Archive for August, 2005

Not being aware of what you take for granted

Strategy Page (Iraq, Follow the Money 05ag12) identifies the big problem faced in the GWOT.

The continued terrorist attacks are largely possible because of the lack of civic responsibility in Iraq. Westerners take this attitude, and the resulting law and order, and economic security, for granted. But in Iraq, it is an alien concept. Saddam, and all previous rulers of this region, kept the peace through force, not cooperation from the population. With Saddam’s thugs gone, the criminals and political gangs have a lot more freedom of action. The criminals have been taking full advantage of this, and the result is the headline grabbing violence that perplexes Westerners, but not Iraqis.

It may be that the peace and security in the community of academics harbored in the US and other western civilizations is what is presumed as a basis for leftist views. When you cannot imagine life without such a basis, it is easy to become confused into false conclusions.

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Why?

Mohammed has a message at Iraq the Model. His is a response to a mother defacing a son’s grave that explains why.

Ma’am, we asked for your nation’s help and we asked you to stand with us in our war and your nation’s act was (and still is) an act of ultimate courage and unmatched sense of humanity. Our request is justified, death was our daily bread and a million Iraqi mothers were expecting death to knock on their doors at any second to claim someone from their families. Your face doesn’t look strange to me at all; I see it everyday on endless numbers of Iraqi women who were struck by losses like yours.

You read this and then you look at those so-called peace protestors and wonder why. Don’t they feel anything? Can they not see anything? Is this mother totally insensitive to what she is doing to her son?

Why?

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A testament to the human spirit

We must be careful to avoid shifting from the language of courage, resilience, and well-earned pride into the language of trauma and victimhood. The bombs made more than enough victims; it is important that we do not inadvertently create more.

Simon Wessely, M.D. observes, in Victimhood and Resilience, that assuming traumatized victims of terror need immediate psychological assistance is ignorant. People cope. Tragedy happens and people will buckle down, assist as possible, make sure that their close ones are OK, and get about doing what needs to be done. Maybe months later some of them may have PSTD or some other psychiatric ailment, but aniticipating such things immediately after an event can be counter productive.

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Soldier as victim

Thomas Sowell takes off on How the Left Is Trashing Our History: Troops in Iraq (05ag10)

The plain fact is that the mainstream media have been too busy depicting our troops as victims to have much time left to tell about the heroic things they have done, the far greater casualties which they have inflicted on their enemies, or their attempts to restore some basic services and basic decencies to this country that has been torn apart for years by internal and external wars — even before the first American troops arrived on the scene.

This is a re-creation of the media’s role in the Vietnam war, where American victories on the battlefield were turned into defeat on the home front by the filtering and spin of the media.

The NYT has even noted how we don’t seem to have heros in this fight like we did in WW II – and blames the President for the lack of reporting. If you scan the headlines, you see a lot of notice of casualty figures. You would be hard pressed to learn anything about strategy or tactics or personal heroism behind those casualties.

Even this “beatified mourner” camping on her son’s grave is getting big press. This despite “her long history of extremist rhetoric, her close association with far-Left and anti-Semitic figures, or the way she has seemingly rewritten her own history when it suited her purposes.” (Frontpage Magazine 05ag12)

There was talk some few years ago about “connecting the dots.” Anyone trying to connect the dots, to place the victims in a proper context of the ‘big picture,” is going to have a tough time unless they go beyond and around the MSM for data and information.

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Jay Tea makes note of the privacy invasion FUD mongerers demonstrating just what they fear by doing it themselves.

And just recently, we’ve seen examples of just that sort of behavior. The kind of gross investigations and digging and mud-slinging that the critics of the Patriot Act predicted.

Its not the government we have to worry about if recent history is any guide. Remember the taped cell phone conversation trying to get Gingrich? NARAL is now in a controversy about a blatantly false asertion against a supreme court judicial nominee. Digging up dirt, even if substantial fabrication in interpretation is required, has become an artform of the left. Remember Rather’s problem with fabricated National Guard memorandums?

