The word "terrorist" is everywhere these days. But, Tom Walkom writes, the definition of the word depends as much on domestic considerations as it does on international considerations. And domestic considerations change -- frequently:
Take the most basic question: Who are the terrorists? Until Wednesday, Cuba was listed by the United States as a state sponsor of terrorism. Now U.S. President Barack Obama says it is not.
Why? It’s not because Cuba has changed. It’s the same old place. Raul and Fidel Castro are still in charge.
Rather it is because American domestic politics have changed. Now it’s politically useful for Washington to bury the hatchet.
Is Hamas itself terrorist? Canada says yes. The European Union’s second highest court says maybe not. The General Court said the EU used improper methods to place Hamas on its terror list.
And, in the lead up to an election, the word "terrorist" becomes a hot button:
For more absurdities, look at Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s air war against the Islamic State.
According to Ottawa, it is part of an epic battle for the future of civilization. Yet in almost 50 days of warfare, Canadian fighter jets have released their bombs only nine times.
In part, this is because the U.S.-led coalition can’t find enough enemies of civilization to bomb.
But in part, it results from the disjunction between the rhetoric surrounding this conflict and a more mundane reality — which is that Harper needs a war to win the next election, but he needs it to be a war with few Canadian casualties.
Last week, both Peter Mackay and Stephen Harper suggested that the murderers of two Canadian soldiers might be connected to ISIS. To date, no evidence of that connection has emerged -- just as those "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq never materialized.
So whose terrorist are we talking about? A real one -- or one manufactured for political gain?