Thursday, May 6, 2010

More On Terrorism

FLG thinks this discussion about the Times Square bomber, which FLG guess occurred before we knew his identity, is just the type of problematic discussion he's been talking about:

They use words like deranged and nutjob and the title of the section is They All Want To Do Bombs or something. Yes, FLG'll agree that they are deranged nutjobs. However, and this is important, when people who are part of a movement say they believe something, whether that's some jihadist narrative or anti-government paranoia, the best thing to do to understand them is to say, "Ok, let's say they believe this stuff. What are the implications of this as far as terrorism is concerned? What does this lead to in terms of tactics and approaches?"

Too often we dismiss their ideology as illegitimate ramblings because of the violence. We retreat into the more secular language of political and economic interest to analyze jihadist motivations. So, it's not Islam that's motivating them, but economic inequality or some such thing. Or it's racial bigotry, not concerns about the size of government.

This isn't to say we need to sympathize with their causes or throw away other modes of analysis. But we'd best think through what their self-professed ideology implies. At least so far as it is comprehensible and coherent.

Lone nutjobs are lone nutjobs. Can't really see them coming. But people who are part of an ideological, but violent movement are constrained and directed by the ideology or the movement would self-destruct. Not all bombers are the same and it is in nobody's interest to treat them all as part of the same, big group of wackos.

That'll be the end of that point for now.

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