Monday, June 13, 2016

Connected wolves

Matthew Yglesias in Vox --

Lone wolf terrorist attacks are the thorniest problem in national security ... The basic problem is that once a shooting spree shifts into the mental and political category of "terrorism," an expectation develops that there will be a foreign policy response.

Thornier than nuclear proliferation?

But anyway. About that term "Lone wolf."

What's the difference between a Lone Wolf and a Loner? In media perceptions, it seems to be mainly about the shooter. Self-identified Muslims involved in these acts are "lone wolves." So using the term implies that at face value, we think of the lone wolf as acting in response to broader cultural and social forces and not just his own view of the world, which already implies that dealing with lone wolves is going to involve issues that transcend country borders. So it's a bit strange to claim it's bad that people might expect a foreign policy response. Indeed, it's generally strange that policy elites often celebrate globalization in the context of trade, but balk at the idea that it could play an increasing role in previously domestic turmoil.

One could go a step further and adapt Olivier Roy to the Orlando and San Bernardino shootings: we're seeing the Islamization of spree killers. So just as with his theory of European Islamism, a pre-existing extremist social tendency found its type -- drifting second-generation Arab immigrants in France and Belgium, and second-generation Muslim immigrants in the USA -- and that agenda got hitched to terrorism and spree-killing respectively. And again, those forces relate intrinsically to how countries interact in the world.

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