The Arab Spring and soon the Arab Winter contain hidden meanings. Almost certainly, the principal legacy may have precious little to do with any sustained popular revolution, democracy, or overthrow of earthly despotisms. It will bear instead upon long latent and much more primal human hopes of achieving the indisputably greatest power of all – the power of immortality.
The core of any successful counter-terrorist policy must begin in astute awareness that jihadist violence is not rooted in any superficial political or revolutionary ideology. Such terror-violence stems, deeply, from fixed and unchanging images of religious obligation. These images, in turn, are the earthly expressions of a desperately longed-for control over the “penalty” of dying.
After the Arab Spring, regional democracy is still unlikely. Instead, we are apt to see a hideously growing clamor for “martyrdom,” and a corollary expansion of terror-victims’ pain and perplexity.
Louis René Beres, strategic and military affairs columnist for The Jewish Press, is professor of Political Science at Purdue University. Educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), he lectures and publishes widely on international relations and international law and is the author of ten major books in the field. In Israel, Professor Beres was chair of Project Daniel.