And then there is the recent revelation of some super secret DoD group that used data mining to uncover four of the 9/11 thugs a year before the event. That invasion of privacy couldn’t be used because of all the restrictions on government use of its intelligence. Such restrictions do not appear to apply to non-governmental dirt digging.

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Wild idea about Hiroshima protests

As the nuclear-o-phobic have expressed the conclusion that the US is evil because it ended WW II by dropping atomic bombs, there is wonder as to what might drive their views. AlphaPatriot’s description of the Final Campaigns of WWII prompts an idea.

When faced with a culture willing to sacrifice up to 25 million civilians in order not to win a war, but merely to obtain more favorable terms of surrender, one has to wonder how anyone can say that Truman’s decision to drop the bomb was not justified.

If the bombs had not been dropped and the invasion of Japan had continued, the odds were pretty good that the US would have lost its army. Yes, millions of Japanese would have also been dead and Japan would have likely ended up as a total wasteland, but that kind of suffering has never been of note for the hate-America crowd (except to blame as a US atrocity). But the prospect of wiping out the US military – now that sounds like it could be very appealing to this crowd, no matter the cost. The end would justify the means after all.

Nah, too cynical. Couldn’t be, could it?

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self deprecation and guilt may go a bit too far as well

Michael Barone asserts that Cultures Aren’t Equal and Robert Mandel picks up on the theme that there is something special – and good – about Western Civilization.

No culture has ever matched us for singular or compiled greatness …

the west was not the originator of many things. In fact, the west has been the great adopter, the great modifier, never shameful of begging, borrowing, or stealing others’ intellectual property. And that in itself is a mark of greatness. Who else would have taken mathematics, metalurgy, and chemistry, all conceived in far off lands and laying stagnant, and combined them to put men on the moon or missiles on target with payloads of biblical proportions? …

The uniqueness of western thought is that man is the master of his fate, in control of his destiny, that it comes not from the edict of a king or potentate, but the divine blessing from above. Pursuit of happiness, advancement for gain, the idea that one can be, and ought be rewarded for his entrepreneurialism is the driving force of our success. It is not greed, avarice, or hate.

Historians will one day marvel that it was our own relaince on criticism, rational inquiry, and reflection that caused us to doubt even ourselves. They will wonder how we ever let such a destructive force permeate our thoughts and values. Then they will ask “Did they catch themselves in tme?”

Hubris? No, just an observation that anyone can make if they so choose. The issue is whether we will continue to borrow the best from the winners and learn from the failures of the loosers.

But that effort of learning and ever improving depends upon deciding what is winning, what is good, what is better, what we want to be. This decision appears to be a difficult one because we have people who are adamant that apeasement is the path to peace, that industriousness is to be condemned, that wealth should be ameliorated, that power is always greedy and corrupt.

Some self criticism is helpful as it helps to see flaws that can be corrected. But an entirely negative belief tends to be as self fulfilling as a positive belief. Will those who have built and created a civilization of astounding wealth and vitality turn on themselves and let it go in order to return to tribalism?

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The awful taste of bigotry

Travelogue provides an example of subtle bigotry that is something to behold. It starts with a generalization of astounding proportion.

It doesn’t help, either, to find each and every camper we’ve come across so far to be so totally negative about anything Mexican. They hate the Mexicans. They hate Mexico. There is nothing good to be said about anything in Mexico.

Then there is a bit of self deprecation.

There are ignorant bigots everywhere, and as evidenced above, I am one of them, but it is so hard to be open-minded here in the land of Bush.

This Texan, Bush, who appears to be a member of the group that would get no apologies “cause there are some I’d never apologise to” is such a Mexican hater that he is reasonably fluent in Spanish. Of course, it would be possible to rationalize that this interpretation is on the wrong track but the statement is not only indicative of bigotry it is also woefully ignorant.

You’d think that someone who has “realized that I have bought the stereotype; hook, line and sinker.” would understand that gross generalizations and blind acceptance of stereotypes is not a good move.

