Thursday, March 10, 2016

John Kerry Likes Terrorists

“When Princeton economist Alan Krueger saw reports that seven of the eight people arrested in the unsuccessful car bombings in Britain were doctors, he wasn’t shocked. He wasn’t even surprised”
David Wessel, in an article in the Wall Street Journal.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry likes terrorists.

Such harsh words. Of course, to be charitable towards Kerry, the issue isn’t whether he says he likes terrorists. Because of course “actions speak louder than words,” and “by their fruits ye shall know them.” What are the actions of John Kerry that could lead me to infer he likes terrorists? Or, at the very least, lead me to infer that he likes something else more than stopping terror?

I know full well that Kerry is a university graduate surrounding himself with a crew of sharp minds dedicated to winning the war on terror. Undoubtedly, he and his peeps have access to the latest intelligence and research. Well. What in God’s name is Kerry’s excuse for not knowing the title of a certain book? I think he does know.

What Makes a Terrorist subtitled Economics and the Roots of Terrorism. By Alan B. Krueger, Princeton University Press.

I’m angry; I will get back to Kerry, but right now I’m too angry too think about him.

Instead, let me recommend this delightful little book. It’s made from three talks delivered by invitation to the distinguished Lionel Robins memorial lecture series, at the London School of Economics and Political Science, talks given in plain English.

Despite the word “economics,” the book is not hard to read—in fact, I easily skimmed a lot of the “explanations of research methods” to get to the thoughtful conclusions. Although it does have plenty of scientific charts and graphs, I think if you want to, you can safely skip the charts, since the eager people Krueger was talking to during his evening lectures wouldn’t have had any time to peruse them. The audience filled every seat. Kruger’s little book, including graphs, goes to merely 142 pages, then 20 pages of keen questions and answers from his three public lectures, and then his new afterword and the index, ending at 194 pages.

I think we have all wanted to know, “What makes a terrorist?” Ever since September the 11th, 2001. I remember where I was when the towers were struck. During the days that followed, I remember my neighbors writing letters to the editor, saying terror is caused by “poverty and despair.” I was angry at the writers: I knew they were wrong. Because secondly, most of the world is poor, and firstly, because each of the 19 killers on the planes had more money than I did—and I was working full time. What I didn’t know then, not until I read Krueger, was that world leaders such as President Bush and Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair also said “poverty and despair.” They were wrong too.

As Krueger says on page 2, “…The popular explanations for terrorism—poverty, lack of education, or the catchall “they hate our way of life and freedom”—simply have no systematic empirical basis. These explanations have been embraced almost entirely on faith, not scientific evidence.”

Kruger points out that yes, crimes of property are statistically linked to the poor class, but no, terror is not linked to being poor. That’s because terror, just like war, is a continuation of politics by other means. The statistical linking, demonstrated in Kruger’s charts and graphs and figures and tables, is to the middle class. Kruger says the proper analogy is not to crime but to voting: The middle class votes more.

While terrorists are more likely to strike in a democracy than in an autocracy, simply because a democracy is more likely to be influenced, the question remains: Which nations are more likely to produce terrorists? Not the democracies. According to Krueger’s scientific research, the most likely predictor as to whether a nation will produce terrorists is whether the nation has civil liberties.

Political rights and civil liberties are the golden keys to the gates of earthly paradise. Martyrdom is for the other paradise, after one finds the gates down here rusted tight from blood.

Meanwhile, back in the US, maybe people are not honest with themselves about their war on terror. Meaning: Their so-called “war” is only some sort of “police action” to be very hastily delegated to the civil servants, so the citizens can just stay away from the library and Google, can just stay home, craving to be a nation of sheep on couches, just preferring their “plausible deniability.” How convenient for America’s “One Per Cent,” a Saudi-friendly One Per Cent. Let me confess I’m mostly sheep myself; I guess it takes one to hear one. Listen: “Baa-aa-aa.”

Are we 99 per cent sheep? This would help explain Kerry. Not to excuse him, but to explain him.

I know full well that Secretary of State John Kerry is a knowledgeable, important man. In the unlikely event of weapons of mass destruction killing both the US president and the vice president, then Kerry, third in line of succession, would lead the country. But here’s the thing: After the Arab spring was fading but fresh in Arab minds, when the Egyptian president, day after day, was murdering protestors in the street, it was then the perfect time for the US to pressure Egypt to allow people a teensy weensy tiny bit more civil liberties—if not a lot more.

Kerry flew to Cairo. He gave military stuff to the military—who are a main political power in Egypt, with power extending all through society, power far beyond anything dreamed of by Rome’s Praetorian Guard—and he gave a big loan to Egypt. Without attaching any strings whatsoever to this loan. No demand to increase civil liberties, or reduce street casualties. Meaning: Nothing to reduce the number of terrorists… nothing to help Egypt to lead the rest of the Arab world to walk towards democracy. Tell us why, John Kerry. Why the madness? For me, a clue is when I read that Kerry had to figuratively twist the Egyptian president’s arm to get him to take the loan.

My harsh conclusion: Kerry doesn’t exactly like terrorists, it just that he loves US imperialism even more… Loooves imperialism. Even more than winning a war.

And his crew, his peeps and a nation of sheep, all go along with him.

Sean Crawford


~The three lectures were entitled
1 Who Becomes a Terrorist? Characteristics of individual Participants in Terrorism
2 Where Does Terror Emerge? Economic and Political Conditions and Terrorism
3 What Does Terrorism Accomplish? Economic, psychological, and Political Consequences of Terrorism

~To be fair, I have read one, count them, (1) US columnist against Kerry’s trip to Egypt, but that’s all.

~I first mentioned John Kerry in my piece condemning the public’s foggy belief they could somehow learn to win their war on drugs without ever learning their lessons from Vietnam, in my essay A Young Girl’s Guide to Wars and Drugs, archived March 2013.

~The Arab spring reminds me that a U.S. housewife was eye witness to imperialism, here's the link.

~I contrasted citizen involvement between two wars, of today and the cold war, in my essay No War archived April 2014.

~If you have plucked Krueger’s book off of a library shelf, and want to take it over to a library easy chair to read pages of easy prose, without any charts, then may I suggest you go to the middle (or earlier) of page 55 and read on to comic newscaster Jon Stewart’s monologue (or later).

~If you can imagine Krueger with a humorous tone of voice, try the last paragraph on page 64. I think Krueger has a fine sense of humor: When on page 75 he introduces his only equation, a long algebraic thingy to explain his statistical models, he says, “Do not be intimidated by the math.” His next paragraph starts, “For those readers who enjoy econometrics, we estimated negative binomial count models, using data on pairs of countries (over 11,000 of them).

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