CAUSES OF ARAB TERROR
(with some nuance)

By David Basch

Contrary to assumptions, the causes of Arab terror is not Arab weakness. It seems more likely that it is U.S. and Israeli weakness.

The Arabs reason that both the U.S. and Israel are very vulnerable concerning their vital interests. The U.S. stands on the verge of having public opinion turn against the government and force it to remove American forces from the Gulf. Similarly, Israel is vulnerable to public pressure to withdraw from the Israeli territories and capitulate to Arab designs. These designs are rooted in regional antagonisms that are larger than single states.

While the U.S. and Israel have vital reasons why theymust not give in to such pressures, the Arabs believe that terror can be used as the tipping force to influence the public to demand that their respective governments make such ruinous changes.

We all know about the Stockholm Syndrome, in which the fear and dread of the enemy drives persons to identify with the enemy. It is not hard to see that this is behind the enemy's terrorist weapon in these attacks (as exemplified recently by Spain).

Therefore, you might say, it is the very vulnerabilities that are the causes of Arab terror. As long as the enemy thinks that it can influence the U.S. and Israeli public (and others) through such pressures it will continue.

The answer to terror, then, is for both the U.S. and Israel to remove their vulnerabilities. The U.S. is answering this challenge by removing Arab governments that support terror and, especially, the Arab government that posed a strong challenge to the U.S. presence in the Gulf. The U.S. is working to create regimes that will not oppose this U.S. presence. While there is much to be done, this strengthening has to be put at the heart of counter terrorism efforts. For when there is nothing that the terrorism can accomplish against its victims, it will become unimportant and will dwindle. Israel, on the other hand, has not been so wise. Israel continues to insist on making herself vulnerable by ever strengthening the Arab enemy's hold on vital strategic territories. The continued weakening of Israel -- her economy ravaged by the costs of terrorism and the inordinate costs of mobilization to defend against it and her surrenders of lands to terrorists -- will ever pluck enemy efforts on. The Arabs want far more than a state. They want a state instead of Israel and will continue working toward that objective with every new advantage they gain. The solution, then, is for Israel to win her war against the Arab challenge as the U.S. needs to do to solidly secure its interests in the Gulf.

Apparently, these thoughts are too subtle for Israeli leaders who think that strengthening the Arab enemy will moderate him rather than urging him on. Perhapsthe Stockholm Syndrome is already too powerful a force on Israelis and their government so that they can only see a quixotic identification with the enemy's objectives of Israel's destruction as the source of ultimate relief.

It is about time someone in Israel wised up.

David Basch is a research associate of the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies.