In the activist, policy, and academic worlds, there’s a significant amount of attention paid to the demise of the welfare state or even welfare protections. This is usually tied into neoliberal policies and capitalist/free market economics. The general fear, or analysis, is summed up in the familiar “race to the bottom” phrase-cum-cliche.
The above-mentioned worlds often focus on how to reverse this race, turning it into a climb up the ladder of benefits. If I could remember better, I would even be able to specifically cite interesting academic and theoretical works on how federal systems foster the possibility for this climb–most of which focuses on the benefits of economies of scale and how, in some cases, companies may want increased regulation to make production more efficient (Note: See the slippage/connection between regulation and welfare programs?).
Jump, as we all do–either by force or our own volition–to terrorism. Much of the rhetoric surrounding terrorism is that it breeds in failed states. My interpretation is that terrorism only resides in failed states, but breeds in areas where the social infrastructure is controlled or strongly influenced by a terrorist-related organization (e.g., a group itself or socio-cultural organization with similar ideological positions as terrorist groups or movements) and where that infrastructure’s benefits are significant.
An example of this is Hezbollah, which provides abundant welfare protections and benefits–some of which are needed (e.g., food, clothing, shelter) and others that are desired (e.g., education, jobs, training). These benefits create not only a favorable attitude toward Hizbollah, but also (1) loyalty and (2) the machinery to ensure favorable messages (i.e., they control the means of cultural reproduction).
In a recent The New York Times article (text available after the jump), one learns that hours after the cease fire went into effect, Hezbollah was clearing roads from dubris making returns, aid delivery, and medical care possible. A day or so later, Hizballah is already promising $10,000 for families whose homes were damaged by Israel. The money is to cover one year’s worth of rent, clothing, and furniture.
Thus, Hezbollah’s provisioning of basic necessities (both in terms of the individual, as in clothing, and in society, clearning and fixing infrastructure) is the (re)building of an effective (vis-a-vis citizen support) welfare state.
The lesson here is that providing benefits/protections, both in the domestic and world arenas, could be an important counterterrorism (i.e., pro-US) move. Recognizing this could have significant impact in the longer-term on both the war on terror and general attitudes toward the US/West. Oh, it’s also the right thing to do.