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Liberty Breeds Security

Another method, says Princeton University economist Alan B. Krueger, is to increase the civil liberties of the countries that breed terrorist groups. In an analysis of State Department data on terrorism, Krueger discovered that “countries like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, which have spawned relatively many terrorists, are economically well off yet lacking in civil liberties. Poor countries with a tradition of protecting civil liberties are unlikely to spawn suicide terrorists. Evidently, the freedom to assemble and protest peacefully without interference from the government goes a long way to providing an alternative to terrorism.” Let freedom ring!

Murdercide Science unravels the myth of suicide bombers By Michael Shermer, Scientific American January 2006.

Not only does curtailing civil liberties not assist much in the short term with catching terrorists, in the long term it actually breeds terrorists. After all, terrorism isn’t about religion, or poverty, or even nationalism: it is about politics. The politics of civil liberties.

From “Liberty Is Security” at John Quaterman’s Perilocity.

One comment on "Liberty Breeds Security"

  • Chris Walsh says:

    Which is why we have all those Singaporean terrorists, eh?
    This is not a one-step program — “Just add Freedom”. You cannot simply drop in a tradition of respecting civil liberties. It needs to be nurtured.
    The observations about the power of groups to induce conformity, even with behavioral norms that are “objectively” undesirable are a rehash of well-trod ground: the Stanford Prison Experiment, Stanley Milgram, cult suicide in Guyana or sneaker-wearing UFO folks, etc.
    As for the forensic psychiatrist’s observation, I can’t comment since I put little stock in his trade, but I will say that disaffected wealthy youth obviously have more ability to actually do things than disaffected impoverished youth.

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