LIVE STREAM: Robert Pape on Afghanistan And The Rise of Suicide Terrorism

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What motivates suicide bombers to sacrifice their lives and kill innocents?
That is one of the most complex and difficult questions that counter-terrorism officials have had to grapple with since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism (CPOST) – headed by University of Chicago Professor of Political Science Robert A. Pape – has assembled a comprehensive database of global suicide attacks from 1981 – 2001.
You can access that database here. Steve Clemons, fearless leader at The Washington Note and a poobah at the New America Foundation really loves Pape’s site and spent a lot of his vacation last week addicted to running variable mixes through Pape’s data.
Pape is also the author of Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism.
To discuss the rise of suicide terrorism and its implications for our policy in Afghanistan, the New America Foundation/American Strategy Program will host a public forum featuring Robert Pape TODAY from 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm eastern time.
Steve Clemons will moderate the event, which will STREAM LIVE here at The Washington Note.
— Ben Katcher

Comments

28 comments on “LIVE STREAM: Robert Pape on Afghanistan And The Rise of Suicide Terrorism

  1. questions says:

    Pape’s argument is broader than what motivates individuals — he’s looking a social issues and noting that it’s not going to help to try to take over the ME and democratize and de-radicalize it as it’s the takeover that’s the problem in the first place. The radicals who attack do so because of the territorial issues rather than because of the radicalism.
    I’ve had to put the book down for now as I’m swamped with actual work rather than my hobby. I’ll be baaaack.

    Reply

  2. nadine says:

    questions, I came across this article from 2005 where Nasra Hassan, an aid worker who has interviewed hundreds of would-be suicide bombers, interviews a Palestinian suicide bomber who survived the attempted attack.
    Are You Ready? Tomorrow You Will Be in Paradise
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/article543551.ece
    Note that what sent this young man on the road to martyrdom was not the lack of progress in resolving the I/P conflict, but the prospect of progress in resolving it: the signing of the Oslo Accords were his prime motivation.

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  3. nadine says:

    “then find quotations that show that a-Q makes no territorial statements ”
    OBLs comments are always about Muslims lands, the umma, against threats by “Crusaders and Jews”. Particular places under threat or infidel-occupied, such as Palestine or al-Andalus(!) are mentioned.
    If you look at the intifada and dismiss the the Islamic motivation for suicide bombings there, how can you dismiss the fact that 90% of the suicide bombers in Iraq were not Iraqis, but foreigners running to join the jihad?
    There is big difference between making territorial statements and having a nationalist agenda. OBL has some vague notion of restoring the caliphate, but this is not a developed political program that anybody has tried to put into action anywhere.
    It is the Achilles heel of the Islamists that they cannot make ruling institutions; they rule as violent theocratic fascists. That is what will end the radical Islamist movement in due time; the Muslims whose support they need grow to understand that the cure the Islamists offer is worse than the disease, and that the promise of “jihad against the infidel” at the end of the day turns out to be strapping bombs on little girls and blowing them up in marketplaces to kill Muslim housewives, as is happening today in Pakistan.
    “I think the book does a very nice job of trying to get us out of our usual categories and our kneejerk assumptions about suicide terror ”
    …out of the frying pan and into the fire. The data set is not that small, esp. if you include attempted suicide bombings, of which there are thousands, and the evidence of thousands of suicide bombers in Iraq, Afganistan, Pakistan and all over the Muslim world. Over 90% of the killed are Muslim by now.

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  4. questions says:

    The nationalist issue for Saudi Arabia is US troops in Saudi Arabia, hence the a-Q attacks on the US, and no a-Q attacks on Israel and almost none on Jewish sites.
    If you want to argue (via Papa Rubin) that a-Q has no nationalist territorial leanings, then find quotations that show that a-Q makes no territorial statements, says nothing about western nations/the US especially in Mecca and Medina and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states more generally. Pape has a number of quotations to back this claim up.
    He runs through a bunch of variations on salafism to get rid of the monolithic views of Islam, he shows that religion itself is much less of a factor than we often think, and he notes that the three main conditions that seem to explain the bulk of suicide attacks are: incursions into territory, religious differences between the occupying peoples and the people being occupied, and that the incursions be enacted by democracies. These three conditions alone seem to mark the bulk of suicide terrorism around the world. (Remember, he’s not limiting himself to a-Q or Islamic attacks.)
    The level of radicalism doesn’t seem to matter either as he does a comparison (which he admits isn’t perfect) and still finds that territory is more important than is fundamentalism of any stripe.
    I think the book does a very nice job of trying to get us out of our usual categories and our kneejerk assumptions about suicide terror and it’s worth considering what he says. The data set is small, things can evolve. These, he grants. But simply to accept many of the memes we’ve been handed about who explodes and why doesn’t seem like the smartest project ever.
    I’m still not done with the book, so I don’t actually know what his recommendations are. I would guess that the further militarization of everything is going to be declared a bad idea as it is precisely the presence of troops on someone else’s land that sets people off. Thus, finding a way to de-emphasize military responses to everything may well be a good idea.
    He notes, as I’ve pointed out, that democracies are targeted because they are believed to have only moderate strike backs and they are thought to be open to pulling back troops under suicide coercion. The caution here is then that we don’t want the strategy to look effective, and simultaneously, we don’t want all the troop incursions. We also have the further complication that bin Laden’s preference for the positioning of US troops vis-a-vis Saudi Arabia wasn’t necessarily the government’s preference. Bin Laden seems to have issues with his own government as well, then, and so is an extra difficult case to deal with.
    Israel is targeted by Hamas for the same kinds of territorial issues, and I would add that the Palestinians are targeted by the settlers in the same way, though I don’t think there have been suicide attacks probably because the power asymmetry works the other way. Israel’s wall has certainly stopped the suicide attacks and has forced the Palestinians to rebel in other ways, and I would guess the response will keep evolving as needed. The real goal needs to be a legitimate-to-the-Palestinians gov’t of their very own with their own legitimate control over their own resources. I don’t know how to get there, but that’s where things need to go.
    I think the underlying issue is this — there is a data set — a series of 300-some suicide attacks from 1980-2003 I think it is. There are many similarities among these attacks. There are some outliers, but more similarities.
    what can we conclude from the fact that the bulk of the attacks come with a set of similar circumstances? Pape thinks that the patterns are significant, that the statistical significance is meaningful, that the analytic similarity is meaningful, that the explanations that go beyond the data are meaningful.
    So, is it meaningful that the bulk of these attacks come in situations of territorial incursion, by a democracy, with religious differences?
    Is it meaningful that intensity of religiosity doesn’t correlate well?
    Is it meaningful that territorial claims show up, that foreign troops or foreign control show up routinely?
    And that is really for researchers to figure out. Not for essayists, or for people who claim “self-evidence” or that they like the term “Islamist” or for Glenn Beckistanis who can’t use language well.
    Note that I posted a link (here? lower down??) about a 12-year research project into term limits at the state legislative level. Term limits seemed good, sounded good, made people feel good to argue for, were enacted in a bunch of states as a feel-good corrective. The data didn’t hold up. Term limits did much the opposite of what they were supposed to.
    And it’s quite possible that Pape’s data are kind of like that 12-year long study into state-level legislative term limits. We have concepts and language we like. Turns out what we like doesn’t work, doesn’t do what we want, doesn’t describe well, leads us astray, makes it worse rather than better….
    Clearly, no one wants to be wrong about a-Q’s motivation. It doesn’t seem like a great place to misjudge because the consequences won’t just be state legislators’ dependence on lobbyists for basic information about how government works; rather, the consequences could be mass death in pretty awful ways.
    But, what if we have it wrong now, and all those troops we’re sending everywhere are the source of actual recruitment? Then, we’re actually digging our own graves.
    So the data matter, the essayists need to shut up and read, the data analysts need to get to work and try to figure this out. It’s pretty important to get the policy right.
    Please note that Papa Rubin’s frustrated pro-democracy guy in a Muslim country might have as much wrong about his/her own country and his/ her own country’s behavior as would any random US citizen who thought that term limits would fix all that was wrong with the states. People can be wrong.
    So, no, “radical Islamists” aren’t going to moderate suddenly. Pape doesn’t even argue that. First, he shows that “radical Islamist” is a multiform phenomenon deserving of a better reading than this, and second he shows that the statistical correlation between all that crazy stuff and actual explosions is right around where it would be were chance ruling us all.
    Once again, territorial incursion, by democracies, with religious differences between the two nations involved.

