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Terrorism: The Root Causes By: David Meir-Levi
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Many of our contemporary intellectual and political leaders are continually in anguish trying to figure out what the U.S. has done to make so much of the Arab/Moslem world hate us. They desperately search for the ways they believe the U.S. is responsible for triggering terrorism against itself. The terrorists and their supporters, meanwhile, knowing that the West perpetually looks for reasons to blame itself, provide the world with many compelling but false  reasonns why the West should be blamed in the terror war. If we accept these faux explanations uncritically, we shift our focus in the war against global terrorism and the terrorists will have a much easier time defeating us.

In order for us to be able to fight and win this terror war effectively, we must discredit the false explanations of why Islamists wage war on our free societies. It is a priority, therefore, that we highlight how the enemies of Western freedom are not telling the truth. And we can do that by dealing with the following issues concretely:

 

Who is the enemy?

 

The State Department defines the enemy for us. Its website lists those defined as terrorist groups and terrorist leaders worldwide. Almost all of them are Moslem. Almost all of these Moslems are Arabs. Many non-Arab Moslem groups have carried out terror attacks in conjunction with Arab Moslem groups, or with Arab Moslem leaders. The recent Beslan carnage is an example of a non-Arab Moslem group with Arab (Saudi, to be more specific) leaders.

 

In his ground-breaking book The Clash of Civilizations, Samuel Huntington lists scores of conflicts caused by Moslems: Bosnia, Kosovo, Turks vs. Greeks, Turks vs. Armenians, Chechens vs. Russia, Ingush vs. Ossetians, Bangladeshi Moslems vs. Buddhists, Myanmar Moslems vs. Buddhists, Indonesian and Malaysian Moslems vs. ethnic Chinese, Thai Moslems vs. their Buddhist government, Moslem East Timor government represses Catholic Indonesians, Chad and Kenya, and Tanzanian Moslems attack Christian groups in Nigeria.

 

In addition, many current conflicts have been initiated and maintained by Moslem forces: Afghanistani Taliban and al-Qaeda, Mauritanian slavery, Sudanese slavery, Sudan's 19-year civil war, Ivory Coast's recent revolt, Nigeria's 10-year war, Algeria's 10-year war, Ethiopia vs. Eritrea, Iraqis vs. Kurds, 8 years of the Iran-Iraq War, then Kuwait, Lebanon’s 27-year occupation by Syria, Lebanon’s 12-year occupation by the PLO, The PLO's war against Jordan (1967-70), Pakistan vs. India in Kashmir, Indonesia (with Bali the latest manifestation), Arabs vs. Jews in Israel, jihad in Philippines, Islamists in Daghestan, Uighur in China, Islamic extremists in Uzbekistan, Ditto in Pakistan, Thailand's Moslem insurrection, Chechnya and Arab/Moslem involvement in Beslan, Syrian training grounds for terrorists of all creeds, colors, Iraq "insurgency" (Syrian, Iranian and Saudi terrorists), and al-Qaeda in Somalia.

 

According to Huntington, Moslems participated in 26 of 50 ethno-political conflicts in 1993 alone.  In that year, the New York Times identified 48 locations in which a total of 59 ethnic conflicts occurred. Half of these were Moslems fighting Moslems, and most of the rest were Moslems fighting non-Moslems (NY Times, 2/7/93, pp. 1 & 14, per Huntington).  Similar independent analysis quoted by Huntington for that same year shows that between two-thirds and three-quarters of all the conflicts in the world were Moslems against Moslems, or Moslems against non-Moslems.

 

Compilations of data for ensuing years also revealed that during the early 1990s, Moslems were engaged in more inter-group violence than any other group.

 

From 1928 to 1979, statistics indicate that Moslem states resorted to violence to handle problems and crises more than 53 percent of the time. During the same time period, the UK used force 11.5 percent, the USA 17.9 percent, and the USSR 28.5 percent. Only China exceeded the Moslem propensity for violence, using force to solve problems 76.9 percent of the time.

