The usually reserved and circumspect Eric Martin has the following to say about the presidential elections:

It is imperative that John McCain be kept away from the Oval Office.  He simply doesn’t understand terror networks.

Why?  Well, because Senator War-Hero cum Dumbass opened his yap on Tuesday and proved that.

Kevin Drum, whom Mr. Martin also links, brought the soon-to-be very hot and happening on the wonkosphere Sageman report on the identity and motivation of islamist terrorists to the left blogsphere yesterday.  I would be very interested to see how this plays, if at all, on the right side of blogostan.

Like most things that come from people who know what they’re talking about, it’s not compatible with the commonly-available narrative:

“It’s more about hero worship than about religion,” Sageman said in a presentation of his research last week at the New America Foundation, a liberal think tank here. Many of this third wave don’t speak Arabic or read the Koran. Very few (13 percent of Sageman’s sample) have attended radical madrassas. Nearly all join the movement because they know or are related to someone who’s already in it. Those detained on terrorism charges are getting younger: In Sageman’s 2003 sample, the average age was 26; among those arrested after 2006, it was down to about 20. They are disaffected, homicidal kids — closer to urban gang members than to motivated Muslim fanatics.

Sageman’s harshest judgment is that the United States is making the terrorism problem worse by its actions in Iraq. “Since 2003, the war in Iraq has without question fueled the process of radicalization worldwide, including the U.S. The data are crystal clear,” he writes. We have taken a fire that would otherwise burn itself out and poured gasoline on it.

The third wave of terrorism is inherently self-limiting, Sageman continues. As soon as the amorphous groups gather and train, they make themselves vulnerable to arrest. “As the threat from al-Qaeda is self-limiting, so is its appeal, and global Islamist terrorism will probably disappear for internal reasons — if the United States has the sense to allow it to continue on its course and fade away.”

Sageman’s policy advice is to “take the glory and thrill out of terrorism.” Jettison the rhetoric about Muslim extremism — these leaderless jihadists are barely Muslims. Stop holding news conferences to announce the latest triumphs in the “global war on terror,” which only glamorize the struggle. And reduce the U.S. military footprint in Iraq, which fuels the Muslim world’s sense of moral outrage.

Of course, if we had a rational approach to protecting our citizens and interests from islamist terrorists, that wouldn’t be nearly as useful to the “scare the shit out of ignorant people” politics that drove the Republican machine for most of this decade.

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