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26 September 2003

Making the Link . . .

. . . between agricultural policy, world poverty and terrorism, the NY Times' Thomas Friedman in Connect the Dots. I agree with pretty much everything he says but there are some things about the way he says it that push my buttons just a bit. To wit:
"Sure, poverty doesn't cause terrorism — no one is killing for a raise. But poverty is great for the terrorism business because poverty creates humiliation and stifled aspirations and forces many people to leave their traditional farms to join the alienated urban poor in the cities — all conditions that spawn terrorists."
OK, just how exactly does that differ from "poverty causing terrorism"? This sounds like a sop to the right wing to me. Of course we all have to repeat the mantra that "evil causes terrorism" (or "rigid ideology" or "religious fanaticism", although some who say that last one are themselves religious fanatics). And we have to observe the shibboleth that "cause" must be defined ultra-narrowly, only scientifically verifiable causes, only a forensic level of proof. Bah. Orwell missed this one, this terribly hypocritical trick of all the current pundits of tentatively sketching a connection with one hand and self-righteously wiping it away with the other.
The main point Friedman is making, if you can read around the wishy-wash, is that agricultural subsidies for the farmers in wealthy nations contribute greatly to the impoverishment and ruination of farmers in developing nations. And yes, poverty is one of the causes of terrorism.

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