Thursday, February 02, 2006

Surprise, Surprise

“Fixing the Israel-Palestinian Problem Will Make Terrorism Go Away”

“Poverty, Unemployment, and Lack of Education Make Terrorists”

“Young, Unmarried Muslim Males Are the Most Likely to Become Terrorists”

Think so? Think again.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is important, but it is by no means the only issue inspiring the ideology of global jihad. There are several pivotal conflicts around the world that animate militant Islamist ideology, from the Caucasus and the Balkans to the Southern Philippines and the intractable Kashmir conflict. Militant Islamists also see a connection between their local issues and global politics. To them, Muslims are victims in every conflict and the West is responsible for Muslim suffering and powerlessness.

Hat tip American Footprints (formerly "Liberals Against Terrorism"), which ads some thoughtful commentary to the points made by the article:

Unfortunately - due to the intractable nature of many of the problems giving rise to this siege mentality and (in the alternative) the presumption that these attitudes are solely (or predominately) the result of manipulative propaganda - many policy makers are too quick to take the prospect of re-assessing the underlying well-springs of discontent off the table. In addition, as pointed out by the authors, responding to these grievances, rightly or wrongly, carries the taint of "negotiating with terrorism." It shouldn't, because it's not.

Democracy will not be a panacea for "Islamist Terrorism" unless and until its advent is combined with a strategy designed to address this widespread perception in the Muslim world - and its myriad underlying sources. Part of that strategy should involve influencing opinion and countering virulent propaganda, other aspects might include a strategic realignment or recalibration of some goals and positions, and part of this process might actually entail crafting a foreign policy that pays attention to how certain of our actions could be interpreted by the target population - especially one predisposed to cynicism and suspicion.