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The Logic of Suicide Terrorism
July 12, 2005 12:14 PM   Subscribe

'The central fact is that overwhelmingly suicide-terrorist attacks are not driven by religion as much as they are by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. From Lebanon to Sri Lanka to Chechnya to Kashmir to the West Bank, every major suicide-terrorist campaign—over 95 percent of all the incidents—has had as its central objective to compel a democratic state to withdraw.'  The Logic of Suicide Terrorism The American Conservative interviews Robert Pape, author of Dying To Win: The Logic of Suicide Terrorism:
posted by y2karl (134 comments total)

 
nonsense. they hate our freedom.
posted by quonsar at 12:15 PM on July 12, 2005


Alrighty then, so where are the Christian and Taoist suicide bombers? Why didn't America's many invasions of Central and South America, or apartheid South Africa's campaigns against its black neighbors, produce hordes of Latin or ANC suicide terrorists? Where are the Arab Christian suicide bombers, for that matter, or the ETA and IRA terrorists looking to buy a one-way ticket to meet Jesus in heaven?

Pape's thesis is a load of horseshit, and it's no surprise that an isolationist rag like Pat Buchanan's baby should be pushing it. It's true that suicide terrorism has been mostly directed against democratic states, but that doesn't in any way preclude its being driven mostly by religion, and the fact of the matter is that once you exclude Sri Lanka from the list of examples provided by y2karl, every single one remaining has a particular denominator in common, namely Islam.
posted by Goedel at 12:27 PM on July 12, 2005


...has had as its central objective to compel a democratic state to withdraw.

I guess the part I've highlighted is where it gets, well, interesting. Democratic where? Perhaps not so democratic outside of its borders! And "withdraw"? From what? A colonial adventure?

Being more or less a materialist, I agree with the basic premise: conflict arises from material conditions, and ideology and theology are marshalled to "explain" the actions almost after the fact.

It's not the "democracy". It's the will to empire.


___________
posted by mondo dentro at 12:27 PM on July 12, 2005


I like the numbers this guy has. Nothing like numbers to counter rhetorical arguments. I'm glad that this administration, in particular, has always had such a high level of respect for data. One can look with satisfied rationality at the Bush adminstrations absolute commitment to evidence and reason. quonsar's snarking aside, I have no doubt we'll see a complete revision in the rhetoric of Bush's speeches the minute the folks in the West Wing have digested Pape's book.
posted by OmieWise at 12:28 PM on July 12, 2005


administration's
posted by OmieWise at 12:31 PM on July 12, 2005


No no, they're called hommicide bombers
posted by delmoi at 12:34 PM on July 12, 2005


The Logic of Suicide Terrorism

That is an oxymoron if I have ever heard one.
posted by kjh at 12:36 PM on July 12, 2005


hummuside bomber
posted by quonsar at 12:40 PM on July 12, 2005


That is nonsense. The idea that these wouldn't occur if we simply removed our bases is the most asinine argument one could put forth.

What's more, this guy just overlooks Bin Laden's own words. The main man himself contradicts this asinine argument. Do they want the Infidels out of their countries? Of course, but what's more, they want them off the face of the globe. And it's not just the U.S., karl, as much as you would like to suggest that it is. Unless you want to suggest that the attacks in Dafur were an attempt to get American bases out of the Hijaz. Or the bombing of a tourist resort in Bali was because American soliders were in Kuwait protecting it from Saddam's aggression.

y2karl style:
Nothing of the sort applies in this case. We know very well what the "grievances" of the jihadists are.

The grievance of seeing unveiled women. The grievance of the existence, not of the State of Israel, but of the Jewish people. The grievance of the heresy of democracy, which impedes the imposition of sharia law. The grievance of a work of fiction written by an Indian living in London. The grievance of the existence of black African Muslim farmers, who won't abandon lands in Darfur. The grievance of the existence of homosexuals. The grievance of music, and of most representational art. The grievance of the existence of Hinduism. The grievance of East Timor's liberation from Indonesian rule. All of these have been proclaimed as a licence to kill infidels or apostates, or anyone who just gets in the way.
posted by dios at 12:44 PM on July 12, 2005


Alrighty then, so where are the Christian and Taoist suicide bombers? Why didn't America's many invasions of Central and South America, or apartheid South Africa's campaigns against its black neighbors, produce hordes of Latin or ANC suicide terrorists? Where are the Arab Christian suicide bombers, for that matter, or the ETA and IRA terrorists looking to buy a one-way ticket to meet Jesus in heaven?

TAC: There have been many kinds of non-Islamic suicide terrorists, but have there been Christian suicide terrorists?

