The Big, Meaningful Difference between State and Retail Terrorism

Diana Johnstone asks the rhetorical question at CounterPunch, “What to Say When You Have Nothing to Say?” in regard to the I Am Charlie “terror” attack in Paris. Hers is an emotional response, exasperation; there is plenty to say that is quite rational.

America’s industrial sized war machine is never said by the corporate press to engage in terror, terrorism being “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.” CNN, Fox, and Tommy Friedman never said America terrorized Iraq, which of course it did, on a massive scale. Iraq continues to be the most terrorized place on earth, except maybe Gaza or Syria, where the CIA has been cutting off heads for years.

The destruction of Iraq was said to be self-defense against WMD, even if there weren’t any. The destruction of Libya, Vietnam, etc, were likewise not deemed political violence or terrorism, but self-defense — or in a pinch, ideological neutral “profiteering.”

In other words, our rulers are playing words games and making us respond emotionally.

In fact, America is the world’s biggest terrorist, exercising massive violent political intimidation overseas through the terror of aircraft carrier fleets, bombers, nuclear subs, shock and awe invasions, pacification programs, the overthrow of governments, and support of repressive puppet regimes, sanctions that strangle entire countries like Cuba, etc.

This state terrorism, which you never hear about, is the result of the biggest covert psychological warfare operation of all time. This psywar op depends on narrowly defining terrorism as some sensational momentary action — a suicide bomber, a hijacked plane, the decapitated body of an AID worker, or the massacre of racist, pornographic cartoonists whose cartoons provoke colonial violence.

Selective terrorism is the weapon of those who are outgunned, and often outlawed in their own country, and have no other options, other than submission.

The purpose of selective terror is psychological: to identify those who participate in massive state terror, while demonstrating to supporters the ability of, for example, besieged Muslims in Syria, to strike at their European white colonial oppressors.

The brutal Shock and Awe invasion, occupation and pacification campaign America visited on Iraqis, and its massive terrorist attempt to overthrow Assad in Syria, are different from a few selective terrorists wiping out racist cartoonists in Paris only in scale — and any rational analysis would say so. Instead we are exasperated.

The big, meaningful difference is that “selective terrorism” doesn’t murder thousands, like American or Israeli state terrorism.

So rather than get exasperated, why not say that selective terrorism is the logical response to American and Israeli state terrorism, which murder thousands and keep millions of people from making a living and enjoying life.

And don’t be fooled. The National Security Establishment understands that selective terror achieves political and psychological goals that state terror does not. So it engages in selective terror too, by targeting the rebel in Yemen or Pakistan, his family and friends in their homes. Drones and Navy Seals, etc. The CIA.

This is the selective terror by “counter-terrorists,’ which of course is no different than what happened in Paris, only it is glorified in Hollywood movies as, again, self-defense.

Everyone who is shocked into silence, please wake up and face the facts.

Douglas Valentine is the author of The CIA as Organized Crime and The Hotel Tacloban. His first book of poetry, A Crow's Dream (Oliver Open Press) was published in 2012. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Douglas, or visit Douglas's website.