But no, this particular entry does more to illustrate a blindness and bigotry that is based on hatred and contempt. It runs deep and will not easily be accepted as needing change. The fact is that if you wrong someone, you owe an apology no matter how sour the taste. To do otherwise is an equivalent to racism.

Indeed, if being open-minded is difficult it says that there is a need for one to do a bit of self improvement before castigating others.

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The altruistic double standard

Pirates and Darwin by ‘Callimachus’ (Winds of Change 05ag09) takes up on a history of the Barbary Coast Piracy that plagued Mediterranean commerce. Starting about 1803 when the US started resisting the kidnapping and terror to 1816 when the British broke the power of Algiers, it is a lesson in how an altruistic double standard created misery.

Though William Wilberforce and the other liberal evangelical MPs campaigned ceaselessly to abolish the slave trade, they meant by that only the enslavement of blacks by whites. They exhibited a sort of inverted Darwinism — doubly perverse — and took no interest in Christian slavery that had for its targets people most like themselves.

Sound familiar? Peace at any cost, self guilt and the other guy is the victim, our travails are only inidcations of our guilt, lack of consistent objective standards evenly applied,

It seems to have parallels with the crowd that thinks the Twin Towers victims deserved it, that 9/11 was a proper result of US behavior, that Iraq had nothing to do with terror, that any military response is improper,

Will we ever learn?

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Worth a look

Here are recent commentaries, editorials, and opinions that provide good food for thought but haven’t suffered (yet) as the target of this weblog.

Revising history by Oliver North (Washington Times 05jl10)

The honor goes to the creator of the biggest whopper defaming America and/or Americans for which an apology is required. The judges must decide if the recipient created the fiction out of malevolence or ignorance. No extra points are awarded for stupidity.

The Left’s War Against the Military At Home by Rocco DiPippo (FrontPageMagazine.com 05July11)

The latest attack on the U.S. by its Fifth Column enemies is aimed at stopping the Armed Forces from enlisting new recruits. Faced with a flagging anti-war movement, leftist agitators have shifted gears and are now subverting the War on Islamist Terror by trying to destroy America’s ability to maintain a fighting force. … the movement’s overall effectiveness against the Armed Forces will ultimately depend on a favorable Supreme Court Ruling in the fall. Should that Court strike down the Solomon Amendment, the counter-recruitment forces will mount an all-out charge- one that will attempt to plunge a stake into the heart of America’s military might.

Connections between Al Queda and Saddam – you know, the ones a lot of very vocal people want you to pretend don’t exist?

Catherine Seipp on Gladys Kravitz Nation; Little Brother is watching. (NRO 05jl25)

Maybe some of our concerns now about Big Brother really are misplaced. The real danger could be from a lot of pesky little brothers out to make a quick buck.

Past perfect political by Victor Davis Hanson (Washington Times 05jl30)

History is evoked more and more these days, even as fewer of us read it. That apathy explains why when public figures turn to false historical analogies for political purposes, they often get a free pass to exaggerate or distort. … In our confusion during this war, why do we often ignore history or twist its details to fit our own particular needs?

At Law School, Unstrict Scrutiny. An inside look at identity politics in our law schools. John O. McGuinnis (Opinion Journal 05jl30)

It is a strength of the academy–in law and many other disciplines–that professors have diverse, sometimes even radical, views. But to advance our knowledge such views need to be supported by rigorous analytical reasoning and the dispassionate gathering of cases and data.

A bold telecom proposal (Washington Times 05ag07)

Sen. John Ensign wants to revamp aging regulations on telecommunications and information industries in a bill he recently introduced … there are no longer definable market distinctions between cable, wireless and telephone companies, and that they should be allowed to competitively use the networks that they own against each other. The bill could stimulate growth in broadband and other services, and open the way for innovation.

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Hiroshima, 60 years on

Albert Mohler provides a summary of the current knowledge about Hiroshima and the Burden of History.

In one sense, human history was transformed the moment that bomb exploded in the New Mexico desert. Nevertheless, it was the first use of an atomic bomb in warfare that is seared into the human memory.

