Terrorists are not criminals

כ״ט בניסן ה׳תשע״א (Tuesday 3 May 2011) · 8 comments

Terrorists are not criminals in the sense that burglars, drunk drivers, perjurers, rapists and litterers are criminals. Terrorism may incidentally be a crime by its inclusion in the statutes that make it one, though pretty much any single action in the modern state is a crime by that standard.

The proper paradigm with which to approach an understanding of terrorism is not the criminal justice paradigm but the warfare paradigm. Terrorists are to be “prosecuted” on the battlefield (ie, wherever they are found) by soldiers, not prosecuted in the courtroom (ie, where they have to be brought and given “rights” as criminal defendants) by attorneys working for the state. That is to say, they are to be incapacitated and disarmed. If they fail to surrender, they are to be annihilated.

It may be proper to consider terrorists “war criminals.” But a war criminal is not essentially the same thing as a criminal. Adolf Eichmann is a good example of a “war criminal.” This guy was so ordinary and uninteresting that, thanks to Hannah Arendt, most educated people think of him immediately when they hear the word “banality.” Eichmann did not commit crimes outside the context of war and he was probably incapable of doing so. He did not have a criminal character and I can’t consider him a criminal. For this reason, I hate the expression “war criminal” and I consider it to be used primarily by people who think that war itself is a crime.

The question of how to treat terrorists, as enemy warriors who’ve engaged in atrocities or as criminal defendants with rights, goes deeper than just the question of warfare paradigm versus criminal justice paradigm. It comes all the way down to morality. If you have a Jewish morality, you hate evil and you want to see evildoers punished whenever and wherever they appear. If you have a Christian morality, you may hate evil, but you must love evildoers on some level, because their souls can always be saved.


On Religious War

כ״ח בניסן ה׳תשע״א (Monday 2 May 2011) · 6 comments

  • If two groups of people are fighting, and both groups deny that it is a religious war, it is not a religious war.
  • If two groups of people are fighting, and both groups agree that it is a religious war, it is a religious war.
  • But if two groups of people are fighting, and one group denies that it is a religious war, while the other group insists that it is a religious war, it is prima facie a religious war.

Practical advice: how do you know if you’re in a religious war? Ask your enemy if his religion says that you must be killed.

By extension: you can be completely secular and a total hedonist and still be caught in a religious war. In fact, if there is one religious death cult that seeks to destroy you for not being a member of it, you will be locked in a religious war with its members until they are incapacitated, or until you are.

My understanding of the above, during a conversation with friends at Columbia University on Sunday 23 September 2001, was the first main reason that I stopped being a libertarian.


The Christian Brotherhood (ie, The Muslim Brotherhood)

כ״ד בשבט ה׳תשע״א (Saturday 29 January 2011)

Somewhere in the world, in a troubled region, there are riots on the streets and an organization called the Christian Brotherhood is poised to succeed in seizing power as that country’s military dictator eventually flees. The Christian Brotherhood is a potentially frightening organization. Its members have been involved in a lot of political violence over [...]

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Men’s Rights in Israel

י״ז בשבט ה׳תשע״א (Saturday 22 January 2011)

The Men’s Rights movement has reached the Knesset. It’s a little weird to me that the Israel world and the MRA world are now overlapping, but I think Israel has been one of the countries with the most vocal Men’s activism in the world, at least in the form of זכויות הגבר במשפחה (Men’s Family [...]

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What is a Reactionary?

ל׳ בכסלו ה׳תשע״א (Tuesday 7 December 2010)

What is reaction and what does it mean to be a reactionary? In the past five years or so that I’ve considered myself a reactionary, I’ve described myself that way a bunch of times to a bunch of different people, and the responses I’ve got have never been what I expected. Oddly, the progressives and [...]

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כ״ט בכסלו ה׳תשע״א (Monday 6 December 2010)

I don’t have any strong feelings for or against Wikileaks at all, which feels very weird, because I definitely think I should. Seth Roberts endorsed a New Yorker commenter who argues that honest people support Wikileaks and dishonest people oppose it. This seems particularly disingenuous to me, and I’d add at least one more group [...]

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