The Instigator
thinkingduck
Con (against)
Losing
6 Points
The Contender
governments_kill
Pro (for)
Winning
9 Points

The United States government commits acts of terrorism

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/21/2007 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 9,212 times Debate No: 788
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (11)
Votes (5)

 

thinkingduck

Con

A lot of people believe that the United States is a sponsor or itself perpetrates terrorism. They cite various actions or atrocities carried out by the United States military, the CIA, or allied entities. I do not believe the United States can be characterized as a terrorist state.

This topic is potentially very sticky, since people hold ambiguous definitions and feelings about terrorism. I stand by the definition that terrorism is a violent act intentionally inflicted against innocent civilians for the purpose of swaying a third party, usually a government, to change its behavior. The use of violence in itself doesn't define terrorism, nor do the goals of the assailant matter. The actions of the target government that might inspire a terrorist act aren't a concern either. The key point to defining terrorism is that violence is used against innocents in order to sway the actions of a third, responsible party. This is particularly onerous to those who want to live by the rule of law because it places authorities in an unpleasant dilemma: they either submit to demands and thereby validate the use of illegal force to achieve change, or allow for the loss of innocent life to preserve the integrity of the rule of law.

The United States has not intentionally or consistently employed the coercive actions of terrorism to achieve its goals. It has used military force and the threat of force against other states, but only in a lawful framework. It is not acceptable to conflate war with terrorism, especially considering the above definition. With respect to individuals or people groups, the United States has made mistakes in its history, such as condoning slavery and failing to uphold treaties with Native Americans, but these were simply by definition not acts of terrorism. In war, atrocities have been committed and collateral casualties have been incurred, but neither of these were intentionally or coherently inflicted as a matter of policy. Furthermore, as unfortunate as these acts were, they weren't terrorism.

Terrorism only occurs when a threat or attack is aimed specifically against civilians in order to sway the target government's actions. The Oklahoma City bombing of 1995 was terrorism because the perpetrators wanted the U.S. federal government to cease what they considered tyranny. Another clear-cut example is the July 2005 London bombings, because Al Qaeda affiliates wanted Britain to withdraw from Iraq.

Many actions are onerous. Some are just unpleasant, and people can rightfully disagree as to their moral legitimacy. Not all these things are terrorism, however. People are rightfully frustrated by the excessive use of the term, but the specific meaning of terrorism is important to understand and maintain, and it must not be lost.
governments_kill

Pro

I will agree to your definition of terrorism, even though the Nuremburg Tribunals ruled that a war of aggression is actually worse than an act of terrorism. I do disagree with is the second clause of your interpretation of your definition. The goals of the assailant do matter. The act must be intended to influence a third party in a specific direction.

To make my argument, I will offer as the first support a situation that you ignored, the war in Nicaragua as well as El Salvador. The second piece of support will be the US's treatment of Indigenous peoples on the North American continent. Third, I will look at supposedly "collateral" or "unintended" civilian consequences in Iraq and argue them as a deliberately crafted policy. I think that this comprises a wide enough range to conclude not only that the US government commits acts of terrorism (of which winning the argument in Nicaragua would be sufficient) but that over its history, the United States can be regarded as a terrorist state. So that no one will question my patriotism, or feel that a vote for my side would make you non-patriotic, this results because the US is situated as the global hegemon in singular control of the world where they are forced to performs actions that prove, as George Bush I said in reference to the First Gulf War, "What we say, goes."

Ronald Reagan's war in Nicaragua is as clear an example of state terrorism in the United States' history. Ronald Reagan funded the "Contras" which were a rebel force trying to overthrow the government. Washington had full knowledge that the rebel army engaged in tactics such as "burning down schools and medical clinics, raping, torturing, mining harbors, bombing and strafing." All of these attacks were directed against the citizens of Nicaragua attempting to make them "not make mistakes in voting." This is a clear attempt to influence a third party, and the US government further attempted to rig the election. This meets all parts of the definition as it was violence against civilians designed to influence a third party (a government which was run by the Sandinistas.)

The situation in El Salvador is similar, but slightly different. Instead of attempting to influence the government, they chose to help the government of El Salvador eliminate its opposition. This would be comparable to George Bush deciding to wipe out Democrats and it was a comparable result. The government of El Salvador (with the full knowledge and coordinated assistance of the US government) unleashed death squads on the population that resulted in 75,000 civilian deaths. Again it meets all elements of the definition of terrorism.

