Complexity in International Relations

One of my sons came to me today, commenting on how stupid it was for there to be deaths that occurred as a result of a lousy movie trashing the so-called “prophet Muhammad.”

My comment to him was, “You have to understand that the world is a complex system, with a lot of parties hating each other, but with not enough impetus to make them fight.  This small film kicked them over the edge, and made them fight.”  Regardless of the film, the pressures were there, and most likely would have exploded, but who could tell what would cause it?  Who would knock over the first domino?

When 9/11 happened back in 2001, I described seven reasons why the terrorists did what they did, and I emailed them to friends who expressed the naive American dismay because “we are nice people, why are they attacking us?”

  1. We support Israel, which they view as a client state of the US in the Mid-East.
  2. We hinder the efforts of those who want radical Islamic governments by supporting  moderates.
  3. They hate the pollution we spread throughout the world, because of the entertainment we allow to be published within our borders, that we do not curtail.
  4. We base troops in their “holy land,” Saudi Arabia.
  5. They are insulted because we are rich, and they are poor.  Islam should lead to blessings to the faithful, and dearth to the infidels, but it is not so.  Rather than realize that their beliefs are false, they hate those better off.
  6. We engage in wars in Muslim lands, showing our dominance over them.
  7. Minority Muslim groups such as the Shia and Alawites feel themselves attacked by American alliance with the Sunnis, through the House of Saud.

This is a complex situation, but the reasons for radical Muslims to dislike America were/are numerous.  Many decried Ron Paul in the Republican debates for saying that there was a rationale behind why a subset of Muslims would want to attack the US.  He was right, and would that more politicians would understand his moderate view.

An event like this was likely to happen for the reasons I described above.  It was only happenstance that the stupid film was the monkey with the match sitting on the gasoline can.