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Sunday, June 05, 2005

The logic of suicide terrorism 

Islam Online is reporting on a new study by University of Chicago Professor Richard Pape, who purports to show that suicide bombings are more a function of foreign occupation than Islamic fundamentalism.
In his “Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism,” the American academician demonstrates to policymakers that a presumed connection between suicide attacks and the so-called Islamic fundamentalism is misleading and could contribute to policies that worsen the situation.

Pape said that the US administration in particular had only “a partial understanding” of what has been driving suicide attackers because it did not begin collecting data until 2000.

“Once you have a more complete picture you can see that the main cause of suicide terrorism is a response to foreign occupation, not Islamic fundamentalism, and the use of heavy combat forces to transform a Muslim society is only likely to increase the number of suicide terrorists as is now happening.”

There are at least two objections that might be offered to this troubling contention.

First, there have been a great many foreign occupations and counterinsurgencies in the world that were not resisted with suicide bombings. Other than Japanese kamikaze (who in any case confined themselves to military targets), why are Muslims the only people who resist occupation with suicide bombings if Islamic fundamentalism is not the main cause of suicide bombings? Is this because moderate Muslims become suicide bombers? What, precisely, is his point?

Second, exactly how does Professor Pape's theory explain this suicide bombing...

WTC attack

...or this one...

USS Cole

...or this one...

Khobar Towers

...or these?

Kenya and Tanzania embassy bombings

20 Comments:

By Anonymous PD Quig, at Sun Jun 05, 10:50:00 PM:

It would seem that the body parts being scraped off the pavement in Iraq serve as mute refutation of Pape's theory. The great majority of Iraq's homocide bombers are foreign-born. The indigenous component of the terrorists are quite willing to watch Saudis die in their stead. You would think that even the jihadi zealots would be questioning the FRE motives by now. Just goes to show how completely lunatic they are.  

By Blogger Merv, at Sun Jun 05, 11:06:00 PM:

Human bomb attacks rarely target "occupying" forces in Iraq or Israel. As a general rule they focus on noncombatants and strategic ice cream parlors, or Pizza parlors.

Also in the last few months have human bomb attacks killed more people in Israel or Pakistan. Since Israel began targeting leadership targets in the death cults, the number of bombings has been greatly reduced. The bombers have also lost their incentive payments from Saddam.

These attacks can never defeat anyone, however they may continue until the fantasy of effectiveness is destroyed. The Israelis have made a good start on that objective. You can see more discussion on this topic at PrairiePundit.blogspot.com.  

By Blogger DANEgerus, at Sun Jun 05, 11:24:00 PM:

So a guy puts a suitcase bomb in a Pizzeria and slaughters children and we say 'terrorism' and he may be eventually caught and executed as a terrorist.

Wouldn't it justify killing him to prevent the act? Sure...

Yet the same guy sits down with the suitcase and blows himself up with the innocents...

Which is an identical situation to the first scenerio in cause and effect.

...and the Lefties want to find reasons for his 'anger'?

The only difference is that the 'moralitychallenged' want to see a difference.  

By Blogger John B. Chilton, at Mon Jun 06, 12:21:00 AM:

Daniel Drezner's post from 2003 on Pape's essay helps us back up and see the question in larger perspective:

danieldrezner.com :: Daniel W. Drezner :: The logic of suicide terrorism

It's all about Islam does not take us to where we want to be which is: how do we reduce terrorism?

Part of the answer, it would appear, is to recognize that suicide bombing has in the past been rewarded. The unfortunate response of Spain to the Madrid bombings is a major recent example. An earlier example would be Reagan's withdrawal of the marines from Lebanon.

I've not read Pape. IslamOnline spins him as suggesting the conclusion that the U.S. support for occupations is the problem to be addressed by change in policy.

Through the lens of Drezner's presentation the message is that the connection terrorists see between bombings and policy changes creates an incentive and this is the problem.  

By Blogger OBloodyHell, at Mon Jun 06, 02:41:00 AM:

> Human bomb attacks rarely target "occupying" forces in Iraq

Actually, the suicide bomb attacks in Iraq are ALWAYS foreigners:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/08/AR2005050800838.html
---I quote:
"U.S. and Iraqi authorities say suicide drivers are invariably foreign fighters. Officers here said they knew of no documented case in which a suicide attacker turned out to have been an Iraqi."

THIS would be fairly significant news. It makes a mockery of calling them "insurgents" or "resistance fighters". They are nothing but a foreign force attempting to stand against our intentions there. They have no more legitimacy than our troops do, by any means, and, by their tactics and constant rejection of standard warfighting techniques and attitudes towards noncombatants(or "Sanctuary", as this excellent article by Bill Whittle over at http://www.ejectejecteject.com/ discusses in depth), far *less* legitimacy.

Interesting how this little but massively significant piece of info is buried in para 8 or so and *never* repeated elsewhere. Says a lot there about the attitude of the typical reporter and editor, I believe, as it does show a total intention to ignore critical factors about the nature of the fighting in Iraq.  

By Blogger Gavriel, at Mon Jun 06, 02:45:00 AM:

The families of Rafik Hariri and those murdered with him in Lebanon will be reassured to know the bombing that killed them was so well justified.  

