Phi Beta Cons

Professors, Jihadism’s Root Causes, and Realism

Academics and others divide more or less into two camps about the causes of Islamic terrorism – those who hold that American policy is mainly driving it and those who believe the movement is less fueled by worldly political grievances than with theology.  
In “Root Canal,” Gregory Scoblete of TWICE Magazine compares, Solomon-like, the views of several professors – Robert Pape, Bernard Lewis, Victor Davis Hanson, Mark Gould and Stephen Walt.  
Scoblete concludes that there is a perilous interaction between the political and the fundamentalist in the Muslim world and that we must deal with both dimensions. And – a view I believe we’ll increasingly hear – he urges greater realism vis-à-vis the jihadist threat:

we must have an honest appreciation for how much we can do to address the “root causes” of Islamic terrorism within the realistic bounds of U.S. politics and interests. The committed jihadists willing to martyr themselves find moral authority for their violence in the religious edicts of radical clerics, but this small population swims in a larger sea of Muslim antipathy toward the West that is driven by political grievance. We can only address these grievances on the margins….


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