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Tilting at Windmills

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September 13, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

THE SYMPATHIZERS....Timothy Garton Ash on jihadist terrorism in Europe:

The larger part of this struggle, and the more important in the longer term, is the battle for the hearts and minds of young European Muslims — usually men — who are not yet violent jihadists but could become so. All over the Continent, and around its edges, there are hundreds of thousands of young Muslim men who could be tomorrow's bombers — or tomorrow's good citizens.

The chemistry in Europe can be understood a little better by thinking back to the last wave of youth terrorism, in the "German autumn" of 30 years ago and Italy's Red Brigades. When I lived in Berlin in the late 1970s, I met quite a few people who told me, "You know, there was a moment when I could have gone either way." They could have slunk away to join the Red Army Faction, like those acquaintances of their acquaintances. Instead, they became journalists, academics or lawyers and are now pillars of a society under attack from a potentially more destructive wave of terrorism.

Of course, we cannot take the comparison too far, but one basic feature is the same: Beside the hard core of fanatics is a penumbra of people who could choose the wrong path. In Germany, they are called the sympathisanten — the sympathizers. Among European Muslims, they might very roughly be correlated with those who, in surveys, refuse to condemn suicide bombings. One analyst estimates that while the hard core may make up 1% of British Muslims, the sympathisanten make up perhaps 10% of German Muslims.

....Fortunately, there are also people who travel the other way. So much now depends on whether the 10% veer toward the barbaric 1% or rejoin the civilized majority.

The barbaric 1% are the targets of police, intelligence, and military operations. But all over the world, not just in Europe, it's the sympathetic 10% the rest of us should be paying attention to. They are Mao's sea in which the jihadists swim.

Getting out of Iraq won't automatically convert the 10%, but it's a good first step. The alternative is that we stay and the 10% turns into 30%. Or 50%. Then kaboom.

Like the old saw about planting trees, the best time to stop digging ourselves into a deeper hole in Iraq was four years ago. The second best time is right now. Then maybe we can start paying attention to what matters.

Kevin Drum 2:26 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (42)

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Comments

Kevin must be right. Nearly half an hour and no comments (not even trolls).

Posted by: David in NY on September 13, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, because this kind of thing involves thinking -- the deep kind. Neocon sympathizers need not apply.

Posted by: Kenji on September 13, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
I strongly disagree with both you and TG Ash about the identity of those we need to fear. Psychoanalysts tell us that some significant percent of the population is psychopathic, and a certain percent of those people are capable of taking malicious or malevolent action. They can use a fashionable ideology to direct and justify their actions, but the antisocial behavior originates in personal psychological malfunctions, not the ideology. In other words, the problem lies not with believers in the Second Coming, the evils of globalization, Communism, or the One True Faith, whatever those doctrines may say, but with the justification such dogmas provide to those who are personally motivated to act destructively.

Posted by: Keith on September 13, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Keith: Perhaps. Nonetheless, the damage they can do is distinctly limited if they don't have a pool of sympathizers to move in. TGA's analogy is a good one: the German and Italian terrorist gangs of the 70s did some damage, but in the end it was limited because they simply didn't have enough freedom of movement. The IRA, by contrast, lasted quite a long time, because they did.

A tiny, hated group of lunatics can be dealt with. When they have the sympathy of a large portion of the population, however, they can't be. Worldwide, it's the sympathizers who should be the main target of our foreign policy.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on September 13, 2007 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin must be right. Nearly half an hour and no comments (not even trolls).
Posted by: David in NY

Did you read the article? I doubt it. A quote from it...

Iraq is a sideshow in this larger struggle. President Bush may claim that Iraq is the front line in the war on terror, but even some of his senior commanders don't believe that. To be sure, the Iraq war has become an added grievance for disaffected Muslims everywhere, although note that Germany's nonparticipation in the Iraq war did not keep it safe. Nor should we avert our eyes from the further uncomfortable truth that a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq will be celebrated by violent jihadists as a victory.
The article does not so strongly support Kevin's premise as his quotation of it would suggest. . Posted by: SJRSM on September 13, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Worldwide, it's the sympathizers who should be the main target of our foreign policy.
Posted by: Kevin Drum

That makes sense.

