“EXTREMELY poor societies…provide optimal breeding grounds for disease, terrorism and conflict.” So said Barack Obama, arguing in favour of more development aid to poor countries. Mr Obama is not alone in regarding economic development as a weapon against terrorism. Hillary Clinton, America’s secretary of state, has called development “an integral part of America’s national security policy”. The idea that poverty could be associated with terrorism is not implausible. If acts of terror are committed by people with little to lose, then it is reasonable to expect them to be carried out disproportionately by poor, ill-educated people with dismal economic prospects.Surely that canard should have been laid to rest by now? The Economist looks at a number of studies where researchers crunched lots of numbers, and concludes that
There are many reasons to promote economic development in poor countries but the elimination of terror is not a good one. The research on terrorists’ national origins suggested that countries which give their citizens fewer civil and political rights tend to produce more terrorists. Politics, not economics, is likely to be a more fruitful weapon in the fight against terror.As they describe the matter, it's not that the canard has absolutely no truth to it - societies able to produce terrorists will produce better educated and thus more efficient ones at times of economic woes, for example - but by and large, terrorism doesn't happen because of economics.
Just as any reasonable observer not blinded by a political agenda would have recognized many years ago.
Alas, however, the good sense at The Economsit goes only so far. While sensibly setting out the case for not expecting economics to motivate terrorism, they don't say what does. Most conspicuously, in the entire worthy article the word "Islamist" doesn't appear once, as far as I can see. Nor any variant of it.