Why They Fight

They hate us because we don’t know why they hate us.” The perceived ignorance of Americans as to the wider world around them was often cited as a compelling reason for the mass murder of several thousand citizens on September 11, 2001. Low scores on math and science, and the inability of two-thirds of Americans between eighteen and twenty-four years old to locate Iraq on a map in 2006 merely perpetuated this claim; that somehow American geographical ignorance is responsible for jihadists and regional strife around the world.

This is of course not the only suggested explanation for conflict in the developing world. Essentially, all the arguments put forth can be summarized as pertaining to ‘greed’, or monetary and personal gain, and ‘grievance’, i.e., ideological and cultural clashes. Abridging the vast array of motives to these two is oversimplifying the matter to begin with; further choosing one of the two as the sole factor would be downright spurious. Complicating matters is the tendency to use the ‘pre-modern’ character of third world conflicts to build an intellectual bridge back to the very beginning of history. Continue reading

Tiger Tiger

Apparently the Tamils are back in a new, friendlier incarnation. The PLA “aims for a democratic socialist liberation of the northeast for a Tamil Eelam,” rather than the nastier LTTE, which was “an extremist organisation that fought only for itself rather than the people’s needs.” Right.

The most curious aspect of this is that it’s still ideological. If former LTTE officers can join as speculated, it dilutes the ideological purity. But if they’re excluded, the PLA loses that veteran experience. Then again, if there are former dissident LTTE officers in the higher echelons, the infighting will be a sight to see. I don’t think many will join, though. The Tamils are such an excellent example of COIN, and the postgame only backs that up: “Shattered by their experiences in the war zones this year, depressed by their subsequent incarceration in detention camps, few Tamils expressed any great enthusiasm for a return to war.”

No matter; ideologically-motivated insurgency is on its way out.