The situation with the Indigenous Americans is a very complicated one. Not only did the US government violated treaties, they also conducted an early campaign of biological warfare. This is evidenced by the deliberate introduction of smallpox into Midwestern Indigenous communities. The massacre at Wounded Knee is further evidence of a deliberate campaign to target Indigenous Civilians to force them off of land. These were not isolated incidents but part of a policy that lasted at least until the United States stretched "from sea to shining sea."

My last example is the battle of Fallujah in Iraq. When it was discovered that resistance forces were hiding in Fallujah, the United States army decided to level the entire city. They began a massive bombing campaign and wiped out a significant amount of civilians very deliberately. Looking at pictures of Fallujah before and after the campaign is to look at the devestation that is invited on people when they fail to understand that "What we say, goes."

The above evidence seems to me to be sufficient to demonstrate not only that the US commits terrorist actions, but also that throughout its almost 250 year history, it is a terrorist state. While this is my conclusion, the debate goes "Pro" if I prove that the US government has committed terrorist actions. I think even this brief survey proves that beyond a shadow of a doubt.

The information about El Salvador and Nicaragua are from William Blum's "Rogue State"
Debate Round No. 1
thinkingduck

Con

Thank you, governments_kill, for taking up the pro position for this argument.

I'd like to note that we are not in disagreement on my second clause of the definition of terrorism. When I said "nor do the goals of the assailant matter," I was referring to the ultimate ideological goals (independence, class struggle, Manifest Destiny, etc.), not the strategic reasons for an attack. By our agreed definition, all terrorists employ their strategy in the belief it will "influence a third party in a specific direction." Not just any action to influence a party is equal to an act of terrorism: a union strike, a prominent deployment of an aircraft carrier, and a recall of an ambassador are all meant to influence a government's actions, but because they are not coherent, overt acts of violence intentionally carried out against civilians, they are not acts of terrorism.

For the benefit of our debate's voters, you have added the caveat that the United States is in a role where it is "forced" to take a posture that "what we say, goes." This simplification of what drives American foreign policy is misleading. Each presidential administration makes decisions based on criteria and for goals that vary over time. Even if we were to constrain the U.S. government to the hegemonic model, its adherence to such a doctrine does not require the use of terrorism. If the U.S. is a hegemon, then it has many tools at its disposal: allies, diplomacy, cultural influence, economic sanctions, lots of conventional military force. Such a state has no need for terrorism, which is a (mistaken) tool of convenience for those with relatively little power to affect an outcome. In theory the U.S. has no need for terrorism, and in practice it has not espoused it as policy.

The U.S. did not employ terror against the Sandinista regime as you have insisted. It is true that prominent elements of the Contras perpetrated terrorist acts against civilians under Sandinista rule. Although the CIA initially funded the Contras to serve as military resistance to the revolutionary Sandinista junta, the U.S. Congress moved to cut military funding once terrorist activities were discovered. Terrorist activities went against policies that President Reagan instated himself, such as the 1981 executive order banning political assassinations. The U.S. did aim to support conventional military actions against the regime, but did not seek to support terrorist activity.

From the above example, it is clear that intent of the actor is important to this discussion. Simple actors such as individuals are prone to make mistakes. Larger, more complex actors such as sates are even more vulnerable to error, because there are more elements that they cannot readily control. Since the definition of terrorism hinges on intent, a state is not a perpetrator or a sponsor if an individual or even an isolated group commits an act of terror against the state's will. In the face of these lapses, a state such as the U.S. demonstrates its intent by disavowing terrorism and punishing those who carry it out. One might counter that a truly concerned state wouldn't take the risk of being associated with terror in the first place, but this is an impractical demand. Given this reality, we must look to the state's intentions.

Before moving on, I'd like to refute the point about El Salvador. As I've stated before, atrocities are unfortunate, regrettable, and deplorable. I don't mean to defend any such acts. The U.S. didn't intend to slaughter people wholesale; it intended to shore up defenses for its ally government. Once again the question of risk-taking is raised, but the criminal intent was simply not there. Most importantly, you have not presented El Salvador as a scenario of violence to influence a third party; rather this is a citation of the use of violence itself, which is not in question.

