Monday, November 08, 2004

I saw this story linked on Drudge.
A John F. Kennedy School of Government researcher has cast doubt on the widely held belief that terrorism stems from poverty, finding instead that terrorist violence is related to a nation's level of political freedom.

Associate Professor of Public Policy Alberto Abadie examined data on terrorism and variables such as wealth, political freedom, geography, and ethnic fractionalization for nations that have been targets of terrorist attacks.

To a lot of folks, especially those in Harvard and other ivory towers, this is news. I don't find it in the least bit surprising.
Before analyzing the data, Abadie believed it was a reasonable assumption that terrorism has its roots in poverty, especially since studies have linked civil war to economic factors. However, once the data was corrected for the influence of other factors studied, Abadie said he found no significant relationship between a nation's wealth and the level of terrorism it experiences.

"In the past, we heard people refer to the strong link between terrorism and poverty, but in fact when you look at the data, it's not there. This is true not only for events of international terrorism, as previous studies have shown, but perhaps more surprisingly also for the overall level of terrorism, both of domestic and of foreign origin," Abadie said.

Instead, Abadie detected a peculiar relationship between the levels of political freedom a nation affords and the severity of terrorism. Though terrorism declined among nations with high levels of political freedom, it was the intermediate nations that seemed most vulnerable.

You can read the rest of it here.

The poverty-terrorism link is an extension of the poverty-crime link, which is an integral part of liberal dogma. Just as these "intellectuals" ignored the fact that the Great Depression, a time of record poverty in the US, did not turn millions of Americans into criminals, they have also failed to notice that many of history's most notorious terrorists came from well-to-do families.

The radical US group known as the Weathermen, the German Red Army Faction, and even Al Qaida were founded by children of privilige. Terrorists are more likely to be thrill-seeking idealogues than people looking for a way to support their families. The myth of the freedom fighter has been necessary to gain sympathy for terrorist causes. Let's face it, Carlos the Jackal is hardly a sympathetic character to the average person in "flyover" country.

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