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Jason Holliston
Tuesday, November 09, 2004  
Tyranny Equals Terrorism

The Harvard University Gazette had an article this week spotlighting a study at the John F. Kennedy School of Government about the source of terrorism (thanks to Instapundit for the head's up). You'll hear many people, especially on the Left, push the notion that poverty causes terrorism. Now we have much more evidence to the contrary: it's lack of freedom that lets terrorism flourish.

"In the past, we heard people refer to the strong link between terrorism and poverty, but in fact when you look at the data, it's not there. This is true not only for events of international terrorism, as previous studies have shown, but perhaps more surprisingly also for the overall level of terrorism, both of domestic and of foreign origin," Abadie said.

Instead, Abadie detected a peculiar relationship between the levels of political freedom a nation affords and the severity of terrorism. Though terrorism declined among nations with high levels of political freedom, it was the intermediate nations that seemed most vulnerable.

This has been what the President, many common sense commentators across America's media sources, and pundits on the Web have been saying for quite some time. How many of the 9/11 hijackers were poor people? None. Is it coincidence that most of the world's international terrorism has its root in the Middle East, the current black hole of freedom? I don't think so. While it certainly isn't the only factor, it's certainly a large one. This should be common sense, but more and more data like this keeps backing it up.

When I get into discussions about the Iraq War with people inclined against it, I always get to the point of explaining why, in the long term strategy, this war was a necessary step to virtually eliminating Islamic-rooted terrorism. I state that we must plant the seed of freedom smack dab in the middle of a region seated wall-to-wall with dictators and tyrannical governments. While we can't force the people of Iraq -- or the Middle East in general -- to drink from the waters of democracy and freedom, we can certainly lead the way and give them a realistic chance at having that for themselves. More than once, the person I was conversing with pushed this idea that poverty is the case, which, of course, leads them to blame capitalism writ large, and inevitably the world's largest capitalist machine, the United States.

It's such simple logic, except for the fact that it isn't true. Thank you John F. Kennedy School of Government for this study. The truth -- and freedom -- shall set you free.

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