Every time a horrendous terrorist attack victimizes the innocent we wring our hands and promise to increase security and take other necessary preventive measures. But we fail to recognize how friends and allies play such an important role in encouraging, incentivizing and inciting terrorism.
If we are to have any chance of reducing terrorism, we must get to its root cause. It is not poverty, disenfranchisement, despair or any of the other abuse excuses offered to explain, if not to justify, terrorism as an act of desperation. It is anything but. Many terrorists, such as those who participated in the 9/11 attacks, are educated, well-off, mobile and even successful. They make a rational cost-benefit decision to murder innocent civilians for one simple reason: they believe that terrorism works.
And tragically, they are right. The international community has rewarded terrorism while punishing those who try to fight it by reasonable means. It all began with a decision by Yasser Arafat and other Palestinian terrorist groups to employ the tactic of terrorism as a primary means of bringing the Palestinian issue to the forefront of world concern. Based on the merits and demerits of the Palestinian case, it does not deserve this stature. The treatment of the Tibetans by China, the Kurds by most of the Arab world, and the Chechen people by Russia has been terrible – but their response to grievances has been largely ignored by the international community and the media because they mostly sought remedies within the law rather than through terrorism.