This is a topic I have written on multiple times, looking at the definition of terrorism being from the same root that piracy comes from: one seeks pure power via war means the other seeks cash. Terrorists attack at sea using the means of private war: they have attacked French tankers, Egyptian freighters and warships of the United States and Israel. The groups doing that go by names like al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas. The use boats to raid beach resorts, they board ships to take hostages and they see no reason not to use the weapons of war against civilians. The currency of pirates is money, the currency of terrorists is power to intimidate, to threaten, to destroy that which they don't like... one is paid in gold the other in blood. If the first is bad the second is horrific and far worse than mere piracy as those doing such actions place themselves against society and Nations to rule as they will outside of any law. Both are outlaws in the truest sense: placing themselves outside all frameworks of civilized law and reclaiming the negative liberty of warfare to themselves.
When society and civilization starts to crumble, the opportunist predators appear. If you laugh at them when they do not have the means, you are terrified and bleed when they do. Yet their credo is ancient, going back to the roots of what it means to be civilized and no matter what their names, nationalities, ethnicity, 'causes', or beliefs, they come down to the same tactics described since the days before there were Nations, and yet there were still States. We forget that Captain Morgan was viewed as a pirate by Spain even when his most notable attack was on LAND. He had writ, justification and no knowledge that a peace treaty had been signed, so those at home first viewed him as a pirate for a land based attack on Spanish towns and fortifications. Yes a person waging private war with his confederates is waging piracy on land, there is no difference between sea and land in the view of Nations, even though we have done much damage to ourselves to tell ourselves that piracy is only by sea. It was not that way after the Fall of Troy, was not that way up to the early 20th century and is not that way to this very day. The United States once had a leader who clearly told the troops what to do with those who waged terrorism and why, and he is revered by all parts of the political spectrum and yet we cannot learn the wisdom he signed off on for the troops:
Men, or squads of men, who commit hostilities, whether by fighting, or inroads for destruction or plunder, or by raids of any kind, without commission, without being part and portion of the organized hostile army, and without sharing continuously in the war, but who do so with intermitting returns to their homes and avocations, or with the occasional assumption of the semblance of peaceful pursuits, divesting themselves of the character or appearance of soldiers - such men, or squads of men, are not public enemies, and, therefore, if captured, are not entitled to the privileges of prisoners of war, but shall be treated summarily as highway robbers or pirates.
That is a rule for the US Army that was kept for 30 years and infringes on no treaty, no convention and no other view of civilization amongst Nations as it *is* the civilized view *of* Nations what these individuals are. That President in that era committed the US forces to treat these individuals as described with summary treatment from the battlefield without recourse, review or other appeal. That was not injustice, but battlefield justice and it was in General Order 100:
INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES IN THE FIELD
Prepared by Francis Lieber, promulgated as General Orders No. 100 by President Lincoln, 24 April 1863.
The Great Emancipator, the President who Saved the Union, the man who so many point to as wise and honest, forthright in his term and stature was the one who sent the troops with that as a General Order, on land and sea, and it was kept into the 1890's. Yet it contravenes neither the Hague nor Geneva conventions as those only cover civilians and uniformed military. It is for Nations and citizens to respect and cross at their peril, and those who are neither, who take up war on their own, have little recourse to civil law in the battlefield or when picked up by those fighting in war. This was recognized by President Jefferson as a necessary duty and function of the President: to protect the Nation by those who would wage war but be part of no Nation and have no commission or reason to wage war outside of the Nation State framework. President Jackson sent the first US vessel around the world... it was a warship, the USS Potomac, and it was sent to the Malays to deal with those who were pirates and terrorists. President Theodore Roosevelt ordered the Moro Insurrection to be put down as they were under no aegis of any Nation to fight as they did.
Each of these Presidents knew what their duty was and knew how to deal with those who had backing of no Nation to seek war on their own against the United States. These are not wilting flower Presidents: Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt. They made no excuses for those that were uncivilized and practiced war to their own ends against not only the US but against all Nations. That was their duty abroad - to use their Commander in Chief and Head of State powers to confront those who would tear at the fabric of international law and civilized intercourse amongst Nations to their own benefit no matter what their goals were. While many decry ill-war amongst Nations, they raise no voice of action against those threatening the very international security they espouse. These people who wish to confront no one, at any time, at any place and seek to excuse any action taken against civilization are seeking to submit themselves and their fellow citizens to rule by terror, rule by force, rule by war. In decrying war they invite it by showing they have no standards to actually stand for: they seek to lie down with the lion and be the sacrificial lamb that the lion will see as his fair share for the taking. There are no 'moderates' amongst those that take back to the Law of Nature: they are immoderate in the extreme and acting in an uncivilized way.
We see this amongst leaders who talk of 'humanitarian grounds' for those who commit ruthless acts of violence using the weapons of war (Source: Independent UK), even in the face of the families who were hurt by such groups coming to ask for justice and law to exist to keep such terrorists from facing no day of reckoning for their crimes. Another terrorist convicted of killing 9 and attempting to kill 11 more, is now to be on 'parole' for his actions against society and his Nation (Source: Irish Times). It does not matter if they are Red Brigades or Red Army Faction: they sought to undermine Nations with their attacks and had no backing to take up the weapons of war against anyone. There is no difference in kind between these groups and their people and those of the Islamic world or those still tearing at Nations to this day.
