I’ve seen it often written that we are not, in the War on Terrorism, addressing the root causes of Terrorism. This is often related to be, in a word, poverty. The general line of thinking tends to be that where poverty exists, terrorism thrives. Therefore, the way to end terrorism is to take wealth from the wealthy and transfer it to the poor. It is the inequality in wealth that causes one to despair of his own position and choose to attack others.
This is most often cited in the phenomenon of the suicidal terrorist, who kills himself in the commission of his attack. It is this breed of terrorism that is the most dangerous, and that which will be addressed here. In this, the distinguishing factor is not terror; it is suicide. It is essential to suicide terrorism that the suicide itself be condoned and even glorified by those supporting the terrorists. Terrorism, like guerilla warfare, cannot survive without a supportive populace to withdraw to.
Suicide as a cultural phenomenon is not unknown. It is a phenomenon that historians are familiar with in.
I suggest that the reason samurai went in for suicide so readily, is that their families instilled in them a strong sense of duty. Families, not wishing to be harmed by the actions of one rogue family member, would for the sake of their genes demand that the one erring member should kill himself rather than damage the whole family gene pool. Suicide is proof of a recognition of guilt and shame, and of a strong resolve to do something about that guilt. That it wipes the sins from the family of the dead man means that it is a sacrifice which has some good effect on the world, and thus this makes the suicide honourable.
We see the same sort of beliefs thrust upon the males of Muslim Arabia, especially those of the Palestinian Territories. In The Psychoanalytic Roots of Islamic Terrorism, Phyllis Chesler writes:
According to Minnesota based psychoanalyst and Arabist, Dr. Nancy Kobrin, it is a culture in which shame and honor play decisive roles…
Nikolas Lloyd details the sort of conditions that made suicide favorable in feudal Japan:
This death would be, of course, a very high price to pay. The person dying would often be a high status healthy male, and perhaps father to a few children. This is no small loss, and so it would be a cost which could be borne only in special circumstances. These circumstances would include:
A society in which the shame of one man rubs off on his whole family. The society does not want shameful acts in its midst, and so obliges families to police themselves by insisting that shamed members kill themselves. It does this by shunning families which harbour shamed men. The society which behaved this way in feudal Japan was the aristocracy, which wanted aristocrats to behave aristocratically, and not let the side down by appearing ignoble in the eyes of the peasants. An aristocracy which could self-police so impressively would more easily be able to stay in power.
A society which for the sake of order and conservatism, believed that suicide was a sacrifice which wiped the sins of the dead man from his family.
A society full of families which were very fearful of losing status, and where a loss of status would be catastrophic to the chances of genes replicating.
The man killing himself would not be highly valued for his physical labour or his ability to produce food to feed his family.
To support applying this standard to suicide terrorists, we will need to examine each point.
A society in which the shame of one man rubs off on his whole family. This accurately describes Islamic Arabia. Arabia is highly tribal, where honor and blood feuds are a daily part of life, as detailed by Phyllis Chesler. Shame is a strong enough factor in Arabia to justify not only the murder of rivals, but indeed the honor killing of wives, sisters and daughters.
A society which for the sake of order and conservatism, believed that suicide was a sacrifice which wiped the sins of the dead man from his family. This is a core belief of Islam. When one dies in Jihad, his sins are absolved, and he is welcomed into heaven as a Shahid and given virgins or angels (or rasins, depending on the translation.) For a relative to become a Shahid is a great honor to an Arabian family.
A society full of families which were very fearful of losing status, and where a loss of status would be catastrophic to the chances of genes replicating. This is the reality of Arabia. Arabia is still a culture of arranged marriage, where ones honor is a major factor in arranging these marriages. It is also a land where males are favored over females as children, and where honor killing attrites females disproportionately over males, making males selected over females by the time they reach maturity. This overrepresentation of males makes marriage an even more competitive situation (as opposed to America, where females are over-represented, making marriage more competitive for females than males.)
The man killing himself would not be highly valued for his physical labour or his ability to produce food to feed his family. It is this point that I postulate is vital to the suicide phenomenon, and it exists in Arabia. First, unemployment is rampant in Arabia. Unemployment rates are cited as beingin the Palestinian territories. Paradoxically, there is not the sort of starvation that one sees in places like Africa or Southeast Asia that would normally accompany these levels of unemployment. This is because there are great amounts of civil welfare aid given to the residents of the PA. Sustenance does not share a cause effect relationship with employment, meaning that the death of a worker will not effect the ability of the family to sustain itself.
In addition, there have historically been huge payoffs to the families of suicide terrorists. The Palestinian Authority rewards the families of suicide terrorists financially. Saudi Arabia paid $5000 to the families of suicide terrorists. Saddam Hussain, when in power, paid $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers. To keep this into perspective, this is in a region where the average income is less than $2000 per year. That means that the family of a suicide bomber gets the equivalent of 15 years wages in one lump sum upon the suicide of a family member. That is the equivalent of a $400,000 reward in the United States.
Outside of Palestinian territories, we see similar trends. Taking the example of the attackers of September 11, 2001, it was not the poor and downtrodden who committed these atrocities. It was the college educated, upper-middle class. The idle educated young men of Saudia Arabia, having lived on oil subsidies, made up the bulk of the suicide terrorists of that day.
These facts lead to one conclusion. Of the factors that contribute to the phenomenon of suicide terrorism, the financial motivation is the easiest to control. The most effective way to limit suicide in a shame based society like Islamic Arabia is poverty. It is therefore my proposal that, in combating the root causes of suicide terrorism, we endeavor to impoverish Arabia wherever possible. As the only major source of wealth in Arabia is oil, it is there that we must seek control. As the largest portions of Arabian oil reserves are in Iraq and Saudia Arabia, we should immediately take action to steal this oil from the Arabs, and thus save them from suicide.
Should we choose not to take this path, then we will be forced to rely on secondary influences, such as the removal of despotism and theocracy, the installation of the free market and democratic representation, the removal of regimes that provide financial incentives for suicide terrorism, and so on. These measures, however, would certainly entail the loss of American lives and cost billions of dollars in so-called “nation building” adventures, and therefore is untenable. In order to save American and Arabian lives, America should promptly and decisively steal Arabia’s oil, restore them to the poverty of the Nineteenth century, and eliminate a root cause of suicide terrorism.