along," [Poirot] said, "I have been worried over the why
of this case... It is no answer to say the man was mentally
unhinged. To say a man does mad things because he is mad is
merely unintelligent and stupid. A madman is as logical and
reasoned in his actions as a sane man given his peculiar
biased point of view. For example, if a man insists on going
out and squatting about in nothing but a loin cloth his conduct
seems eccentric in the extreme. But once you know that the man
himself is firmly convinced that he is Mahatma Gandhi, then
his conduct becomes perfectly reasonable and logical."
~ Agatha Christie, The
is the merit of psychoanalysis that it has demonstrated that
even the behavior of neurotics and psychopaths is meaningful,
that they too act and aim at ends..."
~ Ludwig von Mises, Human
frequent non-explanation of the terrorist attacks on September
11th is that the terrorists are simply evil madmen. As Poirot
points out above, such an explanation is stupid, because it
does not explain any specific action at all. Granted, they are
evil madmen: But why was their evil madness expressed in those
particular actions, rather than, say, torturing dogs or
setting fire to their neighbor's house?
posited motivation for the attacks, offered by the President
and countless columnists, is that the terrorists hate democracy,
freedom, and prosperity. This is, at most, a partial explanation,
because, after all, it could explain an enormous variety of
did Jim move to Cuba?"
he hates democracy, freedom, and prosperity."
did Mel punch Michael Bloomberg in the nose when he knew he
would go to jail for it?"
too, hates democracy, freedom, and prosperity."
that "explains" such a variety of actions cannot be a full explanation
for any particular, concrete event. (Note: The same must be
said for the left's favorite "explanations" for many acts of
violence: poverty, powerlessness, and so on.) Perhaps the terrorists
do hate freedom, democracy, and prosperity. If so, we
have at most a fertile ground from which the specific actions
they engaged in could spring. We certainly do not have a satisfying
historical explanation for why they engaged in those activities
and not some others.
is it that such inadequate explanations are offered seriously
as the reasons for the 9/11 attacks? Could it be that some of
those offering them want to keep Americans' attention off of
the explanation offered by the man who we presume is the terrorist
bin Laden repeatedly offers three reasons for his jihad against
America: our one-sided support for Israel against the Palestinians,
our stationing of troops in Saudi Arabia, and our embargo against
and repeated bombing of Iraq. When I mentioned this to a friend,
he said, "Well, bin Laden is a liar."
so: if you'll murder 6000 innocent people, it seems unlikely
that you'd flinch from a little prevarication. But even if bin
Laden is lying about his motivation for the jihad, we should
examine why he is telling that lie and not some other
have never seen stupidity appear on a list of bin Laden's faults.
Whether he is speaking truthfully about his own motivation or
not, could it be that he focuses on those three grievances because
he knows that they resonate throughout the Muslim world? Could
it be that he knows they are his best recruiting tools? And
if we're really serious about protecting the US, mightn't we
want to take those tools away from him?