As for the use of smallpox against Native Americans, I know of a remote British outpost that aimed to use the tactic to alleviate a siege from a particular tribe. The weapon was imprecise, but the intent was to win a battle, not blackmail the tribe's leaders. The act was asymmetric, but not terrorism.

Looking to the other cited instance against Native Americans, the massacre at Wounded Knee was not terrorism, because it was not premeditated, nor was it primarily a message to an authority responsible for those killed. It was an overreaction and negligence, but nobody handed down commands saying "Make a statement in blood today." You have stated that U.S. acts against Native Americans were committed as "part of a policy," but your evidence is nonexistent. Rather than being a result of a concrete, overarching government policy, the persecution of Native Americans stemmed from a series of individual decisions linked by a systemic cultural bias. Once again, this comes down to intention. You cannot equate cultural bias with intentions of government officials.

For the final example, the Battle of Fallujah was definitely not terrorism. The primary consideration was to drive out and confront insurgents, not influence the civilians. Nonetheless, in police actions, authority can legitimately send nonviolent messages to those they govern. When you see a police walking around with a gun in his holster, he is not committing an act of terrorism. His main aim is to enforce the law, but he also has the side effect of deterrence, which is basically sending a message. He affirms the message to criminals that "what we say, goes." Don't confuse this with terrorism. The main aim in Fallujah was to fight the insurgents, not expend a lot of shells to make civilians cower in fear.

Remember that terrorism has a very specific meaning. Violence in itself is not terrorism. Any innocent civilian can be hurt accidentally, so intention is required. Finally, the primary goal of the act must be to influence behavior. All of these must converge, or else what you have in a given case may be many other things, but not terrorism.
governments_kill

Pro

For sake of ease, and because these posts are already becoming obscenely long (understandably so given that this is a very dense and complicated topic) I will stick to my two examples in Latin America done under Reagan. Winning either one of these as I had said earlier is sufficient to prove the pro side of the proposition. I assume that you accept this framework given that you did not refute it. Before I start again, I just wanted to give you props. As I had said in the comments, you are defending your position much more coherently than folks more than twice your age. Your ability to defend your position is unfortunately greater evidence of your immense talent than of the accuracy of your position. I guess I'm lucky to have the easier side to defend.

That out of the way, I'll cover El Salvador first, and then move on to Nicaragua. To first establish El Salvador within the framework of this discussion, which you dispute, it seems that your own arguments concede that it was the use of violence to influence a third party. You say at the bottom of the paragraph that "you have not presented El Salvador as a scenario of violence to influence a third party" but earlier in the paragraph you argue, "The U.S. didn't intend to slaughter people wholesale; it intended to shore up defenses for its ally government." This is a concession that the violence the U.S. inflicted was intentional and with purpose. It intended to influence the opposition party to give up. Now given that it is not a government, that does not mean that it is not an agent. El Salvador has something that resembles a parliamentary system. This means that opposition parties wield a degree of power and influence and definitely constitute coherent agents. There is much greater cohesion in parliamentary parties than in single member district parties. The attempt to influence the opposition to simply wither away is a definite attempt to influence a third party. To add to the question of whether there was criminal intent, I'll quote another passage from William Blum's book "In January 1982 The New York Times published an interview with a deserter from the Salvadoran Army who described a class where severe methods of torture were demonstrated on teenage prisoners. He stated that eight US military advisors, apparently Green Berets, were present." Later he continues quoting a 1986 British documentary that interviewed another Salvadoran, this time a member of the National Guard, "I was trained in Panama for nine months by the [unintelligible] of the United States for anti-guerilla warfare. Part of the time we were instructed about torture." If we both cannot agree that the deliberate use of torture against a civilian population constitutes terrorism, then you are not abiding by your own definition. Torture constitutes the deliberate use of force with the intention of striking fear and influencing behavior. There is the added issue that many folks responsible for the violence in El Salvador have been residing in the United States for years. When a US court attempted to force one member of death squads to pay damages to a family now living in the US a higher court overruled it claiming a statute of limitations. This would have been the possibility to disavow any connection to torture and terrorism that it may have had. By the way, as I'm sure you know, the Convention against Torture says that there is no statute of limitations on torture.