 

It is important to recall that Moslems make up only about 20 percent of the world’s population. Yet we see that Moslem countries contribute to the majority of the violence in the world today. Moreover, Arabs make up only about 5 percent of the world’s population, yet we witness the phenomenon of Arabs in leadership roles in many, if not most, of the Moslem conflicts, including conflicts emanating from those Moslem countries that are not Arab. We also witness Arab countries that host, train, fund, shelter, supply, and deploy Moslem terrorists.

 

In sum, “Muslim bellicosity and violence are late 20th century facts which neither Muslims nor non-Muslims can deny,” as Huntington aptly argues. And the situation has only gotten worse in the early 21st century. Even Saudi and Pakistani commentators have pointed out that while not all Moslems are terrorists, almost all terrorists are Moslems…and most of these are Arabs.

These Arabs lead the charge against Israel, the Jews, the USA, Western civilization, Christians, other non-Moslems, and even against fellow Moslems who are deemed not “Moslem enough.” This global terrorist movement has been termed “Islamist” or “Jihadist,” as distinct from the vast majority of Moslems who are peaceful people and do not seek to subjugate the world to Islam. Some have come up with the term “Islamofascist” to demonstrate the similarities between the Islamist movement and that of the Nazis (inter alia, commitment to genocide of Jews, world domination, belief in superiority of their own religion/culture, belief in their right to rule). In short, the Islamofascist replaces “Deutschland uber alles” with “Islam uber alles.”

 

The “roots causes” of terrorism:

 

1) Poverty?

 

The most frequently mentioned “root cause” of Arab hatred and pursuant terrorist assaults is poverty. This Marxist explanation is very seductive. Waging a war against poverty is far more appealing than waging a war against extremist Moslems. But we need to keep the following in mind:

 

A) The most poverty-stricken areas of the world (south American indigenous, sub-Saharan Africa, parts of east Asia and India) have produced no terrorism  or almost no terrorists.

 

B) Almost all terror leaders and many terror perpetrators are or were rich, or at least middle class.  Osama bin Laden is a multi-millionaire, Zawahiri is a doctor, and Mohammed Atta, the leader of the 9/11 terrorists, was a dentist.

 

C) The most poverty-stricken populations in the Arab world are in the countries where the rulers live in luxury and keep 90 percent of the country's income for their egregiously luxurious life-style, or for the enhancement of their WMD's and conventional arsenals, while their people starve (Arabia, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Saddam’s Iraq). So if poverty is the cause of hatred and terrorism is spawned by that hatred, then why are not the poor of these countries flying airplanes into the palaces of their evil rulers?

 

The fact is that although poverty may assist in the recruitment of terrorists, it is not a “root cause” of terrorism.

 

2) Hopelessness, desperation and lack of opportunity?

 

Liberal, humanitarian Americans can really get behind a war against hopelessness.

 

But terror groups draw their leadership and rank-and-file from all classes of society. The middle and upper classes in 2nd- and 3rd- world countries are far from hopeless or desperate. Even the lower classes in at least some these countries have opportunities to migrate to countries offering better opportunity (hence the tens of millions that knock on our doors, or slip illegally through our southern and northern borders, or relocate to Europe, every year).

 

As noted above, many of the Palestinian suicide bombers have been well-to-do or even rich men; many of them are high school or college educated professionals with careers  far from hopeless or desperate.

 

Even in the case of recruits from refugee camps where hopelessness may be a serious factor in defining the lives and futures of young people there, let’s recall that they have been forced to stay in those camps by their host governments (not by Israel and not by the USA), while much of the aid given to these populations by UNRWA is funded by the USA. So why is it that the hopeless and impoverished in these camps, out of the desperation of their hopelessness and lack of opportunity imposed upon them by their own corrupt and inhumane rulers, are not flying airplanes into the government buildings of the dictators who have oppressed them for 50 years?

 

Consider as well one of several countervailing examples: hundreds of thousands of Burmese have been in refugee camps in Thailand, hopeless, poverty-stricken, desperate, for more than 20 years terrorism doesn’t not hold sway there.