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  5. nadine says:

    “He doesn’t say they aren’t Islamic radicals, though. He says that the radicalism isn’t the central cause of the self-explosions. Rather, the main cause is nationalism and territorial grabs by democratic nations.”
    Oh, yeah, that explains the rise of Al Qaeda so well. Has Pape even managed to notice that Osama bin Laden doesn’t have a nationalist program? or that Israel hasn’t grabbed any land in Saudi Arabia and has no plans to except in the fevered conspiracy imaginings of Arabs?
    Is there ANY limit to the idiocies that these so-called Mideast experts can put out and get a hearing? Their predictions fail 100% of the time and nobody notices. As Barry Rubin laments today,
    “A frustrated pro-democracy reader from a Muslim-majority country asks me: “Do we have to explain that the Earth is round to any idiot who says it is flat? Or do we have to hold a rational argument about the evils of cannibalism with someone who practices it?”
    What bothers him are the frequent articles I must write stating the “obvious,” things like radical Islamist forces aren’t about to moderate; too much of the Western world is missing the obvious threats; that it’s wrong and dangerous to indoctrinate people in Western countries to be hostile to their own countries, viewing their histories as shameful; and much of what occupies our media and universities regarding international politics is rubbish. ”
    http://rubinreports.blogspot.com/

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  6. nadine says:

    Sweetness, if it were just the matter of “discussing” putting Palestine under Centcom, maybe. But that wasn’t even the main point. The main point was that Mark Perry tried to make out that Petraeus thinks that the unresolved I/P conflict is the most urgent matter aiding Al Qaeda, endangering US troops in Afhanistan, and all the other stupid things Biden and Obama believe.
    It’s clear from Petraeus’ not even mentioning I/P at all in his remarks to Congress, that it’s nothing of the sort, and that Mark Perry tried to sell us all a bill of goods (and got much more attention than he deserved). Said bill of goods, by some undoubtedly remote chance, would favor the ooh-we-gotta-negotiate-with-Hizbullah-they’re-moderates-now stance that Perry favors.
    Since Perry’s main point has been shown to have been fabricated, there is no reason not to believe that the lesser points were fabricated as well.

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  7. Sweetness says:

    Nadine writes: “Oh, btw, Josh Rogin at FP refutes the account of the
    Centcom meeting that Hizbullah flunky Mark Perry gave.
    Furthermore, Gen. Petraeus’ entire introduction to his testimony
    before Congress didn’t mention I/P even once, so much of a ‘top
    priority’ did he consider it.”
    Maybe…
    But a lot of what I read in your link has the feel of a “walk back” to
    smooth over ruffled feathers. I mean he DOES say that including
    Palestine under CENTCOM has been “discussed” at various times
    and it would be good to make progress there, etc. So this may be
    a non-denial denial.

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  8. questions says:

    He doesn’t say they aren’t Islamic radicals, though. He says that the radicalism isn’t the central cause of the self-explosions. Rather, the main cause is nationalism and territorial grabs by democratic nations.
    Sometimes the reviews don’t do justice to the content, especially when the reviews are in one end of the political spectrum. (And even on W and M, the reviews I read seem to have missed the boat on the most interesting problems with the book.) Give it a skim at a bookstore, if nothing else. It’s actually pretty interesting.

    Reply

  9. nadine says:

    Oh, btw, Josh Rogin at FP refutes the account of the Centcom meeting that Hizbullah flunky Mark Perry gave. Furthermore, Gen. Petraeus’ entire introduction to his testimony before Congress didn’t mention I/P even once, so much of a ‘top priority’ did he consider it.
    http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/03/16/petraeus_i_never_fomally_asked_for_command_of_the_palestinian_territories
    Perry was quoting things out of context and twisting them.