RP: Not from Christian groups per se, but in Lebanon in the 1980s, of those suicide attackers, only eight were Islamic fundamentalists. Twenty-seven were Communists and Socialists. Three were Christians...

I not only study the patterns of where suicide terrorism has occurred but also where it hasn’t occurred. Not every foreign occupation has produced suicide terrorism. Why do some and not others? Here is where religion matters, but not quite in the way most people think. In virtually every instance where an occupation has produced a suicide-terrorist campaign, there has been a religious difference between the occupier and the occupied community. That is true not only in places such as Lebanon and in Iraq today but also in Sri Lanka, where it is the Sinhala Buddhists who are having a dispute with the Hindu Tamils.

When there is a religious difference between the occupier and the occupied, that enables terrorist leaders to demonize the occupier in especially vicious ways. Now, that still requires the occupier to be there. Absent the presence of foreign troops, Osama bin Laden could make his arguments but there wouldn’t be much reality behind them. The reason that it is so difficult for us to dispute those arguments is because we really do have tens of thousands of combat soldiers sitting on the Arabian Peninsula...

There were IRA members willing to commit suicide—the famous hunger strike was in 1981. What is missing in the IRA case is not the willingness to commit suicide, to kill themselves, but the lack of a suicide-terrorist attack where they try to kill others.

If you look at the pattern of violence in the IRA, almost all of the killing is front-loaded to the 1970s and then trails off rather dramatically as you get through the mid-1980s through the 1990s. There is a good reason for that, which is that the British government, starting in the mid-1980s, began to make numerous concessions to the IRA on the basis of its ordinary violence. In fact, there were secret negotiations in the 1980s, which then led to public negotiations, which then led to the Good Friday Accords. If you look at the pattern of the IRA, this is a case where they actually got virtually everything that they wanted through ordinary violence.

The purpose of a suicide-terrorist attack is not to die. It is the kill, to inflict the maximum number of casualties on the target society in order to compel that target society to put pressure on its government to change policy. If the government is already changing policy, then the whole point of suicide terrorism, at least the way it has been used for the last 25 years, doesn’t come up.

posted by y2karl at 12:46 PM on July 12, 2005


It's true that suicide terrorism has been mostly directed against democratic states, but that doesn't in any way preclude its being driven mostly by religion, and the fact of the matter is that once you exclude Sri Lanka from the list of examples provided by y2karl, every single one remaining has a particular denominator in common, namely Islam.

Via BBC:

The man charged with the murder of the controversial Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh has confessed to the killing at his trial in Amsterdam.

Mohammed Bouyeri, 27, said he acted out of his religious beliefs and that he would do "exactly the same" if he were ever set free.

Prosecutors say Mr Bouyeri killed Mr Van Gogh in a ritualistic murder committed in the name of radical Islam.

"I take complete responsibility for my actions. I acted purely in the name of my religion," he told the court in Amsterdam. "I can assure you that one day, should I be set free, I would do exactly the same, exactly the same," he added.

Mr Bouyeri was arrested following a shoot-out with police just minutes after Mr Van Gogh's killing. The prosecution said Mr Bouyeri had hoped to die a "martyr" at the hands of the police.



And then there are the enablers & defenders:

The Islamic Council of Victoria has distanced itself from the comments of one of Australia's leading Islamic clerics who says Osama bin Laden is a great man and was not involved in the 2001 attacks on the United States or last week's London bombings.

While the council says few Australian Muslims would share his view, it defends the right of the Melbourne Imam, Sheikh Mohammed Omran, to express his opinion.

Speaking on Lateline last night, Sheikh Omran said he believed Osama Bin Laden had been unfairly blamed for terrorist activity.

"I dispute any evil action linked to Bin Laden, again I don't believe that even September 11 from the beginning, I [don't] believe it [was] done by any Muslim at all," he said.

posted by dhoyt at 12:46 PM on July 12, 2005


It's true that suicide terrorism has been mostly directed against democratic states, but that doesn't in any way preclude its being driven mostly by religion

I agree that Pape's pushing a false dichotomy. Religion plays the same role in the suicide bombings that the Arian national greatness myths played in the rise of Nazism, or that fringe bible-belt Christian orthodoxies play in the "What's the Matter with Kansas" syndrome. However, without the material conditions of exploitation/colonialism, the energy source for the conflict--namely resentment--would not be there to be exploited by demagogues.

