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Tanglewood vs Versailles: of gardens and explanations

[ by Charles Cameron — critiquing the star diagram, celebrating the insights of Peter Neumann and team on violent radicalization ]

I seem to remember that my grandmother’s house and garden was named Tanglewood — and certainly, the palace and gardens of Louis XVI are known simply as Versailles!

French ornamental gardens represent one way to go about life, and English wild ramblings quite another — personally, I prefer the English way.



To be honest, I find this diagram all too neat and well-mown…

People, after all, have grievances, ideas, and needs, and are the ones who resort to violence — and indeed, grievances are ideas, and sometimes born of needs. I could go on — but a five-pointed star with kinetic arrows folded into a graphically beautiful sort of Moebius arrangement is elegant and perhaps overly simple?

Compare that gorgeous, tidy star with Will McCants‘ paragraphs:

The disappoint stems from the desire to attribute the jihadist phenomenon to a single cause rather than to several causes that work in tandem to produce it. To my mind, the most salient are these: a religious heritage that lauds fighting abroad to establish states and to protect one’s fellow Muslims; ultraconservative religious ideas and networks exploited by militant recruiters; peer pressure (if you know someone involved, you’re more likely to get involved); fear of religious persecution; poor governance (not type of government); youth unemployment or underemployment in large cities; and civil war. All of these factors are more at play in the Arab world now than at any other time in recent memory, which is fueling a jihadist resurgence around the world.

If anyone elevates one of those factors above the others to diagnose the problem, you can be certain the resulting prescription will not work. It may even backfire, leading to more jihadist recruitment, not less.

That’s more to my taste.


None of which is to denigrate Peter Neumann‘s contributions to our understanding of violent radicalization — see for instance his subtle and compelling “Myths and Reality” presentation:

3 Responses to “Tanglewood vs Versailles: of gardens and explanations”

  1. Dave Schuler Says:

    Are we to conclude that Lutherans have no grievances, needs, or ideas?

  2. Charles Cameron Says:

    Hi Dave:
    Oh, I think they’re people too. And I personally have been a grievance to at least one Lutheran, so they do have those.
    But I think I’m missing something here?

  3. Scott Says:

    I think Charles is pointing out that Jihadism is a wicked problem – and that there is no one ‘silver bullet’ solution to a problem like that.

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