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regarding terrorists and legitimate grievances

Reader comment on item: Counterterrorism in Obama's Washington

Submitted by Cynthia C. (United States), Aug 30, 2009 at 13:36

This paragraph from the article. "Specifics are no better. Most fundamentally, Brennan calls for appeasing terrorists: "Even as we condemn and oppose the illegitimate tactics used by terrorists, we need to acknowledge and address the legitimate needs and grievances of ordinary people those terrorists claim to represent." Which legitimate needs and grievances, one wonders, does he think Al-Qaeda represents?" misinterprets Brennan's words. He does *not* say that terrorists represent "legitimate needs and grievances" but that they "claim to represent" ordinary people who have grievances.

By claiming to represent these people, who often live in countries with governments uninterested in the welfare of their populations, the terrorists can gain adherents and legitimacy in the minds of the populace and sometimes even in non-Islamic countries. It is similar to the way ordinary people get "favors" from ward heelers or mafia bosses and in exchange then give their loyalty. If the grievances of the population were addressed by other means, the leverage of the criminals, dishonest politicians, and terrorists would be greatly lessened. It seems to be a characteristic of Islamist and even Islamic governments that their main concern is to enforce religion, not---as in the West---to improve health, build roads, foster higher education, improve economic conditions, etc.

These failures produce suffering in the population and increase the appeal of terrorists who may provide social services (as in the Palestinian area) or merely feed on the suffering and dissatisfaction, redirecting it to their own ends. There are other more legitimate points on which to criticize Brennan's speech. In this matter he is right, though what our government can do about it is another question.

Submitting....

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