Was Pearl Harbor an act of terrorism? What defines terrorism? (The Japanese did come up with the kamikaze, but from what I've read about Pearl Harbor they never used that strategy until much later into the war). I think the problem at the heart of the post-9-11 debate is what exactly defines terrorism.
Websters defines terrorism rather ambiguously: "the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion." That could mean just about anything. This would make the anti-abortion bombers terrorists. This would make many of the groups involved in the WTO riots terrorists. This would probably make any kid that brings a gun to school with his friends a terrorist. Under this definition you could probably read through the history books and redefine almost every single act of war carried out by one group against another an act of terrorism. This definition and whatever the definition that is used by different government agencies is too vague. We need a concrete definition for terrorism.
I'd like to propose a definition for terrorism: An act of war without a declaration of war. Is Pearl Harbor an act of terrorism under this definition? No, because Pearl Harbor was their declaration of war. But then how do you explain the Oklahoma City bombing? Was this terrorism under this definition? Probably no, because there was no body of people to "not declare war." (Or was there? I'll leave that one to those who research American militia organizations). Obviously, the Oklahoma City bombing was an act terrorism, so maybe the definition needs to be expanded a little.
What is "war"? Websters defines war as "...open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations." This is where I believe the key lies to defining terrorism; terrorism is a hostile conflict without states or nations.
I'd like to propose a new definition for terrorism: An act of war carried out by a group that does not represent a particular nation. Now, was the Oklahoma City bombing an act of terrorism? Yes. Was Pearl Harbor an act of terrorism? No. Now, was 9-11 an act of terrorism? Let's discuss that later. For now, here are some things to think about:
* Osama bin Laden thinks he's at war with the West, and it's a war he thinks that will take 50 years to win.
* We don't know if any particular nation has given Osama bin Laden direct funding or not.
* We do know that Osama bin Laden took millions of dollars from his wealthy oil family in Saudi Arabia. For all we know he could have stolen the money or could have been given it.
* We know that not everyone associated with Al Queda is from the same region of the world, let alone the same country.
Was 9-11 terrorism or an act of war? If it was an act of war, then Bush has every right to draw parallels between 9-11 and Pearl Harbor.