Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1990

Abstract

Herman Melville brilliantly lets us feel, through Captain Ahab, the sensation of destructive rage, hatred and violence. Sadly, Melville's insight penetrates to the core of society, perhaps of each of us, in today's omnipresent terroristic melodrama. We have all suffered moments of vicarious terror and rage over the past few years as we watched news accounts of terrorist incidents, such as the downing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. The melodrama of terrorism has penetrated each of our lives. We see it and feel the rage nearly on a daily basis. Innocent children, women and men aboard Pan Am Flight 103 were used as fodder in some "war" or other. Perhaps the pusillanimous carnage was in retaliation for the slaughter of innocent children, women and men aboard the Iranian Air Bus, blown out of the sky by American forces last year. Or perhaps it was committed by those interested in thwarting prospects of peace in the Middle East.

Terroristic outrage is sickeningly common. Chemical warfare has recently been reinstituted against combatants and noncombatants alike. Evidence indicates that on or about March 23, 1988, the Iraqi Air Force bombed villages in Kurdistan, spreading mustard and possibly nerve gas over villagers, dropping them in their panicked tracks, many holding their babies to their breasts. Iraq has accused Iran of using similar weapons. Libya is said to have nearly completed construction of a chemical weapons manufacturing facility. It has been proposed that the United States Government increase its capacity to research biological agents for use as weapons or defenses. The Salvadoran Army has reconstituted, after a hiatus, its program of mass execution of civilians to intimidate "its enemies." In September 1982, innocent men, women and children were slaughtered in the refugee camps at Sabra and Shatila, Lebanon by Lebanese-Christian forces dependent on Israel. The Achille Lauro Affair is well known. The Soviets, among other things, are alleged to have used booby-trapped dolls for Afghan Moujahadeen children. The outrage of the desaparacidos is now well known. The United States Government has supported, both directly and indirectly, the Nicaraguan "Contras", who allegedly have killed innocent Americans and Nicaraguans by their guerilla warfare. Sandinistas too have allegedly killed innocents in the effort to maintain their power. The depredations that occurred in Kampuchea are renown. The South African Government terrorizes and oppresses the non-white population within its territory. There are many, many others, tragic episodes that continue the ugly saga of terrorism, our nauseating modern equivalent of the ancient blood-feud.

Publication Citation

34 Cath. Law. 177 (1990).