Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Colonialists != Dictatorships

For those that do think terrorism is the pre-eminent evil of our time, I recommend you read Arab expert Juan Cole's piece on the history of Arab terrorism.

In contrast, authoritarian governments like that of Iraq and Syria, while they might use terror for their own purposes from time to time, did not produce large-scale indepdendent terrorist organizations that struck itnernational targets. Authoritarian governments also proved adept at effectively crushing terrorist groups, as can be seen in Algeria and Egypt. It was only in failed states such as Afghanistan that they could flourish, not in authoritarian ones.

So it is the combination of Western occupation and weak states that produced the conditions for radical Muslim terrorism.

Now I admit I'm tempted by the Orwellian view of terrorism and authoritarian states as endlessly feeding off eachother (the extremes of each providing excuses for the excesses of the other). It is very interesting, however, that home grown authoritarian governments are top of the line when it comes to effectively reducing terrorism, and it's only foreign oppressors and weak states that can't do it.

This would certainly lend credence to the administration's Kissingerian tendencies to support authoritarian governments that we get along with (Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Russia, etc.) and create stricter laws here.


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