Now I am going to disagree with Prof Crispy when he writes:
so people do a lot of wrong things. "the west" does a lot of wrong things. it will lob a missile from a predator drone into your wedding, which looks like terrorism. and the evil of such things needs to be described and exposed bit by bit. but the logic is, for all that, utterly different: comprehensible even if wrong etc. both acts might be evil, even equally evil, but they are evil in fundamentally different ways. one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter is just wrong. no one is a freedom fighter in virtue of killing whoever happens to be present, victimizing people without any connection to a cause or comprehensible strategy for pushing it forward.How does "[lobbing] a missile from a predator drone at a wedding party" serve "a cause or comprehensible strategy for pushing it forward"? I think the plain answer is: it doesn't, really. Or, it does, but not in the way that Crispin's text implies. And I think that no matter how far back you draw, how deftly and capably you examine the stated and unstated intentions of the "state actor" that was the ultimate cause of that predator drone firing that missile at that wedding party, no matter how capably you slice and dice the arguments from humanitarianism or the arguments from self-defense or the argument from economic self-interest (i.e., oil, pipelines, etc.), you end with actual actions, pardon the redundancy, that are "well beyond stupid," incomprehensible on any terms, even their own.
Now there are clearly differences between committing violence by proxy on behalf of the United States of America and committing violence by blowing oneself in the name of Allah and the Prophet and what have you, but I simply do not accept that these events are so fundamentally distinct as to constitute wholly separate teleological categories, which is where I think the Prof's argument inevitably ends up. The US and its allies are pursuing a hopeless mish-mosh of unarticulated and ineffible and wholly fantastic goals: regional hegemony, economic dominance, control of resources, humanitarian assistance, The Womyn!, some semblance of religious pluralism, democratization, universal franchise, freedom, whiskey, sexy. Well, okay. And the American state and its allies have constituted an armed hierearchy that gives orders down a long chain of command, at the end of which a bullet or bomb finds a body. Kaboom! The terrorist who blows himself up in a marketplace is the poor, sorry end of a similar, albeit much shorter, abstraction of violence from its source. So the terrorist does it for Mohammed and the soldier does it for Uncle Sam. So what? In the end, both sow sufficient violence, confusion, terror, and uncertainty that no opposing group can exercise meaningfully universal control.
Consider. What are we doing in Afghanistan? After all the dross has been peeled away, the most comprehensible, consistent, and coherent explanation remains: we are there to deny the Taliban and their allies control. Now it would be wonderful if Hamid Karzai discovered his inner Jeffersonian (well, Hamiltonian, but are we gonna split hairs?), but in the meantime, this is it. Rubber on the road. Deny the Taliban the country. Into the cracks and fissures around this goal flow such minor boons as the pipelines and the Womyn and the occasional stab at democracy. And what are our enemies but a mirror image, enacting violence and sowing chaos and dissension to deny America and its allies control. Into the cracks and fissures around this goal flow such minor boons as . . . It is mere attrition. To whom will the cost become too high first? The differences are all in the economies of scale. To America, it seems more sensible to use robots and missiles. To the Taliban, the terrorist, whomever, it seems more sensible to use people. There are more of them. They are eminently replacable--they can be manufactured with a minimum of infrastructure, you know? There is an old, classic Asimov story about a future society in which the long use of computers has denied man the knowledge of mathematics, until a hobbyist reverse engineers arithematic from the workings of the antique calculators that he builds for fun. The leaders of this society are overjoyed. They have been engaged in a long and costly interstellar war. But computers for missiles are so expensive, whereas a human pilot . . .