How to solve a problem like al Qaida


By Orlando Radice
May 6, 2011
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Aditya Chakrabortty writes in the Guardian this week that Islamic terrorism is “soluble” in the healing waters of economic development. By providing sewage and schools, he suggests – citing a study by US academic Eli Berman – Western powers can neutralize terrorist groups, such as Hamas, Hizbollah and al Qaida, whose footsoldiers are motivated by altruism rather than ideology. No doubt economic progress would help, but in what ethical system is blowing other people up a form of altruism? Is that a place in which rape is a birthday present? A self-imposed reductio ad absurdum if there ever was one.

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