What Are the Causes of and Solutions for Terrorism?
Terrorism is perhaps one of the most challenging problems of our times. For some of us who have not seen the effects of terrorism firsthand, its effects may have not hit home yet. But can one say for sure that we are safe? It doesn't matter anymore which part of the world you live in. The unfortunate reality is that terrorism has gone global and every world citizen is equally susceptible and vulnerable.
So what do we do? Should we resign ourselves to the fear that terrorism can't be fought and that there is no solution? I believe there are solutions. First, though, we need to understand what causes terrorism.
Popular Perceptions for the Causes of Terrorism
- Poverty: One of the most popular explanations is that poverty breeds terrorism. I don't think this is true at all. You can find my article titled "The Myth of the Poor Terrorist" that details relatively well-off (rich or middle class, well-educated) extremists, who've carried out or planned to carry out strikes. So, I don't really buy this connection between poverty and terrorism. There are also many poor places around the world where there are no terrorists at all (parts of South America, Africa, and Asia come to mind), so this idea is just a favorite catch line of some intellectuals who can't find a better explanation.
- Undemocratic Governments: Some argue that nondemocratic governments breed conditions that extremists can exploit to further their own agenda. I don't buy this idea either. North Korea is nondemocratic and so is China and I don't see either of them breeding "global terrorists" who plan attacks around the world.
- Alienated Intelligentsia: I believe this can provide a good explanation. If you look at some of the high profile conflict areas and the individuals involved, you almost always see that there is an intellectual class that rules the hordes of fanatics. There is a brain behind all the bombings you see, isn't there? And in most cases, these are educated, well-to-do people who have everything in life but have a sense of disaffection or alienation. They aren't happy with the way the world is at present and want to do something about it. These are the most dangerous terrorists, far more than any of the foot soldiers who carry out the actual attack. These are the brains who brainwash young and confused men and quite often children as well.
- Indoctrination: What happens when you teach a kid that X, Y, and Z are your enemies and that they mean no good to your people. That these other people are in fact the devil. Can you expect a well-rounded young man to emerge out of all of this? Don't think so. What you can expect to get with this kind of tutoring is in fact a Talib who has a worldview akin to a frog living in a well. No wonder then that these guys can do the worst atrocities and yet justify it on the basis of religion.
- Ethnicity: Some argue that ethnicity and injustices (perceived or real) are one of the root causes. Well, perhaps this is true, but not totally. While one may be brainwashed into thinking that your people are being persecuted when in fact they are not, the truth is that there are millions who are killed by their own same ethnic group and religion. Saddam Hussein killed his own people for example and one can argue that he he perpetrated more atrocities than any other foreign power, yet he was viewed as a hero in his part of the world by people of countries surrounding Iraq. Why? This again demonstrates the fact that ethnicity has nothing to do with it.
- Charities That Aren't Charities: There are countless of these charities that collect funds in the name of various causes but what they in fact do is fund terrorism. As with any business, the business of terrorism needs funds and this is by far the best way for fanatics to obtain funds; others being collecting ransom money, drug money, etc. There are also many countries that support these charities in the name of religion. They have millions of dollars to spend and they do so by funding these charities and religious schools, which in fact use these funds to fund terrorist activities and building more schools of indoctrination.
My Solutions to Rid the World of Terrorism
It may be difficult, perhaps impossible, to stop a determined individual who wants to commit an act of terrorism if they get through every security check, but there are some things that can be done to limit the spread of extremist violence and divert their support.
- Keep a Check on Extremist Clerics: Many of them have found a refuge in Western countries, having been driven away from their own countries for being "too radical." How do they manage to get into Western countries? Are they not screened? Is this "democracy" at play? Do we view these people as being "persecuted" by "undemocratic" countries and hence deserving of refuge? These clerics are the most dangerous of all extremists. The foot soldiers carry out the attacks and go away (in the case of suicide bombers). However, these clerics (the brains) keep cultivating and harvesting fertile and confused minds; educated, illiterate, rich, or poor, all are equally affected by their vitriolic sermons that call upon waging war on the West. Countless young minds have fallen prey to these clerics and the ironic thing is that they do so under the very noses of our "democracies." Should democracy, therefore, prevent us from deporting these clerics back to their home countries? Would or should this be considered a violation of "human rights?"
- Make Aid Accountable: Developed countries give millions of dollars to countries such as Pakistan, for example, in the name of "economic aid." Well, it is a good thing to give aid, but shouldn't this aid be monitored and the recipient countries made accountable as to how they have spent this money? It seems most countries who give aid just think that they have done a good job giving the aid. They leave it at that. Especially if these countries are ruled by corrupt leaders; all this aid has basically gone either into the pockets of these leaders or gone into affiliated extremist groups, who might in fact come back and bite the very hand that feeds them. History is testimony to these mistakes yet lessons are never learned.
- Stop the Flow of Terrorist Funds: Stop the rich countries that fund construction of religious schools without proper background checks. Pressure them through diplomatic channels to fund charities and religious schools only after proper verification and certification that they aren't indulging in any radical propaganda and brainwashing their students to wage holy wars. Also, improve banking laws at home as well as in developing countries to ensure that fanatics don't benefit from lax regulations and circumvent the system by getting funds to their plans.
- Securing Defenses: There is no alternative to this. Fact is there will always be people out there who want to harm you and it is on you to defend your country by securing it as best you can. Stricter screening of people who come into your country would be required. This doesn't mean one has to close one's doors to everyone; however, one should at least keep an eye out for undesirable radicals who mean no good.
- The Solution That Will Never Be: In closing, let's talk about a solution that will never be—that is a peaceful solution. People who think that one can negotiate peace with fanatics are unfortunately living in a make believe world. Honestly, what can you negotiate with terrorists? What are the negotiating points here? What can we offer to them and what would they accept? Some terror groups, for example, want to see a world that is nothing like the one we know. Are we prepared to compromise and have them have their way on this? Should we turn back the clock and go back a few hundreds of years to a time when the dominant groups were different from those now? Many of these "brains" behind the most dangerous extremist groups want just that—their own utopian world governed by their own utopian laws. Some people just don't like the idea of "fighting." However, when you are confronted with an irrational enemy who sees no sense or knows not what their aims really is, other than blowing up people because someone drilled that into them, what can you do but fight and defend?
© 2010 Shil1978