16 February 2012

A Possible Way to Reduce Terrorist Attacks

Consider this abstract from a paper titled “Economic Conditions and the Quality of Suicide Terrorism” (rough draft here):

This article analyzes the link between economic conditions and the quality of suicide terrorism. While the existing empirical literature shows that poverty and economic conditions are not correlated with the quantity of terror, theory predicts that poverty and poor economic conditions may affect the quality of terror. Poor economic conditions may lead more able and better-educated individuals to participate in terror attacks, allowing terror organizations to send better-qualified terrorists to more complex, higher-impact terror missions. Using the universe of Palestinian suicide terrorists who acted against Israeli targets in 2000–06, we provide evidence of the correlation between economic conditions, the characteristics of suicide terrorists, and the targets they attack. High levels of unemployment enable terror organizations to recruit better educated, more mature, and more experienced suicide terrorists, who in turn attack more important Israeli targets.

Let’s first dispense with the obvious shortcomings:  the study only establishes correlation, the results are inherently tautological (though objective), and the study is very narrow in scope.  The conclusion of the study is that there is a link between increased poverty and the increased effectiveness of suicide terrorism.  The authors of the quoted paper recommend a foreign policy of aid to reduce terrorism.

I have another idea:  How about the US stops sowing the seed of future terrorist actions by impoverishing Middle Easterners through the continual bombing and warmongering that has repeatedly occurred over there for the last twenty-five years or so?  All that war has accomplished over there is keeping Middle Easterners in poverty while rapidly leading the US government to the point of bankruptcy.  Not only that, keeping Middle Easterners in poverty appears to enable them to commit acts of terror more effectively.  Thus, one way to combat terror more effectively is to stop combatting it at all.  Let the terrorists become more preoccupied with accumulating and maintaining wealth instead of resenting the US empire, and maybe they won’t be as inclined to attack us.

Further reading:  This Means War

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