Thursday, June 10, 2004

root causes of terrorism 

Everytime someone mentions there may be more to terrorism than a simple bloodlust on the part of savage dehumanoids, there is a vociferous outcry and a begging for the simplistic good for evil argument. While I would agree that terrorism are evil acts that should be condemned, to simplify their actions and dismiss the ideology behind their actions we are doomed to a lifetime of fear, bloodshed, and war. Only when we can understand who our enemy is and why they are making the choices they make, can we truly defeat them -- and I don't mean by merely blowing the crap out of them.

Bill Christianson was in the CIA for a few decades and here's his exploration of some of the root causes. Here's a piece by T. Homer-Dixon that looks at the simplistic arguments addressed right after 911. The US Information Agency has its own report. Even Dick Clarke cheered on our Iraq war as the most important thing to combat the "root causes" of terrorism. I disagree with his premise, but he is at least trying to develop a thoughtful piece that transcends the good/evil argument. Terrorism is complex, we should treat it as such.

When the US gets involved in other parts of the world, we understand that sometimes we back evil guys (Saddam, Pinochet, Noriega) but allow ourselves the rationale in that our government is acting in our best interest and the actions it takes are more complex than merely backing a vile dictator. We should afford the same consideration when looking at terrorism.

Ultimately I believe its a combination of poverty and totalitiarian regimes which leave many susceptible to fanatical arguments -- though it is more complex than that.

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