Two international conferences last month wrangled over definitions of terrorism.
The conference in Europe, the Barcelona Euro-Mediterranean Summit, promised to fight terrorism, but couldn't agree on what "terrorism" was. This somehow added up to "an unprecedented feat," according to summit organizer and Spanish prime minister Jose Zapatero, who fatuously ballyhooed the "unmitigated, energetic," but literally meaningless condemnation of terrorism offered by European and Middle Eastern nations. Hooey is right.
The other conference was in the Middle East. The Iraqi reconciliation talks, sponsored by the Arab League in Cairo, agreed on a definition of terrorism, all right, but it was one that seemed to legitimize the blowing up of American soldiers, even as they fight terrorism.
For starters, this Iraqi communique -- hammered out by some 200 Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish leaders -- called "resistance" a "legitimate right." You know, "resistance": the killers who blast soldiers on patrol, or kids getting candy, or worshippers inside rival mosques to bits. This line was already a poisonous sop to Sunni proponents of "resistance" (read: death squads).
The communique went on to note that "terrorism does not represent resistance," which sounded a little more promising. Then it said: "Therefore, we condemn terrorism and acts of violence, killing and kidnapping targeting Iraqi citizens and humanitarian, civil, government institutions, national resources and houses of worship." Notice who and what is missing from the Iraqi convention's protection list: our own fantastic soldiers of the U.S. military.
What did Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have to say about this unacceptable omission? "I think what they were trying to do was to get a sense of political inclusion while recognizing that violence and terrorism should not be part of resistance," she told CNN.
Trying to get a sense of "political inclusion" -- by signaling open "resistance" season on U.S. soldiers? This is happy, Oprah spin, the doctrine of Feelpolitik -- not superpower strategy. She continued: "After all, do Iraqis really want to -- any Iraqi, sitting around that table, want to suggest that killing an innocent Iraqi child standing at a bus stop is legitimate? Or that killing Iraqi soldiers who are lining up at recruitment centers is legitimate? Or even that multinational forces" (that's us) -- "who are, by the way, there under a U.N. mandate" (I feel better?) -- "are somehow legitimate targets?"