July 7, 2006:
How do you win against the Culture of Grievance? Call it COG for short, and don't think you've never encountered it before. It's at the heart of the Islamic radical movement, and a prime motivator of Islamic terrorists. COG is all over the place, but especially in places like the Middle East. COG is when a culture is more concerned about real, or imagined, grievances, than in just moving ahead and fixing things. Every nation has a certain degree of COG, which most of the time means little to foreigners. But when COG spawns terrorists (which COG often does) who go abroad and kill thousands of foreigners, than COG is an international problem.
COG is debilitating in other ways. For example, after World War II, most nations were quite poor, and many had few natural resources as well. But two generations later, some of these nations are quite wealthy, like Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea. But others, despite abundant natural resources (oil) are not. Like in the Middle East. While the East Asians spent the last half century building their economies, the Arabs sat around complaining. This is no secret in East Asia, where many people have made a lot of money going to the Middle East to do work that the Arabs won't do, but will pay others to do. This includes running the economy and, well, doing practically everything. East Asians are incredulous at the COG attitudes they encounter in the Middle East. For those who have spent any time living in the Middle East, the appearance of Islamic terrorism is no big surprise. In the Middle East, there are too many people, spending too much time, dwelling on imaginary grievances, and spending too little time actually taking care of real ones.
The current round of Islamic terrorism (it's happened many times before) has actually alarmed many people in the region. You can (if you're an Arab) even discuss, and criticize the bad effects COG has had on the Middle East. Fixing the problem, however, is a much larger problem. COG has been around for a long time and, let's face it, COG is comfortable. Much easier to blame someone else than to make the effort to set things right.
The current generation of terrorists will eventually go away. They always do. But if COG remains, you're incurring that the next terrorist infestation arrives as quickly as possible.