Meaningful Distinction:

Patrick S. Lasswell Look outward for something to accomplish, not inward for something to despise.
pslblog at gmail dot com
Monday, October 06, 2003
The Economics of Terror
Israel attacked Syria. That Syria was hosting a terrorist base camp actively engaged in attacking people in Israel is entirely beside the point to many people. While stupid young men are strapping bombs to their bodies and detonating themselves in public streets, it is much more important to discuss the diplomatic considerations of the attacked nation's decision to defend itself using military means. Some would have you believe that all military actions are bad and so the United States should cut its ties with Israel. As the rabbi said, fat chance.

I suspect that the US might give up on Israel when Jewish peoples stop contributing to the GNP of the nation more than any other group. Please note that I am not talking about holding wealth or manipulating wealth, I am speaking about creating wealth for everyone around them. Excising that thread from the fabric of our nation could be done. Doing so would start a process of impoverishment and leave our children bickering in the squalid ruins of a once great nation.

There is a critical difference between treasure and wealth. Treasure provides tangible rewards, wealth provides investment. One of the chief failures of many Arab peoples is the inability to make this distinction. Michael Totten also makes this mistake on occasion, so it could be said that this is not a massive intellectual failure, even if it is a critical one. It is possible to convert treasure into wealth, but it does take time and, more importantly, sustained intelligent effort.

The people of Israel provide the world and the United States with wealth. The Arab members of OPEC provide the world with treasure. Wealth flourishes in freedom and treasure works in oppression. It is vitally important to remember that Islamist fundamentalists view any economy other than a treasure economy as a direct violation of the teachings of the Koran. We are working to create a wealth economy in Iraq and al Queda is trying as hard as they can to kill us for it.

This is a conflict between nomad and agrarian economies. The Islamic fundamentalists attempting to kill you believe that economic strength not measured in sheep and gold is blasphemous. To them, any successful economy not based on nomadic herding and hording treasure is the work of Satan. Look carefully at where the Bedu peoples were eighty-five years ago when Lawrence organized their revolt against the Turks who ran the cities. Also remember that forty years ago the dollar was tied directly to silver in this country. Stepping away from the atavistic joys of a treasure economy is something we have only done in the last generation, and many people will still tell you it was a mistake.

People are trying to make you believe that this is a war for oil; that is not really true. Iraq can produce roughly $20 billion a year in petroleum. The Gross Domestic Product of the United States is $10.4 TRILLION (A number so large that it cannot be meaningfully expressed in sheep and treasure hordes; therefore it is a blasphemy.) People asking you to believe that as a nation we have gone to this great effort to snag a quick 0.19% growth in our GDP are probably not doing the math. (That is to say less than one fifth of a percent or eight percent of our growth on a recession year.)

To the limited extent that this is an economic war at all, this is a war for wealth, and we want to create it. That this wealth is something that will destroy the way of life for tens of thousands of violent, abusive, genocidal, racists who have killed people in the United States is not so much of an accident as some would have you believe. Think of this as an inverse of Carthage. Instead of salting the earth, we are making it bloom again. Instead of scattering the survivors, we are gathering them. We are making an ancient civilization young again. None of this is covered in the parts of the Koran the Islamists fixate on though, so we all must die. That "all blasphemers must die" policy has some flaws, though.

The chief problem with any operation is personnel. Top-grade fundamentalists capable of surviving an operation against blasphemers are actually quite hard to find. The advantages of using suicide bombers are that you don't have to provide them with a getaway car, you don't have to find them a secure place to stay until the heat blows over, you do not have to train them for their second mission, and they don't talk afterwards. (You thought your VP of HR was evil, ha!)

It is fairly hard to maintain the conditions that generate a suicide bomber. There is no indication that diplomatic efforts have ever discouraged or diminished these conditions, though. Rockets exploding in the middle of the training hall have had measurable effect on breaking up operant conditioning. The sense of invulnerable purpose is hard to maintain when a precision guided munition is headed to your position; perhaps they are too impersonal.

Until we can break down the homicidal and suicidal adherence to treasure economy, we will probably continue to support our co-economists in Israel. When they use rockets and laser-guided bombs to discourage the suicidal, we will be at worst vaguely admonishing to them. If this upsets some people who feel we should sever all diplomatic ties with people who use military violence to defend themselves or are otherwise controversial, so what. The money that treasure provides talks in the halls of the United Nations, but wealth built the halls and keeps them lit.
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