Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Poverty, Terrorism, and the Banished "I"-Word

I expect most regular readers of this blog will purse their lips with a tad of irritation when reading this:
“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.


Silke said...

according to my memory Orwell long long ago argued along the line that to become a revolutionary one had to consider oneself to be a gentleman.

"Simple" folks who willingly succumb to week after week standing in line to receive their dole were not the material rebels were made of (Islamists are terrorists but they consider themselves to be noble revolutionaries and rebels)

A gentleman no matter how run-down his circumstances would still expect the money to be sent to him, claims Orwell and that this sense of bred-in entitlement is again according to Orwell the indispensable ingredient in order to become a terrorist.

That those "gentlemen" then will soon look for minions to do the dirty work for them is another story on which Orwell said as best I remember nothing.

For that one one might find enlightening stuff in Elias Canetti on the behaviour of crowds (Masse).

If my memory should have distorted Orwell I beg forgiveness from him.

Barry Meislin said...

Since the MSM has, for all intents and purposes, become "Pravda-ized," in the sense that one must read between the lines in order to scrutinize and comprehend the real message---and also dissect an article from the point of view of what's missing---it is entirely possible that as far as The Economist is concerned, the "I" word is not necessary.

(Note, on the other hand, that when it comes to bashing Western governments and, needless to say, with the "I" country at the forefront, it is not at all necessary to read between the lines.... though it is, of course, more than ever necessary to dissect....)

And for those who are tired, dazed, and/or confused as a result of trying to figure things out from the myriad media fabrications and artful manipulations (after all, we can't all expected to read with the same perspicacity as Soviet citizens), Robin Shephard offers most refreshing and welcome clarity.

(For this thankless task, he deserves much thanks.)

Silke said...

since the Marmary incident the name Mankell has been firmly linked to stinking socks for me.

When he in an appallingly sodden/hung-over state held his press-audience in Berlin after his "release" he complained about Israelis having stolen his socks.

Looking at the guy and hearing him slurring his words suggested so much of waht a stench aura must have surrounded him that from then on I can imagine his socks only as being of the kind for which you need a very tough nature to come close enough to be able to throw them in the bin

But I guess since they de-smell his books at amazon before selling them his business is still running strong.

Imagine the damage that guys does to innocent pleasure seeking readers, he should be obliged to pay them for the favour they do him

I tried him twice, at a time when I was still convinced that pundits knew better than i what qualified as a good book. After the first time I thought it had been my mistake for being too dumb, after the second time I swore never again to believe in anything those idiots tell me unless I agree on my own.

Anonymous said...

Neither lack of political freedom nor economics can explain the terrorism of the IRA and Red Brigade in Europe in the '70's, or the Klan, Weathermen, or Tim McVeigh in America in the last century.

I think indoctrination to hate and objectify cause terrorism. Islamists are doing that now, but other groups have done it.


Silke said...

Sysia's Assad said this week in German tablid BILD it is desperation (Verzweiflung) stemming from being occupied. His history started with the Brits!!!

So neither the Byzantines nor the Ottomans were occupiers? Did the Mameluk lord it over Syria?
How was the state of "desperation" then?

Anonymous said...


That's because the Economist is discussing underlying causes, not proximate, contingent ones. Still, one would think that it would be enough for your desire that Muslim terrorism be highlighted that every example cited in the article--Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hizbollah, AQIP--is a jihadist or Islamist organization. Not even one mention of ETA, the IRA, the Tamil Tigers, etc.

Sérgio said...

The western press is indeed almost completely bastardized by PC leftist mindset and the proverbial tyranny of guilt. Only a distilled marxism can blind people to the fact that terrorism is manly ideologically motivated. Ideology motivated the french terreur, the anarquists´s assassinations, the communist terror, the nazi terrorm the myriad leftist little gangs, the Irish nationalists, the basque separatists, those nuts from Irgun, the Islamists, etc, etc. But this demolishes the "root cause" cozy little tale.

Rabbi Tony Jutner said...

Again you ziocons are missing the point.Resistance is fueled by poverty of self respect. The zionists cheated the Palestinians out of their homeland, thus the Palestinians lost to an unworthy foe. That is why there is resistance. If you restore the land to the Palestinians, you will restore their honor. Nothing else will work

Sérgio said...

