When do young men get angry?

Guest comment : Lots of angry young men

On March 27, 2009, Barack Obama announced the annihilation of Al Qaeda because it was "destroying Pakistan from within like a rampant cancer". This abandons a popular interpretation according to which George W. Bush destabilized his neighbors through his war against bin Laden's Afghanistan: the Pakistanis had fought against what they perceived as a campaign against all Muslims. Under Obama, Pakistan is now supposed to "eliminate the extremists within its borders". America will “take care of the command level of terror in a targeted manner”.

The Islamist fighters have not yet found a weapon against the always deadly and often precise attacks of the rocket drones. In this respect, the Americans have long been fulfilling their side of the new pact. But what is “rampant” in both countries that the governments in Kabul and Islamabad are struggling to “eradicate”? It is not just about angry young men with no future - but an immensely large wave of them.

In 2007 I used the term “Af-Pak” in front of NATO commanders in London for the unified conflict area Afghanistan / Pakistan. It was not about the geographical, but the demographic dimensions. Richard Holbrooke, the new US special envoy for the region, has adopted the term to refer to the youth bulge (30 percent of all male residents in the country are between 15 and 29 years old) in the region.

In 1980 Af-Pak had 23 million boys under the age of 15, the United States was much stronger at the time with 26 million. In 2009 Af-Pak (with a population of around 200 million) had a good 40 million boys under 15 compared to 30 million in the United States (with a total population of 300 million).

25 million of the 40 million boys from Af-Pak are second, third or further brothers. They have little to expect from their fathers, who leave five to seven children behind. They are mourned when they perish. But even if they all die in the war, there will still be enough male offspring for the farms and workshops. America's soldiers, on the other hand, are the only sons - with only two children per woman - in mortal danger. Your demise wipes out a family demographically.

Until 1935, the European area triumphed against the rest of the world with an asymmetry in which it was not about many against fewer warriors, but about the warrior type of the "surplus son". Unlike the feudal infantile and contraceptive systems of Asia or the tribal systems of Africa, America, Australia and Siberia, modern Europeans had second to fourth sons in every new generation who could fight to the death without their society being seriously affected. In 1935 the newborn babies of 1915 will be 20 years old, a year in which - apart from France - Europe's women last had as many children as their sisters in Af-Pak do today. Rebellions in the colonies are put down with armies of third sons of Europe, whose death, socio-politically, calms the nation rather than endanger it. After 1945, however, the Europeans lose almost every war because the asymmetry has turned: Now the colonial peoples not only fight their masters, but also their peers with the once purely European weapon of the “surplus son”.

From 1914 to 1918 the “white” powers can kill ten million young men and then continue their imperialism for a few more decades. However, anyone who wants to swear the West to a war in Af-Pak until 2014 should add that the losses that can be sustained there are twice as high as in Europe a century ago.

The author is a researcher of civilization. He teaches at the University of Bremen.

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