Saturday, October 01, 2005

Still trying to understand what motivates terrorists...

Sydney Blumthenal has an interesting article on how the Bush administration continues to blunder its war on terror. The whole article is worth a read, however, the thing I thought most interesting, had to do with the motives of terrorists. Blumenthal writes citing a US researcher Robert Pape:

Pape's research debunks the view that suicide terrorism is the natural by product of Islamic fundamentalism or some "Islamo-fascist" ideological train, independent of certain highly specific circumstances.

"Of the key conditions that lead to suicide terrorism in particular, there first must be the presence of foreign combat forces on the territory that the terrorists prize. The second condition is a religious difference between the combat forces and the local community. The religious difference matters in that it enables terrorist leaders to paint foreign forces as being driven by religious goals."


Anonymous said...
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Terence said...

And as quick as that, spam causes me to turn the word verification back on...

Tim said...

Don't worry Terence, I can confirm that at least one of your readers is real!

Although unfortunately I have nothing tasty for sale

Cheers bro

PS: spotted an article you might find interesting in the paper today, on the problem with politics/itians

Chris said...

If I may, my dear Mr Wood, continue the previous thread's argument here (since that thread was getting kind of long and this one is in need of comments, apposite to the post or not):

I'll address your first point last, but before that:
That is an interesting idea, moving to Somalia in order to gain converts. And you know what? I think my minority status would be MUCH better protected than in certain non-Christian lands WITH states (assuming I had some capital, which I'm sure various Churches would gladly donate to me for this noble mission) with the assistance of a private warlord army, after I had converted a warlord or two to Christianity. Think about it. How far would a conversion mission go in Saudi Arabia? Iran? China? North Korea? I'd much rather try it in Somalia. So, yes, I do appear to have 'found a way around' a non-existent 'problem' that only states create. That is, when states have a monopoly on violence, everyone suffers. When, as in Somalia, everyone has a slice of the violence pie, market forces of competition, choice, and resource allocation kick in, and people across the board are better off. In sum, once I learn Somali and gather funds, perhaps I'll give it a go.

As for NZ ending up like Somalia under a 0% tax rate: bollocks! First of all, if you still wanted a government, you could generate oodles of cash on tariffs alone--not tariffs enough to stifle all trade, mind you, but a moderate tariff (say 5% on all import goods) could very nicely support a minimal level of government without any taxation (ie, state-endorsed theft) involved.
Second, let's assume that taxation and tariffs both drop to zero. The government shuts down. So what? Who really cares? As the great Murray N Rothbard wrote in 1992,

'To a libertarian, it was a particularly wonderful thing to see unfolding before our very eyes, the death of a state, particularly a monstrous one such as the Soviet Union. Toward the end, Gorby continued to issue decrees as before, but now, no one paid any attention. The once-mighty Supreme Soviet continued to meet, but nobody bothered to show up. How glorious!'

Indulge in the dream for a moment. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the meetings of Parliament really were just another TV show, with Madam Clark playing the role of PM, Don Brash that of Leader of the Opposition, and everyone else carrying out their scripted functions? They might not win any awards, but at least they'd be harmless little people, not the embodiment of the State, living like leeches of the backs of taxpayers and constantly meddling in people's lives.
If only! If only people stopped playing along with the charade, if only people simply said, en masse, that the era of government had passed and they would now live their lives while ignoring the pronouncements of petty politicians. Better yet, if only a modern-day Guy Fawkes managed to blow up Parliament and forever drive a stake through government in NZ! (OK, that would be extreme, but in a desperate circumstance, why not?)
Think about it: life would go on, just as before. Take 'core state functions' for a moment. The Army would be paid by people directly, or disbanded and have a volunteer citizen militia take its place. Prisoners would be shipped to an offshore island and left to their own devices. The justice system would be replaced by a mix of ad hoc local councils and private justice corporations. Police, fire, ambulance, hospitals, etc.--these would all be run by private citizens paid by other private citizens. But if, for instance, your home is on fire and you can't pay to have the fire extinguished, too bad! Schooling would take place in private schools where the poor could attend through fellowships. Social assistance would be provided by individuals who now would have more money to spend.
And so on. The point is, government-free NZ would stand no risk of becoming Somalia, and even that wouldn't be so bad, after all...

Terence said...

Spelndid Chris,

set up something with Pay-Pal "Send Chris to Somalia Fund" and I'll happily chip in a token ammount.

Terence said...

Hey there Tim,

Yip between spambots and christian libertarians (ignore the internal contradiction here) the comments page can get pretty dire.

Anyhow, that was an interesting article that you sent - particularly the stuff at the end on deepening democracy. Beleive it or not, my own masters thesis was to do with deepening democracy. One of these days I will try and write a post on the idea...until then, back to work for me.


Chris said...

OK, Terence, I'll notify you once the slush fund is up and running. Ah, I can just see it now--my aeroplane circling above one of Mogadishu's several fine airports--the smooth landing--me stepping onto the stairs leading to the ground, my face beaming with joy and anticipation. Suddenly the crackle of gunfire erupts from several strategically-placed marksmen with their shining new AK-47s, and in a hail of bullets I slump forward onto the tarmac, my lifeless corpse spraying blood onto the dense crowd that has surged forth to methodically strip my pockets of the cash I bear.

And there is no contradiction between being a Christian and being a libertarian/anarchist. Where does the Bible say one must hold a particular political view? Certainly, one does have obligations to the poor, but I sincerely believe that these can be best met through consistently hacking away at the institutions of government and allowing the natural and benevolent force of the free market to reign unfettered by regulation.

I note you didn't rebut my points about proselytising being much safer in Somalia than in Saudi Arabia, and about tariffs being an effective substitute for taxation. You're certainly under no obligation to rebut anything I say, but I must say that I am rather proud of those two hits I scored on you.

Terence said...

Chris - sorry - no time at my end.

1. Saudi vs Somalia - indeed, it might actually be easier to prostelatize (sp?) in Somalia than Saudi. Proivded you own a war-lord or two. Unfortunately, I think that in more prozaic enterprises such as shopping and running water you'll find that Saudi has the convenience edge, though.

2. Tarrifs v Taxation - what was your original point again???

3. Internal contradiction - normal libertartians/anarco-capitalists are fans of minimal state intrusion into peoples' lives. This clearly contradicts with your religious based desire to have the death penalty as well as your desire for the state to interfere in the lives of same sex couples.

Alright - that's my last post to you on this thread. I have work to get done. Sometime - in the next month or so - I'll try a more substantive post on the problems with libartarianism. Feel free to reply to that.