The power and destructive force of the bomb defied the human imagination, and it continues to do so today.

In the years since the Japanese surrender, the American use of atomic weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki has become one of the most debated questions of history.

The 60th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing should serve as a catalyst for Christian reflection on the morality of warfare, the reality of human sinfulness, the frailty of human wisdom, and the burden of history. For all these things, we will give an answer. Until then, we must do the very best with what we have, what we know, and what we face.

There are those who live in the paradigm that war or peace is a simple question with a simple answer. There are others whose villain – most often it seems this chosen villain is the US – must always be evil so its actions are always wrong.

History has many lessons to tell us that that the question is not simple and the answer even less so. Truman’s decision to drop the bomb shows more facets as more is learned about what was known at the time. The Bible, and even Christ himself, did not provide consistent simple answers to the issues of war and peace.

It behooves us to remember, but our memory cannot be tainted with fantasy or desire.

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Abuse of power sounds like a good catch phrase (talking point)

Have you heard “abuse of power” being bandied about lately? Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean have all been using it.

The Democrats’ one-note response to the Bolton appointment brings to mind an article that appeared recently in The New York Times Magazine. Reporter Matt Bai looked into the party’s efforts to “frame” the political debate in Washington — that is, to come up with a new vocabulary to make Democratic positions seem more attractive to voters. [Byron York]

Failing the big test at the Washington Times worries that the misuse of the phrase demeans its history.

The cheapening of a phrase which used to mean something quite sinister is regrettable, even though politicians do it everyday. But if from now on the stock response to whatever the president or Republicans do is “abuse of power,” then the very phrase itself has been rendered totally meaningless.

In many respects, this is the case of crying wolf. Remeber the fairy tale? A Jokester used to alarm the village with his cries of wolf. And when the wolf did show up, his cries were ignored because they didn’t believe him anymore?

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Media bias and the dog that didn’t bark.

New York City’s Department of Investigation is looking into charges that $875,000 from a Bronx nonprofit group and an affiliate whose budgets are generously stuffed with local, state and federal grants was inappropriately used to fund Air America, the left’s counterattack on the colossal success of conservative talk radio. [Investor’s Business Daily editorial 05ag03]

Capt Ed describes something a number of others have noted as well. A scandal of this sort – big corporation getting under the table money from a government funded nonprofit charity – is a story you’d expect to see on the front pages of the MSM. Yet that dog isn’t barking.

MSM bias is shown in the stories they don’t cover, even more than in the slant they give to the stories they do cover. This story has been curiously absent from the MSM, This Man Tried to Assassinate President Bush [ShrinkWrapped]

The contrast to the other Air America reporting, the Limbaugh pain killer episode, Iraq reporting in general and US deaths in particular, vote fraud and problems, and other stories sets a pattern. Sherlock noted an absence, the dog that didn’t bark, as an indication that the crime was committed by someone familiar to the dog. In this case it is enough to make one wonder if the silence of the MSM is similarly indicative.

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Why the leak and the lie?

Jonathan, at GOP Bloggers, asked Why did Joseph Wilson Lie? Ambassador Wilson is just one of several virulent anti-administration government bureacrats who have gone public, stimulated inquiry, and then been found to be off base.

The latest example is a couple of Gitmo investigators who have made allegations about the hearings being fixed. An inspector general report refutes the claims.

Then there are the Judy Miller types. Why is she sitting in jail to avoid testifying before a grand jury?

Jonathan provides some speculation but still begs the question about the risk and benefit equation. So many have put it on the line and then had the line erased on them. What is the source of the motivation that stimulates others to take such a high risk endeavor?

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The end of oil as we know it

One of the doomsday propagandists favorite topics is oil. They offer continual predictions that, one day soon, the gasoline pump will sputter a drop or two and then we will no longer have any – forevermore!

Carl comments on a WaPo op-ed by Daniel Yergin – It’s Not the End Of the Oil Age: Technology and Higher Prices Drive a Supply Buildup (05jl32 pB07) that tends to refute the doomseekers, again.

