Guns, no, political efficacy, yes

A study of attitudes toward militancy among poor Pakistanis rediscovers what should have been obvious — with disastrous consequences for misguiding U.S. foreign policy. The study said that poor Pakistanis opposed violent tactics like car bombings and that  extremist leaders come from the more affluent. Now CNN is citing the study to question whether anti-poverty programs can stem global terror. Wrong! Have we forgotten the concept of political efficacy — that the poor have no hope, and are therefore numb to action, while revolutionary leaders come from above.
The American Revolution was led by Boston merchants and Virginia planters, and carried to victory by the iron determination of George Washington, a slave owner, while popular opinion became apathetic.
The Russian Revolution was led by the intellectual Lenin and aided by the failing German military, hoping to stave off defeat in World War I, and was enforced on Russians with arms.
CNN  notes that of $20 billion that the U.S. has given Pakistan in aid, two-thirds has gone to military,  the rest to anti-poverty. By implicitly questioning whether spending for butter is effective, is the upshot that we spend more on guns? Only if we want the world  to look like the Gaza Strip, interspersed with Guantanamos. And look how well that has worked.
Inequality and oppression breed rebellion as corpses breed disease. So let’s quit piling up the uncounted bodies that goad today’s revolutionaries into  interminable struggle.

About Tom Abate

Tom Abate is a former small-press publisher, businessman and newspaper reporter who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. A Brooklyn native and U.S. Navy veteran, Tom is a UC Berkeley graduate who earned his master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. During his career he has worked in public relations, graphic design, typography and business journalism. As a journalist he specialized in science, technology, biotechnology, economics and the business culture of Silicon Valley. He has taught writing through UC Extension and was briefly a junior college instructor. He can work with spreadsheets, presentation software and some multimedia tools. In addition to his paid work, he wrote a blog (, 2005-2010) that explored the business models, techniques and practical concerns of new and independent media. He is on the advisory board of the Society for New Communications Research ( The father of three children, Tom loves to garden and build things. His intellectual passions include political theory, globalism and the struggle of the individual against bureaucracy.
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