What do you call a successful terrorist? Your excellency!

What do you call a successful terrorist? Your excellency!

 

International, More

Edited by: A. N.

It has long been a witticism among specialists on international relations that terrorists who succeed are no longer called terrorists either because by their actions, they have become the heads of governments or because they were already that when they carried out their actions.

That observation, of course, traces it origins to the Elizabethan writer John Harington who famously observed “Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason? Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason,” the source among other things of the title of John A. Stormer’s 1964 book about the Moscow-orchestrated communist conspiracy in the United States.

It is worth recalling this insight because two “successful” terrorists appear to be on their way to acceptability by at least some in the West and to be rechristened “statesmen” deserving the respect accorded to others, with their crimes entirely forgotten or at least cast into a memory hole in the name of improved relations.

These two are North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Kim who presides over one of the most brutal and murderous dictatorships in the world has carried out terrorist acts against his enemies abroad and threatened the world with a nuclear holocaust only a few months ago.

But now, because he is going to be meeting with US President Donald Trump, he is being recast by all too many as a statesman, his crimes are being ignored, and in the rush to achieve some breakthrough, all too many are forgetting that he hasn’t changed his stripes and is unlikely to become the regular world leader some in the West want to suggest he now is.

Putin is much the same. He too has brutalized his own population, orchestrated terrorist acts from the blowing-up of the Russian apartment blocks in 1999 to the downing of Polish President Lech Kaczynski’s plane and of the Malaysian airliner MH17 with 298 people onboard more recently. He has conducted a brutal war in Chechnya, he has invaded Georgia and Ukraine, and he has violated international law in many ways.

  • Russian invasion in Georgia in August 2008. A wounded Georgian woman in the town of Gori, 80 km (50 miles) from Tbilisi. (Image: Reuters)
    Russian invasion in Georgia in August 2008. A wounded Georgian woman in the town of Gori, 80 km (50 miles) from Tbilisi. (Image: Reuters)
  • Russian soldiers next to a mass grave with Chechen militia and civilians during the Second Russian-Chechen War. Note the ropes used to drag corpses behind the army vehicles from the place of killing to the grave (Image: Natalia Medvedeva, wikipedia.org)
    Russian soldiers next to a mass grave with Chechen militia and civilians during the Second Russian-Chechen War. Note the ropes used to drag corpses behind the army vehicles from the place of killing to the grave (Image: Natalia Medvedeva, wikipedia.org)
  • The ruins of Grozny, the capital city of Chechnya, in March 1995 during the Second Russo-Chechen War after multi-year Russian air and artillery bombardment.
    The ruins of Grozny, the capital city of Chechnya, in March 1995 during the Second Russo-Chechen War after multi-year Russian air and artillery bombardment.
  • What do you call a successful terrorist? Your excellency! ~~
    War in Syria (Yury Kozyrev/Novaya gazeta)
  • Donetsk Airport completely destroyed during Russian aggression in the Ukrainian Donbas.
    Donetsk Airport, Donbas, Russo-Ukrainian war
  • Russian aggression in the Donbas, Ukraine
    Russian aggression in the Donbas, Ukraine
  • Devastation in the Donbas, Ukraine brought by the Russian military aggression (Image: znak.com)
    Devastation in the Donbas, Ukraine brought by the Russian military aggression (Image: znak.com)
  • Devastation in the Donbas brought by the Russian military aggression in Ukraine. This picture taken on April 23, 2015 shows a bus stop and a church damaged by artillery shelling, in the village of Peski near Donetsk. (Image: Oleksandr Ratushniak / AFP)
    Devastation in the Donbas brought by the Russian military aggression in Ukraine. This picture taken on April 23, 2015 shows a bus stop and a church damaged by artillery shelling, in the village of Peski near Donetsk. (Image: Oleksandr Ratushniak / AFP)
  • Russia's military aggression in the Donbas devastated and empoverished Ukrainian territories under the Russian occupation (Image: Novosti Segodnia)
    Russia's military aggression in the Donbas devastated and empoverished Ukrainian territories under the Russian occupation (Image: Novosti Segodnia)
  • Some of the devastation in the Donbas after product of Putin's military aggression into peaceful Ukraine. (Image: Slavyansk Delovoy)
    Some of the devastation in the Donbas after product of Putin's military aggression into peaceful Ukraine. (Image: Slavyansk Delovoy)
  • The crash site of MH17
    The crash site of MH17 (photo: ITAR-TASS)
  • What do you call a successful terrorist? Your excellency! ~~
    Putin and Flight MH17: "The Blood on His Hands" (political cartoon)
  • MH17 crash site
    MH17 crash site
  • What do you call a successful terrorist? Your excellency! ~~
    Boeing MH17
  • Putin's "little green men" occupying Crimea, February 2014
    Putin's "little green men" occupying Crimea, February 2014
  • So-called "little green men" (the Russian occupation troops comprised of special forces who removed insignia, wear face masks to prevent identification and call themselves a "Crimean self-defense force") surround a Ukrainian military base in Perevalne, Crimea, during the Russian annexation of the peninsula in February-March 2014.
    So-called "little green men" (the Russian occupation troops comprised of special forces who removed insignia, wear face masks to prevent identification and call themselves a "Crimean self-defense force") surround a Ukrainian military base in Perevalne, Crimea, during the Russian annexation of the peninsula in February-March 2014.
  • A heavily-protected Russian entry point into the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea annexed by Russia in March 2014 (Image: Kommersant.ru)
    A heavily-protected Russian entry point into the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea annexed by Russia in March 2014 (Image: Kommersant.ru)

And the list of his crimes goes on, including seeking to undermine democracy in Western Europe and the United States, ignoring decisions of the European Court of Human Rights on his violation of the rights of Russian citizens, and boldly assuming that he doesn’t have to apologize for anything he has done.

The Kremlin leader — who like Kim clearly believes that having a nuclear arsenal means never having to say you’re sorry — simply denies the obvious and counts on Western leaders so anxious to gain access to Russian oil and gas or to boost their own ratings by making deals with him that they will overlook all of this.

And as he said today in Beijing, the West must get over its artificial Russophobia and bring Moscow back into the club of normal world powers. And Putin like Kim counts on the passing of time to work for him, given the short time horizons of all too many Western leaders.

Both Putin and Kim know that they can count on many in the West to denounce and dismiss those who recall their crimes as foolishly focusing on the past when there are so many possibilities for progress and deals, the holy grails of so many leaders who unlike Putin and Kim are beholden to populations who don’t focus often on international affairs unless there is a war.

Tragically, both these successful terrorists not only are winning this round, but they are exploiting the desire of some Western leaders to make deals no matter what they have done setting the stage for even worse to follow. When such leaders made concessions to Hitler or to the Soviets, they were called appeasers or fellow travelers.

Now, however, in this post-truth and post-ideological world, Harington’s observation seems more relevant than ever before.

Read More:

Edited by: A. N.
Ukraine needs independent journalism. And we need you. Join our community on Patreon and help us better connect Ukraine to the world. We’ll use your contribution to attract new authors, upgrade our website, and optimize its SEO. For as little as the cost of one cup of coffee a month, you can help build bridges between Ukraine and the rest of the world, plus become a co-creator and vote for topics we should cover next. Become a patron or see other ways to support. Become a Patron!

Tags: , , , , , , ,