Blog powered by Typepad

« Our authorised icon - the National Health Service | Main | Another man famous for what he did NOT do »

Friday, 06 December 2013


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Black-run South Africa has turned out much better than seemed likely (at least to me). Much of the credit goes to Mandela.

Mind you, he was a terrorist in his younger days.

Yes, you're right, DM, but there are signs of deterioration as the 'Kleptocracy' continues to run things. I don't blame him for being a 'terrorist' - a word I try to avoid these days. He had his cause to fight for and he did the best way he knew. Odd that both he and de Klerk started as young men on opposite extremes but eventually met in the middle.

Oh come off it, Duffers. Blowing up women and children who were out shopping: that's the sort of terrorism you've decided to approve of?

I didn't say I approved of it - it's just war! It's no different, in effect, from us guiding a drone bomb in through someone's bedroom window. Terror, in all its myriad forms, is a method of warfare. Not always very successful, as far as I can tell, but it exists. I wish it didn't exist but as my old Ma used to say, "If wishes were horses beggars would ride!"

Oh well, necklacing people is OK too, I suppose. Tell me, why then do we disapprove of a soldier murdering prisoners? Isn't that war too?

Quite, isn't it to do with who you target, not how you target them, that makes the difference between terrorist and soldier? If you target the enemy's soldiers and terrorize them, you're a soldier; if you target the enemies civilians and terrorize them, you're a terrorist?


If you go to war then anything goes because the sole aim is to win **at all costs**. As Clausewitz put it, in effect, some times it is necessary to be cruel to be kind, that is, if you deploy all the forces available even at the cost of civilian deaths and injuries, and if you win, then the war ends quicker than if you had 'played fair'! However, this is not a blanket approval for total ferocity because frequently such approaches have the opposite effect. For example, aerial bombing in WWII, by and large, fired up people's resistance. Also, the 'take no prisoners' attitude of the German army on the Eastern Front rebounded on them with even greater vengeance than they had reckoned.

These days war is not symmetric with disciplined armies fighting each other. If men in a certain political situation which they feel is no longer fair or reasonable then they will take up arms and they will do so in a way that will inflict as much damage on their enemy whilst preserving their chances to continue. Thus, they organise what we call 'terrorism' and they call 'freedom fighting'! I guess, like most wars, the winner will lay down the correct nomenclature!

I doubt you can be dubbed a terrorist when you fight a government that declares it is white apartheid and racist.
What was the point in our ancestors going to war with Adolf. Maybe we should have capitulated to Adolf and allowed his Reich to prevail.
I am sure a lot of whities will be wishing old Adolf prevailed.


He was a man of may things some good many anything but.

His role in keeping South Africa from decending into chaos and civil war is what he should be honored for.

Well, Jimmy, as I indicated above, in my view *all* war is 'terror'!

Indeed, Hank, he no doubt had his faults but they were not, I think, writ as large Mugabe's.

"he no doubt had his faults but they were not, I think, writ as large Mugabe's"

Indeed and as Hank says he should be honoured for what he did - or actually didn't do - after his release from prison. However, he had a choice as to how the war with apartheid was fought. He chose terrorism. Of course, the Boers were not as biddable an opponent as were Gandhi's (another non-white South African BTW) but Gandhi triumphed through peaceful means nonetheless. Nor did Walensa or Havel, who fought as nasty and as well-entrenched an enemy as any third world "freedom fighter", opt for terrorism.

Whatever, certainly he was a great man but was not the Christ-like figure which listening to the BBC deathfest and reading the encomiums in the press would have you believe.

Bongers, I haven't read much of the detailed reports on Mandela's background - the Telegraph obit stretches over two pages of close print! However, what is tickling my curiosity is what it was during his long period of incarceration that eventually moved him away from fighting and into peace-making. I am fairly immune to excess 'hero-worship' but his action was so strikingly different from just about every other political operator I have ever read about that I just wonder what tipped him one way and not the other.

The comments to this entry are closed.