Posted by: SJRSM on September 13, 2007 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

And what about in the US? Do we have our sympathizers? I mean, I was told in the late '70's by someone who was trying to scare me, that there were 40,000 (or 100,000 or something) single, young male Palestinians living in a small section of Brooklyn. Something like this was probably true, but our only serious home-grown bombers in the interim have been Nichols and McVeigh and the Unabomber (and a handful or two of not-very-serious blabbermouths, who never have gotten farther than wild talk). While Keith may have a point (see the Unabomber), I think that conditions of hopelessness and a strict estrangement from the surrounding society, unlike conditions in the US, are what give rise to violent fanaticism.

Posted by: David in NY on September 13, 2007 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

The lesson to be learned from Europe is restricting immigration.

Germany and the UK seem to have the most to fear in the short run (with the French right behind them), which is so odd given both nations' general hatred and mistrust of "wogs," what possessed them to formulate such idiotic immigration policies.

Posted by: JeffII on September 13, 2007 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

And what about in the US? Do we have our sympathizers?

Yeah, but since 9/11 Bush and crew have been doing their level best to lose 'em.

Posted by: Gregory on September 13, 2007 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

I think that conditions of hopelessness and a strict estrangement from the surrounding society, unlike conditions in the US, are what give rise to violent fanaticism

If this were true then Sub-saharan Africa would be terrorism central, and while there are plenty of failed states in Africa, primarily militant jihadists come from functioning societies, in which the militants have a comfortable, even prosperous, existence. America's evacuation of Iraq is ultimately necessary but in the leaving violence will spike, and in the aftermath violent jihadism will gain credibility not lose it.

Posted by: cynical joe on September 13, 2007 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Young muslim men are disturbed? They likely have sexual disfunction.

So, why is it that ignorant Islamic Arabs generate sexually disfunctional young men?

Maybe the solution may be to medicate any boy raised in a deranged religion.

Posted by: Matt on September 13, 2007 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Anecdotes from acquaintances about sympathetic support for the Meinhoff gang have no basis as a statistical metric, and should not be extrapolated onto the Moslem immigrant population. Ash is blowing smoke for a neo-con print pay off. The Moslem immigrant population desires to be allowed to integrate into European society, which the Europeans have little experience doing. Europeans are used to either shipping unwanted people to the US or exterminating them.

I wonder what the Italian immigrant populations' sympathies were for Sacco and Vanzetti and the dreaded Anarchists of almost a hundred years ago? I suppose the Italian immigrant population then was held under the same type of suspicion as the Moslems of Europe are today. What they all want is to be allowed to worship freely and work just like the rest of the population. If the Germans, in particular, cannot change their ideas of citizenship based on bloodlines, then they are going to have problems with immigrants whether they are Moslems or Eskimos.

The IRA sympathizers in Northern Ireland were created by the English military occupation, which favored the minority Protestants. Without the military occupation and corresponding harsh treatment of Catholics, the IRA would most likely not have received as much popular sympathetic support as it did. Those enamored with military occupations actually create the sympathizers they fear.

Posted by: Brojo on September 13, 2007 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

"Maybe the solution may be to medicate any boy raised in a deranged religion."

Really helpful, Matt. Great idea! Should we start with Mississippi and Alabama?

Posted by: Kenji on September 13, 2007 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

it's the sympathetic 10% the rest of us should be paying attention to

Yes, but appealing to that 10% would alienate Bush's 33%, which can't tell the difference between 1% and 10% and just wants to blast them all.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on September 13, 2007 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

The difference between sympathesiasten and terrorists is probably jobs. If you have a job, you are probably much less likely to bomb things.

In this country, we are seeing the outsourcing of good jobs to China. If you are blue collar, it is getting harder and harder to get by. If you are marginal and don't have a job, why the fuck not throw a bomb and kill that fucking banker who is taking your home?

We might see more and more of that kind of thinking.

Posted by: POed Lib on September 13, 2007 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Brojo raises some salient points.

This topic deserves very serious consideration -
far beyond tripe like saying stop all immigration.

Posted by: optical weenie on September 13, 2007 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin must be right. Nearly half an hour and no comments (not even trolls).

Posted by: David in NY at 2:54 PM

I think something good just came on the Playboy Channel and they were all just valiantly watching it.

