/11 attacks even had a chance to show:
David Barsamian: In a recent article in the London Observer, you say the U.S. drive for war uncannily resembles Captain Ahab in pursuit of Moby Dick. Tell me what you have in mind there.
Said: Captain Ahab was a man possessed with an obsessional drive to pursue the white whale which had harmed him–which had torn his leg out–to the ends of the Earth, no matter what happened. In the final scene of the novel, Captain Ahab is being borne out to sea, wrapped around the white whale with the rope of his own harpoon and going obviously to his death. It was a scene of almost suicidal finality. Now, all the words that George Bush used in public during the early stages of the crisis–“wanted, dead or alive,” “a crusade,” etc.–suggest not so much an orderly and considered progress towards bringing the man to justice according to international norms, but rather something apocalyptic, something of the order of the criminal atrocity itself. That will make matters a lot, lot worse, because there are always consequences. And it would seem to me that to give Osama bin Laden–who has been turned into Moby Dick, he’s been made a symbol of all that’s evil in the world–a kind of mythological proportion is really playing his game. I think we need to secularize the man. We need to bring him down to the realm of reality. Treat him as a criminal, as a man who is a demagogue, who has unlawfully unleashed violence against innocent people. Punish him accordingly, and don’t bring down the world around him and ourselves.
When the US uses ideology to fight ideology, all “sides” will continue to war with words, symbols, and ideological “symbolic” violence. To achieve justice, the West needs to be duly rational and criminalize the criminal. It’s not a war on terror. It’s not a war on radical Islam. It’s not a war against “those who hate us”. It’s barely even a war. These are crimes and the criminals need to be treated as such.