Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Terrorism & Poverty - Not Linked

A very fascinating article discussing a study at Harvard about the correlation between poverty and terrorism: (Hat tip: Mary M)
The idea that poverty breeds terror appears obvious; how could it be otherwise? And people as different as the Archbishop of Canterbury, George Bush, Jacques Chirac and Pakistan's leader, Pervez Musharraf, have also noted a link between poverty and terrorism.

In fact, there is now robust evidence that there is no such link. That does not mean, however, that economics is irrelevant.

First, to the question of poverty. Of the 50 poorest countries in the world (see list at right) only Afghanistan (and perhaps Bangladesh and Yemen) has much experience in terrorism, global or domestic.
Read the whole thing. I found a few points in particular to be very intersting:
The freest countries experienced little terrorism; and the same was true for the most oppressed. It was in the middle - where politics was unsettled and evolving and governments are often weak - that suffered the most.
I think that's something that's missed when people discuss situations such as Iraq. Yes, there was little of what we refer to as "terrorism" under Saddam Hussein; he ruled with an iron fist. And yes, there's now quite a bit of it, in Iraq's unsettled state. But it's a progression from one extreme to the other: Living under such a regime to living a life of freedom. We need to keep it moving along that path - a long-term, not short-term, world view.

There's more, but it's a bit busy here today. Check it out.