Saturday, May 19, 2012

The terrorists are not poor, they are revolutionaries

Born 1957 in Saudi Arabia to a wealthy family
Terrorism is not caused by poverty:
  • Department of Blithe Assertion - The claim that terrorism is caused by poverty.
  • Education, Poverty, Political Violence and Terrorism: Is There a Causal Connection? by Alan B. Krueger and Jitka Maleckova - A survey that concludes there is no relationship between terrorism and poverty. See summary.
  • What Makes a Terrorist? by James Q. Wilson - Terrorism is not caused by poverty: "Krueger and Maleckova compared terrorist incidents in the Middle East with changes in the GDP of the region and found that the number of such incidents per year increased as economic conditions improved."
  • Poverty Doesn't Create Terrorists, by Alan B. Krueger.
    • "More terrorists do come from poor countries than rich ones, but this is because poor countries tend to lack civil liberties. Once a country's degree of civil liberties is taken into account .. income per capita bears no relation to involvement in terrorism. Countries like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, which have spawned relatively many terrorists, are economically well off yet lacking in civil liberties. Poor countries with a tradition of protecting civil liberties are unlikely to spawn terrorists."
    • "Apart from the size of a country and the extent of its civil liberties, no factor that I could find .. could predict whether people from that country were more or less likely to take part in international terrorism."
  • Freedom squelches terrorist violence - Alberto Abadie concludes that terrorism is not caused by poverty. "In the past, we heard people refer to the strong link between terrorism and poverty, but in fact when you look at the data, it's not there."

