Thursday, February 22, 2007

# Posted 10:01 AM by Patrick Porter  

OPINION, BLOOD AND TREASURE: The British Times carried a depressing story yesterday about a surge in anti-American feeling in the Islamic world. But there is one interesting detail.

Despite, or maybe because of, the confrontation and tension between the Iranian regime and the US and the international community over nuclear proliferation, Iranian public opinion is allegedly now more favourable to the USA than it was in 2001.

According to the Times, those with an 'unfavourable' view of the USA are now down from 63 to 52%.

Has the inflammatory rhetoric and posturing of the Iranian President backfired domestically?

Also interesting is the report that radicals tend to be wealthier and better educated:
are radicals any poorer than their fellow Muslims? We found the opposite: there is indeed a key difference between radicals and moderates when it comes to income and education, but it is the radicals who earn more and stay in school longer.”
This is not necessarily to imply that there is no correlation between poverty and radicalism/terrorism. One interpretation of the material basis for terrorism might be that wealthy jihadists think they are acting on behalf of the impoverished.

But this then doesn't explain why they so willingly target the poor, and fellow Muslims, in their attacks, either directly or indirectly by inflicting economic damage that also hurts the poor. It might look like a particularly violent anti-globalisation protest to down a skyscraper, but it also disrupts trade, investment, travel, etc.

Being willing to inflict or exacerbate poverty is not an obvious symptom of a deep concern with the welfare of the Third World. Just as willingly assaulting mosques and indiscriminately including co-religionists in terrorist attacks is not obviously a sign of exclusively anti-western feeling.

At the same time, while the core of terrorist movements may not be ideologically inspired by distress at others' poverty, they can recruit on the basis of economic need.

Many of those who are hired to do the kidnapping, sabotage or other dark chores of Iraqi insurgents or the Taleban might well be doing it primarily for economic reasons, having no other livelihood.

David Kilcullen, the counter-terrorist strategist at the State Department, argued in 2004 that between 70-75% of attacks in Iraq were economically motivated. In Baghdad, insurgents reportedly pay $250 for an attack on coalition forces, $1000 for disabling an armoured vehicle, or $25,000 for the capture of a female coalition soldier. Criminal gangs operating for profit might kidnap individuals and then auction them to the highest bidding jihadist group.

So there is a linkage, but its not simply poor people killing the rich as a protest against poverty. It is more often the recruitment of the poor by wealthy operators to inflict attacks that worsen poverty.


(5) opinions -- Add your opinion

Where does the money come from?

Paul Bremer flooded the country with $12B in cash. Both the Saudi's and the Iranian's have been using Iraq for their proxy war. And since we didn't secure the armories, guns aren't in short supply either. If you wanted to start a civil war, you couldn't do a better job.

Is jihadist the correct term?

The term does make the fighters all sound the same.

"It is more often the recruitment of the poor by wealthy operators to inflict attacks that worsen poverty."

These have alreday been studies indicating that suicide bombers are not impoverished and that ideology is much more important than poverty as a determining factor. Actually the most ardent Nazi supporters tended to be professionals such as engineers and the like, and not people pushed into extremism by economic desperation. The same is true for al-Qaeda.
Hey rat cell brain - Bringing down a skysraper is not a protest....IT IS MURDER!!! yes indeed the rich exploit the poor. Example: The arab world hates and exploits the palistinians instead of helping them. read your history and perhaps an intelligent thought might come from that deficient brain of yours before one of your anti-gobalist protestors separates it from your body.
Of course the most viciously anti-American Muslims are well-educated. The most viciously anti-American Europeans and Americans tend to be university educated as well.
anonymous 8:23,

if you reread my post, I was saying the opposite.

here's what I said:

"It might look like a particularly violent anti-globalisation protest to down a skyscraper, but it also disrupts trade, investment, travel, etc."

in other words, I was arguing against the proposition that the hard core terrorists are outraged at poverty, by showing that their attacks cause or exacerbate poverty.

read carefully before resorting to abuse.
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