Hope, Not Despair, Causes Terrorism

Aug. 31 2017

Alienation and despair, according to most Western experts, are what generally lead people to join or support jihadist organizations. In some cases that is true, writes Gershon Hacohen. But more often the motivations are quite different:

Many times, it is precisely those who had hoped to integrate into affluent Western society who chose the path of terrorism. Some of the world’s most notorious terrorists, such as those who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks, studied at leading universities. At a recent international symposium I attended, I learned from a Malaysian researcher that in his country it is mostly outstanding students with exceptional prospects who choose to join Islamic State.

Projecting despair and alienation onto everything may blind us to the existence of other significant motives. . . . Besides security and prosperity, people also seek meaning. . . .

That sense of meaning can be found in religion, and religious zealotry especially. But why turn to violence? Hacohen notes that many Islamists believe that now is the time to overthrow the West by waging war against it, a conclusion that stems as much from observation as from religious doctrine:

To a large extent, [terrorists’] sense of opportunity is rooted in the way Islam perceives Western society: as a decaying and declining society. This perception stems first and foremost from the significant decline in birthrates in the West, which Islam views as the weakness of an ailing society. No children means no future, no labor force, and no manpower pool to fill the ranks of the soldiers.

With their liberal aspirations and their emphasis on human rights as a basic principle that trumps a state’s authority, Western countries seem to have relinquished the need to exercise their sovereignty. . . . It is the perceived manifestation of the West’s weakness that gives hope in terror operatives.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Liberal West, Politics & Current Affairs, Radical Islam, Terrorism

In Dealing with Iran, the U.S. Can Learn from Ronald Reagan

When Ronald Reagan arrived at the White House in 1981, the consensus was that, with regard to the Soviet Union, two responsible policy choices presented themselves: détente, or a return to the Truman-era policy of containment. Reagan, however, insisted that the USSR’s influence could not just be checked but rolled back, and without massive bloodshed. A decade later, the Soviet empire collapsed entirely. In crafting a policy toward the Islamic Republic today, David Ignatius urges the current president to draw on Reagan’s success:

A serious strategy to roll back Iran would begin with Syria. The U.S. would maintain the strong military position it has established east of the Euphrates and enhance its garrison at Tanf and other points in southern Syria. Trump’s public comments suggest, however, that he wants to pull these troops out, the sooner the better. This would all but assure continued Iranian power in Syria.

Iraq is another key pressure point. The victory of militant Iraqi nationalist Moqtada al-Sadr in [last week’s] elections should worry Tehran as much as Washington. Sadr has quietly developed good relations with Saudi Arabia, and his movement may offer the best chance of maintaining an Arab Iraq as opposed to a Persian-dominated one. But again, that’s assuming that Washington is serious about backing the Saudis in checking Iran’s regional ambitions. . . .

The Arabs, [however], want the U.S. (or Israel) to do the fighting this time. That’s a bad idea for America, for many reasons, but the biggest is that there’s no U.S. political support for a war against Iran. . . .

Rolling back an aggressive rival seems impossible, until someone dares to try it.

Read more at RealClear Politics

More about: Cold War, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, Ronald Reagan, U.S. Foreign policy