Sources of Terrorism

SOURCES OF TERRORISM….Juan Cole argues that the true source of Middle Eastern terrorism is not Islam, not poverty, and not authoritarian governments. The common seed, he says, is foreign occupation:

You want to end terrorism? End unjust military occupations. By all means have Syria conduct an orderly withdrawal from Lebanon if that is what the Lebanese public wants. But Israel needs to withdraw from the Golan Heights, which belong to Syria, as well. The Israeli military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank must be ended. The Russian scorched earth policy in Chechnya needs to stop. Some just disposition of the Kashmir issue must be attained, and Indian enormities against Kashmiri Muslims must stop. The US needs to conduct an orderly and complete withdrawal from Iraq. And when all these military occupations end, there is some hope for a vast decrease in terrorism. People need a sense of autonomy and dignity, and occupation produces helplessness and humiliation. Humiliation is what causes terrorism.

Iran doesn’t fit his model all that well, and there’s no mention of Libya at all, but he makes a pretty good case for Egypt, Algeria, Afghanistan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and Lebanon.

Still, is he right? Israel pulled out of Lebanon five years ago and, as Dan Drezner puts it, “there will soon be data to examine” on the question of whether the Lebanese also want the Syrians to leave ? and whether it will do any good if they do. Stay tuned.