Why Terrorists Fight

| Tue Mar. 30, 2010 2:30 PM EDT

This feels like a bit of a chestnut, but guess what? It turns out that conservatives are still yammering on about how Muslim jihadists hate us for our freedoms. And it's true, of course, that Sayyid Qutb was famously influential in the Arab world with his dire warnings about Western degeneracy — based largely on his visit to the lewd-n-lascivious America of the late 1940s. Oddly, though, jihadists remained pretty quiet for the next few decades anyway. Daniel Larison:

In fact, attacks on Americans and American installations began after we inserted ourselves into the region’s conflicts and began establishing a military presence there. Hegemonists can obsess over the writings of Qutb all they want, but it will not change the reality that anti-American jihadist violence did not occur until the misguided 1982-83 intervention in Lebanon. U.S. and Israeli military operations and policies of occupation provoke much broader, more intense resentment among Muslims than any general dissatisfaction with the decadence of Western culture and its deleterious effects on their own societies.

....The recent Moscow subway bombings are instructive on this point. The bombings are outrageous atrocities for which there is no excuse or justification, but one would have to be a blind fool to say that Chechen grievances, which outside jihadists have been exploiting for the last decade, are based in morally offensive Russian pop culture. It is acceptable for hegemonists to acknowledge this when Russia is the target of terrorist attacks, but when it comes to acknowledging U.S. and allied policies as important contributing factors we are treated instead to these sweeping cultural arguments and close readings of Sayyid Qutb.

Like I said, this is sort of a blast from the past. But worth being reminded of now and again.

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