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distorted interpretation

Reader comment on item: Counterterrorism in Obama's Washington

Submitted by Jeff (United States), Aug 21, 2009 at 18:23

Dear Daniel:

I do not understand why you are claiming that the two statements immediately below imply the same thing, when they quite clearly do not. In fact, they are perfectly correct - poverty and lack of educational opportunity do not directly cause insurgent violence in general or terrorism in particular (which is only a tactic), but really existing political, social, and economic problems clearly generate increasing levels of alienation amongst varying social strata, and increased alienation and discontent is regularly and often systematically exploited by extremists in order to increase their popular support and recruit new members.

In short, such a distinction is perfectly warranted. One can, after all, be perfectly hawkish with respect to dealing with terrorists (as I myself am) whilst recognizing that acute, unaddressed societal problems provide a fertile ground that enables extremist ideologies and their proponents to gain traction that they otherwise would not have. ...

"Poverty does not cause violence and terrorism. Lack of education does not cause terrorism. But just as there is no excuse for the wanton slaughter of innocents, there is no denying that when children have no hope for an education, when young people have no hope for a job and feel disconnected from the modern world, when governments fail to provide for the basic needs of their people, then people become more susceptible to ideologies of violence and death."

Summary: Poverty and a lack of education do not cause terrorism, but a lack of education and a job make people more susceptible to the ideas leading to terrorism. What is the distinction? Woe on us when the White House accepts illogic as analysis."

On the other hand, the attempt to divorce the term jihad from armed warfare against unbelievers is utterly absurd, and Brennan should be severely criticized for this.

Submitting....

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