    Reply

  10. nadine says:

    “The biggest threat to Israel is not radical Islam on this data-driven view. It’s the settlements. And indeed, a few pages later he has a chart that shows increased numbers of kabooms tied to the settlement increases. Nadine, I really recommend you read this book because it might have some impact on your sense of the value of Israel’s staying where it is on the settlement issue in order to STAND TALL. I’m beginning to think that the international relations concept of STANDING TALL might need some reworking.” (questions)
    I read reviews of Pape when the book came out and concluded there was no need to waste my time with this idiot. He will entertain every reason for terrorism except the obvious, and believe anything about terrorists except what they themselves have to say. Anybody who actually concludes that Hamas cannot be Islamic radicals because they don’t send hit teams to attack America as well as Israel is either smoking something, or aiming to deceive the unwary. Nowhere in the Koran does it say that when you do jihad you have to attack every enemy of Allah at once or it doesn’t count.
    I don’t know what kind of “settlement increase” funny numbers he’s using, but of course the real big push in settlement increases, measured by number of towns, area, population, anything you like, was in the 70s and 80s, when there were few kabooms, and there have been only increases inside existing settlements since Oslo was signed in 94, when there have been lots of kabooms. If you want to see two graphs that REALLY line up, questions, look at a histogram of kabooms on a timeline that shows periods of active peace-processing. Kabooms go with peace-processing in a big way.
    It’s not just a matter of “standing tall”, questions. It’s a matter of getting what makes the other guy tick. If he’s mad because you have more than your share, you could try to renegotiate the deal. But if he’s mad because you deserve to die and he hasn’t been able to kill you yet, concessions will only embolden him to make another attempt at murder.
    Remember, when all the peace-processing you like so much was going on, is when Hamas began to blow up buses in Jerusalem.

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  11. questions says:

    And another money quotation:
    p. 58 — “The 1996 and 1998 statements in which bin Laden justified attacks on the United States also accuse Israel: ‘Division of the land of the two Holy Places, and annexing of the northerly part of it by Israel…is an essential demand of the Zionist-Crusader alliance. The existence of such a large country with its huge resources under the leadership of the forthcoming Islamic State, by Allah’s Grace, represent a serious danger to the very existence of the zionist state in Palestine’ (1996). ‘If the Americans’ aims behind these wars are religious and economic, the aim is also to serve the Jews’ petty state and divert attention from its occupation of Jerusalem and murder of Muslims there. The best proof of this is their eagerness to destroy Iraq, the strongest neighboring Arab state, and their endeavor to fragment all the states of the region such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Sudan into paper statelets and through their disunion and weakness to guarantee Israel’s survival and the continuation of the brutal crusade occupation of the Peninsula’ (1998).
    “Unlike the United States and Europ, however, Israel has never had troops on the Arabian peninsula, or in Iraq or Afghanistan, and despite al-Qaeda’s rhetoric, it has never attacked Israel and has mounted only one attack directed primarily against Jews (in Istanbul in November 2002).”
    ****
    So a-Q’s rhetoric isn’t backed up by actual acts and Pape finds that quite telling. Maybe a-Q has figured that Israel isn’t a great target because the retaliation would be immense and so Israel’s livestrong message is a good one, or maybe the real issue is troops on the territory and so a-Q uses rhetoric but not resources.
    Terrorism is a drama with many audiences and if one doesn’t play one’s cards right, one risks losing a necessary audience, getting bad reviews from the actors themselves, having one’s theater closed down by the authorities, losing workers on strike and so on in similar metaphorical leaps.
    When they stay focused on the main issue, territorialism, it would seem to help the group stay together, recruit, and have some vague sense of legitimacy. If they are seen by their own potential recruits as common thugs or criminals, they lose. It’s a dicey thing to keep a terrorist organization together.
    ***
    And on bin Ladin in particular and his “thing” with Saudi Arabia, there’s probably a lot of interesting work to do on his position within Saudi society, the psyche of the son of a “hired hand” to the ruling family who ended up bailing out the ruling family — the upstairs/downstairs issues must be something. (Or, if it’s a philosophical seminar according to Paul’s reading of me– see, PBS long ago and Shakespeare even longer ago took up Hegelian themes (even before Hegel!!) thus what seems like a philosophical seminar is either popular tv or a night at the theater), the Hegelian master/slave dialectic turned over somehow is kind of interesting.
    The master is the Saudi ruling family. The slave is the bin Laden company that builds roads and ramps and the like. The slave has the physical knowledge and ability to DO things in the world, but still fears the master and so stays subservient. But sometimes the slaves realize they have one on the masters.
    Bin Laden may have figured something out here. The masters need the slaves more than the slaves need the masters after a while. And so the relationship needs to change. Bin Laden’s religious puritanism coupled with a little master/slave stuff makes for interesting psychodrama, for sure. The Saudi ruling family is too close to the US and therefore too impure.
    Pape doesn’t do much so far with individual psychodramas, but maybe he gets to it later in the book. I’ll let you know.

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  12. questions says:

    Can’t recommend Pape’s book enough. It’s one narrative, for sure, but it’s data driven, dispassionate, careful, maybe a bit heavy on the repetition, but that’s a forgivable flaw in book-length social science!
    The current money quote (I’m only in ch. 4) is the following:
    “Comparison of target selection for Hamas and al-Qaeda shows that combating foreign military occupation is more central than religious motives for both groups. If religious hostility were paramount, one would expect both Hamas and al-Qaeda to attack both Christians and Jews. Similarly, if revenge for perceived injuries were a central motive, one would expect both groups to attack both the United States and Israel. However, each group in fact concentrates its efforts against the opponent that actually has troops stationed on what it sees as its homeland territory. Hamas concentrates almost all of its effort against Israel and has not attacked the United states or American citizens outside of Israel and Palestine. Al-Qaeda’s main effort has been against the United States and against American allies that have deployed troops in Afghanistan and Iraq; al-Qaeda has never attacked Israel and has rarely attacked Jewish targets elsewhere….”
    Note that US out of Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf is bin Laden’s stated goal, and Pape takes him at his word on this rather than taking in the broader goals (global warming???) The reason for this move is the target selection. So he actually finds evidence for his interpretations. Amazing! Evidence for belief. Wow. On this topic. Impressive!
    The perspective throughout the book is that there is a “strategic logic” to the attacks. That is, terrorists want something and they maximize their chances of success by selecting targets carefully. The targets are typically democratic nations with territorial incursion behavior. They don’t target autocracies because: it’s harder to get in and explode, it’s harder to affect policy by scaring people, and though they don’t mention it, I would guess that autocratic territorial grabs are likely done differently from democratic grabs, but a study would need to be done to check this claim out.
    The attacks are planned and quite specific to the specific territory involved. It’s probably pretty hard to motivate, say, Canadians, to explode themselves over US sanctions on Cuba. Yeah, the sanctions are not good, yeah, Canadians might feel some kind of hemispheric duty to Cuba, yes they have left-leaning governmental structures, but, no, they don’t explode over the issues. If the US went into Canada, things could change, though.
    It isn’t religion, it isn’t ideology, it isn’t distant, it isn’t class or race or any of the usual suspects. It’s land, family, local conditions, local legitimacy of rule, local resource issues. LOCAL. Kaboom.
    The biggest threat to Israel is not radical Islam on this data-driven view. It’s the settlements. And indeed, a few pages later he has a chart that shows increased numbers of kabooms tied to the settlement increases. Nadine, I really recommend you read this book because it might have some impact on your sense of the value of Israel’s staying where it is on the settlement issue in order to STAND TALL. I’m beginning to think that the international relations concept of STANDING TALL might need some reworking.
    And I think that the internal tensions in Israel might cause a reversal of the attacks and that’s a huge problem for the government there. They put so many resources into the settlers and legitimizing the behavior that backtracking could cause the settlers to start kabooming if they feel the same loss of territory that the Palestinians have felt. What a fucking mess. What a double bind. What will the out be?
    And I am really beginning (ok,not beginning) to think the W and M book is all the weaker for the profound and complete and utter lack of data and the complete dependence on anecdote, story telling, and one-sided history/narrative. Pape actually engages in enough counterfactual musing that the reader begins to realize he’s actually thought through the issues, considered that he could be wrong, has found way to show he might actually be right. Amazing.
    Pape’s book is worth reading, at least into ch. 4.