 

Like “poverty,” “hopelessness/desperation” cannot be a root cause.  But it is a great distraction from the real nature of terrorism.

 

3)  Fury at the West’s "mistreatment" of Moslems?

 

This is perhaps the most frequent and vociferous of false causes.  It sounds reasonable until one takes even the briefest look at the reality of the Moslem world:

 

a) Moslems kill Moslems by the millions and no one in the Arab world cares.

 

Saddam killed far more Moslems than any other leader in the world at any time in history (1,200,000 during his 32 year reign = 3,125 per month, on average), but he is a hero to many in the Arab world. Saddam killed thousands of children, letting them starve to death in the streets of his cities, while he used the Oil-for-Food money to rebuild his army and replenish his WMD arsenal. Yet Osama justifies his terror attacks by blaming the West, and especially the USA, for the deaths of those children.

 

Mauritania and Sudan legally enslave Moslems, but no one in the Arab and Muslim world seems to care (except the enslaved).

 

Syria's occupation of Lebanon (1975-2005) has wrecked the country, destroyed the economy, killed literally tens of thousands, rendered close to a million homeless, but both Hafez and young Bashir are doyens of Arab leadership.

 

Arafat killed, imprisoned, or tortured far more Palestinians than Israel, yet he was adulated as a modern Saladin.

 

The Algerian government has maintained a 10-year war against Islamist Moslem Brotherhood groups that seek to replace the secular Algerian government with Shari'a law and Islamofascist rule. This war has resulted in the deaths of 200,000 and left a million homeless (due to government retaliation when there is an attack on government forces: level the entire village from which the attack came, kill thousands and render the survivors homeless).  Yet no one in the Arab world cries out at the terrible slaughter of Moslem Arabs by the Algerian army.

 

Sudanese Arabs have killed almost 2,000,000 Christian Arabs, black African Moslems, and Animists in their 21-year war, erroneously or misleadingly described by the western media as a civil war. In actuality, it is a genocide by the Moslem Arab north against the Christian, Moslem and animist black African south. This is part of a vast land-grab strategy now spearheaded by the mounted Janjaweed militias that are indiscriminately killing tens of thousands of black African Moslems in the western province of Darfur. They terrify and murder these people, so that the survivors will flee and the Arab Moslem gentry will take their lands. Two million dead and millions more homeless refugees…and until just recently, no one seemed to care.

 

The Wahhabi Saudi royal family's security forces have killed hundreds of thousands of Shi'ite Arabs over the past few decades. No one in the Arab world is threatening to fly planes into their buildings. [1]

 

b) The USA defends Moslems and the Arab world does not notice.

 

When Christians attacked Moslems in Bosnia, the Arab world was silent. Serbs massacred 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica 10 years ago, but not a ripple disturbed the serene calm of Muslim opinion. Western Europe would not take up arms against the Christian Serbs to save Moslems, so the USA did instead. We will never know how many thousands or tens of thousands of lives were saved by U.S. intervention in Bosnia  but it hardly seems to matter.  The Arab world still demonizes us.

 

The U.S. invasion of Iraq in Gulf War 1 was an operation that saved two religious Islamic countries (Kuwait and Saudi Arabia) from conquest by a totalitarian Iraq.

 

c) Moslem countries support Russia, which oppresses Moslems.

 

Chechnya has been ravaged by Russian occupation for decades, yet last October, the Muslim summit in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) gave a hero's welcome to Vladimir Putin, the man who has presided over the massacre of more Chechen Moslems than anyone in any other period in Russian history.

 

d) U.S. and Western money has supported the Arab and Moslem world for decades.

 

The USA, EU, UK and UN (with predominantly western money) have supported Moslems, Moslem states, and Moslem causes for 50 years. Far from having neglected or marginalized these countries, U.S. aid to Moslem countries throughout the world has been in the billions per year for decades (despite the fact that some of these same countries oppose us in the UN, vilify us in their media and sermons, and provide support and haven for the same terrorists that want to destroy us). Egypt alone receives almost $3 billion per year from the USA.

