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Old 11-09-2010, 05:04 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Hearts & Minds: Economic Development and the Global War on Terror

I was thinking the other day. If terrorist's countries of origin had more developed economies--that is, people could live a middle-class lifestyle with TVs, 2 car garages, nice family and cushy food, would terrorists be as successful as they are now? IIRC, (and I don't purport to know) something that helped pacify Iraq was to pay insurgents to fight for the U.S.'s side--that is to say, they were given a double incentive. Money, and reduced risk of life.

This is all premised on the idea that people are rational and want a cushy life. There will always be fringe idealists who cannot be swayed no matter what. However, I really am curious though. If extremists/terrorists had a strong economic incentive to lay down their arms, would they? Would this lead to reduced insurgency?

Thoughts?
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Old 11-09-2010, 06:11 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I think people essentially desire safety and security.
Western-style lifestyles seem to offer that, but it's impossible to predict whether it can be maintained over time because it has existed for such a short amount of time. How long can indifferent complacency last as a lifestyle? I would think it depends on the foundation and perceived security of the society overall...and that doesn't happen overnight. And in my own opinion, I think that our own standards of living are not manageable for our own country, let alone the entire world...but that's another discussion.

I used to think kind of the same thing, though. That once people had 'something to lose,' they wouldn't be so eager to piss it all away...but then I realized that everyone does have something to lose and they are willing to sacrifice it for what they believe in and often we are the ones trapped by our circumstances. I can understand that point of view, at least.

I go back and forth on it.
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Old 11-09-2010, 06:29 PM   #3 (permalink)
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It has been reported that Osama bin Laden had at least the equivalent of $100 million U.S. dollars at one point. I think there have been irrational, wealthy people throughout history who put themselves at extreme risk for their own security and safety by causing terror and chaos.
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Old 11-09-2010, 08:45 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Some terrorism comes from extreme poverty. Most is just blowback.
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