    Reply

  13. Carroll says:

    Posted by erichwwk, Mar 16 2010, 6:48PM – Link
    Just curious, Carroll, when you write:>>>>
    What would induce me to become a soldier?
    I guess if my family or country was threatened…I could be a soldier. Not threatened as in oil interest wars or etc, overseas but actually threatened on our own soil.
    But having never been in that position I only know what soldiers have told me. That is most of them think they are ‘doing their duty’ and most of them kill someone to protect themselves or their fellow soldiers. In remembering the stories of children in VN who the enemy would send runing to a Marine with a grenade, or so the tales went, I don’t believe I could have shot a child to protect myself. I am not sure those tales were true though. My older brother was a Marine Lt. in VN in the thick of it and he never saw that happen, but who knows.
    The other two questions?
    “Do you see those Americans who acted during WWII with low probability of retaining their own life as acting out of despair?”
    Er…is that a real question?
    “Do soldiers fight to maximize personal net gain, or net gain for a larger group”
    Depends I guess on whether they are Blackwater mercs or regular soldiers.

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  14. JohnH says:

    french connection has a closed mind. He didn’t even bother to listen to what Pape presented before rendering his ideological judgment.
    Pape clearly spells out that 98% of suicide attacks occur where there is a foreign occupation. The causal relationship is obvious.
    french connection should have the honor of having someone occupy his living room, armed with assault rifles, and demand that he follow orders. Maybe then he would have an epiphany.

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  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “….of course they are a bunch of religiously brainwashed thugs”
    And the many American servicemen that have volunteered for “suicide missions”, are they too “thugs” for sacrificing their lives to their beliefs and their loyalty to country?
    I don’t much care for bigots or jackasses. And some people seem to make a stew of the two defects.

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  16. frenchconnection says:

    “are mostly motivated by US political and military imperialism”
    what a crock
    of course they are a bunch of religiously brainwashed thugs
    1) most classic resistance movements (for example against fascists or other occupation forces) didn’t use suicide attacks as a weapon. They were more keen of keeping themselves alive to strike back. But it could happen that some sacrificed themselves in an impossible situation as a last resort.
    2) suicide bombers target THEIR OWN to 99%, using them to create horror and put the blame on local authorities
    3) not so few are on drugs (because they are cowards) and not so few are TRICKED into blowing themselves (“we send you as a test to see if you have the guts”) or by remote control
    Sometimes I wonder who is most brainwashed : the suicide bombers or the loony left

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  17. Pahlavan says:

    There is an Audio problem with the intro. On the same page half way down on the right side of the page under More from New America, try: Afghanistan and the Rise of Suicide Terrorism – 2

    Reply

  18. erichwwk says:

    BTW, steve, this ustream
    ( archive http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/5496443 )
    came through as inaudible for me, as if hearing it in a tunnel. Others receive it OK or also have problem?

    Reply

  19. erichwwk says:

    Just curious, Carroll, when you write:
    “I try to imagine what would induce me to be a suicide bomber”
    what would induce you to become a soldier, to put yourself in a position to take a life?
    Is it a function of the probability of safety to yourself?
    Do you see those Americans who acted during WWII with low probability of retaining their own life as acting out of despair?
    Do soldiers fight to maximize personal net gain, or net gain for a larger group?

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  20. PBrandt says:

    It probably helps to be susceptible to a religion that teaches about warfare and taking over land, and triumphalist conquering of the whole earth, and all its peoples.
    Interesting. Belief in wholesale Transformation of Muslim society lead to broad support for invading Iraq…misleading…encouraging foreign policies against our best interests…This is an interesting sense of entitlement.
    Would wholesale transformation of society be like this applied here on us by Lewis Powell and some secretive cabal of social engineers? Right under the nose of the US Constitution? and the Supreme Court? Just who is it who think they themselves have the right to do this kind of thing?
    http://reclaimdemocracy.org/corporate_accountability/powell_memo_lewis.html
    Makes it much easier to sell their propaganda to the nation wholesale after 30 years of this. A nation of “self-determined” “created equal” citizens and fully-informed voters?
    Glad to know there is some comprehensive data being brought to bear here. Finally!

