Thursday, January 19, 2006

Civil liberties reduce terror

Bruce Schneier points out this fascinating quote from Princeton professor Alan Krueger in Scientific American:

countries like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, which have spawned relatively many terrorists, are economically well off yet lacking in civil liberties. Poor countries with a tradition of protecting civil liberties are unlikely to spawn suicide terrorists. Evidently, the freedom to assemble and protest peacefully without interference from the government goes a long way to providing an alternative to terrorism.

When you look at the UK's experience in Northern Ireland, it was always clear that attacking the civil liberties of Catholics was hugely helpful to the IRA, providing new "volunteers" and the general community support that is essential for terrorists to operate.

The public policy consequences are clear. The United States and European Union must use their influence on allies such as Saudi Arabia, Russia and China to increase civil liberties in those states — or risk the perpetuation of global terror for decades to come.

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