Updated: 5/16/2006; 3:30:18 PM.

Current events
Post-9-11 events and analyses


daily link  Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Trading Cricket for Jihad: "We know, thanks to a database gathered by Marc Sageman, formerly of the C.I.A., that about 75 percent of anti-Western terrorists come from middle-class or upper-middle-class homes. An amazing 65 percent have gone to college, and three-quarters have professional or semiprofessional jobs, particularly in engineering and science. .. these men are, far from being medieval, drawn from the ranks of the educated, the mobile and the multilingual. .. The jihadists are modern psychologically as well as demographically because they are self-made men (in traditional societies there are no self-made men). Rather than deferring to custom, many of them have rebelled against local authority figures .. They have sought instead some utopian cause to give them an identity and their lives meaning. ..

In other words, the conflict between the jihadists and the West is a conflict within the modern, globalized world. The extremists are the sort of utopian rebels modern societies have long produced. In his book "Globalized Islam," the French scholar Olivier Roy points out that today's jihadists have a lot in common with the left-wing extremists of the 1930's and 1960's. Ideologically, Islamic neofundamentalism occupies the same militant space that was once occupied by Marxism. It draws the same sorts of recruits (educated second-generation immigrants, for example), uses some of the same symbols and vilifies some of the same enemies (imperialism and capitalism). .. Roy emphasizes that the jihadists are the products of globalization, and its enemies. ..

The first implication, clearly, is that democratizing the Middle East, while worthy in itself, may not stem terrorism. .. Second, the jihadists' weakness is that they do not spring organically from the Arab or Muslim world. They claim to speak for the Muslim masses, as earlier radicals claimed to speak for the proletariat. But they don't. Surely a key goal for U.S. policy should be to isolate the nationalists from the jihadists.  Third, terrorism is an immigration problem. .. Countries that do not encourage assimilation are not only causing themselves trouble, but endangering others around the world as well. "

  5:38:24 AM  permalink  

G.M. Thrives in China With Small, Thrifty Vans: "In this obscure corner of southern China, General Motors seems to have hit on a hot new formula: $5,000 minivans that get 43 miles to the gallon in city driving. That combination of advantages has captivated Chinese buyers, propelling G.M. into the leading spot in this nascent car market.  ..

The minivans, which G.M. builds in a joint venture with a Chinese partner, have a quarter the horsepower of American minivans, weak acceleration and a top speed of 81 miles an hour. The seats are only a third the thickness of seats in Western models but look plush compared with some Chinese cars. ..

The utilitarian minivans and pickups are mainly purchased in China by small-business owners in towns and smaller cities, who drive them both to carry supplies for their businesses and to transport their families. .. The minivans have been a big hit, helping G.M. sell more than 170,000 very small vehicles - automobile types not available in the United States - and to pass Volkswagen this year in sales in a market that VW has dominated for two decades. They have helped turn China into G.M.'s biggest center of automotive profit - in contrast to losses in manufacturing operations in the United States - and its second-largest market in terms of the number of vehicles sold, after the United States...

The Chinese government has also encouraged a shift toward more efficient models through stringent fuel-economy regulations, even as Congress has opted for more subsidies for oil production and a limit on hybrid car subsidies .."

  5:32:53 AM  permalink  

 
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Copyright 2006 © Ken Novak.
Last update: 5/16/2006; 3:30:18 PM.