And for the complexity impaired: no, all of these things are not equivalent to Nazism--except in the way that the irrational is coupled into behavior and used to override reason. Nor am I saying "irrationality" is unequivocally "bad".
________________
posted by mondo dentro at 12:47 PM on July 12, 2005


Goedel writes "...the fact of the matter is that once you exclude Sri Lanka from the list of examples provided by y2karl..."

This is a strange exclusion to make, as the LTTE both invented suicide bombing and has claimed the greatest number of casualties from it.

kjh writes "That is an oxymoron if I have ever heard one."

It's probably a mistake to think that terrorists act irrationally. Especially at higher levels of organization, they are rational actors, with well-defined interests and goals. I would certainly argue that the conclusions they've reached regarding tactics are wrong, but they reached those conclusions rationally, I think. Were that they were irrational: it would be much harder for them to organize!
posted by mr_roboto at 12:47 PM on July 12, 2005


'The central fact is that overwhelmingly suicide-terrorist attacks are not driven by religion as much as they are by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland.

OK. Accepted as true. Now what? Even if we assume that is the "clear strategic objective" of homicidal bombers (sorry, delmoi, if the shoe fits...) how should that impact U.S. foreign policy? Should U.S. policy be governed by the strategic objectives of terrorists?
posted by pardonyou? at 12:48 PM on July 12, 2005


nonsense. they hate our freedom.
posted by quonsar at 3:15 PM EST

hummuside bomber
posted by quonsar at 3:40 PM EST


I want what he's having!

I know! I know! Let's invade another country! That'll show 'em! And pass the hummus please.
posted by nofundy at 12:49 PM on July 12, 2005


dios-I think he's quite clear that suicide bombings in general follow the pattern of being related to occupation. In the current rhetorical climate, where the trend is to act as if there are no political grievances related to any suicide bombing, Pape's work seems like a necessary corrective.
posted by OmieWise at 12:50 PM on July 12, 2005


Tracing the history of how suicide has been used as a weapon and as a protest through history offers up many illuminating parallels to what might motivate those who undertake the suicide missions in Iraq. It was the Japanese who made the use of suicide as a military strategy so feared, and the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka in the 1980s who applied it as a technique for assassinations. Both were part of wider military efforts which were not always easily distinguishable from a suicide mission. The line in war between a suicidal mission and a reckless disregard for one's own life can be very blurred.

This was true in the Soviet struggle against the Germans in the second world war. Some Soviet pilots undertook explicit suicide missions to ram bridges in Germany in 1945; many others went into battle knowing they would die, and saw their death as a sacrifice for the "motherland". It is the powerful who determined how such events are understood; while the Japanese and Islamist militants are feared as inhuman, the Soviets are celebrated for their courageous defiance of nazism...

Even more closely related to Iraq's suicide bombers is the fascinating description of early Christian martyrdom in Farhad Khosrokhavar's new book, Suicide Bombers. The suicidal recklessness of a large number of early Christians, aimed precisely at bringing about their martyrdom, bewildered and horrified contemporary commentators. But martyrdom was an astonishingly effective propaganda tool designed to inspire awe - and converts. The Greek origin of the word martyr is "witness". Interestingly, it prompted exactly the same sorts of criticism among pagan Romans as today's Islamist militants do in the west: the Christian martyrs were accused of dementia and irrationality. Such was the flood of Christians in pursuit of martyrdom by the third century that the theologians had to step in to declare this thirst for a holy death to be blasphemous.

That concept of using your death to bear witness to a cause, without killing others, has prompted more than 1,000 suicides since 1963, when a Buddhist monk set himself on fire in protest against the oppression of Buddhism in Vietnam. Global mass media ensure that this individual protest has impact across the world; it is a desperate but hugely effective way to give the cause prominence.


Honour and martyrdom
posted by y2karl at 12:53 PM on July 12, 2005


I'm afraid I have to agree with Goedel, that radical Islam is the common denominator for suicide bombers. So where does that lead us? Radical Islam - bad. Must destroy all Sith lords. ^H^H^H Muslims.

The fact is, that in Africa and SE Asia, people are signing up in droves for this this brand of salvation, because they feel oppressed by the godless, white, sweatshop owning, Hustler reading West.

These folks don't have a pot to piss in, and us supersized "open late" Wendy's engorged, fat-cats make a very nice target for rage and helplessness that the Mullahs can use.

The rise in radical Islam is in direct proportion to the rise of the mono-polar western, highly materialistic decadent society.
posted by Dag Maggot at 12:54 PM on July 12, 2005


Alrighty then, so where are the Christian and Taoist suicide bombers?

I guess Christians and Taoists are just too self centered or chicken to think about the greater cause and sacrifice themselves to it (being facetious).

