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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What Makes a Terrorist?

Asks Alan Kruger:
the available evidence is nearly unanimous in rejecting either material deprivation or inadequate educa­tion as important causes of support for terrorism or participation in terrorist activities. Such explana­tions have been embraced almost entirely on faith, not scientific evidence.
Kruger explains,
One set of factors that I examined did consis­tently raise the likelihood that people from a given country will participate in terrorism—namely, the suppression of civil liberties and political rights, including freedom of the press, the freedom to assemble, and democratic rights. Using data from the Freedom House Index, for example, I found that countries with low levels of civil liberties are more likely to be the countries of origin of the perpetra­tors of terrorist attacks. In addition, terrorists tend to attack nearby targets. Even international terror­ism tends to be motivated by local concerns.

Additional support for these conclusions comes from research I conducted on the nationalities of foreign insurgents in Iraq. Specifically, I studied 311 combatants, representing 27 countries, who were captured in Iraq. Although the vast majority of insurgents are native Iraqis, motivated by domestic issues, foreigners are alleged to have been involved in several significant attacks. I looked at the char­acteristics of the countries insurgents came from, and, importantly, of the countries with no citizens captured in Iraq. It turned out that countries with a higher GDP per capita were actually more likely to have their citizens involved in the insurgency than were poorer countries.

Consistent with the work on international terrorist incidents, countries with fewer civil lib­erties and political rights were more likely to be the birthplaces of foreign insurgents. Distance also mattered, with most foreign insurgents com­ing from nearby nations. The model predicted that the largest number of insurgents - 44 percent - would have emanated from Saudi Arabia, a nation not known for its protection of civil liberties but with a high GDP per capita.

The evidence suggests that terrorists care about influencing political outcomes. They are often motivated by geopolitical grievances. To under­stand who joins terrorist organizations, instead of asking who has a low salary and few opportunities, we should ask: Who holds strong political views and is confident enough to try to impose an extrem­ist vision by violent means? Most terrorists are not so desperately poor that they have nothing to live for. Instead, they are people who care so fervently about a cause that they are willing to die for it.
Read it all.

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4 Comments:

At 9:48 AM, Blogger Jeremayakovka said...

Add: "or are willing to order others to die for it...."

 
At 10:26 AM, Blogger Fausta said...

Yes - notice how none of the guys in charge lead by example.

 
At 11:25 AM, Blogger GW said...

Excellent post. And all of which makes succeeding in Iraq to create a mid-east democracy in an arab islamic state of such critical importance. And the flip side is that failure to do so will have potentially existential ramificaitons for our country. We cannot be defeated by terrorism, but we can be seriously damaged by it. And with the mid-east on the verge of going nuclear - Egypt announced a restart of their nuclear program last week and other mid-east countries, including Saudi Arabia have expressed an intent to launch a program - it would be possible for our economy to be mortally wounded by nuclear terrorism.

All that said, even as all the evidence points to vast improvements in Iraq, we still have Pelosi and Murtha trying to legislate defeat. All that is being done with not a word to the potential ramifications to our national security if we leave Iraq to terrorists and Iran, and equally as bad, if it can be perceived throughout the Muslim world that we suffered a defeat at the hands of terrorists.

 
At 12:11 PM, Blogger Fausta said...

if it can be perceived throughout the Muslim world that we suffered a defeat at the hands of terrorists.
That is what the Left is all about: perception, rather than substance.

And I dare question their patriotism!

 

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