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Impearls: The Real Cause of Islamist Terrorism

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Earthdate 2005-07-11

The Real Cause of Islamist Terrorism

People are constantly urging ferreting out the ultimate cause of the wave of terrorism that has erupted out of the Middle East and impacted the West during the last few decades, and one finds the assertion coming from many “antiwar” activists, including prominent Democrats, that it is the policies of the United States and the West in general toward the Muslim world that are largely to blame.

Nowadays, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan receive the onus for the most recent terrorist atrocities; before that it was America's attempt to stabilize Somalia and the stationing of troops in the Muslim “Holy Land” of Saudi Arabia (to protect it from Iraq) that supposedly triggered Bin Laden's attacks on America on 9-11; while yet further back the United States' intervention in Lebanon in the 1980's and other long-past incidents are presumed to have instigated assaults by terrorist groups like Abu Nidal.  This putative “tit for tat” series of retaliatory responses is what (in my view, naive) people call the “cycle of violence” — which, they imply, could be solved simply by one side (America and the West obviously, since the terrorists won't stop) “turning the other cheek,” ending the war and ceasing any “provocations” (like remaining active in the Middle East), while waiting for the furor to die down.

I believe this is completely wrong, and propose another explanation for the escalation in Islamist violence in recent years and decades.  It's quite correct from this point of view that radical Islamists feel threatened.  However, in my humble opinion, it isn't primarily U.S. or Western “policies” as such that are mostly to blame.  Rather, the origin of the Islamist hatred and terroristic response towards the West is the growing globalization and especially the “Global Village” that's been arising round the world for many years as a result primarily of technological innovation.

Islamists and Muslims everywhere are inundated with (what they consider to be decadent) Western — and especially American — culture coming in over their airwaves 24 hours a day by 7 days a week, and which is implicit in every automobile, satellite dish, computer, refrigerator, air conditioner, et al., they import.  They know their own civilization is capable of inventing and making none of these things, and see the brilliant success of Western science, technology, and the trajectory of American and Western culture even moving off the planet into space — Heaven — itself.  Opposed to this, they see their own culture's glaring failures and weakness, and respond to the unbearable humiliation (for a culture and religion that fancies itself the epitome of Creation) with the will and raging desire to destroy the WestThat, in my view, is the real root of the Islamist movements; and even a full withdrawal by America and the West from the Middle East won't solve that problem one iota.

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