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01/06/2008

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a Duoist

Any correlation between greater economic development and less terror is intuitive, but flies in the face of the teachings of Lenin, Hitler, Qutb, Khomeini, et al, and the specific examples of American home-grown terrorism, such as the Unabomber and Oklahoma City. A general sense of 'disaffection' is a common denominator to all terror movements, as is having a determinist world-view, believing that sacrifice is a virtue, adopting some form of stasis as a moral code ('purity,' for example), and espousing a transforming idealism. While each of these five features is benign in themselves and quite normal as well as popular, when combined they are features which mark all terror movements for the past century, including eco-terrorism. A lack of economic prosperity is not part of the formula for terror. Terror will never be 'cured' by rising GDP, because terror is part of a death wish. For the terrorist, money is incidental, even an insult. The 'cause' is what is important.

LemmusLemmus

I am skeptical because I have seen data in a JEP paper which shows that in muslim countries, the better-off are more supportive of terrorism. Could you link to your paper which you mention in the post?

paco

Dear Prof. Becker, you note that birth rates decline when economic growth/development occurs, but what if the causation runs in the opposite direction? I have visited Egypt and Morocco and am fascinated by the relation btw. birth rates and economic development. To some extent, a high birth rate can help increase the size of an economy, so a high birth rate per se need not be bad. That question is, what is the "optimal" birth rate

Andrew

I think that economic development would reduce terrorism to a small degree. Obviously, if things are going well in your life, you may be less willing to risk losing it by being a terrorist. However, I simply do not think that economics is a major factor in this "war on terror." (Of course, wealthier countries and individuals are generally more secular, and less religion would lead to less terrorism. But I doubt a "war on religion" would be a good way to fight the "war on terror.")

Instead, I think the root cause of the conflict is, as Bin Laden says it is, the (sometimes only percieved)foriegn occupation of Muslim Lands--primarily in Israel/Palestine. Below I will paste an excerpt from a statement Ayman al Zawahiri recently released, taken from lauramansfield.com:

In the name of God. Praise be to God, and prayers and peace be upon the messenger of God and his family, his companions and those who support him

My Muslim brothers everywhere, may the peace, mercy, and the blessings of God be upon you.

In the recent Annapolis Summit the goal was to turn Palestine Jewish. The Crusading Caesar of Washington brought together sixteen Arab countries along with their League of Arab States (Arab League) and its secretary general Amr Mousa, who is considered the first from the league to sit in the same room, on the same table with the Israelis.

These governments and the Arab League were present to bear false witnesses to a new treasonous deal to sell Palestine, abandon it, and it it to the Jews. At the conference, Olmert stood and invited the Palestinians to acknowledge the Jews of Israel. He talked about the killing of Jews and called for the Arabs to work with this. Mahmoud Abbas stood by and ignored the Palestinian people who were killed and starving.

To complete the Crusader's deception, the Americans, America prepared a proposal to present it to the Security Council that summarizes the agreements made in the Annapolis and will call upon the Security Council to issue and enforce a resolution on the Islamic Ummah in Palestine, and on the entire Muslim world in the name of international law, which is their new religion.

I'm stunned at the politicians' stance who gave up four fifths of Palestine granting Mahmoud Abbas the authority to negotiate in the name of Palestine in the palaces of Mecca and then they finally cried out warning and condemning the conference after they saw with their own eyes the disaster which the Brother President Mahmoud Abbas is driving them to. Is the traitor Mahmoud Abbas still the "Brother President" after they condemned the conference? Is Mahmoud Abbas, the Agent, still the one invited for the dialogue, and Mahmoud Abbas the sellout is still the one they consider legitimate?

Isn't it time for you to go back to the pure creed, which doesn't know compromises and political tricks and diplomatic ploys which obstructs religion and life. Is in it time for you to announce it loud and clear that you are Mujahideen who seek the rule of Sharia and disbelieve in the rule of the crowds or any rule except the rule of the Quran and Sunna. And that you are seeking the establishment of the Caliphates, and that you fight to raise Allah's word and to have all the religion for Allah. And that you seek to liberate every occupied inch of the Islamic Lands from Andalusia to Chechnya. And that you and the rest of the Mujahideen and the Muslims are fighting a single Jihad for one nation against single Crusader Zionist enemy?

