Wednesday, July 13, 2005

London Bombings Deemed Suicide-Bombings

According to reports from the BBC and AP, it seems the bombings in London were perpetrated by suicide-bombers.

Though the tactic was used by the IRA during their conflict with the British Government, and by ETA in their conflict with the Spanish Government, suicide-bombers have historically no committed terror in Western Europe.

The personal nature of standard suicide-bombing means that it generally occurs in places where the perpetrator lives in close proximity to the victim(s), straps explosives to their body, and commits their crime. Places like Palestine and Iraq have been plagued by suicide-bombings because the political and socio-economic conditions (or lack thereof) create a disenfranchised group of young men personally affected by the conditions, who see no other way to take a stand.

When the British government finally came to their senses and began negotiations with the disenfranchised (the Catholics) of Northern Ireland, they leap-frogged the terrorists (the I.R.A.) and began dealing directly with their citizenry who had (and still have) legitimate complaints. By negotiating with the citizenry, the Government turned the tide of support against the terrorists, began working to improve the lot of their oppressed citizenry, and the progress in Northern Ireland has been remarkable.

When ETA began to lose public support because of civilian casualties in their bombings, they began isolating their tactics to physical structures and have tried to avoid civilian casualties.

Since the absurd policies of Britain and Spain pale when compared to the Zionism of Israel, it is unlikely the government of Israel will successfully halt the personal terror that is suicide-bombings.

In Western Europe, most Muslims from North Africa and the Middle East have not been treated well after immigration. As young men in these communities become more disenfranchised, it is likely the terror of suicide-bombings could increase.

In the United States, most Muslims from around the world have found comfort and prosperity as American citizens. They have no interest in disrupting the American way of life, and many mosques have worked closely with law enforcement agencies to expose potential criminals.

The personal nature of suicide-bombing requires a disenfranchised class of people that, no matter our criticism of American culture, just does not exist in the United States. As badly as we have come to treat the poor, the poor in the United States are better-off than the poor in any other nation. (Of course, the corporate fundamentalists want to lessen the lot of the poor in the United States, so this could change rapidly; but, today, the culture of the United States does, generally, offer opportunities to all.)

What's my point? As long as dialog among neighbors continues in the United States, as long as inter-faith and multi-faith congresses continue to meet, as long as we strive to promote something representing a just economic system, it is unlikely that young men in the United States will strap explosives to their bodies and kill their neighbors.

What happened in London last week is an atrocity. If anyone involved is found to be alive, they should rot in prison for the rest of their life. However, if the West does not address the problems and complaints of the underprivileged, the disenfranchised are more likely to commit this heinous, most personal crime.

This entry at about last week's London bombings includes a list of the victims.

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Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them
Al Franken


Liz said...

"In Western Europe, most Muslims from North Africa and the Middle East have not been treated well after immigration."

That's not really true. The suicide bombers here came from good families and wanted for nothing. Their parents, immigrants from Pakistan in the 60s, started and maintained successful businesses in the UK. These boys were not on the poverty line. They chose to do this.

Employing the 'this could never happen here' ethos is dangerous. A suicide bomber could just as easily strike in NYC as here. Sad to say...

DM said...

I hear you, Liz. My theory could be totally wrong, but something about it feels right.

Custos Morum said...

Liz is not only right in this particular case, but more generally also.

It's become something of a gauchiste bromide that the 'root cause' of terrorism is poverty. This assertion is dangerous as it shifts the moral responsibility away from the terrorist. It is also a claim completely unsupported by evidence.

However, Liz's view (and my own) is supported by evidence. Alan B. Krueger writing in the New York Times notes that:

The stereotype that terrorists are driven to extremes by economic deprivation may never have held anywhere, least of all in the Middle East. New research by Claude Berrebi, a graduate student at Princeton, has found that 13 percent of Palestinian suicide bombers are from impoverished families, while about a third of the Palestinian population is in poverty. A remarkable 57 percent of suicide bombers have some education beyond high school, compared with just 15 percent of the population of comparable age.

This evidence corroborates findings for other Middle Eastern and Latin American terrorist groups. There should be little doubt that terrorists are drawn from society's elites, not the dispossessed.

The people responsible for the attacks on London were not disenfranchised - at least not in any literal sense - and they, through their indiscriminate murder, were not hoping to bring about a two-state solution.

jane said...

The terrorists may be from among the more successful of second generation asian-british youth - but they have nevertheless experienced racism and seen the disempowered state of their poorer asian-british compatriots. In addition, the invasion of Iraq has increasingly alienated many such youth from the claims of liberal democracies to be inclusive bulwarks of civil society and civil conversation. Against what seems such hypocrisy, a radical and religiously-based understanding of state interests and conflicts becomes much more persuasive.

Custos Morum said...

I'd be wary of becoming a ventrioquist's dummy for the grievances of suicide-bombers. If anyone actually knows that the grievance of Iraq is what embittered these men (as opposed to, say, the grievance of unveiled women, the liberation of East Timor or the profanity of democracy itself) then they should go immediately to the authorities with their sources.

Whatever one's feelings about Iraq - and I find the notion that there wasn't enough of a 'civil conversation' particularly perplexing - one can't get from that grievance to mass murder on the London Underground.

DM said...

Excellent comments. Thank you, everyone. I appreciate the input, because this is an excellent way to learn. I don't pretend to be an authority, just someone interested in ideas.

My notions about causes for terrorism are vague and general and not intended to be scientific.

I am disheartened by the expression "ventriloquist's dummy," because of the dismissiveness of it. I don't think anyone's made leaps that deserve to be dismissed, and dismissiveness was certainly not my intention when writing my thoughts.

I am happy to be wrong, but I will not stop expressing my thoughts and ideas, or start subscribing to a party-line just so I can prove anything.

Free expression of thoughts and ideas is now considered counter-productive in western civilization; so I am grateful for the discourse.

Custos Morum said...

The phrase was descriptive rather than pejorative. The point is that one shouldn't be too quick to claim to know what the grievances of terrorists are. One becomes especially open to criticism if those percieved grievances conveniently match with one's own (ie.Iraq). Perhaps 'spokesperson' would be more agreeable.