Posted by: bklunk | February 15, 2007

Terrorists as Realists

What do terrorists want? « International Politics

International Politics has been thinking about terrorists:

I was reading Louise Richardson’s What Terrorists Want, I was struck by a particular quote. She states that

“What appears to drive some people to violence is not their absolute levels of poverty but rather their position relative to others. Northern Irish Catholics did not cmpare themselves to southern Irish Catholics, who enjoyed a much less generous social welfare system at the time the civil rights movement emerged; rather, they compared themselves to Northern Irish Protestants. Impoverished Palestinians are not comparing themselves to other impoverished Arabs in Egypt, Jordan, or elsewhere, but to the much wealthier Israeli settlers. With global mass communications and American TV shows broadcasting American affluence around the world, it is not difficult to mobilize a sense of resentment of American wealth. Previously one compared onself to others nearby, but the contrast between American wealth and Arab poverty is now being broadcast daily into people’s tiny homes.”

I kept thinking about the realist theories and that they seem to have more credibility in situations such as this. (Realists focus on relative gains and relative loss of power in relation to others, while liberals focus more on absolute gains in relation to others.) Even though these actors aren’t states, they seem to take these realist ideas and apply them to their own individual lives. Rather than comparing what they have to what they could have, they chose to put their efforts into trying to gain relative wealth/power in an “unfair” system.

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