Isn't it time for you to announce your disownment of the Mecca Accord and from respecting international treaties that sold Palestine and that you disbelieve in, disown and resist everything imposed by the International crusader which is called the International legitimacy to slaughter Palestine and make it Jewish?

Isn't it time for you to announce that you're not a national liberation movement but a Muslim Mujahideen movement that goes beyond national extremism, one that believes in brotherhood in Islam and doesn't except a replacement for Islamic Sharia?

Isn't this the time to extend the bonds of brotherhood and love for all Muslims who seed jihad, the Mujahideen of Chechnya, whom you have abandoned for false promises from Russia, where nothing was ever gained but only lost?

Isn't it the time for you to recognize your true brothers? Those who will never forsake you, even though you call them terrorists and extremists? These have never stopped working to free Palestine, and to call on the Muslim nation to help free Palestine, even while you are slandering them? Isn't it time for you to admit that the mujahideen everywhere are more loyal and truthful and close to you that Mahmoud Abbas and Muhamed Dahlan and others like them?

[poem]

Why do you pretend to forget Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, God bless his soul, and ignore what he said. He said 'we are fighting in Iraq and our eyes are fixed on Jerusalem.' Instead you follow the "Brother President" who did not hesitate to sell you out in Annapolis, and others both before and after.

[poem]

My dear Muslim brothers in Palestine, we and all the Muslims and the Mujahedeen are with you in your Jihad and confrontation against the crusader Zionist enemy and we will not give up on you, God willing, no matter what a small group of your politicians gave up, surrendered, compromised and stepped back even if they claimed to belong to Islamic movements, for the matter is a matter of religion and Islamic Shari'a.

It is a matter of required duty. It is a matter of one of the holiest places in Islam, which we must reclaim with our souls, our sons, our people, and our money.

Andy

In the case of terrorism in Indonesia, I think economic development can play an important role in fighting for terrorism. We see that the terrorist leaders come from Malaysia and the suicide bomber come from less economic develop country, Indonesia. Those leaders recruit the suicide bomber from the less educated people and poor areas in Indonesia. The big question is why those terrorist leaders did not conduct their terrorism act in Malaysia? The popular answer is they do not want to destroy Malaysia's good economy.

Hans Bader

Professor Becker's argument seems quite plausible, but consider a few things that cut against a strong link between economic growth (and increased education) and family size:

Pakistan and Bangladesh, both Muslim countries on the Indian subcontinent, now have fairly similar natural increase rates, although Bangladesh is, and long has been, a much poorer country than Pakistan.

In the past, when Pakistan was even wealthier relative to Bangladesh (and had a higher literacy rate, although lower than India's), Pakistan had an even higher birth rate and natural increase rate than Bangladesh.

How do we square this with an assumption that economic growth and literacy result in reduced family size?

In Pakistan, birth rates were higher than in a somewhat similar country with lower wealth and somewhat lower literacy (Bangladesh).

Also, the Muslim birth rate in India (which is richer than Pakistan) is much higher than the Hindu birthrate.

Does that undercut the assumption that economic growth impacts all cultures in similar ways, or merely reflect, somehow, the fact that Indian Muslims are poorer and have less schooling on average than their Hindu counterparts?

Floccina

I have read that more recent work has shown that urbanization rather than higher incomes drives birth rates down.

neilehat

Socio-politico-economic conditions play a part, but a small part in the development of groups given to terrorism and politico-military actions. The aforementioned sources simply uncover the "stuff" and "raw materials" that become the agents. So the question is, "What creates these agents in the first place?" There has to be a deliberate, systematic, attempt to shape the perceptions, manipulate the thought process's and direct behaivor to given actions. This is accomplished through Propaganda and Indoctrination. Simply peruse the work ("Mein Kampf") of the World's greatest terrorist Adolph Hitler. The rise of National Socialism and all that followed was predicated on the use of Propaganda and Indoctrination. Or if this is a bit to strong for the weak minded, one might try Gustave LeBon's work, "The Crowd, A study of the Popular Mind". Then there is Eric Hoffer's classic, "The True Believer". All giving great insights into the development of the mind and ethic of such indviduals.