Now to Nicaragua. The argument that you make here becomes very interesting due to its consequences. While it shows how brilliant you are at making arguments, it also makes this topic absolutely meaningless for debate. If we accept the definition that you offered, interpreted as you interpret it in your defense of the US government concerning Nicaragua, it becomes impossible to speak of terrorism in anything but the most obvious examples (aka. organizations that espouse a commitment to terrorism.) It is very easy to find at least one part of an organization that disavows the use of violence. Your definition would actually allow a use with which I'm sure that you would disagree. The PLO under Arafat could very easily argue that they cannot be held responsible for terrorist attacks, because Arafat did not personally sanction them. This didn't stop the US or the Israelis from acting as if it was Arafat himself who picked the targets when they sealed him up inside his compound. As you can see, the US has a radically different conception of terrorism when it comes to folks that they don't agree with. If our friends do it it's one thing, but if it's our enemies, then it is despicable terrorism. I'm against the use of terrorism as a tactic, and the US in Nicaragua exhibited the clear use of terrorism, as I'll further illustrate below.

You act in your argument as if words are more important than actions. As I'm sure you know, many of the actions discussed concerning the Contras occured well after Reagans Executive Order put forward in 1981. And just as the mantra goes, actions speak much louder than words. In this case, they were being screamed from mountain tops. This is where I'm going to break this down argument by argument.

You say "It is true that prominent elements of the Contras perpetrated terrorist acts against civilians under Sandinista rule. Although the CIA initially funded the Contras to serve as military resistance to the revolutionary Sandinista junta, the U.S. Congress moved to cut military funding once terrorist activities were discovered." As Bush has made very clear under this agency (which he's modeling off his boy Reagan) the president is the Commander in Chief and is responsible for the Foreign Policy decisions of the United States. Here it seems to me that you're conceding that the CIA commited acts of terrorism and you're just trying to back pedal out of the fact that the US is ultimately responsible for the CIA. The CIA doesn't act on its own. I'd be expecting me to be sounding like that. Normally it's the leftists that have the weird sounding conspiracy theories about how the CIA dictates policy and the government just follows. Your argument sounds awfully close to that. The president set the policy for the CIA to carry out. That's the way it always goes. The US government is responsible for the CIA's actions. The CIA chose to fund the Contras knowing full well their choice of tactics. The funding of the Contras even went past the US congress's attempt to block the funding. That's why Ollie North lost his job. You're coming awfully close to admitting it, while not just crossing the line in this argument.

Next you say, "Terrorist activities went against policies that President Reagan instated himself, such as the 1981 executive order banning political assassinations." The policies that are on paper mean very little when compared to the way that you choose to actually act. Clinton said he was against NAFTA as framed in 93. That didn't mean much when it came to him signing the actual document. What states do is much more important than what they say. Even Bush still claims that the US is against torture.

Next you say, "The U.S. did aim to support conventional military actions against the regime, but did not seek to support terrorist activity." The way that the US attempted conventional military actions in Nicaragua was terrorist activity. They knew it and didn't care. That's in the argument concerning continued support for the Contras.

The only way that you could possibly win this argument is if Ronald Reagan, George Bush the first, and that whole cabinent and CIA deparment were sitting in jail for perpetrating terrorism. Instead, Bush got elected president, Negroponte is our new Intelligence Director and Ronald Reagan is all but Jesus for modern day Republicans. Even Ollie North has his own Fox News TV show. If the US cared about terrorism, all of that would be much different.
Debate Round No. 2
thinkingduck

Con

Governments_kill, you've premised El Salvador and Nicaragua as contingent sub-arguments for the debate, which is fine. I will address those as needed, but I will first get to the heart of the question on terrorism. You have claimed that my emphasis on words over actions would make the debate meaningless. Nothing could be further from the truth. For an act to be terrorism, it must be confidently claimed by the perpetrator, since the goal is to coerce the target by threats of continued action. When the perpetrator denounces or ignores the coercive element, intention is not clear and the potential to influence is greatly damaged. Just as an animal makes itself look larger and more threatening when cornered, a rational actor doesn't choose to influence someone in a meek, confusing way, but with an unmistakable clarity to best get the message out. Many groups do just this, which is why words, official policies, and statements are so important to defining terrorism. Without this crucial element, we cannot point out that terrorism in itself is morally reprehensible compared to legitimate applications of violence.

