Thebastidge: Spreading Democracy
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    Friday, September 03, 2004

    Spreading Democracy

    This is a little dated, but it's been kicking around in my head for a while: Overboard alert! Drezner talks about Joshua Micah Marshall.

    There's an argument out there that the Bush administration's focus on state-supported terrorism is a mistake. That terrorist organizations don't need the support of nations to be a threat, because they are amorphous, diffusely organized, and fueled by other than patriotic ideology.

    I recognize that as a valid argument, but I disagree. Here's why:

    The rule of law and respect for social/civic standards is a 'critical mass' type function. (See Kim Dutoit's "Morality, Manners, and the Law" essay for further discussion of this concept.) Just like children who aren't given a leavening of civilized behaviour in their environment will do a "Lord of the Flies".

    In war, the aphorism that 'armies march on their bellies' is still valid. Logistics is more important than ever. As a terrorist, you can't just pilllage your way to the target. They have to fit in, which means money, a certain amount of training...

    I believe that's why we're seeing more kidnappings lately, where the terrorists (possibly even just bandits with no ideology other than personal gain) require ransom rather than political demands as we've seen in the past.

    The idea that terrorists' effectiveness is dependant upon safe bases, willing sponsors in the arms market, and money funneled from governments (and, to be honest from front organizations that can only exist with the approval of the country they're operating in. We even have this problem here, but as racketeering laws are applied, we're starting to get a handle on them) is a very valid one.

    Once we take away or coerce other governments into denying state sponsorship of these essentially criminal organizations, then terrorism can be reduced to a law enforcement problem. Until then, it's primarily, or at least in large part, a military issue.


    Blogger globedoc said...

    Well said.
    ALL effective terror organizations need one thing above all: Money.
    Some get it from sponsor states, such as Saudi Arabia; the money takes many forms, such as "education grants" and "welfare".
    Others get it from organizations like Al Quaeda, Hizbullah and the likes.
    Others, like The Shining Path will kidnap people for ransom.
    The Tamil Tigers, whose cause is legitimate but whose methods are repulsive, get it from the simplest rackateering.
    One method for raising money for Islamic Jihad was to run illegal cigarettes from the US to Canada.
    Obviously, of all the above methods, the most desirable one is state sponsorship; organizations that can obtain that are virtually assured of being able to do their dirty work in comfort.
    And Bush is right.
    Cut off state sponsorship, and you reduce terror.

    7:23 PM  

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