Talking about morons...and voilá, there´s Fake Rabbi Amandla, from the depths of his cesspool of a mind. Yeah, nothing else will work with moronism of this caliber.

Avigdor said...

Rabbit Tony! You don't have kids, do you?

peterthehungarian said...

Hi fake rabbi Jutner

If you restore the land to the Palestinians, you will restore their honor.

Seems to me that their honor is lost forever and never will be restored...

Barry Meislin said...

Rabbi T., looking for a job? In media, perhaps?

(The pay may not be that great but the job satisfaction would no doubt be enormous...not to mention the spiritual fringe benefits! And, most important, lots of room for creativity!!)

Y. Ben-David said...

This reminds me of one of Shimon Peres' innumberable utterances which are supposed to sound intelligent but are actually off the mark: He said "poverty causes war".
If we look at all the big wars of the last century that killed the most people, they were involving the richest countries: Germany, Great Britain, France, the US and others in that camp.
Even the rich US got involved in poor Vietnam and relatively rich USSR went into Afghanistan. Relatively rich Iraq and Iran went at it with something like a million casualties to show for it.
Poor countries can't afford the wepaons and disruption wars cause.

Barry Meislin said...

Poor countries can't afford the wepaons and disruption wars cause.


Unless of course, some poor countries are more equal than others...,

(AKA, I suspect we'll have to rethink this one...)

To be sure, massive and systematic delegitimization of the other side (e.g., your "partner in peace"?) can be spectacularly helpful (hint, hint, nudge, nudge)....

File under: "I Want My Ma-Che-Te"(?)...(or for the more conventional, perhaps, "Where there's a will, there's a way"(!))

P.S. Hey Rabbi T., that (plum) job is waiting for someone capable!!

Barry Meislin said...

Of course, such razor-sharp foolishness is just one of the reasons why Peres should have been put out to pasture long, long ago.

Silke said...

I think you're being mean with the dear "rabbi" ...

I'd advise him to apply to Press TV where he stands a chance inter alia to meet the lovely recently converted child abusing (judged by my humble standards) Lauren Booth

Y. Ben-David said...

The slaughter in places like Rwanda, Bosnia and southern Sudan are not wars in the sense that Peres meant. He was referring to conventional nation-against-nation wars, particularly the wars of the Arabs against Israel. He was trying to claim that if we give the Arabs money, they will give up their desire to fight Israel. No doubt some individuals may think that way, but history teaches that is not the main causes of wars.

Barry Meislin said...

Oh, so that's it.... Well, indeed, the price of a barrel a crude is risin', so's I reckon peace is gonna be breakin' out all over right soon enough!!...

File under: "Don't know much about history...tralalala..."(?)

Anonymous said...

Is there a way to get access to Barry's file cabinets?

Anonymous said...

slightly off topic, but perhaps of interest given the recent discussions here over terrorism and its apologists in the West:

Anonymous said...

Dear Silke, Barry M., et al

"Rabbi Tony Jutner" is being ironical. You must know this -- how can you miss it? The name is a giveaway, to begin with.

I always argued with English people who said that Americans have no sense of irony, but now I'm beginning to wonder.

Silke said...

dear Anon,

thank you so very very much

without your help I'd never ever guessed

but as we are in the midst of a Love Feast, don't you think it'd be a bit mean to try to Lobby for depriving the dear "rabbi" of the outrage he so clearly craves?

Barry Meislin said...

This point has been raised before, but in order to prevent gratuitous confusion, can the "Anonymous" posters please get together and decide on less arbitrary or, at least, more descriptive monikers. Suggestions might be:
* Anonymous 1
* Anonymous 2
* Anonymous 3, etc.
* More anonymous
* Less anonymous
* Slightly more anonymous
* Slightly less anonymous, etc.
* More or less anonymous

Not asking for much. Just some basic consideration. You know, blogging etiquette, etc.

Just a suggestion, mind you.... On the other hand, if the point precisely is gratuitous confusion, just ignore....

max said...

Barry gets closest to what I suspect is the real cost / benefit reason for omitting the obvious - the magazine has a major international circulation base, and its interests in certain areas may run contrary to considering the issues more fully. It's self-censorship. By contrast, their record of slagging off Israel is decades-old. But they might see that as a virtuous circle. Silke will understand why I pronounce their name with emphasis on the "Mist".

Silke said...