  • Osama Bin Laden was a son of the wealthiest non-royal family in Saudi Arabia.
  • Mohamed Atta was the son of a wealthy Cairo lawyer.
  • The Flight 253 bomber was the son of one of the richest men in Nigeria.
  • Majority of British Islamic terror suspects are middle-class or upper-middle-class, says MI5 study leaked in Oct 2011. In a study of 90 Islamic terror suspects investigated by the security service: "Where data is available, two-thirds came from middle or upper-middle-class backgrounds, showing there is no simplistic relationship between poverty and involvement in Islamist extremism."
  • Marc Sageman, University of Pennsylvania (see here and here), found that of Al-Qa'eda members and associates:
    • 18 per cent were upper class, 55 per cent were middle class. 90 percent came from caring, intact families.
    • 29 per cent had some college education; 33 per cent had a college degree; 9 per cent had a postgraduate degree. 91 per cent had a secular education.
    • 70 per cent joined the jihad while away from home. They joined the jihad at the average age of 26 (mis-quoted as the average age of all of them being 26).
    • In short, they are educated, alienated middle-class twenty-something young men, who as likely as not developed their hateful fascist ideas in the middle of tolerant, democratic western society. Just like Hitler, Marx, Lenin and a million other angry, hateful young men who reject the decent tolerant society that surrounds them.
    • "Sageman describes them as the "elite of their country" sent abroad to study because the schools in Germany, France, England and the US are better. ... Al-Qa'eda's "breeding ground", it seems, is as much in fragmented cities in the West as in hotbeds of Islamism in the East."
    • What this means is that the western media and the western left are partly to blame for the conversion of young people to Islamism in the west. The constant left-wing attacks on America and Israel one sees in the west is not simply being watched by westerners. Young potential jihadis are watching too, and it encourages some of them to join Al-Qa'eda. The media and the left encourage the enemy (even if they don't mean to). Sageman notes, for example, that France is breeding lots of jihadis while the US is not. The different media climates in France and America probably has a lot to do with it. If French political culture changed to become supportive of America, France would breed a lot less jihadi killers.
    • Arthur Chrenkoff on Al-Qa'eda not being poor: "The problem is hardly new. Poor people rarely become revolutionaries because they are far too busy trying to survive to engage in political pursuits. Historically, it has always been the relatively well-off and the well educated who constituted a vanguard of any revolutionary and/or terrorist movement, from the French Revolution and 19th century revolutionary socialism to Bolshevism, Red Brigades-style terrorism, and Palestinian terrorism. ... Overthrowing existing order is and has always been an elite pursuit."
    • Does Affluence Cause Jihad? by Zachary Constantino
  • The terrorists are not poor, they are revolutionaries:
    • Under Our Very Noses: The terrorist next door by Adrian Karatnycky.
      • Poverty is not the cause of 9/11: "It is indeed reassuring to view the terrorists who now threaten us as an exogenous threat rooted in the Middle East's Hobbesian environment of obscurantism, poverty, and repression - but police and press investigations offer evidence of a far more complex, and ominous, picture. The key hijackers, including Mohamed Atta, were well-educated children of privilege. None of them suffered first-hand economic privation or political oppression."
      • So who are the 9/11 attackers, if not poor third worlders? In fact, they are very much like the middle-class anarchist, fascist and communist revolutionaries of the past"To understand the September 11 terrorists, we should have in mind the profile of the classic revolutionary: deracinated, middle class, shaped in part by exile. In other words, the image of Lenin in Zurich or London; or of Pol Pot and Ho Chi Minh in Paris."
      • "many of the terrorists we are now confronting are a Western phenomenon, existing inside the Islamic diaspora that is an established fact of life in the U.S. and Europe. ... Like the leaders ofAmerica's Weather Underground, Germany's Baader-Meinhof Gang, Italy's Red Brigades, and Japan's Red Army Faction, the Islamic terrorists [are] university-educated converts to an all-encompassing neo-totalitarian ideology. ... youthful members of a bored middle class who have grown contemptuous of "soft" and corrupt elites and are drawn to the romance of revolutionary guerrilla movements."
      • And like the 1960s and 1970s middle-class anarchist, fascist and communist terrorists, the proper response is war until their total destruction.
  • Theodore Dalrymple on the mind of the Islamist revolutionary:
    • The Suicide Bombers Among Us - On the confused mind of the starry-eyed young Islamist man. "According to Islamism ... Only a return to the principles and practices of seventh-century Arabia will resolve all personal and political problems at the same time." It is incredible that anyone would believe such a thing. But, of course, we've seen this kind of insane utopianism before: "This notion is fundamentally no more (and no less) bizarre or stupid than the Marxist notion that captivated so many Western intellectuals throughout the 20th century: that the abolition of private property would lead to final and lasting harmony among men."
    • The Terrorists Among Us"terrorism is not a simple, direct response to, or result of, social injustice, poverty, or any other objectively discernible human ill. ... People with unusually thin skins ascribe the small insults, humiliations, and setbacks consequent upon human existence to vast and malign political forces; and, projecting their own suffering onto the whole of mankind, conceive of schemes,usually involving violence, to remedy the situation that has so wounded them. ... Conrad tells us that one of the sources of terrorism is laziness, or at least impatience, which is to say ambition unmatched by perseverance and tolerance of routine. ... The mental laziness of Islamism, its desire that there should be to hand a ready-made solution to all the problems that mankind faces, one that is already known, and its unacknowledged fear that such a solution does not really exist, Updike captures well."
    • The Persistence of Ideology: Starry-eyed rebels and terrorists are often not poor (or even oppressed): "Who, then, are ideologists? They are people needy of purpose in life, not in a mundane sense (earning enough to eat or to pay the mortgage, for example) but in the sense of transcendence of the personal, of reassurance that there is something more to existence than existence itself. The desire for transcendence does not occur to many people struggling for a livelihood. Avoiding material failure gives quite sufficient meaning to their lives. By contrast, ideologists have few fears about finding their daily bread. Their difficulty with life is less concrete."
    • Islamism is the new global communism: "There are many other parallels between Leninism and Qutb's Islamism, among them the incompatibility of each with anything else, entailing a fight to the finish supposedly followed by permanent bliss for the whole of mankind; a tension between complete determinism (by history and by God, respectively) and the call to intense activism; and the view that only with the installation of their systems does Man become truly himself."
  • The radical loser, by Hans Magnus Enzensberger, makes the obvious point that the idea that Islamist terror could bring about a better future for the Arab/Muslim world is absurd.
    • He notes that so far, Islamist terror damages the Muslim world far more than the West. Unless terrorists get WMD (*), if attacks continue as they are now: "it makes no difference to the actual power relations. Even the spectacular attack on the World Trade Center was not able to shake the supremacy of the United States. The New York Stock Exchange reopened the Monday after the attacks, and the long-term impact on the international financial system and world trade was minimal. The consequences for Arab societies, on the other hand, are fatal. For the most devastating long-term effects will be born not by the West, but by the religion in whose name the Islamists act. Not just refugees, asylum seekers and migrants will suffer as a result. Beyond any sense of justice, entire peoples will have to pay a huge price for the actions of their self-appointed representatives. The idea that their prospects, which are bad enough as it is, could be improved through terrorism is absurd. History offers no example of a regressive society that stifled its own productive potential being capable of survival in the long term. The project of the radical loser, as currently seen in Iraq and Afghanistan, consists of organizing the suicide of an entire civilisation."
    • (*) Even then, any Islamist WMD attack will more likely lead to devastating conventional and nuclear war against the Muslim world. Islamism has nothing to offer the Islamic world except repression, poverty, death, war, terror, famine, and potentially even total destruction.
  • What Terrorists Really Want: Terrorist Motives and Counterterrorism Strategy, Max Abrahms, Spring 2008, points out that much terrorism is based on illogical or hallucinatory reasons and strategy:
    • Summary: "Terrorists, he writes, (1) attack civilians, a policy that has a lousy track record of convincing those civilians to give the terrorists what they want; (2) treat terrorism as a first resort, not a last resort, failing to embrace nonviolent alternatives like elections; (3) don't compromise with their target country, even when those compromises are in their best interest politically; (4) have protean political platforms, which regularly, and sometimes radically, change; (5) often engage in anonymous attacks, which precludes the target countries making political concessions to them; (6) regularly attack other terrorist groups with the same political platform; and (7) resist disbanding, even when they consistently fail to achieve their political objectives or when their stated political objectives have been achieved."

    New York Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad proves that poverty does not cause terror.
    Rather, Islamism causes terror.
    This young man was born in Pakistan to a wealthy family, the son of an Air Vice Marshal in the Pakistan Air Force. He had the incredible luck to be accepted into the US to study and then work. He received a B.A. in computer science and engineering at the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut. He got an M.B.A at the University of Bridgeport. He got a job as a financial analyst in Connecticut, and lived in suburban America in freedom and prosperity. He responded in May 2010 by trying to kill random American men, women and children, and now faces decades of misery in American jails. 
    Only Islamism can explain not just such ingratitude, but also such personal self-destruction.