Focus Point - The "root" Causes of Terrorism

Commentary by Pete du Pont

I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. In a recent op ed piece in the New York Times, Edward Rothstein put the entire quest for the "root causes" of terrorism in focus.

You've seen the stories, heard the talking heads. Sure, we have to fight terrorism, but we can never win until we wipe out the root causes: long-festering injustice, economic inequality, poverty. It's become a mantra.

But poverty, Rothstein points out, can exist without sparking terror - think of the great depression. European religious wars crossed all economic boundaries. The left-wing terrorists of the '70s and '80s were mostly middle class, as are many of the terrorists operatives of contemporary Islamic terror groups.

Moreover, the injustice theory leaves no room for religious passion and both religious and political fundamentalism.

The goal of the totalitarian terrorist is not to eliminate injustice, but to eliminate opposition. One man's terrorist, therefore, isn't another man's freedom fighter. So arguments about "root causes" are irrelevant.

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. Visit the NCPA website at to learn more. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, exploring turkey.