By Blogger truepeers, at Mon Jun 06, 03:19:00 AM:

Either this academic is naive or he is just a cheap propagandist. What causes suicide bombing? To reduce it to most basic terms: resentment, which is a phenomenon not very rational in its essence. Hence the stupidity of saying things like “Once you have a more complete picture you can see that the main cause of suicide terrorism is a response to foreign occupation".

Instead of such a facile rationalization, shouldn't a serious student of terrorism, etc., begin with an explanation of why humans are resentful beings if they want to explain the phenomenon of a person wanting both to destroy and remove himself from the scene of his own resentment?

Alas, I find most people unwilling to explore such questions - the world favors rationalizing social scientists not humanists who respect paradox - because it requires one come to terms with one's own resentment and thus aspire to the humility which is the only way to transcend our inevitable resentment, which along with love is one of the fundamental and unavoidable relationships to the scenes on which human consciousness is based. Any scene - and human consciousness in fundamentally scencic - is always constituted as a center-periphery relationship: consciousness must have been founded in a public scene in which almost everyone was on the desiring periphery. Being peripheral is something most of us learn to accept - even if we like to preach to our fellow peripheralists from time to time - if we have learned the anti-idolatry lessons of the worthy religious traditions; when we forget these lessons, as we all do at times, we feel resentment towards those who we feel to be responsible for our alienation from the center of attention. Anyone who wants to understand these phenomena should read the world's leading student of resentment, Eric Gans, at www.anthropoetics.ucla.edu  

By Anonymous lmae, at Mon Jun 06, 04:26:00 AM:

Unfortunately suicide bombing is not an islamic exclusive: it is also en vogue in Sri Lanka where "Tamul Tigers" sometimes launch such attacks against both civilians and gov. forces.
I don't think it justifies suicide bombing in anyway, nor that it invalidates your point, I just think it is better not to use a false argument over and over for obvious reasons.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Jun 06, 09:20:00 AM:

Tamil Tigers is an excellent example. Hindu.
Also Kurds for a while in Turkey, were doing suicide bobmings.

However ..let's make no mistake.

What the Ladenoid whackadoos did was utterly different..they are trying to restore a caliphate against the forces of 'satan' who make up their own laws rather than follow 'god's', and using both the 'perception of the US army 'occupying' KSA and the the jews to enable this poltical outcome -which would fulfill what they see as their individual personal religious duty.

I would suggest this has nothing to compare it to what Kurds, Sri Lankans or did.

More, this 'case' of his ignores the real absurdity that whatever land a muslim foot has tread (like the lost Al Andalus) also falls under this 'occupied lands' baloney
What does this mean?

They all have to DIE ASAP in this single war which bagn on 9/11, and what Pape says is irrelevant. Time for the next grant app, Dick.

epaminondas  

By Blogger Mark, at Mon Jun 06, 11:13:00 AM:

Great response.

Pape's arguments only seem to underscore (1) his amnesia with regard to how the war on terror actuall began and (2) his hostility to the American military.  

By Blogger geoffrobinson, at Mon Jun 06, 12:52:00 PM:

As you posted recently, Thailand. Those darn imperialists.  

By Blogger Alec Rawls, at Mon Jun 06, 04:15:00 PM:

There are lots of homicide bombings in Iraq, where there is no occupation. The interim Iraqi government wanted us there and the elected Iraqi government wants us there. The only would-be occupiers are the Islamo-fascist bombers. Amazon gives the publication date of Dying to Win as 5/24/05, so even if Papes was denying the legitimacy of the interim government, the last several months before publication still offer a direct refutation of his thesis.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Mon Jun 06, 04:51:00 PM:

I did not know that the Tamil Tigers had used suicide bombers, so that is an example of non-Islamic suicide bombers (although at least some of the Tamil are Muslim and they are fighting against other Muslims, so perhaps the Sri Lankan exception is not so far removed). Somebody else cited the example of the Kurds using the tactic in Turkey. Friendly reminder that the Kurds are Muslim.

Be that as it may, I have not read Pape's work. For all I know, I would agree with his work in all its texture and context, even if I did attack the truncated version being peddled by Muslim propagandists. If supporters of Pape prefer to think that I was attacking a mischaracterization of his work, that's fine by me. Perhaps I am.

I also did not mean to suggest that suicide bombers were not "rational. They pursue strategic objectives in their terrorism, and as Pape has apparently shown they have achieved those ends. Pape's prior work, though, concentrated on suicide attacks from the period 1980 - 2001. Suicide attacks enjoyed during that stretch enjoyed a long period of success, because governments changed their policies rather than contend with with the attackers. All that changed in 2001, when Ariel Sharon and George Bush refused to stand down. They are really the first two leaders -- other than Russia, of course -- that have made it their policy to hit back hard. It would be interesting to see whether Pape's ratio of success/attack has gone down in the last four years. I'm betting that September 11, Bali and the first pylon in Israel's separation fence turn out to be the high water mark of the suicide bomber's strategic advantage.  

By Blogger tallglassofmilk, at Wed Jun 08, 10:39:00 AM:

I have a question about this...

How many suicide bombers did the U.S. occupation of Germany turn out?  

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