Academic journal article Military Review

WHAT MAKES A TERRORIST: Economics and the Roots of Terrorism

Academic journal article Military Review

WHAT MAKES A TERRORIST: Economics and the Roots of Terrorism

Article excerpt

WHAT MAKES A TERRORIST: Economics and the Roots of Terrorism, Alan B. Krueger, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 2007, 180 pages, $24.95.

As a company commander during Operation Iraqi Freedom, I was responsible for the security of a small but well-to-do neighborhood in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk. My neighborhood had few security problems compared to less-advantaged areas of the city, and I wondered at the time whether the area's economic stability played a role in its security situation. Princeton economist Alan B. Krueger asks a similar question, altiiough in greater scale and scope, in his recent book What Makes a Terrorist: Economics and the Roots of Terrorism.

Krueger's book is based on a series of lectures he gave at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2006, in which he presented and interpreted his statistical analyses of the causes and effects of terrorism. These studies examine data on terrorism at both the individual and state scales in an effort to determine what variables are most highly correlated with terrorist attacks. Krueger finds that two of the most popular explanations for terrorism, poverty and a lack of education, do not positively correlate with terrorist attacks; in fact, in some cases he shows that material wealth and higher education levels may actually contribute to terrorism. Krueger does find that countries that suppress civil liberties and political rights tend to spawn more terrorists; therefore he argues that feelings of political impotency, coupled with a variety of geopolitical grievances (whether real or imagined), are the root causes of terrorism. …

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