Now we are faced with expansion of terror networks abroad due to one Nation that has fostered it in their own borders, often through negligence and many times through willing cooperation. Pakistan has a long history of this, terrorism is an outgrowth of their older cultures that seek to place personal war amongst tribal leaders to meet their own ends. Today those groups that started out with a single 'cause' now have a grievance list miles long, and it comes down to one, single thing: they will kill to terrorize society, tear it down and seek to gain power as society crumbles. This is a codified view of one of those groups, named al Qaeda, that has its view put forward in that those that disagree with it, who are to be beaten down into submission are 'savages' to them. Others take up that exact, same methodology when they seek private war on land or at sea, and have no good in store for citizens of any Nation.
Today the attacks in India and Afghanistan demonstrate that the hotbed of terror is no longer *just* in the Middle East, but has many tendrils and many organizations and many heads to it. If FARC goes down in Colombia, others already exist in South America to take their place and continue their ways, even if not as lucratively it will be done. These terror attacks in India are sourced to these networks that are international and transnational, even when they have 'nationalist' heads to them. The attacks based upon religion is something that Western Europe gave up after the 30 Years War with Westphalia, and yet others do not see that as 'civilized' and use religion as an excuse to kill the innocent. And yet, when you confront them, there are those that seek not to and to excuse killing and justify it. They are more than cowards: they hate society and civilization and will not say any word against those taking up private arms to kill without commission, without warrant, without any authority over them to seek a just end to such violence as a Nation would do.
Further these same people, those seeking a more 'humanitarian' way forward have crippled the recourse to keep international systems accountable: they weaken the legal system and seek to excuse any action so as to blame society for the ills of the individual. Even when it is the individual exploiting those ills to their own ends and seeking to be held unaccountable. That is the hard part of this: tearing apart the criminal and terrorist networks that have cross-integrated, cross-trained and support each other fully now.
Yet we used to have a clear and concise understanding of what to do with these types of people and organizations. Even when they struck from shadows, and hid in civilian guise to exploit Nations, they could be found and retribution handed out. That way of war those that are 'humanitarian' want no part of: the simple deployment of civilians under National commission to go after these groups on the foundation our ancestors put in place. It was simple and well understood at the founding and Congress given those powers, which had been understood for generations if not thousands of years previously. Hugo Grotius would write on those things and come up with the necessary limits of civilian law and yet the need for society to know that harm done to it had been returned in kind on a one-for-one basis as seen in On The Laws of War and Peace.
That work and others by Grotius would join with pre-existing works to form new ones that would define what the Law of Nations was and how Nations, like England, had a common law in agreement to it. It was from there that the foundation of the United States came: from old Roman Law given international distribution, through a man caught up in the 30 Years War seeking to know what the causes of war and peace were along with the laws of the sea, and then later members of the Enlightenment finally putting these things down so that all would know, in any Nation, what Nations were and how they all conform to that same outlook. If you haven't been taught these things, if you haven't read them then you are ignorant of them, and are uninformed as to how our world worked to give us what we have today. They can be lengthy works, even in translation, yet their reading level is not high and none are beyond what can be taught in a week.
How can anything relating to those willing to tear down societies and Nations be regarded as 'humanitarian'? Simply, it can't, as these are individuals who have returned to the state of nature on their own and are seeking uncivilized means to gain their way, be it for profit or power. Those that serve them, help them, excuse them are complicit in this work. It is not 'civilized' to be 'humanitarian' towards vicious and brutal outlaws seeking to destroy the system of Nation States. That is complicity in barbarism. When civil justice is applied to those waging war on their own, it lacks the power and depth to address the horror of their activities. They take up the weapons of war and only, only if they put them down and hold themselves accountable TO the law can they be said to be seeking a civil end of their barbaric ways. They accept the judgment of civil law by doing that. Captured fighting they are not 'prisoners of war' but brutal savages willing to kill and due summary judgment on the battlefield without recourse to higher power: they are known for their deeds and actions, thus they are defined by them and not their words, not their 'reasons' and not their 'grievances'. They have civil means to get these things addressed and WILL NOT TAKE THEM.
These are the opportunistic predators showing up on weak society and weakened civilization. Being civil requires recourse and that recourse is via civil means to address such individuals and groups. When their actions go warlike, they are willingly taking to war against Nations and all lawful citizens, no matter where they live. We have means as a civilization to address them not *just* by civil means, although that is necessary, but by the means of war both Public and Private given sanction by civil means. That is the strength of civilization: recognizing when it is being threatened and using the accountable means to address these barbarians. Those we confront as a totality of civilization will follow no rules, no law and seek to evade justice. We know that by their actions. There is no nobility in being 'humanitarian' to such for they see it as weakness to exploit.
As I see the blood and flames in India, Afghanistan and from many points around the world, I see a deep and lax civilization dying and the parasites already proliferating to eat on this once proud thing we held in common. It once protected us and we deemed it good and restrained by civil means, a bulwark to keep us alive and the intercourse between Nations civil. When we give it other things to do, strap it down with all sorts of 'good' things that distract it from that ability to protect us, we are then shocked that our protection goes down and that the killers roam many lands and seas without recourse. In festooning the Nation State with so much power, it becomes immobile at powerless as it cannot do all things at all times well. Soon it begins to lose the ability to protect, to enforce laws and ensure that the lawless are addressed.
That is the time we are now in.
Give more to the Nation State at your peril.
For the next thing you give it will be the able to restrict good and imprison those that disagree with it.
That is when all those 'good things' become ill and the protector turns into the punisher unbound by civil restraints.
Look at Mumbai, today, and see the outcome of generations of being 'nice' and 'humanitarian' and of Nations unwilling to keep governments to doing only a few, vital things to protect society.
We had a choice of confrontation and calling barbarism for what it is.
We haven't as a society, a Nation and as humanity.
Now we pay.