Why They Fight

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]

Great quote from Tom Woods today:

In the 1980s, the Ayatollah Khomeini called for a jihad against America, on the grounds that we were degenerate, had filthy movies, our women didn’t know their place – all the reasons that we’ve been told are the causes of the current attacks. The result was absolutely nothing. No one blew himself up. No one did anything. Khomeini issued the call and there was no interest. It was a total flop – no one wanted to sacrifice himself on those grounds.

Khomeini and bin Laden Then the 1990s come along, and we have Osama bin Laden. He does not make that fundamental cultural critique – obviously, he doesn’t like those aspects of American culture, but that wasn’t his main critique.

His criticism is actually very specific. He says the U.S. is responsible for propping up police states around the Arab world; exercising undue influence over oil markets; showing undue favoritism toward Israel; supporting countries that oppress their Muslim minorities; basing American troops on the Arabian peninsula, and on and on.

This is the sort of thing he offers as a rationale. So while there may certainly be the potential for Islam to be violent, what sparks that fire? It’s the combination of practical grievances and the Islamist ideology. Some people will do battle on behalf of an abstract philosophy, but most people will only fight and die for a specific grievance. For example, when you look at the Al Qaida recruitment tapes, they don’t simply quote from the Koran. They actually show images of people killed by U.S. weapons.

Why are they making those tapes if there’s no connection between U.S. foreign policy and what the terrorists are doing? It just doesn’t make sense.

Read the rest.


2 Responses to Why They Fight

  1. Administrator January 17, 2008 at 6:32 pm #

    See an excellent comment by Peter Klein on this here.


  1. Rough Ol’ Boy » Blog Archive » Sometimes Motivations Do Matter - January 17, 2008

    […] Link from Austro-Athenian Empire, but I should have just read the damn thing when Tom posted it at LRC.  Oh well. […]

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