After the 11 September terrorist attacks two years ago, pundits everywhere attempted to isolate the "roots of terror." Invariably their analyses focussed on economic causes, often to the exclusion of other plausible factors. The argument generally ran along these lines: Material privation, lack of sufficient employment prospects, an inadequate economic infrastructure, and a dearth of educational opportunities have turned people towards violence -- and usually against the biggest kid on the block, namely, the United States. The assumption is that the way to end terrorism is for the US to change its foreign policies in some fashion to address these concerns.
While there may be something to this interpretation, it fails to take seriously the expressed motives of al Qaeda spokesmen themselves, which are unapologetically religious and confessional in nature. To this extent, much of the popular media and academia alike have fallen prey to the Marxian reduction of religion to economics. My friend Paul Marshall is one of the few to take the terrorists at their word, as expressed in the following article: "Misunderstanding al Qaeda: What you weren't told about their targets in Saudi Arabia." Concludes Marshall:
Al Qaeda and its allies aim to kill or subdue all "infidels," Muslim or non-Muslim, who stand in the way of their goal of restoring a worldwide caliphate governed, Taliban-style, by the strictest, narrowest interpretation of Islamic law. Until this fact is finally assimilated, we will continue to have a military that fights superbly against an enemy whose strategic aims we refuse to understand.