What are the root causes of terrorism, and what can we do about them?
In an earlier article, I spoke a little about the root causes of Terrorism. I mentioned our foreign policy over the last 50 years , and I still feel that is part of the issue. However, writing about this made me want to find out what the real ‘root causes’ of terrorism are.
This is what I have found so far:
Those who hold to ‘poverty as the root causeâ€ do so even though the data does not fit their model. Even leaving aside multimillionaire Osama bin Laden, the backgrounds of the September 11 killers indicates that they were without exception scions of privilege: all were either affluent Saudis and Egyptians, citizens of the wealthy Gulf statelets, or rich sons of Lebanon, trained in and familiar with the ways of the West â€” not exactly the victims of poverty in Muslim dictatorships.
That makes sense. They need people who can move unnoticed through our society. People who were educated at our schools and speak our language very well. You will not find that amongst the poor in most countries.
Most terrorists are not motivated by the prospect of financial gain or the hopelessness of poverty, says economist Alan B. Krueger, least of all in the Middle East.
Only 13 percent of Palestinian suicide bombers are from impoverished families, while about a third of the Palestinian population is in poverty, according to new research by Claude Berrebi, a Princeton University graduate student.
A remarkable 57 percent of suicide bombers have some education beyond high school, compared with just 15 percent of the population of comparable age.
This evidence corroborates findings for other Middle Eastern and Latin American terrorist groups. Terrorists are drawn from society’s elites, not the dispossessed.
One of the things that I have often felt, is that Terrorism targeted at us is related to how we are perceived on the on the global stage. Over the last 50 years, we have been, if not the most, one of the most powerful players in the world. How have we used this power?
According to the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board, a strong correlation exists between U.S. involvement in international situations and an increase in terrorist attacks against the United States. President Clinton has also acknowledged that link. The board, however, has provided no empirical data to support its conclusion. This paper fills that gap by citing many examples of terrorist attacks on the United States in retaliation for U.S. intervention overseas. The numerous incidents cataloged suggest that the United States could reduce the chances of such devastating-
and potentially catastrophic-terrorist attacks by adopting a policy of military restraint overseas.
But, what kind of policy’s are we talking about?
The U.S., having decided that an Iranian victory would not serve its interests, began supporting Iraq: measures already underway to upgrade U.S.-Iraq relations were accelerated, high-level officials exchanged visits, and in February 1982 the State Department removed Iraq from its list of states supporting international terrorism.
Iraq received massive external financial support from the Gulf states, and assistance through loan programs from the U.S. The White House and State Department pressured the Export-Import Bank to provide Iraq with financing, to enhance its credit standing and enable it to obtain loans from other international financial institutions. The U.S. Agriculture Department provided taxpayer-guaranteed loans for purchases of American commodities, to the satisfaction of U.S. grain exporters.
So , we propped up Saddam, gave him money and material to fight a war, and now we don’t understand why the people that he brutalized dislike us? There are more and more examples of this kind of duplicity on our parts. We helped the Taliban fight the Russians, and then we get angry when they continue with their same extremist ways. We help with one hand, and strike with the other. It makes no sense.
I certainly hope that our Foreign policymakers see the problems that our history has caused, and take a more open, and constructive approach in the future. We should be helping people be free, happy and safe , not funding extremists and butchers. We should be leading this world by example , not by a leash.