Where are the Arab Christian suicide bombers, for that matter

Dead, they blew themselves up. Actually, in Palestine Christians now only make up about 2% of the population, down from @20% before the occupation. Most Christians were wealthier and have fled. Despite their statistical insignificance, some patriarchs of Christian denominations in Palestine have called for members to join in the suicide attacks.

It would be easy to cut out the Sri Lanka bombings seeing as they only took place in one country, but then again if you added up the number of deaths from the others, they wouldn't surpass those of the Sri Lanka attacks.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:56 PM on July 12, 2005


dhoyt-
I'm not sure what your point is? Is it that anecdote trumps research? That statistics are only as good as the next TV interview? The knee-jerk dismissing of Pape is very curious to me because I thought that the big point was to end things like suicide terror. Shouldn't we be trying to understand as much about it as we can?
posted by OmieWise at 12:56 PM on July 12, 2005


It's probably a mistake to think that terrorists act irrationally.

Indeed. And, conversely, it's a mistake, awkwardly enough, to say that "reason" is the opposite of "unreason". Which is to say, Reason is a cultural innovation that makes it more likely that we, as fundamentally "irrational" creatures, can use the immense power of our irrationality (e.g. intuition) in a social structure that minimizes errors.

That's why I oppose all kinds of totalizing, non-flexible, world-views (even those that claim to be based on Reason), since they make it fundamentally impossible to engage in the iterative process of truth finding. Hence, they are non-adaptive.

Certainty is the enemy of the Truth. And Absolute Certainty is the mother of Terror.
___________________
posted by mondo dentro at 12:58 PM on July 12, 2005


OmieWise, that would be a point, but its not his point. He suggests that the current al qaeda sort are not driven by religion which is facially wrong. This is not about occupation. Case in point: were the farmers in Darfur bombed because of "occupation" or was it because they weren't just Muslim enough?

And the problem with the writers context is that in the Muslim religion, politics and religion is conflated. There is no gripe of the Islamic terrorists that is divorced from religious points.

This kind of work is silly; I remember the first time this nonsense started popping up after 9/11: that the attacks had a root cause of poverty. After that argument was dropped (not the least of which was the notable absence of such a claim in Bin Laden's own words; and the absence of a al Qaeda plan to eliminate poverty), we didn't have to deal with the root cause talk. Now we got this guy running it back up the flag pole to suggest that blatant religous hatred and desire for war might have some revolutionary basis.

I must have missed the part of Quran, when talking about the House of Islam and the House of War, it mentioned that a truce can be declared with the the House of War if they stay out of the House of Islam. I seem to remember the exact opposite being what it said....
posted by dios at 1:04 PM on July 12, 2005


I'm afraid of Americans.
posted by chunking express at 1:10 PM on July 12, 2005


I remember the first time this nonsense started popping up after 9/11: that the attacks had a root cause of poverty...

Look, you have to start thinking a bit less rigidly. Are you really saying that poverty and oppression have nothing to do with the attractiveness of such ideologies/theologies?

If so, then you no doubt believe Bush is wrong to say that we are fighting to spread the "American way of life", since, according to your logic, this has nothing to do with it. These people are just bad. Why convert them all to quasi-western style middle class republics if "root causes" are useless?

So, I guess you are left with advocating extermination, then, right?
_________________
posted by mondo dentro at 1:14 PM on July 12, 2005


So, it's only the US's foreign policy that terrorists have a problem with, eh? Some of bin Laden's complaints about America, in his own words:

(1) "You are the nation that permits Usury, which has been forbidden by all the religions. Yet you build your economy and investments on Usury."
(2) "You are a nation that permits the production, trading and usage of intoxicants."
(3) "You are a nation that permits acts of immorality, and you consider them to be pillars of personal freedom."

Bin Laden further calls upon the United States "to reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling, and trading with interest." Bin Laden concludes, "It is saddening to tell you that you are the worst civilization witnessed by the history of mankind."

(above taken from this fine Reason article .)

He might be willing to settle for the West's withdrawl from certain lands, but the ultimate, STATED goal of al Qaeda is the conversion of all people in the world to Islam.
posted by yesno at 1:16 PM on July 12, 2005


mondo, your point is correct that a miserable life can lead people to join sects. But the issue is root causes: was a cause of the bombings poverty? No. The cause of the bombings are a dangerous form of Islam. Increasing the quality of life of people by bringing them freedom by democracy is a way to fight the spread of this form of Islam. But it isn't a cause. To suggest, as such, shows a complete misunderstanding of causal relationships. It's like saying my house was robbed because I allowed their to be poor inner cities.