This is not the first time that the world has “run out of oil.” It’s more like the fifth. Cycles of shortage and surplus characterize the entire history of the oil industry. A similar fear of shortage after World War I was one of the main drivers for cobbling together the three easternmost provinces of the defunct Ottoman Turkish Empire to create Iraq. In more recent times, the “permanent oil shortage” of the 1970s gave way to the glut and price collapse of the 1980s.

Yet this fear is not borne out by the fundamentals of supply. Our new, field-by-field analysis of production capacity, led by my colleagues Peter Jackson and Robert Esser, is quite at odds with the current view and leads to a strikingly different conclusion: There will be a large, unprecedented buildup of oil supply in the next few years.

Oil production is a long lead time commodity requiring significant capital to realize and utilizing significant intellectual capacity for efficiency. Geologic knowledge is needed to know where to find oil. Extraction technologies are needed to collect the oil. Chemical technology is needed to refine oil to the desired products. There are significant transportation requirements.

How far investors will go to develop oil resources depends upon the gain they will get in the long run from oil prices. It will also depend upon the political climate that provides assurance that they will not have their investment taken away on whim of the governments.

While there is a definite limit to oil in theory, the practical matter is that it is like squeezing water from a sponge. There’s always going to be some left, you just have to work harder to get it. Right now it appears that we won’t have to squeeze the sponge very hard for the next fifty years or so. As we learn better techniques for sponge squeezing and better how to find more wet sponges, that fifty years has been an intelligent guestimate for the last fifty years or so. This kind of extension won’t last forever so it is important that other energy sources be found and developed. But it does mean that it isn’t a crisis and that the end of all oil doomsayers are perhaps a bit over the top.

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Vote Fraud, Democrats, Correlation, Causation?

Capt. Ed notes a report about election behavior

an independent report from the new American Center for Voting Rights Legislative Fund identifies far more incidents of voter intimidation and fraud on behalf of Democrats and their candidates than it did on behalf of their opponents. Their report, available here on their website, makes it clear that Democrat complaints about Republican conspiracies consist of little more than a classic case of projection:

AlphaPatriot discusses related behavior in the war against the Confederacy.

The politicians in Memphis need to divert attention away from their failing policies and the fact that the terms “Democrat” and “ethics violations” are appearing in the same sentence in the news just about daily. So they’ve decided to rename three parks: Confederate Park, Jefferson Davis Park and Nathan Bedford Forrest Park. Why? Because anything related to the old South is racist, of course.

The report on voting irregularities is a measure of the quality of the ‘both sides do it’ argument. The facts are becoming clear that both sides don’t do it. Whether it is the presidential race in Florida in 2000 or the governor race in Washington in 2004, or Ohio, or in many other places where Democrats have cried foul, the end result of investigation seems to implicate Democrats. This is a standard of behavior that needs to be addressed. Complaining that the other side is doing what you are caught doing is not addressing the problem.

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The President on ID

At a recent press conference, the President expressed an opinion that Intelligent Design (ID) should be taught along with evolution. This position contradicts that of his science advisor and has stimulated some discussion .

Rand Simberg tackles one class of argument used by those who espouse the idea that ID is an appropriate contrast to Darwin’s theory of evolution.

If David Klinghoffer is unable to understand why most scientists believe that ID is unscientific, then the solution is to better educate himself on the nature of both the theory of evolution and of the scientific method in general, instead of grasping at rhetorical straws, like the Bozos on Usenet.

There is a dishonesty in evaluating the quality of contrasting theories by asserting that ‘scientists’ can be found to favor one and find fault with another. This is different from ignorance in being unable to determine what is science and what is not.

When it comes to making decisions where not knowing all the details is a factor, perhaps a market analysis can help to ascertain what is a proper perspective. Here, the question is about why a student takes courses in biology in public schools. If the market is the student and his values and personal ideologies, then the student and his family determines the content, flavor, and viewpoints. If, on the other hand, the market is to help the student understand and work with that scientific community with a special interest in biology, then that scientific community determines the content, flavor, and viewpoints.