Even if there is contradiction in a group's actions and words, there exists a preponderance of statements and policies that make it clear whether terrorism was intended. You have cited that one spokesman for the PLO might denounce terrorism, but looking at the sum of actions and words among all elements of the group provides a clear picture. Historically, the PLO and many other groups around the globe have in the weight of their words and actions proven themselves to be amenable to terrorism. The sum of statements and actions by the United States is decidedly in opposition to the use of terror.

Regarding El Salvador, you have enumerated some points, but no one can tie them together under the umbrella of terrorism. The linchpin is still the primary intent to harm civilians, but your examples have not demonstrated this. The New York Times interview and the documentary don't talk about terrorism, they allege associations with training in torture, which in itself doesn't meet our definition of terrorism. These journalistic sources must also be viewed with some suspicion, since media professionals often view themselves as called to an adversarial role against government. Although they don't admit it, they like everyone hold an implicit bias. People can grab contradicting quotes and testimonies all day from witnesses of convenience. Short of clear consensus, these allegations must be weighed with these vulnerabilities in mind. Nonetheless, you have used these quotes to springboard to the conclusion that on the part of the U.S. there was "deliberate use of torture against a civilian population." I haven't seen evidence that the U.S. aspired to torture a civilian population en masse, with the express end of making them drop their support of a faction. Even if torture training were to be propagated as alleged, the techniques would probably be meant to be employed selectively, for military ends, that is not against civilians. It makes no sense for the U.S. to violently coerce civilians, when the real key to winning the conflict lay in directly taking on the armed opposition.

As I laid out at the onset of this debate, war should not be conflated with terrorism. War is violence "intentional and with purpose" as you've stated. The potential pitfall in understanding is that it, like terrorism, is intended to influence the target authority or regime to an action, namely surrender. But war targets strategic assets and personnel based on military objectives, which in the course of Western history has come to preclude targeting of civilians for the express purpose of coercion. The United States abides by these precedents. When civilians have been struck, it has been denounced, denied, maybe even ignored, but not championed and bragged about.

For Nicaragua, your point culminates in the president being accountable for the CIA, and the CIA knowing what they paid for. You haven't made clear what the U.S. knew prior to funding. Actions cited by watchdogs and Congress occurred after the fact of funding, and corrective action was indeed taken by the administration and Congress. Oliver North's funding actions were another aberration inconsistent with United States policy. I should reiterate that someone can be held responsible for an action, but large organizations will always have some people going against the grain, or unwittingly making a mistake. Once again the preponderance of preventive measures, corrective actions, and official statements make it clear that the United States aims to avoid committing terrorism.
Someone who seeks to avoid terrorism cannot perpetrate it, because the very act itself requires a willingness to send a message, through the widely condemned method of intentionally attacking civilians. As long as the issue of intent is not faced head on, we will only be talking past each other. Like I said before, intent as revealed by the sum of words as well as action is essential because many groups do commit themselves to terrorism, in word and deed. Observers in the public have come to admire their acts and don't distinguish their actual desire to harm civilians from actions carried out lawfully or in morally acceptable frameworks. This is the reason why this debate is worth having. If one wants to hold nations up to impossible standards, then the discussion must be taken elsewhere. In a real world with complex problems, people can and must come to understand what terrorism is. The United States has taken a stand, and the vast majority of governments share its understanding. Unfortunately, many of those countries' publics have been confused on the topic. But now you see here just what terrorism is, and how the record shows that the United States by the weight of its words and actions demonstrates its intent is anything but to engage in terrorism. Consequently, the U.S. does not engage in terrorism.
governments_kill

Pro

I just want to start this off again, by saying that you are seriously a very talented debater. I've never had any discussion on this topic that was even close. You are very good at painting a very complex picture and throwing various complexities into the scenario. That said, let's do this.
Your definition has substantially changed and become meaningless. To begin, Bin Laden only hints at the purpose of his attacks, while we all consider the attack on the towers as terrorism. Bin Laden has not come out with a manifesto that states all the goals (which is how you're interpreting influence) of an attack, while threatening another attack if the demands are not met. Even if people think that there is a different standard for Bin Laden then the United States, I'm going to provide an example that I think you and I would agree in abstract constitutes terrorism, but as per your interpretation of your definition couldn't be classified as terrorism. I will then argue that Nicaragua constitues that example.