Even Pope Gregory was not above using such tactics when he created the "Sacred Congregation for the Spreading of the Faith". Which is much akin to the techniques used by Radical Islamist Groups today. Religion is always a good base to create "True Believers". Where else can one exchange a dismal present for a future Paradise?

Perhaps Cicero's admonition 2000 years ago holds as true now as it did then, "One must be careful into whose hands one entrusts the tools of Rhetoric. For it is like putting swords and spears into the hands of Madmen".

Bill

Professor Becker;

With respect, that was an irresponsible article. The vast majority of practicing Muslims throughout the world are poor, the vast majority of whom are not empowered to hurt anybody other than themselves. The first generation of Muslims introduced to Europe as laborers were poor and caused no problems. It is the children of the immigrants, empowered by Western surpluses, who are the ones actively following the teachings of Mohammed. Just as it is the House of Saud, empowered by oil, that is building the Madrasses.

You mention the 9-11 perpetrators, led by a post-graduate Civil Engineer.

Osama Bin Laden was a wealthy contractor.

John Lindh is a rich kid from California.

Adam Gahdan is a rich kid from California.

The men who drove gas canisters into the British airport lobby were Medical Doctors.

The group that planned the simultaneous explosions of wide-body aircraft above the Atlantic were University students.

Bin Laden’s Egyptian sidekick is a Medical Doctor.

The Egyptians found with pipe bombs in their trunk in South Carolina and presently being prosecuted are Mechanical Engineering students.

Just yesterday, a British Dentist by the name of Sohail Qureshi was arrested enroute back to Pakistan. He took pictures of himself with an AK-47 and wrote an email before he left:

"Pray that I kill many, brother. Revenge, revenge, revenge."

It is a mistake to underestimate the power of Islamic ideology; Mohammed was brilliant. Blaming Jihadism on ‘poverty’ may be popular with the chattering classes. It may even gain one favor with an Administration. But it is a mistake. Jihad is spelled out in Islamic texts, and Muslims with money can read. They are not as stupid as some assume them to be.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=506841&in_page_id=1770

Hppue

Suicide bombing is not expensive if you think you have no reasonable future. It has been suggested that polygamy is a factor -- young men can rightly assess their chances of marriage as very low. It could even be a factor for high status suicide bombers as the high-status wives may still be being creamed off by even richer men.

St. Darwin Assissi's cat

Judge Posner has submitted, shared with us, written, declared, asserted (take your pick) that he does not like to attend parties b/c noone says anything interesting. What if one day he awakes and decides writing books, blogs, lectures, articles, letters, and notes is no longer fulfilling and that being a terrorist for Osama Bin Laden is a more satisfying use of his time. What if Abbey Hoffman committed suicide b/c he didn't want to sell real estate? How can anyone say that what we do in America is the right way and what they do in Pakistan is the wrong way? I like to think the US Constitution (given life and weight by courts and legislators) is the best but maybe it isn't. Why should America be the only parent to a nuclear bomb? Why did the dentist/terrorist find holding an AK47 a better use of his time than holding a dental probe?

tender agent

I’m really enjoying your quotes.

cost refer

I’m really enjoying your quotes.

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neilehat

To St. Darwin-Assissi, Which is the "good" or the "evil"? Which is the "right" or the "wrong"? Who are the "virtuous" or the "sinful"?

Simply answer the question, "Would you rather be the MASTER or the slave?" Only the victorious get the right to make the decision and write the histories by becoming the "right hand" of God.

yinpeng

good

ss

The one rule I would add would be to require drug companies to sell prescription drugs to Medicare/Medicaid patients at the same price that as the lowest ‘one payer systems’ like Britain, France, or Canada pays.

Currently the US market is where drug/medical device companies try to make a return on their investments and one payer systems are considered icing on the cake as the marginal cost of these items is so small they can give big discounts. Acceptance in one payer systems is entire depended on government officials and can’t be counted on for calculating return.

If the US government demanded lowest price guarantee insurance companies would follow suit. This might reduce costs, it could help spread ROI over more companies, and it would certainly help make the system seem fairer when compared on country level and for individuals in the US system

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Anonymous

Can Economic Development Reduce Terrorism? good questions, but a large amount of evidence prove taht the economic development cant redece terrorism fundamentally

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