Posted by: Swan on September 13, 2007 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

I disagree with Keith at 2:55 PM, but I disagree directly with his statement, rather than simply sharing Kevin's reservation about how much Keith's claim would really justify if it were true.

I don't think the qualities of being a psychopath limit any specific group of people to being- most probably- psychopaths except for personalities that are commonly called "serial killers" and people that are could-be serial killers. By this, of course, I mean people who kill only for killing, detached from some kind of rationale, besides their own sexual or sadistic pleasure or personal whims. You may personally think the arguments of terrorist groups are deeply flawed, but I think any psychologist who is not a quack would agree that the active members of any terrorist group are probably not even a majority psychopathic personalities (not saying anything about lesser, common neuroses that might lead to feelings of inadequacy / lack of fulfillment that lead to personal motivation for engaging in this sort of behavior).

Saying that all Al Qaedas are psychopaths because they are killing innocents without good enough reason is like saying that all Christian fundamentalists who believe in the Rapture and 7-day Creationism are insane because they belive in the irrational without good enough justification. They mat be very wrong without being clinically insane.

Posted by: Swan on September 13, 2007 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

"I think something good just came on the Playboy Channel and they were all just valiantly watching it."

Should have thought of that. D'oh.

Posted by: David in NY on September 13, 2007 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

It is interesting that most of the 911 participants (excluding the goons brought in as muscle) were educated and reasonably successful (think Mohammad Atta, or for that matter, Osama himself). Those stuck dealing with a life of poverty just don’t seem to have the time, energy or inclination for radical movements. The Baader-Meinhof gang and the American Weatherman were largely made up of people who grew up in the middle class, but who felt a real sense impotence in terms of changing society by any means other than violence.

Posted by: fafner1 on September 13, 2007 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

We can think that large numbers of sympathizers come from communities that feel oppressed or wronged in some way. This is opposed to small cults of fanatics who have an endogenous feeling of estrangement. Violence condoned by a community could be mitigated by measures that integrate the group into the social, political and economic life of the country. Alternatively they could be given autonomy. This is a fine conclusion and it has merit but that is not all that is at work here.

The frame of this line of thinking points to something we can call the Islamic Problem. The suggestion is that there is something particular about Islam or Arabs that makes them resistant to integration, prone to violence and even devoid of reason. It superstitiously folds poverty, youth violence, minority struggles, various wars for national independence, anti-imperialism, sectarian civil war, and outright terrorism into one great tendency toward jihadism. In encompasses a billion people spread across a quarter of the globe.

The Islamic Problem is an entirely political construct made entirely for political ends. As others have pointed out this tactic has been used in the past to target any number of minority groups. If some Eastern Europeans living in Britain were to start bombing we would certainly being to talk about the Slavic Problem (again). The reason broad bombing campaigns have not begun in Europe is that the sympathetic Islamic community does not exist and it does not produce an epidemic of bombers.

There was plenty of evidence for the Jewish Problem in the beginning of the 20th century. Not only were they suspiciously rich, not only were they overrepresented in the upper echelons of society there were also many leading anarchists and communist revolutionaries who were Jewish.
This seems absurd and wicked to us today but not long ago it made a great deal of sense to a great many people in Europe.

Posted by: bellumregio on September 13, 2007 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

We want to focus on Muslims, but within the United States terror is often the weapon of choice of the far right fringe. Terrorists flourish as long as the find some level of support in the general community. Nichols and McVey found support in certain far right wing survivalist communities.

All the talk about such people being psychologically defective is crap. If you look at World War II you will find the Japanese and Germans (and even the Russians and Americans) had no trouble recruiting fairly normal young soldiers for suicide missions. Those who somehow survived led fairly normal lives after the war.

Posted by: corpus juris on September 13, 2007 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Should have thought of that. D'oh.

It was really just too hard to spin Kevin's statement the other way- in my opinon, that's what kept them away.

In my opinion what's really wrong with AQs / Muslim jihadists is their rake on religion. I think we as a world society really need to just adopt the anthropological / post-modern / Joseph Campbell take on religion, and be able to criticize religion for being too violent, not criticize them in a Inquisition-style "Your religion is blasphemy" way. Part and parcel of modern tolerance of religion, which comes from modern secularism and the broader modern worldview (and atheism, if that's what you're into) must be being able to criticize a religion and say (and consider purselves entitled to say it, even though we are not adherents of the religion) "You're religion goes too far and there is something wrong with how you're practiciing it." Christianity used to support an Inquisition and Crusades and it only grew past that stage through this kind of frank confrontation. It didn't turn everybody into non-believers just because it made them less violent, and modern tolerance (even for race, ethnicity) is an offshoot of it.

