It’s been widely noted that recruits to jihad and Islamic State come overwhelmingly not from the poor and downtrodden struggling under Middle-East dictatorships, but are often well-fed, well-educated middle-class citizens who have grown up in western countries – suggesting something lacking in what these well-fed folk absorbed in their western education, and maybe what they see from the west’s alleged “leaders.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry for example seems to want to outdo his predecessor in the competition for being the least informed Secretary of State this decade, claiming a leading motivation young men to move from the west in undertake jihad is the lack of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
This ignores so much about modern reality it’s hard to know where to begin, not least with the fundamental fact that if Palestinians put down their rockets there would be peace – but if Israel put down their arms there would be no Israelis. As Elan Journo points out at the Voices for Reason blog, the Syrian civil war is just one of many other countervailing data points.
Journo points to a great piece by
scholar Michael Rubin [who] offers a sarcastic tweak of a Clinton-era slogan: “It’s the Ideology, Stupid!” Rubin suggests that [if we want to understand why westerners become jihadis] we ought instead to look at the ideas that jihadists embrace, and points out some of the facts that bely that alleged grievances-terrorism link that Kerry and others put forward:the most oft-cited grievances — poverty and lack of education — have no statistical link to terror. Suicide bombers tend not to be those with the least opportunities; rather, they tend to be those from educated, middle-class backgrounds. In the Gaza Strip, Pakistan, Turkey, and elsewhere, recruitment occurs in the schools. Nor do we see a rash of terrorists and murders arising from the ten poorest countries on earth.
Journo adds that the thirteen years since 9/11 are the story of the west’s ongoing refusal to look seriously at the ideas motivating the jihadist cause.
One leading cause of recruitment, I’d suggest, is the failure of western “leaders” to fully articulate what makes the west great – leaving multiculturalism to flaccidly proclaim that all cultures are equal anyway, even if one self-admittedly loves death as much as we love life.
And one leading cause of the inability to understand real causes is the unwillingness to recognise the enemy for what it is: that when their book talks about beheading and holy war, that it means it.
[Cartoon by Cox and Forkum]