To construct the example here goes. Saddam Hussein funds a branch of al-Qaeda (if this sounds familiar it was Cheney's "intelligence" concerning the link between Iraq and al-Qaeda) for a project. This is a branch of al-Qaeda that has previously carried out numerous attacks against civilians. Hussein does not tell this branch to change its MO and even in press conferences repeatedly refers to these folks as "freedom fighters." That's the end of the example. If you don't think that virtually everyone in the United States would consider that an act of terrorism then you're lying. I'll even add a caveat. While he's calling these folks "freedom fighters," he is disavowing his responsibility for the attack and his parliament is passing a law that he can no longer transfer money to the group. We should both agree that this is an act of terrorism, but your very very very narrow definition (which probably doesn't apply to any act of terrorism) excludes this act from classification as terrorism.

There is also an issue with how you interpret my previous PLO counter-example. You say that "looking at the sum of actions and words among all elements of the group provides a clear picture" and "The sum of statements and actions by the United States is decidedly in opposition to the use of terror." Unfortunately you're arguing against my stronger thesis, which is not the substance of the debate. This is specifically a debate about whether the US commits terrorist actions, not whether on its whole it constitutes a terrorist state. This means that you are attempting to establish a burden of proof that exceeds the proposition that is at issue. This means unfortunately for you that the PLO example is a very legitimate argument from analogy. You unfortunately failed to articulate how your definition (of acts of terrorism not a terrorist organization) would encompass this scenario, which you clearly feel constitutes terrorism, while excluding the United States. I hold that it can't be done as per your interpretation. This coupled to the further complicated picture that I articulate above means that we have to go to actions and assume that if support continues after there is no question about the tactics used then it must be considered intentional and agreement with the tactics used.

I'm giving up on El Salvador due to space limits, so I will now reargue Nicaragua under my framework. Your defense for Nicaragua hinges on "When civilians have been struck, it has been denounced, denied, maybe even ignored, but not championed and bragged about." I think you're forgetting that Reagan very infamously referred to the Contras as freedom fighters. Not only did he "ignore" the atrocities that they committed against civilians, but this comes about as close to outright support as I think is possible. So he clearly did it through words. Now we can look at the policy front. You are correct that the first batch of funding came through prior to Congressional knowledge and watchdog group citations, but that can't be said of the covert funding, which continued after Congress passed the law. If you seriously think that North was anything but a fall person, then I have a bridge in New York that I'd like to sell you. Almost all historians have at this point concluded that Reagan had full knowledge of Ollie's actions, and it strikes me as disingenuous to grant Reagan the benefit of the doubt but to not do the same for Arafat. Even in the event that Reagan didn't know, it's impossible for everyone in the executive branch to be clueless, and the executive branch (as you did not dispute) is the one that sets policy. Not challenging Ollie is equivalent to agreeing with Ollie, when we're talking about something like this. This means that the executive branch, which you conceded is responsible for foreign policy questions, under Reagan was responsible for terrorist actions. This means that the US government committed terrorist actions against the Nicaraguan government. I also find it interesting that you ignore that NO ONE has been held accountable for this. Ollie's got a TV show and Reagan is everything but a war hero to Republicans. Bush even got elected President right after it. If that's a government trying to distance itself from terrorism, then I'm shaking in my boots about a government that doesn't even try to "distance itself from terrorism."

This really shouldn't be a shock to anyone. After all, the ICJ (world court) issued a ruling against the United States and told them to cease and desist their actions against the Sandinista regime. The World Court, which is usually quite reserved in its rhetoric, chose to use the phrase "terrorist actions" in reference to the US's mining of the harbors and continued support of the Contras. By the way, this is 1986, so I'm sure the voters can decide whether or not that constitutes continued support even after we knew about what the Contras were doing. And to even suggest that we didn't know what the Contras were doing is at best naivete and at worse an outright lie. The CIA is the most powerful intelligence agency in the world. We knew exactly what was going on in Nicaragua and who was doing it. And the support was likely more than that. I'll be nice and not bring up the School of the Americas due to you not having a chance to reply, but it's likely that the US had actually trained many of the folks that were in the Contras. It is further possible that the US was providing logistical support to the Contras, but to summarize...

