Why do they do it? The Islamic terrorists?
Is it religion? Does their religion tell them to kill infidels, so that’s what they do?
Is it poverty and lack of opportunity? Are there simply a bunch of young Muslim men that feel beaten down and hopeless, so they strike out at their perceived oppressors?
Is it the brainwashing of the constant drumbeat of propaganda demonizing the West? and Jews? and Sunnis/Shia (depending on whether the young man in question is Shia/Sunni)?
Is it refusal to integrate into the new world?
I think all of the above play very important roles in creating young Muslim terrorists. But, I think there is a reason that makes more sense to me – they see themselves as defending their "countries." This is the underlying reason, I believe, for all soldiers to fight wars. The ideologies, religions, and propagandas all add to the fervor and the justifications, but I think at the heart of battle is the love of country, or of community, or of tribe - the desire to protect what is perceived to be the homeland. That’s why the Americans volunteer to fight, why the Europeans fought in their terrible wars, why the Vietnamese fought, ad infinitum. And to the Muslims, the only kind of fighting that can have any effect is asymmetrical warfare, i.e. terrorism.
This reason dropped into place for me when reading an article by David Ignatius, whom I pay attention to when it comes to the Middle East. He cites author Mark Sageman:
"The core question for Sageman is why people become radicalized in the first place. In a forthcoming book, “The Turn to Political Violence,” he argues that it’s partly because militants see themselves as soldiers defending their communities. That’s why brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi wore military outfits when they attacked the Charlie Hebdo weekly, according to Sageman. “They self-identified as soldiers and tried to play the part as they imagine soldiers act.”
The Charlie Hedbo killers thought of themselves as soldiers and carried out what they considered to be a professional, military type strike at the heart of those they saw as out to destroy their “country” – i.e. their culture, their Home.
All of the other influences create a situation of young men, and some women unfortunately, who feel alienated, shunned, outcast, adrift – people without a Home, people who don’t belong. When they join a cause, the cause of fighting back against the terrors of change and Westernization of their cultures, lands, countries, religions, they finally find meaning for their lives, they belong to something grand and noble and larger than themselves. They join what they believe to be a worldwide movement to spread their idea of the future across all the world. They fight for their “country.”
This is something that I can understand. They are not so different from all soldiers across all of time. Although they attract psychopathic brutes to join them, it makes sense to me that they are like soldiers everywhere, they are defending their "country" from invasion.
That is why I think that John McCain couldn't be more wrong when he wants to fight this with military troops in the Middle East. Most Muslim terror strikes have been in retaliation to what the terrorists see as Western assault on their homeland. Even Osama bin Laden said his complaint with America was the presence of America and the West in what he saw as the sacred Muslim lands - Saudi Arabia, Mecca, etc. He wrote:
"The deployment throughout the Gulf states of U.S. forces, particularly in Saudi Arabia, he argued, is “the greatest of … aggressions incurred by the Muslims since the death of the prophet.”
So, if we don't go to the Middle East and fight there, what do we do? We defend ourselves, of course, using our Intelligence Services, special forces, limited military support in assisting roles, but I think our main objective is to support the non-terrorist Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere. I hope that Obama can resist the drumbeat of the hawks to commit troops overseas. All we do is create more terrorists than we can possibly kill.