George Bush talks as if terrorists were terrorists for no fathomable reason. As if terrorism exists independent of time and place and without social causation. This would mean that terrorism cannot be understood and therefore no remedial action is feasible except the obliteration of the terrorists. But we have historical proof that if you kill a generation of terrorists a new generation will emerge with the same aspirations and often the same mode of struggle. There is such a thing as cause and effect. Terrorism is an effect. Something causes it. If you can’t find the cause, or can’t be bothered trying to find it, then terrorism will be a constant.
There is another problem. The English branded William Wallace a terrorist. To us, he was a freedom fighter. Those who fought for American independence were demonised as terrorists by the British Crown. All citizens of British colonies who fought for independence were branded terrorists. Mahatma Gandhi was vilified for advocating passive resistance to the British Raj and jailed as a terrorist, though he was a pacifist.
People denied the right to change society through the ballot box have a moral right to use force as a means of bringing about change. People who have the right to change things through the ballot box have no moral right to seek change through violence. When the gerrymandered electoral system in Northern Ireland denied Catholics and Nationalists a vote of equal value with Protestants and Unionists, then the IRA’s armed struggle for a United Ireland had some moral justification. When gerrymandering was ended and the principle of one person one vote was established, the IRA had no moral right to continue the armed struggle.