Sunday, January 27, 2008

Nerd Analysis: the Fallacy of Grievance-Based Terrorism in the Middle East

Here is an interesting bit of analysis from the Middle East Quarterly. Right from the beginning, it attacks the prevalent idea that Middle East terrorism is mainly a product of political grievance. Here is a blurb:
The fundamental premise of much scholarly examination and public discourse is that grievances with U.S. policies in the Middle East motivate Islamist terrorism. Such assumptions, though, misunderstand the enemy and its nature. In reality, the conflict is sparked not by grievance but rather by incompatibility between Islamist ideology and the natural rights articulated during the European Enlightenment and incorporated into U.S. political culture. Acquiescing to political grievances will not alter the fundamental incompatibility between Lockean precepts of tolerance and current interpretations of Islam: Only Islam's fundamental reform will resolve the conflict.

This is certainly worth considering, analyzing, and discussing.

I'm not saying that grievance is not involved. Still, I think it's extremely dangerous to make the facile (and dreadfully common) argument that grievance is the main cause of terrorism and that if we can only fix the grievances, the terrorism will go away. I don't need to remind you of Bernard Lewis's assessment of the roots of rage.

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