In her opening statement today during the Senate confirmation hearing on her nomination as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton stated that “even an ancient form of terror--piracy--[is] asserting itself in modern form off the Horn of Africa.” (I assume that by using the term "terror" she meant "terrorism," given that its use in the context of international relations is almost invariably taken to indicate terrorism.) Although the argument that piracy is terrorism is a popular one, even an enticing one, it is simply not the case that piracy is a form of terrorism. If we are going to classify piracy as terrorism, we might as well classify organized crime, or even all violent crime at any level, as terrorism. We need to remember that the purpose of terrorism is political, while the purpose of piracy is profit. Perhaps nominee Clinton--who will likely make an excellent Secretary of State--made the statement for political purposes, believing that equating piracy with terrorism might increase support for action to be taken against the Somali pirates. Perhaps her statement was mere rhetoric, and she meant terror largely as terror, leaving but a subtle allusion to terrorism. For my contrary view on piracy as terrorism, see this guest post. My thanks to Matt Armstrong of MountainRunner.com for pointing Clinton’s statement out to me this morning.