Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Civil War is in the eyes of the Beholder

The current civil war, or is it the foreign intervention, in Syria is yet another example of a group of people fighting against their government with or without foreign help.  Whether such people are irrelevant rebels or national heroes depends on your point of view.  To remind some people who have never read the British version of the American War of Independence, the American rebels were a bunch of troublemakers who wanted British military protection but did not want to pay taxes for it.  Since then, ideology and weapons have become much more pointed and varied.  Concurrently, a whole array of vocabulary has been developed to describe those who are fighting for and against the government.  The correct word is never completely neutral and depends on the writer’s point of view.

For example, it is possible that a group of freedom fighters, revolutionaries even, are leading an insurgency against an oppressive government, i.e. the reactionary forces, which are employing fascist militias or terror squads.  These brave militants are often helped by sympathetic governments that support the former’s legitimate demands for political freedom and self-determination.

On the other hand, a group of fanatic terrorists, possibly Jihadist, communist or anarchistic (for those old enough to remember how scary that could be) financed by foreign elements, are conducting a guerilla war against the legitimate national government.  The latter is using loyal civil volunteers to help in the counter-insurgency operations and hopes to attain the “hearts and minds” of the population.

It could be that the supposed country is so divided by religion, economics, tribal/ethnic origin, or historical scars that it is a country in name only, but that might sound too analytical and cynical. I had better put on the correct pair of glasses.

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