"Beating the Dead Terrorist Horse" by Victor Davis Hanson's column in NRO

September 11 taught us many lessons. To our peril, we have forgotten them. Most of the current acrimony over counterterrorism is stale. The debate is simply a rehash of issues that were discussed and, in fact, resolved early last decade.  Let us review them one more time:

September 11 taught us that a Mohammed Atta or a Khalid Sheikh Mohammed does not commit mass murder out of hunger, want, illiteracy, or Western oppression.

No doubt Middle Eastern poverty contributes to religious violence. But the poor in Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Yemen are no more impoverished than those in the slums of São Paulo, Mexico City, Ho Chi Minh City, or Johannesburg. And the latter, despite their frequent claims against the West, do not feel a need to murder in mass in the name of their particular religion.

A Major Nidal Hasan or an Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab wishes to kill Westerners not because he is poor or even on behalf of the poor, but rather out of a warped sense of pride, hurt, and anger.

Such passions derive from a radical religious creed that insists that comparative failure in the modern Middle East is not self-induced — much less a product of fundamentalism, anti-Enlightenment thinking, autocracy, gender apartheid, tribalism, corruption, and statism. Instead the fact that there is no longer an intercontinental caliphate of rich and powerful believers is due to some sort of contemporary Jewish or Western oppression. 


Just because radical Muslims and the Arab Street claim that a Jewish presence on the West Bank is the catalyst for terrorist outrage does not make it so — any more than Hitler’s insistence that Versailles drove him to the invasion of Poland in 1939, or Argentinians’ claims that their problems in the early 1980s originated with the British “occupation” of the Malvinas.

No Germans today are blowing up Poles for the loss of Danzig and East Prussia. Greek Cypriots are not planting IEDs at Turkish embassies to force the return of ancestral homelands. And the world is not concerned about the divided city of Nicosia or Russian occupation of the Kuriles.

No, what privileges the Palestinian question is largely three factors that have nothing to do with disputed ground
1)  The presence of huge amounts of oil on Arab lands

2)  Endemic anti-Semitism in the West and at the U.N., and 

3)  Fear of radical Islamic terrorism.

Take those considerations out of the equation, and the West Bank is about as important to the world as a disputed South Ossetia. We forget that there were three Middle Eastern wars well before the so-called occupation of Palestine. Gaza did not become a calm place once the Israelis left.

Should Palestinians cease the violence, welcome investment from elsewhere in the Arab world, and establish a consensual government, one transparent and free of corruption, the West Bank could become like Dubai — and deal with Israel as a responsible neighbor adjudicating a common border. And yet radical Islamic terrorism in general would nevertheless continue with fresh and always mutating grievances.

Entire list in National Review Online