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  21. questions says:

    Data! Data! Data!
    (missed the first chunk, but I got in some of this.)
    Is it my imagination or did Pape totally punt on the Israel question Steve threw out? Like, totally punt.
    I’d be curious to see what he really thinks of Israel/Palestine given that much of his work seems to show that terrorism is motivated by local loss of power/autonomy/territorial integrity rather than very distant loss. So Saudi loss of oil and independence from the west rather than Muslim loss of identity. Do Saudis commit suicide over Palestinians? Or is it only Palestinians who commit suicide over the I/P issue?
    And note the totally dismissal of Huntington that seems to be implicit in his data-driven work. No clash of civilizations, just loss of territorial integrity, legitimacy of governing authority, and local land and resource control. Sounds kind of, ummm, Marxist/materialist and not very ideological maybe?
    Wed this to Laitin and you get a different picture of things from what seems to pass for strategy around here. Laitin seems to have some hope of disparate groups’ abilities to make peace in regions when the language/schooling and governmental access incentives push people. And Pape seems to suggest that the US could back out of some of these places and actually let the incentive systems take root.
    Not much about I/P here. It’d be nice to see what he thinks.
    Thanks, Steve, for putting this on. You got me to pull Pape’s book out of the infinite pile on the floor and I started it today. Really readable, clear, interesting from the get-go.
    Thanks!

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  22. samuelburke says:

    I prefer Prof Pape’s study much more than his ideology.
    His study on what promotes suicide attacks is telling.
    He definitely reaches a far different conclusion than i.
    Steve thanks for todays presentations, i enjoyed learning a bit
    today.

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  23. MarkL says:

    Suicide terrorism is very effective, and perfectly rational if you believe in asymmetrical warfare. If someone undertakes a suicide mission on the battlefield, that person is a hero.
    Suicide terrorism is not more objectionable morally because it involves suicide.
    The point of calling them irrational is to sidestep the question of what the terrorism actually means.
    Someone who punches a button and drops a bomb on children in Afghanistan or Pakistan is just as much a terrorist as a suicide bomber.
    What’s the answer? I dont’ know. I certainly don’t recommend any form of terrorism.

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  24. Carroll says:

    I try to imagine what would induce me to be a suicide bomber.
    It would have to be a mixture of having lost everything; all family,land,country and driven by hate for those that caused it..or..thinking I could protect those things by killing some of the enemy even if I had to kill myself also.
    I don’t see it as altogether irrational. I see it as a statement for a cause or as despair or as the only weapon someone thinks they have.

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  25. Don Bacon says:

    Sweetness,
    1. I didn’t write it.
    2. American imperialism is principally in pursuit of political power and financial gain. For further info please click on my name.

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  26. Sweetness says:

    Don Bacon writes: “…where the U.S. in collusion with dictators and
    one-party elites are frustrating legitimate national aspirations of
    the larger underclass and middle class.”
    …in pursuit of our “national interests”…yes?

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  27. Pahlavan says:

    We complain about Iranian belligerence although we are quick to forget on our 30+ years of efforts in unjustly branding them as “terrorists.”
    Why? Simply because they have the audacity to insist that a few western oil tycoons should take their hands out of Iran’s pockets!

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  28. Don Bacon says:

    The conventional wisdom that suicide bombers are insane or religious fanatics is wrong. They are mostly motivated by US political and military imperialism, with its humiliations, tortures, imprisonments, injuries, and killings.
    from a review of Pape’s book by Robert D. Steele:
    Most suicidal terrorists are altruistic, well-educated, nationalistically-motivated, and fully witting and dedicated to their fatal mission as a service to their community.
    Suicidal terrorism correlates best with U.S. military occupation of specific countries that tend to be undemocratic and corrupt, where the U.S. in collusion with dictators and one-party elites are frustrating legitimate national aspirations of the larger underclass and middle class.
    Virtually all of the suicidal terrorists comes from allies of the U.S. such as Saudi Arabia, rather than Iran.

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