President Barack Obama pushed a left-wing narrative of terrorism being driven by poverty on Wednesday while speaking at the Young African Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C.
When you have regional conflicts, and young people are displaced, and they are without education, and they are without prospects, and they are without hope, then the possibilities of them being recruited into, you know, and organization like ISIL, or Al-Qaeda, or Boko Haram, even if it’s just a tiny small percentage, is obviously gonna be higher than if people are given opportunity and there’s stability in their lives.
Economic determinism is a Marxist tenet, in which individual behavior is simplified as being a function of economic circumstances. Following this reductionist paradigm, terrorism is fertilized by poverty. Conversely, economic prosperity – or at least broad economic equality mandated by central planners like Obama – is seen as a cure to prevent persons from becoming terrorists.
Obama offered virtually no analysis of the ideological drivers of Islamic terrorism. Waxing religious, he declared that jihadism is “twisting and distorting… [and] defying the edicts of one of the world’s greatest religions – Islam.”
None of the Islamic terrorists who have committed or attempted to commit acts of mass murder in America since 2001 have been impoverished. The common denominator among contemporary Islamic terrorism in the West is subscription to the religious ideology of Islam, not poverty.
Contrary to the Marxist narrative of economic determinism, many notable modern Islamic terrorists were men of means.
Given the widespread global phenomenon that is poverty, political observers aligned with Obama’s analysis would expect mass murder terrorist attacks to be much broader in origins if poverty was a driver of terrorism.
In February of 2015, then State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf called for international economic development plans to create jobs as a measure to prevent Islamic terrorism. Responding to subsequent criticism, she mocked her detractors as lacking understanding of global political economy.
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