Posted by: Swan on September 13, 2007 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Surely, if it's 1% barbaric and 10% sympathizers then the game is lost already. 10% of Muslims are close to being terrorists? 1% are eager murdering terrorists? Those numbers sound like a lazy man's approximations.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on September 13, 2007 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

I think Kevin is starting to go a little too far: leaving Iraq is not magically going to solve all our problems, or even all our problems with the Muslim world. In fact, it probably is going to have almost zero effect on immigrant Muslim populations in the West. The U.S. will probably always do a lot better on assimilating Muslims than Europe, for several reasons: we have a lot more experience assimilating people; we are both a lot more religious and a lot more religiously diverse, so religious minorities don't feel out of place (well, maybe atheists); and we have a lot more economic mobility (which can be mobility down, too, of course) and a lot less unemployment.

Meanwhile, no matter what we do in Iraq, immigrant Muslims in Europe will be (a) unemployed, (b) regarded with suspicion by their neighbors and (c) bombarded daily with stories about how evil Israel is. And the Europeans will have more locally-based terrorists than we do.

Posted by: y81 on September 13, 2007 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

It is interesting that most of the 911 participants (excluding the goons brought in as muscle) were educated and reasonably successful...

The trend continues. The recent doctors in the UK with their terrorist plot, and the med student here in Detroit who was arrested on terror charges (running around with a loaded AK-47) the other day.

http://www.pressandguide.com/stories/091207/loc_breakingnews.shtml

Posted by: SJRSM on September 13, 2007 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

1. Leave Iraq.
2. Leave Saudi Arabia.
3. Force Israel to play nice with their neighbors.
4. After due process, hang Cheney/Bush.

Now, that would be impressive.

Posted by: IntelVet on September 13, 2007 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

"Saying that all Al Qaedas are psychopaths because they are killing innocents without good enough reason is like saying that all Christian fundamentalists who believe in the Rapture and 7-day Creationism are insane because they believe in the irrational without good enough justification. They mat be very wrong without being clinically insane."--Swan

It's hard to make rules that apply to everyone, so perhaps we should forget the word "all." In fact, perhaps not "all" al Qaedas believe in indiscriminate murder either. In talking about psychopaths I am not talking about people who have strange or foolish beliefs, I am talking about the people who commit horrible crimes against strangers. Not "all" of them are psychopaths, I suppose, especially those that are at a remove from the actual deed, but malevolent, conscience-less derangement certainly makes such actions much more possible to do. My point was simply that ideology has nothing to do with such people, apart from providing rationalization for doing what they already wanted to do in the first place. The ideology itself may be perfectly reasonable, and worth addressing on its own merits. For instance, I would certainly try to alleviate the misery of Moslem immigrants in Europe, and perhaps that would reduce terrorism in their name, but the crazies would still be around, hunting for another spark to set them off.

Posted by: Keith on September 13, 2007 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

why is it that ignorant Islamic Arabs generate sexually disfunctional young men?

America leads the world in ED and obesity.

Posted by: Brojo on September 13, 2007 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

"One analyst estimates that while the hard core may make up 1% of British Muslims, the sympathisanten make up perhaps 10% of German Muslims."
Gee, I'm British, I spend four months of the year in Germany, and I gotta say those figures seem exactly the wrong way round.

Posted by: jim on September 13, 2007 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

We also want to avoid putting people on "death ground." This is an idea from Sun Tzu, the celebrated, semi-legendary Chinese military strategist. The idea is a simple psychological/rational one, that you want to keep the opponent in a fight-or-flight-response frame of mind, not a fight-or-die one. Sun Tzu thought, in war it was best not to totally surround an opponent, but to almost totally surround an opponent. If the enemy's forces had to choose between wagering on your mercy or on fighting through you, they might fight all the more determinedly if you left it looking like there was no way out. If, however, you left them a narrow route of escape, the threat of being attacked from all sides would be just as imminent, but as the peril increased, heartier and heartier souls, starting with the cowards, would choose to trickle out, rather than fight, making overcoming the un-supported remaining foes all the easier.

You don't want to put the Muslims in the position of feeling there's no way for them to have control over their lives and their areas, that it's just a matter of sticking to their beliefs and fighting you, on the one hand, or being totally comprimised, on the other. Their has to be a "win" scenario somewhere for the world Muslim community that comes into the picture, and that we effectively sell to them as such, otherwise this conflict is going to be that much prolonged.

Posted by: Swan on September 13, 2007 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

There are a couple of dynamics going on, the first as mentioned by fafner1, is that the actual terrorists are drawn from the ranks of the middle class. The rich are too interested (mostly) in maintaining the status quo that makes them rich and the poor are too busy struggling to get by day to day. Another is that a people poorly integrated into society, especially by law, are going to be much more likely to be disaffected - even for their class.

In other words, the lack of German support for the brutalization of the Iraqis doesn't mean Kevin's premise is wrong, only that morons whose understanding of international events is limited to murdering people with bombs aren't qualified to speak intelligently on the issue. More to the point, Muslim support for terrorism is a complex issue and has many causes.

Interestingly, Muslim support for killing civilians turns out to be less than American support for the same thing.

This should come as no surprise here. America went along with the unprovoked assault on the Iraqi people. Which underlines Kevin's point about tamping down extremism. Some of those extremists will turn out to be Tim McVeigh and will kill here, some of them will turn out to be bomber pilots who will respond with psychotic glee at the deaths of innocents. Both are dangerous, but the cheerleaders for death help inflate the ranks of those willing to die in the service of terrorizing the West.

Posted by: heavy on September 13, 2007 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

See "The Theology's the Thing" www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-donnelly022002.shtml

in NRO.

Posted by: theAmericanist on September 13, 2007 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

Misguided people:

If you want to discourage aggression, make it fruitless, don't make it worthwhile. If we leave Iraq the jihadis will have a GREATER recruitment device, i.e., success. The best we can do is finish this so that the narrative is that 200,000 jihadis died in fighting or suicide bombings and the USA did not budge.

You remind me of the people who said just let Hitler have Czechoslovakia, you'll end his means of support (i.e., the ability to generate hatred); no, he was able to show that aggression works!

TOH

Posted by: The Objective Historian on September 13, 2007 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

You remind me of the people who said just let Hitler have Czechoslovakia, you'll end his means of support (i.e., the ability to generate hatred); no, he was able to show that aggression works! TOH
Posted by: The Objective Historian

Dear Objectionable Hysterian,

I think that a fair number of us who post here probably believe that the "jihadist" are more than welcome to Iraq. In fact, they can have the whole ME as far as I'm concerned. Other than oil, what else are the nations of this region really contributing to the world? But I'm getting ahead of myself as it has been well-documented that we really aren't fighting all that many jihadists, foreign or otherwise in Iraq. We're fighting Iraqis that just want us to get the fuck out of their country.

Posted by: JeffII on September 13, 2007 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

You're an historian? Where did you get your degree, a Wheaties box?

1) Iraqis fighting in Iraq against a foreign power are not committing "aggression", if the word has any meaning. If you don't use words for what they mean, you're not even literate, much less an "historian".

2) The reason why Chamberlain, et al, let Hitler have Czechoslovakia was NOT to "end his means of support (i.e., the ability to generate hatred)", which a real student of history would know. (Being as how it was in every contemporary source and all the memoirs.) The purpose was to turn Hitler EAST, so that when Germany went to war, it would have been with Stalin. It wasn't like this was a secret, Object: read any relevant editorial of The Times from 1934 through September 1939.

(You're not objective, and you're not much of an historian: you're more like an illiterate ignoramus.)

In the ACTUAL history, Stalin figured it out and double-crossed Chamberlain with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact by which Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union agreed to dismember Poland between them. So Hitler DID turn East (which is what Chamberlain wanted and expected him to do), he just did it without a German war with Russia (which Chamberlain wanted and hoped for). That's when Britain and France, somewhat to Hitler's surprise, honored their treaty commitments with Poland and declared war on Germany in her defense.

3) If you want to make the end of our war in Iraq serve our national security interests, first you have to END it. Trying to kill people who are being recruited faster than we can kill 'em is not a smart plan.

Posted by: theAmericanist on September 13, 2007 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

If you go for "your with us or you are with the terrorists", and then release pictures of just what being "with us" means...

Two things:
[the sympathizers] might very roughly be correlated with those who, in surveys, refuse to condemn suicide bombings

Very Very roughly. Some may see a moral difference between bombing civilians and bombing armed soldiers, particularly foreign occupying ones, particularly those perceived as violent toward civilians.

Unfortunately not all poll questions make the distinction, and if the polls do, then the subsequent reporting may ignore it. If you closely follow the Iraq conflict or Tamil tigers then you may be thinking of different suicide bombers than if you travel by the London underground.

Also: The chemistry in Europe can be understood a little better by thinking back to [...] Italy's Red Brigades.

Wait, Ledeen is back to his "strategy of tension" work with SISMI? Just saying the red brigades may not be the best example. Cold war era covertly funded UK/US/NATO arms caches are still turning up in Europe. And if Ledeen was only consulted by SISMI on some extradition matters, then where did he get the NATO anti-terror job, pre contra neocon street cred, "Soviet union, sorry Iran is behind all the terror in the world" quotes and Machiaveli/fascism fascinations? His explanation of the situation in Italy during the cold war to BBC timewatch also lacks subtlety.


I suspect there is a decent understanding of the radicalization problem among European governments. One quality centrist European newspaper has a new issue that gets front page big photo treatment. Its kids rediscovering their Moroccan Berber roots and culture.

Thats kind of weird, the paper has plenty of room for culture. Dead writers, poems, theater... But not on the front page. Even a Pavarotti piece gets less room than Berber music.

Its funny this should come after cultural experts have been advising for some time that the kids of Moroccan immigrants may be a little confused about their Muslim heritage.

They suggest reminding Moroccan Berbers they have a less than pleasant history with Arabs, something their parents may not have mentioned when shouting at Israelis on the TV screen.

Posted by: rt on September 13, 2007 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

I don't blame the Moslem terrorists. Can a leopard change his spots? Both here and in Europe it is the PC libs who are responsible for chamberpot immigration. I mean if someone forces you into the tiger's cage, do you blame the tiger for the way he is?

Posted by: Luther on September 14, 2007 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

Objective Historian -

Sorry, but I am struck that defeat is a more effective recruiting tool for terrorists than victory. People who win have a reason to feel empowered and hopeful. People who are defeated feel terror and violence are their only alternative. Terrorism isn't a response rooted in rational though, but rather in emotion. It's not "gee, terrorist win, lets become terrorist" but rather "this situation sucks, we have to find some way to strike back."

Posted by: fafner1 on September 14, 2007 at 1:29 AM | PERMALINK

The IRA sympathizers in Northern Ireland were created by the English military occupation, which favored the minority Protestants. Without the military occupation and corresponding harsh treatment of Catholics, the IRA would most likely not have received as much popular sympathetic support as it did.

Protestants are, of course, a majority in Northern Ireland. The Catholic population is the minority. (If it were the other way around, NI would have voted to join the Republic.)
The troops originally went in in 1969 to protect the Catholic population from Protestant attacks - the IRA having proved incapable of doing so themselves.

Posted by: ajay on September 14, 2007 at 6:02 AM | PERMALINK

Side note on Kevin's metaphor:
The sympathetic 10% aren't peasants, and Mao was banking on a whole lot more than 10% of the population to camoflauge his PLA guys.

ajay, I don't know for sure, but maybe he meant that the Protestants are a minority in Ireland. The Easter Uprising gave the IRA its real start, and that was because the English occupied what is now the Republic of Ireland, and because their treatment of civilians was so unpleasant that it drove them to sympathize with people they had previously refused to support...

it's the sympathetic 10% the rest of us should be paying attention to. They are Mao's sea in which the jihadists swim.
--Kevin Drum 1:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (24)

Posted by: keith (the other one) on September 14, 2007 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

It's not the psychopaths i am worried about, it's the people the psychopaths recruit to do their dirty work who we need to be concerned with. Who would charlie manson be without his gang of impressionable kids?

Posted by: Northzax on September 14, 2007 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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