Skip to comments.The Means and Ends of Islamists
Posted on 11/09/2005 11:45:04 AM PST by Ed Hudgins
The Means and Ends of Islamists
by Edward Hudgins
Objectivist Center/Atlas Society
After each new suicide attack, as innocent blood flows in the streets of Baghdad, London, Madrid, or Tel Aviv, there is a surge of speculation about what motivates terrorists who are willing to give up their own lives for their cause.
Some observers say they're motivated by traditional geopolitical goalsfor example, to drive the allies out of Afghanistan, Iraq, or the Middle East; to punish allied countries for their policies; or (that perennial favorite) to drive Israel into the sea. Those who buy this explanation often contend that the terrorists' ends might be understandable, but their means certainly are not. If their ends can only be addressed, the terrorists will be satisfied and stop their attacks.
Others say the terrorists are motivated by hatred of the West because it is secular, democratic, and modern as opposed to Islamic, authoritarian, and medieval. Like Nazis or communists, Islamists see themselves in a war with the rest of the worldeither they must win or we will. Giving in to their geopolitical demands might reduce the terrorism in certain places and for a while, but in the long run will be seen by the Islamists as a sign of weakness. They will only be encouraged to continue to push for more radical goals, and will regard their terrorist tactics as a successful strategy to achieve them.
So which is it? In fact, both arguments carry some truth because the two are not mutually exclusive. Islamists do not spring up from within a vacuum; rather, they arise from within a culture that instills in them most of their values. The ends of the Islamists are constituted in the means they adopt, and both their means and ends reflect their fundamental values...
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