 

A large part of Egypt's population is alive today because of the millions of tons of free wheat that Eisenhower gave them in the 50's when Nasser’s coup left their economy in a shambles.

 

The EU has given 50 percent of its foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority for the past ten years, even while knowing that most of those billions were being used to fund terror.

 

Of the billions and billions of dollars coming through the UN to UNRWA for Palestinian refugees, approximately 30 percent comes from the USA alone, while only about 3 percent comes from the Arab world.  But none of the terrorist spokespersons faults the Saudis for not being generous enough, or thanks us for our assistance.

 

In sum, even the most superficial glance as the last 50 years of USA-Moslem interaction demonstrates that far from attacking Islam or ignoring the plight of Moslems, the USA has been a strong supporter and defender of the weak, poor, hopeless, and helpless in the Arab world….and what good does that do us when the Islamofascists shriek about America’s war against Islam?  Right now there are 22 active conflicts across the globe in which Arabs are at cause, but Islamofascist propaganda publicizes only those conflicts that can be twisted and spun to provide excuses for fomenting hatred against the United States.

 

An excellent example is the recent spate of vitriolic anti-American demonstrations (in which scores died) throughout the Moslem world as expression of rage about the as yet uncorroborated report that some American official in Guantanamo may have flushed a Quran down a toilet.  Surely disrespecting sacred text is wrong but the Saudi government authorizes the burning of Christian Bibles to the tune of 30,000 per year, confiscated from Christians in Arabia.

 

Sunni Moslem terrorists have routinely blown up Shi'ite Moslem Mosques with Shi'ite Moslem worshipers in them, destroying Moslem holy places and killing hundreds of Moslems throughout Iraq. And the entire Arab and Moslem worlds are silent!

 

If the "Arab Street" is silent to the destruction of Moslem holy places and the mass murder of Moslem worshipers by other supposedly hyper-orthodox Moslems, why are there massive riots across the entire Moslem world in response to an uncorroborated journalistic assertion of American mistreatment of the Quran?

 

It should be obvious that the riots are staged by totalitarian Moslem governments as just another manifestation of the "hate America" strategy of Moslem leaders who support Islamofascism and seek to destroy the West.

 

The hatred exists independently of the actions of the USA. But the terrorists create fictitious excuses for their terrorism by accusing the USA and the West (and Israel) of horrific crimes of which we are innocent, but which in fact are more akin to what the Moslem world has been doing to itself for hundreds of years.

 

4) American military threats to the Moslem world?

 

As noted above, the opposite is the case. Decades before Afghanistan and Iraq 2, we used our military power to support Arab causes: as when Truman forced Israel to return segments of eastern Sinai to Egypt after the 1948 war; or when Eisenhower forced Israel to return the entire Sinai to Egypt in 1956; or when Johnson forced Israel to agree to cease-fires in 1967, and Nixon in 1973, just when Israel’s armies were on the verge of decisive victories; or when we sent our Marines to Lebanon to protect Palestinians and to save Arafat from Sharon in 1982 (only to have 226 of those same Marines blown up by an Arab suicide bomber); or when Clinton pressured Israel to bring Arafat out of exile in Tunisia and set him up as governor of the Palestinian Authority so that the Oslo Accords could be implemented, or when we bombed Christian Serbs to protect Moslems in Bosnia.

 

Our first war with Iraq was to protect the Moslem Arab states of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia from a secular Arab state (Iraq). Osama et al are avowed anti-secular Moslems.  So why are they not grateful that we saved avowedly anti-secular Moslem states from a secular Arab state’s invasion?

But despite 50 years of support, protection, money and aid as well as our own American soldiers dead and wounded to aid and support Moslem countries Osama, Hezbollah, Hamas et cetera shriek about how the USA is the “black Satan,” which wants to destroy Islam and kill Moslems.

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David Meir-Levi lectures in English, Hebrew, and Spanish and is a contributor to Frontpagemag.com.


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