Economics and similar, for the sleep-deprived

A subtle change has been made to the comments links, so they no longer pop up. Does this in any way help with the problem about comments not appearing on permalinked posts, readers?

Update: seemingly not

Update: Oh yeah!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Human capital in terrorism, another slight return

Just struck me - try googling the phrase Athens bomb. Unlike British jihadis, Greek anarchists seem to be quite able to manufacture and plant large car bombs without getting caught. They also seem to do this without constantly flying back and forth for "training" in places like Yemen and Pakistan[1]. There remains, IMO, a distinct puzzle of why it is that the British jihadi milieu has such a big human capital shortage. Two possibilities come to mind. First, we could be looking at an organisational capital problem - what John Kay calls "architecture". On this model, the Athenian anarchists have a functional party structure and work together naturally with a get-it-done attitude. Al Qaeda in the UK, on the other hand, is one of those rambling matrix structures from hell, always flying its employees around on pointless training courses, nobody talking to each other and all the time being spent in meetings listening to self-selected windbags sounding off their latest piece of wishful thinking. The other is simply that organisational competence is at least partly a function of how hostile your environment is to being competent in; I've heard from a few corners that there's actually quite a large iceberg of law enforcement activity that goes on, shutting down bomb factories and cells, and that they only put out press releases on a small fraction of them. Which in turn would imply that the key organisational competence of the Greek terrorists is the ability to keep their mouths shut - which brings me back to my original human capital posts - that recruitment of wannabe jihadis from the population of internet message board loudmouths is one of the things that we definitely want to see. If there's one thing that would make me sleep more easily in my bed at night, it would be the thought that Al Qaeda was recruiting bloggers.

[1] Of course Greek anarchists, being Greek, will all quite probably have done their compulsory military service and might have got relevant training that way? I dunno. Most Greek guys I know spent their military service either sitting in an office handling purchase orders for spuds, or fucking about in motorboats round the Aegean. I would have thought that detailed explosives and sabotage training would be reserved for someone who'd made a bit more of a commitment in career terms.
13 comments this item posted by the management 2/10/2010 03:13:00 AM

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