At any given time, there are groups throughout the world that are seriously pissed off enough to launch terrorist attacks, mostly its about trying to force a government to do something.
Sometimes these groups have religious affiliations and sometimes they don't. Thus, it is dangerous to associate terrorist attacks with religion. Sometimes the two overlap but not always.
It is also important to understand that terrorists are generally a small subset of a larger group.
An examination of terrorism in recent decades in the United States is illuminating. Wikipedia reports on terrorism in the US in the 1970s:
The most active perpetrators of terrorism in New York City were Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional (FALN), a Puerto Rican separatist group, responsible for 40 NYC attacks in this decade.The 1970s is not a unique period.
Both the Independent Armed Revolutionary Commandos (CRIA), another Puerto Rican separatist group, and Omega 7, an anti-Castro Cuban organization, were also each responsible for 16 attacks during this period.
The Jewish Defense League (JDL), which engaged in attacks against targets it perceived to be anti-Semitic, launched 27 attacks during this period.
970: The Jewish Defense League was linked to a bomb explosion outside of Aeroflot's New York City office in protest of the treatment of Soviet Jews.
1971: The Jewish Defense League was linked to a detonation outside of Soviet cultural offices in Washington, D.C. and rifle fire into the Soviet mission to the United Nations
March 1, 1971: The radical leftist group Weatherman exploded a bomb in the United States Capitol to protest the U.S. invasion of Laos.
June 13, 1974: The 29th floor of the Gulf Tower in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was bombed with dynamite at 9:41 pm resulting in no injuries. The radical leftist group Weatherman took credit, but no suspects have ever been identified.
September 11, 1976: Croatian terrorists hijacked a TWA airliner and diverted it to Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador, and then Paris, demanding a manifesto be printed. One police officer was killed and three injured during an attempt to defuse a bomb that contained their communiques in a New York City train station locker.
It is also important to note that despite many of these attacks centering around New York City, there was never a call by city government officials to ban Puerto Ricans or Jews from entering the city or the country, despite the fact that there were terrorists amongst these groups.
Most in NYC associated on a daily basis with individuals from these groups and recognized the terror was coming from a very small subset.
This brings me to the recent rant against Muslims by Donald Trump.
According to the Pew Research Center, as of 2010, there were 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. According to the same report, of that group, there are some 3 million Muslims in the US.
In other words, if there were more than a small subset "radicalized" (or as I prefer to think of them, "seriously pissed off"), the US and Europe would have a major problem. That we don't have attacks daily or hourly is evidence enough that most Muslims aren't interested in getting killed for some cause. In the same way that most Christians that are opposed to abortion are not going to go around bombing abortion clinics or killing doctors who perform abortions, though a small subset have.
Indeed, no one has suggested monitoring Christain churches, the way Trump has suggested monitoring mosques.
What we have in Donald Trump is a first class demagogue. Most people in the US have not come across any Muslims so it is easy for Trump to paint the picture that they are a huge 1.6 billion strong dangerous group.
This is exactly what Friedrich Hayek warned about in Chapter 10 of Road to Serfdom:
It is in connection with the deliberate effort of the skillful demagogue to weld together a closely coherent and homogeneous body of supporters that the third and perhaps most important negative element of selection enters. It seems to be almost a law of human nature that it is easier for people to agree on a negative program—on the hatred of an enemy, on the envy of those better off— than on any positive task. The contrast between the “we” and the “they,” the common fight against those outside the group, seems to be an essential ingredient in any creed which will solidly knit together a group for common action. It is consequently always employed by those who seek, not merely support of a policy, but the unreserved allegiance of huge masses. From their point of view it has the great advantage of leaving them greater freedom of action than almost any positive program. The enemy, whether be internal, like the “Jew” or the “kulak,” or external, seems to be an indispensable requisite in the armory of a totalitarian leader. That in Germany it was the Jew who became the enemy until his place was taken by the “plutocracies” was no less a result of the anticapitalist resentment on which the whole movement was based than the selection of the kulak in Russia. In Germany and Austria the Jew had come to be regarded as the representative of capitalism because a traditional dislike of large classes of the population for commercial pursuits had left these more readily accessible to a group that was practically excluded from the more highly esteemed occupations. It is the old story of the alien race’s being admitted only to the less respected trades and then being hated still more for practicing them.What Trump is really doing when he calls for a ban on Muslims entering the country is to push a few more over the edge. Again, the terrorists are not "radicalized," they are in despair, confused and frustrated and are getting seriously pissed off. And US actions give them every reason to focus their anger on the US/
We bomb their countries, we diss them, some are going to go Michael Douglas on steroids.
I am quite frankly surprised it hasn't occurred more often.
What is going on in the Middle East is not hard to figure out. The jackasses John McCain and Lindsey Graham, know full well the problem. They wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Monday:
The Iraqi government is weak and beholden to Tehran. Iranian controlled-militias are among the strongest forces on the ground, and Tehran is seeking to replicate the Hezbollah model in southern Iraq. The training of Iraqi security forces has been slow, and the building of support for the Sunni tribal forces even slower. At the current pace, Islamic State will still control Mosul and Raqqa, the Syrian city that ISIS claims as its capital, at the end of next year. Meanwhile, ISIS is metastasizing across the region, to Libya especially.
How did the Iraqi government and the Libyan government get weak?
By US government destabilization efforts, And the US is operating in Syria to destabilize that leadership.
The US destruction, "shock and awe," has created massive power vacuums that various factions want to fill. In the wake of this US destruction, and the now power-seeking factions, many Muslims see only daily destruction and death in their homelands. Enter Islamic demagogues. e.g. ISIS leadership. To gain control they must gain attention and hype up the masses, and so all of the US and Europe becomes evil and an enemy.(Not really hard to do since we did attack and continue to attack in the region). To get attention, they behead a few westerners. And Muslims on the edge pay attention.
Just like many pay attention in the US to Trump's call to ban all Muslims and deport 11 million Mexicans.
It's the same game nuanced to the audience.
It's typical demagogue stuff, both sides getting the hate going. Trump's comments about Muslims will only make things worse among Muslims and if he becomes president and actually tries to deport 11 million Mexicans, you have to think at least 1,000 Mexicans are going to go over the edge and we will have Mexican terrorists in the US.
On top of this, of course, there is little the government can do to stop terrorist attacks since by there very nature they tend to be very difficult to detect and are generally aimed at soft targets,
The idea that governments can stop the attacks is just propaganda. The only thing the government can do to cool things off by standing down in the Middle East and bringing all troops and advisers home and stop the bombings and the drone attacks. The US created a power vacuum and it is up to those in the Middle East to figure out how such power vacuums will be filled. In other words, let them fight their own insane battles, if they want. Whoever comes out on top will not be any serious threat to the US.
As for any lingering terrorist threats in the US, security options are best left to every individual organization. The threat is not that great. not even Trump really fears it. Trump Tower is open to the public.
George Carlin had it all figured out:
No, we don't need to ban Muslims, but we don't need to bring in government sponsored refugees either, It should always and everywhere be about private property. Each private property owner should be able to set the rules as to who and who can not come on his property at any time.
The sooner the world figures this out the more peaceful the world will be.
Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher at EconomicPolicyJournal.com and at Target Liberty. He is also author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics