Daniel Larison at Eunomia:
The IRA was a genuine terrorist group, but it was listed as such by our government most of all because it was a sworn enemy of one of our closest allies. The record seems clear: terrorist groups that are useful to us or harmful to states we officially oppose are given a pass, while those that target us or our allies are condemned in the strongest terms. That’s the nature of things in the real world, I suppose, but it is something that none of the reponses to the counterfactual seems to be taking into account. Had things gone very differently in the last century and London and Washington became enemies once more, it is very easy to imagine that the IRA or similar groups would have been made into anti-British proxies of the U.S. government. In the unlikely counterfactual event that an independent Arab Palestine had emerged out of a very different ‘67 outcome, the official attitude towards the enemies of that state would have depended entirely on U.S.-Palestine relations. All of this is by way of saying that the official opprobrium heaped on Palestinian militants, for example, is primarily a matter of condemning the enemies of an allied state; their use of terrorist tactics is secondary to whether or not they are labeled this.
Read the whole thing here