The US government funded the Contras (a paramilitary opposition organization) under Ronal Reagan.
The Contras intentionally commited atrocities against civilians in an attempt to destabilize the Sandinista regime.
The Reagan administration had full knowledge of the tactics of the Contras but continued financial support (at a minimum) of this terrorist organization.
This went through the mainstream of the Executive Branch, which is responsible for Foreign policy under the US constitution.
This means that the US government knowingly supported a terrorist organization, which means that the US government does commit terrorist acts.
It has further implicated itself in these actions by not holding the members of government who did directly support these actions accountable.

Sorry to substantially weaken my argument, but it is very difficult to articulate a stronger thesis given the space constraints.
Debate Round No. 3
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by mmadderom 9 years ago
mmadderom
Most any government can be perceived as having committed "terrorist" actions at some point. I think one has to define terrorism before entering such a debate.

thinkingduck ended his first paragraph with this: "I do not believe the United States can be characterized as a terrorist state." Obviously this is the premise of his argument and is absolutely true.

While governmentskill offered a lot of information and repeatedly claimed he was working from the side of "truth" I saw nothing in any of his/her arguments that weren't biased from the get go. When you start with a premise then try to find examples and MAKE them fit your premise, you are fighting an uphill battle.

To me, unless you are one prone to conspiracy theories, this one is easy.
Posted by Descartes 9 years ago
Descartes
I'm afraid I have to agree with governments_kill on this one. While America is certainly not a terrorist state, it has commiteed limmited acts of terrorism. However, I think few ppl will ever think about this topic as deeply as you two have and will thus equate "The United States Government commits acts of terrorism" to a "the United States is a terrorist state". This is very unfortunate. Our government is well over 99% pure.

Well argued on both sides.
Posted by governments_kill 9 years ago
governments_kill
Hey, you were a phenomenal opponent. I really meant that I've never seen such a good defense of your position. I wish that I could actually sit down and have a discussion with you. I don't agree with you on much if anything, but I greatly respect your intellectual prowess.
Posted by thinkingduck 9 years ago
thinkingduck
Just to comment, I think we both are doing well, but my greatest regret is that our posts are so long!
Posted by governments_kill 9 years ago
governments_kill
Honestly, I'd rather only get votes from folks who think that I argued better. I don't think that that's what tends to happen on this site though. But I have to say, thinkingduck this is the best articulated defense that I have ever heard concerning your proposition. I still agree with the proposition, but I just wanted to give you props and respect.
Posted by Solarman1969 9 years ago
Solarman1969
terrorism = deliberate indescriminate violence toward civilians in order to create chaos and fear

If you know of any US citizen, military or otherwise, who has commmited such and act, please bring them forward

otherwise the armed forces of the United States of America do NOT commit acts of terror.
Posted by blond_guy 9 years ago
blond_guy
honestly, maybe you won't lose, given that so far everyone that commented is supprting pro (including me).

you will probably have my vote, we'll see.
Posted by governments_kill 9 years ago
governments_kill
I took this because if I get a loss because people don't want to actually read the arguments I'll deal with it and take a loss. I promise that I'll post for all the rounds and good luck. You're going to need it to defend the actions of this government...
Posted by cjet79 9 years ago
cjet79
you only need terrorism if you are losing to a foreign government. When you can/do beat a foreign government its called imperialism. Also id say there is a bit of terrorism towards our own citizens. Not sure how that counts though.
Posted by Korezaan 9 years ago
Korezaan
I would take PRO but then there are too many people that are patriotic and support America no matter what, and this just ruins my percentage.

I'd like to debate you on it though, just somewhere else xD
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by clsmooth 9 years ago
clsmooth
thinkingduckgovernments_killTied
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Vote Placed by thinkingduck 9 years ago
thinkingduck
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Vote Placed by mmadderom 9 years ago
mmadderom
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Vote Placed by Korezaan 9 years ago
Korezaan
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Vote Placed by Descartes 9 years ago
Descartes
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