Monday, July 25, 2005

The bombings in Egypt and its implications for "occupation causation" 

The righty 'sphere has been arguing for several weeks now about University of Chicago Professor Richard Pape's argument that suicide terrorism is a function of "occupation" rather than Islamic fundamentalism. For a short summary of Pape's argument, read this interview. I attacked it here (snarky) and here (seriously).

In short, Pape built a huge database of suicide attacks during the last thirty years, and basically concluded that they derived from resistance to "occupation" and were not some unique expression of Islamic jihad. While I believe that Pape's research is valuable in and of itself -- we needed that database -- the jihadis continue to disprove his basic conclusion.

It now appears, for example, that Pakistanis were responsible for the weekend's suicide attacks in Egypt. Pape's theory of "occupation causation" only survives Sharm al-Sheik if you subscribe to al Qaeda's argument that Egypt is "occupied" by an apostate government in league with the Zionist-Crusader conspiracy. This, however, is an intolerably expansive definition of "occupation" that no nation, Muslim or Western, can tolerate. Pape's conclusion, then, is either wrong (if we define "occupation" in its usual sense) or useless (if we define "occupation" to refer to any government that al Qaeda would describe as "apostate" or otherwise in league with the "Zionist-Crusader" conspiracy).

UPDATE: Egypt is now saying that no Pakistanis were involved, responding perhaps to diplomatic complaints from Pakistan. Of course, this does not bolster Pape's argument one bit, since Egypt does not "occupy" anything other than itself. One can only characterize these bombings as resistance to occupation by yielding to al Qaeda's expansionist definition, and if Pape is suggesting that he is not offering any useful guidance for the conduct of the war.

UPDATE: An astute commenter points out that I have been systematically getting Pape's first name wrong. It is Robert, not Richard. My bad.


By Blogger Messiah, at Mon Jul 25, 10:41:00 AM:

Hey, here is my reply to you: http://mexplanation.com/  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Mon Jul 25, 11:00:00 AM:

I am highly confident that none of Yahweh, God or Allah would look kindly upon comment spam.  

By Blogger Common Cents, at Mon Jul 25, 11:06:00 AM:

Pape is wrong. Islamisists hate because of the decadence and immorality of the West. They have claimed this from the beginning.

Root causes must be eliminated; therefore, the West must eliminate liberalism.  

By Blogger ShrinkWrapped, at Mon Jul 25, 11:52:00 AM:

Actually, this could confirm Pape's ideas; you just need to have a more expansive definition of "occupation". Apparently, any non Muslim not living under Shariah law, in any part of the world that is or was at any time, considered part of the Islamic world, is an "occupier". Plus, any part of the world with enough Muslims who desire to live under Shariah could be brought under the concept (is Canada paying attention?) Of course, since the goal is a world wide Caliphate, any non-Muslim, anywhere, who is not subject to Shariah law, is an "Occupier"! And, thus, Pape is vindicated!  

By Blogger Bill Peschel, at Mon Jul 25, 12:30:00 PM:

According to the London Times, a man was sentenced for his role in the 9/11 plot that included flying jets into the House of Commons, the Tower Bridge, the Rialto Towers building in Australia and the Indian Parliament.

Perhaps Pape could answer what India was occupying at that time that would lead al-Qaida to attack it.

h/t Captain's Quarters for the heads-up.  

By Blogger reliapundit, at Mon Jul 25, 12:46:00 PM:

pakistan is NOT occupied, either. neither is Kashmir, or chechnya, or serbia, or morocco, or tunis, or algeria, or sudan, or djibouti, or yemen, or thailand, or ANYHERE else there is jihadoterror.

the idea that ISRAEL is a colonial occupier is also false.

Israel may be an occupier in the disputed territoires, but NOT in Israel. HOWEVER, the jihadis have their own definiton - as you point out.

the jihadi definiton is NOT merely a differnt one, it is a false one.

but, to the post-modernist left - which discounts the existence of independent objective truth, and sees history as MERELY copmpeting narratives - what the jihadis say is "TRUE FOR THEM."

this is why leftism is incapable of defending the West in the GWOT.

contemporary leftisn is post-modernist and hates the West.
and it is morally relativist and so excuses horrific acts as merely horrific seeming (to us because we are the VICTIMS).

and this is why the contemporary Left valorizes VICTIMHOOD: because, since (1) they belive that all creeds are equivalent, ands (2) they believe that the only reason Western culture is better is because it dominates other cultures, and (3) they valorize the "underdog" and ovewr-valorize international/cross-cultural consensus as the ONLY way to validate international actions.

