Friday, November 05, 2004

Where Do Terrorists Come From?

Jonathan Last, writing in The Weekly Standard, argues convincingly against the assumption that Bush's policies are creating more terrorists than say John Kerry's more nuanced approach. His points:

* Prior to George W. Bush, American policy towards Islamic extremism was basically one of malign neglect. This policy--the adverse of Bush's--seems to have created very many terrorists. Or at the very least, it seems to have created very many terrorist attacks. See September 11, 2001.

* Kaus and others theorize that America's war on terrorism is helping recruit many new terrorists. Maybe, maybe not. There's no proof either way. There is proof, however, that soft American policy in Somalia--again, the opposite of Bush--was used as actual al Qaeda recruiting propaganda. (Remember that bin Laden called America the "weak horse.") So it would seem that, at the very least, the terrorists thought the old, softer, American policies were good for helping them create new terrorists.

* There's another country which has some applicable experience in these matters: Israel. Under Ehud Barak--the Israeli Bill Clinton / John Kerry--terrorism in Israel skyrocketed. This may well have been accompanied by an increased number of terrorist recruits. Under Ariel Sharon--the Israeli Bush--terrorist attacks dropped precipitously. It seems possible--maybe even obvious!--that terrorist recruiting also suffered.
Last also distinguishes between Arab anger and terrorist recruitment and argues against singling out Islamofascism as inherently different in this regard than other "pathologies" that have opposed Democracy in the past:
I doubt Kaus would have argued in 1944 that killing Nazis was only going to create twice as many of them.
Read the whole thing here: Where Do Terrorists Come From?