Monday, March 10, 2003

I've been rereading this essay on 'Why Do They Hate Us?' by Arthur Fleischman of Untoldmillions. He also links to Osama Bin Laden's Fatwah Urging Jihad Against Americans.

What Bin Laden actually talks most directly about is neither poverty nor religion, but United States troops in the Arabian Peninsula. It seems we both agree this is a symptom rather than the disease - it was the Saudi government that wanted these troops.

Although looking at the life of Osama Bin Laden and why he does what he does is relevent (he started in Afghanistan with US and Saudi encouragement), the question of why a number of Arabs either agree with him or at least don't despise him is more important. He was already rich while he was safe, he's not doing this for money. If Islamic Imam's and Arabs the world over cursed his name and accused him of blashphemy against Islam and treachery, I don't know if he would have stayed in business until 9/11, and even if he did it would have been much harder to find followers.

I don't think simply giving them charity would help - I think Steven Den Beste of USS Clueless has a good point here. Poverty alone isn't the problem. They need a working and productive economy that will give them purpose and a sense of accomplishment. He feels that first we must defeat them militarily then make major cultural changes by main force, and here I disagree. That's not what happened to the real Crusaders, at least not what changed them into our ancestors. I'm not saying we would give them money and they would like us - real care would have to be taken to invest in the nations which have fought most seriously against terror, and make sure the money was used to build an economy. Stef Wertheimer has some suggestions here, I linked to them awhile ago, I'll dig it up sometime. I'm not saying it would be easy, but I think ultimate success would be more likely than on the course we are embarking on now.

The other thing that comes through from Osama here and elsewhere is a sense of having been humiliated.

If you are correct we might be in big trouble. Of course not all Muslims will agree with Osama's interpretation, but as we kill many of those who do, the number is likely to increase rather than to decrease. Either we would slide into a slaughter which will permanently change us from what we have always stood for, or we must ask why this religion has not mellowed, unlike some other religions which supported the slaughter of unbelievers in the past. Illiteracy and the oppression of women are also associated with not necessarily poor societies, but societies which do not participate in the creation of wealth by their own efforts.

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