P. Edronkin

The Ghosts Of Terrorism



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Whenever an antiterrorist camping is in full swing, political groups and ideological factions invariably begin to take part in political terms in order to justify the actions of one side or another in the conflict, using the power of the state for their own hidden agendas. Historically speaking, terrorism has been seen as a conflict between left and right, religion against religion, or occupying forces pitted against freedom fighters; reality, however, is no black and white matter.

Take for example the case of Palestinians versus Israelis: both nations have their rights and reasons, and some of their arguments are indeed right. However, it is also true that in both sides, abuses of all kinds are rampant. The same happens in the case of the war on terror that the United States has against Al-Qaida and Islamic fundamentalism, and the same could be said about Colombia, as well as historic and paradigmatic cases such as those of Argentina and Chile.

It is extremely nave and stupid to believe that unconventional warfare of this kind is a matter of idealists dressed with white gloves against hairy ogres; real life is not like that and as long as these things are not seen and analysed from a neutral point of view, mistakes will continue to add up and conflicts will never be laid to rest for good. To understand a problem you have to get rid of ideological filters.

I know the case of both Argentina and Chile because I was a kid when the dirty war took place, and believe me, it was a good, solid war in which what the military and security forces did was indeed wrong. However, to believe like many people seem to do, regarding the actions of the state then, and thinking that the military were repressing innocent people with no reasons or excuses is in fact a show of ignorance.

I was in primary school when the whole thing started, and I do remember how military UNIMOG trucks parked on corners, soldiers went down and into houses, and took people away. I also remember that such things that happened before and after that: before, we had in Buenos Aires an average of two bomb attacks per day, on average. There were murders, hostage-takings, robberies, hidden 'popular jails' where hostages were kept for years, raids, ambushes and so on. The apparently innocent and idealistic even shot down a couple of aircraft.

Then, after the military swept the country with their unorthodox understanding of morals, not even a fly would bother you, there were no bombs, and even no fireworks; you could leave your bike leaning on a tree and return the next day, and it would still be standing there, a feat that you cannot achieve even today. The same happened both in Argentina and Chile

The Argentine and Chilean military and security forces did absolutely questionable things, which paradoxically were exceedingly successful from a tactical point of view; those are undeniable facts, for they did abused every possible human right, and they did exterminate terrorism in their jurisdictions. Toda, supporters of the former leftists terrorist groups are trying to present themselves as innocent victims of the military, but I can't ignore what I saw: the military did what they did in response to what was happening.

And while this issue remains unresolved in Argentina and Chile, and while people do not see it as what it was, the whole thing will remain unsolved, lingering in history. The dirty war was an implacable and very cruel response of the state to the murderous and equally cruel but less funded action of leftist terrorist groups. It was a race in which cruelty and propaganda were put to the test, and the state won; it was just that. I saw the whole thing - blood ponds and amputated limbs included - with my own eyes.

This should serve as a lesson to anyone getting into such a business: eliminating terrorism in an effective manner is very difficult, and frankly, I don't think it can be done patting people on their shoulders and just slapping their cheeks, and even if you do eliminate it, you will have then to fight the ghosts that cruelty breeds.




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