because to the contemporary leftist there are no UNIVERSAL RIGHTS which transcend culture, they can only justify intenrational action if there is an unanimous international consensus approving that action. which is VERY difficult for a host of reasons, adn why we dod NOT intervene in Rwanda, or Sudam or Darfur, or Bosnia, etc etc etc ...

as such. contemporary Leftism is morally BANKRUPT. it has no moral basis for ending slavery - ANYWHERE AND EVERYWHERE. or for intevening internationally to end genocide, either.

and it is why they argue that you "cannot impose democracy."

they do not see Human Rights as UNIVERSAL, and that's why they do not see democracy (consensual government) as necessary for all people everywhere - as FDR and JFK and REAGAN and Bush understand it should be.

the contemporary Left is ONLY important because they are a Fifth Column for the jihadis.

otherwoise their creed is a useless immoral vestige of the latter half of the PREVIOUS centruy,

and shoujld be consgined ASAP to the waste-bin of history.  

By Anonymous JimT, at Mon Jul 25, 12:47:00 PM:


By Blogger TigerHawk, at Mon Jul 25, 12:53:00 PM:

I do believe that if we were willing to declare a huge swath of the world off-limits to non-Muslims and their influences, including all of Israel, Spain, parts of southern France (Arab armies reached Tours in the 8th century), large chunks of the Balkans, Kashmir, Chechnya, the Phillipines, etc., al Qaeda would stop attacking the West. However, I am simply unwilling to concede that more than a billion people should live in darkness, and that people who practice aspostacy or idolotry from the Muslim perspective should be barred from these lands. There is no legitimacy to al Qaeda's conception of "occupation" and it cannot in any case be tolerated, so Pape's conclusion offers no meaningful prescription for Western foreign policy.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Jul 25, 01:59:00 PM:

"I do believe that if we were willing to declare a huge swath of the world off-limits to non-Muslims and their influences, including all of Israel, Spain, parts of southern France (Arab armies reached Tours in the 8th century), large chunks of the Balkans, Kashmir, Chechnya, the Phillipines, etc., al Qaeda would stop attacking the West."

I don't. The Islamists would only make new demands, backed up with the most outrageous lies imaginable and the newfound strength of unchallenged rule. Already respected imams claim all of North and South America are theirs, on the grounds that all of native American lineage are actually Muslims. They will never stop making demands until the entire world is theirs... and they will enjoy the under-the-table support of the moderate Muslims the entire time.  

By Blogger Robert Schwartz, at Mon Jul 25, 02:36:00 PM:

Pape is the intellectual decendant of Procrustes the legendary highwayman of Attica, who tied his victims to an iron bed. If they were too short, Procrustes stretched them until they fit the bed, and if they were too long, he cut off as much of their their legs as was required to fit them to the bed.  

By Blogger Baron Bodissey, at Mon Jul 25, 04:17:00 PM:

Do you notice that the Pakistani connection is getting to be more high-profile? First the London bombings (which makes sense, because a lot of British Muslims have Pakistani origins), and now Egypt. Quite different from 9/11 -- I wonder if it means anything...  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Jul 25, 05:58:00 PM:

Leftists, your religion is dying. Its flame is going out in the universe.

Your obsession with a redemption and on a utopia that can never happen due to the nature of mankind, a nature that you naively refuse to understand, is bad enough.

Your willful recklessness towards dismantling and destroying the current society with little regard to what might replace it - which is most likely a totalitarian regime led by a madman that will kill tens or hundreds of millions, including you and your own families - is a sign of unadulterated mental derangement.

Your de facto alliances with, and apologetics for, the most brutal and oppressive movements on the face of the earth, and your sociopathic disregard for the mass injustice and the horrible deaths of 100 million people your enablement of monsters has already caused, is the final symptom of your madness.

You hate the U.S. and Israel, arguably the most decent nations on the planet, and the Jews with their l'chaim-let's-celebrate-life culture, because those are the major groups that block your glorious, nihilistic destruction of the West.

Reasonable people are now being informed of the truth about your religion due to the stunning defeat of your mainstream media's lock-hold on information dissemination, a defeat led by the US-military-created Internet.

This will be your undoing as more reasonable people increase their political and, yes, physical resistance against you. Rathergate was just the very mild beginning.

Your secrets are out; your madness and stupidity exposed; you will not survive.

May I remind what Churchill said of the leftists' friend, the Islamists:

How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities - but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.  

By Blogger Quilly_Mammoth, at Mon Jul 25, 08:37:00 PM:

The important point of Pape's work is the numbers of Jihadis that came about as a result of our "Occupation" of Saudi Arabia. An "Occupation" that was caused solely by the need to contain Saddam. It certainly puts a pinhole in Zinni's screeds as well.

Clearly the Arabists were wrong and our continued presence in SA would only have intensified the attacks. The options were either abandon containment of Saddam or remove Saddam from power and leave SA.

The problem is that people did not realize the scope of the Jihadis operations nor of the extent of the world they would consider "Occupied".  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Jul 26, 05:00:00 PM:

If Professor Pape's thesis was correct, which it certainly is not, then one should conclude that the US and West have done a good job of dispatching occupying troops to places where they're most needed- places where suicide bombers breed.
Just another poorly-disguised Bush-bashing.  

By Blogger Alenda Lux, at Tue Jul 26, 06:27:00 PM:

See the following two links:



First, it's Robert Pape, not Richard.

Second, this doesn't disprove his thesis. The target was a resort area frequented by many tourists (think Bali) and many Westerners were killed. Likewise, it took place in a country that is less than democratic and allied with the US . Furthermore, the attacks were carried out by people from Pakistan, a friend of the US and run by someone who doesn't give much credence to democracy. It's more of an occupation by propping up these dictators.

THAT BEING SAID, I still think Pape's argument is wrong. He plays with the data until it fits his conclusions. He splits Hamas and IJ up so it looks like the Tamil Tigers have the most suicide bombings of any single cause. When you combine IJ and Hamas (whose goals are the same) you already have more attacks than the Tigers. That doesnt even include groups like al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Additionally, his one truly secular group, the Tamil Tigers, is his only outlier. He makes dubious claims about Arafat not being at all motivated by religion. Likewise, he has an extremely expansive definition of "occupation" (see my first paragraph in this comment) which is just unacceptable. Finally, sure people like Zarqawi want us out of Iraq. But he certainly won't allow the elected government to stand. AQ wants to make it part of the greater caliphate, and that's where the Islamic fundamentalism comes into play.  

By Blogger Alenda Lux, at Tue Jul 26, 06:30:00 PM:

FYI: Pape is not a leftist. Like everyone else in the Poli Sci dept at Chicago, he is a realist. This whole thesis is a way to push a return to offshore balancing (even though the collapse of offshore balancing before Desert Storm is what led to US troops in Arabia).

He may be wrong, but to say he's a pinko, commie leftist is like saying the same thing about Brent Scowcroft or Henry Kissinger.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Wed Jul 27, 06:56:00 AM:


Good comments -- thanks for the catch on the first name. I've written about Pape before, so I must have had a brain spasm.

A couple of points. You write: Second, this doesn't disprove his thesis. The target was a resort area frequented by many tourists (think Bali) and many Westerners were killed. Likewise, it took place in a country that is less than democratic and allied with the US . Furthermore, the attacks were carried out by people from Pakistan, a friend of the US and run by someone who doesn't give much credence to democracy. It's more of an occupation by propping up these dictators.

These arguments are, in effect, straight from al Qaeda's ideology. My point is a bit different: If you define these conditions as "occupation," sure, Pape is correct. But these are extremely expansive notions of occupation. The presence of a tiny number of Western tourists constitutes an occupation? We cannot allow that definition of "occupation" to win the day, because it effectively bars Westerners from a third of the world. So if Pape would say that Sharm al-Sheik fits his thesis, then I would say that it is absolutely an argument against returning to "off shore balancing."

I know Pape is not a lefty. But one of the ironic aspects of the current political dynamic is that the Left, in its hostility to George Bush, has embraced "off shore balancing" as its preferred foreign policy in the region. So the lefties have invaded Pape's space, rather than the other way around. But I agree, he is not a lefty.

Your final point is the critical one, and I have made it before myself: Off-shore balancing is only credible if there is at least the prospect of coming "on-shore." Then we are back in the same mess. The off-shore balancing strategy led to Saddam's invasion of Kuwait. I submit that if we were to withdraw today, the off-shore balancing strategy would be even less credible than it was in 1990 for the simple fact that Arabs will claim that we will not want to come back for a second helping.  

By Blogger Alenda Lux, at Sat Jul 30, 12:38:00 PM:


We're in agreement here. My first paragraph is simply how Pape would have explained the events in conjunction with his thesis. I think he's wrong. My thoughts lie in the second paragraph, namely: "Likewise, he has an extremely expansive definition of "occupation" (see my first paragraph in this comment) which is just unacceptable."

So, yeah. No argument here.  

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By Anonymous Michael Smith, at Sat Mar 10, 12:42:00 PM:

Pape is correct. Suicide bombings are indeed a reaction to occupation: the occupation of any point on the surface of the planet by a single living infidel  

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