The whole ID versus evolution argument is just this issue. Most schools develop their curriculum for an intended market of students prepared to work with a University defined subject area. The ID enthusiasts and advocates want to change this market emphasis to a particular personal ideology and eschew the current accepted subject definitions.

see also Let’s Have No More Monkey Trials, To teach faith as science is to undermine both by Charles Krauthammer at Time.

To teach faith as science is to undermine the very idea of science, which is the acquisition of new knowledge through hypothesis, experimentation and evidence. To teach it as science is to encourage the supercilious caricature of America as a nation in the thrall of religious authority. To teach it as science is to discredit the welcome recent advances in permitting the public expression of religion. Faith can and should be proclaimed from every mountaintop and city square. But it has no place in science class. To impose it on the teaching of evolution is not just to invite ridicule but to earn it.

But to discuss ID ideas as comparative religion or philosophy, that is another matter.

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Terror. In pictures

Michael J. Totten had a button pushed by Professor Juan Cole, President of the Middle East Studies Association. Professor Cole thinks the war on terror is over. “I take it this is because they have finally realized that if they are fighting a war on terror, the enemy is four guys in a gymn (sic) in Leeds.”

Words just won’t do – but the pictures Totten presents certainly make an impact.

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Idealistic kids gone astray

The Ranting Prof, Cori Dauber references a Washington Post column by David Ignatius, Revolt of Privilege, Muslim Style

people who were students in the 1960s will remember the phenomenon: the idealistic kids from elite public and private schools who went to college, felt guilty about their comfort amid a brutal world and joined the Progressive Labor Party to ally with oppressed Third World workers. There is a cult aspect to this jihad — an extreme version of the logic that has always drawn disaffected kids to self-destructive behavior.

These are the same people who, a bit later in life, insist that terrorism, riots, and other drastic uncivil behavior is due to deprivation and oppression. Africa may be a good example of how the opressed and deprived really behave – that crowd is to busy trying to survive to plan riots and terrorism. Even famine riots are usually conducted by people exposed to a sudden change.

It is the idealism of youth that has not yet been tempered by reason and vision that is often a source of much tragedy. The IRA may have finally learned that terror does not help them achieve their ideals. They have decided to work within the political process that is available to them instead.

We can hope that political expedients will be made available to more and more people and that these people will avail themselves of that process rather than riot and terror. Iran will be a case study to watch.

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Terrorist as Pirate analogy makes sense

Hat tip Peggy McGuinness for the reference to Douglas R. Burgess Jr. and his message about The Dread Pirate Bin Laden: How thinking of terrorists as pirates can help win the war on terror.

attempts to provide a definition have failed because of terrorists’ strangely hybrid status in the law. They are neither ordinary criminals nor recognized state actors, so there is almost no international or domestic law dealing with them.

Dusty and anachronistic, perhaps, but viable all the same. More than 2,000 years ago, Marcus Tullius Cicero defined pirates in Roman law as hostis humani generis, “enemies of the human race.” From that day until now, pirates have held a unique status in the law as international criminals subject to universal jurisdiction—meaning that they may be captured wherever they are found, by any person who finds them. The ongoing war against pirates is the only known example of state vs. nonstate conflict until the advent of the war on terror, and its history is long and notable. More important, there are enormous potential benefits of applying this legal definition to contemporary terrorism.

Until 1856, international law recognized only two legal entities: people and states. People were subject to the laws of their own governments; states were subject to the laws made amongst themselves. The Declaration of Paris created a third entity: people who lacked both the individual rights and protections of law for citizens and the legitimacy and sovereignty of states. This understanding of pirates as a legally distinct category of international criminals persists to the present day, and was echoed in the 1958 and 1982 U.N. Conventions on the Law of the Sea. The latter defines the crime of piracy as “any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends.” This definition of piracy as private war for private ends may hold the crux of a new legal definition of international terrorists.

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