Oh yeah:

________________
posted by dios at 1:22 PM on July 12, 2005


Again from the article:

If Islamic fundamentalism were the pivotal factor, then we should see some of the largest Islamic fundamentalist countries in the world, like Iran, which has 70 million people—three times the population of Iraq and three times the population of Saudi Arabia—with some of the most active groups in suicide terrorism against the United States. However, there has never been an al-Qaeda suicide terrorist from Iran, and we have no evidence that there are any suicide terrorists in Iraq from Iran.

Sudan is a country of 21 million people. Its government is extremely Islamic fundamentalist. The ideology of Sudan was so congenial to Osama bin Laden that he spent three years in Sudan in the 1990s. Yet there has never been an al-Qaeda suicide terrorist from Sudan.

I have the first complete set of data on every al-Qaeda suicide terrorist from 1995 to early 2004, and they are not from some of the largest Islamic fundamentalist countries in the world. Two thirds are from the countries where the United States has stationed heavy combat troops since 1990.

Another point in this regard is Iraq itself. Before our invasion, Iraq never had a suicide-terrorist attack in its history. Never. Since our invasion, suicide terrorism has been escalating rapidly with 20 attacks in 2003, 48 in 2004, and over 50 in just the first five months of 2005. Every year that the United States has stationed 150,000 combat troops in Iraq, suicide terrorism has doubled.


And from Honour and martyrdom:

But our outraged incomprehension of suicide bombing is also partly because it is the opposite of how we have come to believe wars are fought. It is not the high technology of laser-guided bombs, nor the strangely sterile detachment of the aeroplane camera without any images of the screams, smashed bones and blood. The west can only now kill from a distance - preferably from several thousand feet up in the air or several hundred kilometres away on an aircraft carrier. It is the very proximity of these suicide missions which is so shocking. This kind of intimate killing is a reversion to pre-industrial warfare - the kind of brutality seen in the thirty years war, for example. Suicide bombers in Iraq are a new permutation of old traditions; they have no monopoly on the horrors they reveal of the human psyche and its capacity to destroy life.
posted by y2karl at 1:24 PM on July 12, 2005


What's more, this guy just overlooks Bin Laden's own words. The main man himself contradicts this asinine argument. Do they want the Infidels out of their countries? Of course, but what's more, they want them off the face of the globe.

To the American people, my talk is to you about the best way to avoid another Manhattan. I tell you: Security is an important element of human life and free people do not give up their security.

Your security is not in the hands of Kerry, Bush or al-Qaida. Your security is in your own hands.

The driving-away jihad against the US does not stop with its withdrawal from the Arabian peninsula, but rather it must desist from aggressive intervention against Muslims in the whole world... If the U.S. does not want to kill its sons who are in the army, then it has to get out...To these mothers I say if they are concerned for their sons, then let them object to the American government's policy and to the American president.

-Ossama Bin Laden

Seems like Bin Laden's own words don't support your contention. Basically he's following the teaching of the Koran which teaches that a Muslim must attack when attacked and must stop his attack when invaders and oppressors have been driven from their lands.

And fight them on until there is no more Tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression. 2:193
posted by Pollomacho at 1:27 PM on July 12, 2005


but the ultimate, STATED goal of al Qaeda is the conversion of all people in the world to Islam.

Not to mention a general-principle sort of hatred for the open, modern, non-Muslim West. This is not neocon fantasy; it's writ large on so many of the sentiments coming from the mouth of terrorists themselves.

Today's terrorists need not originate from poverty either; see the bin Ladens, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, the Atta family, or Ayman al-Zawahiri—all extremely wealthy & quite educated.
posted by dhoyt at 1:27 PM on July 12, 2005


Occupation -> Terrorism.

Terrorism can include suicide bombing.

Dios, when you claim that the "root cause" of all terrorism is Islam (or, "they hate our freedom"), you're failing to acknowledge that terrorism is simply a military strategy. Since there is no standing enemy military, the key to the success of this strategy is recruiting a wide array of individuals, and a wide array of individual grievances. In other words, the "root cause(s)" of what drives individuals to take up arms against other individuals is a pretty important question.

We're not dealing with an organization, so the question of "one cause" or the danger that conservatives fear of "appeasing the terrorists" is a moot point.

On preview: The idea of this vast organization of "Al-Qaeda" with sleeper cells is a myth. The attacks in Madrid weren't ordered by bin Laden, and these latest London attacks probably arose independent as well.
posted by iamck at 1:29 PM on July 12, 2005


Why not just go the old-fashioned route of genocide by attrition and cultural and political whitewashing like we did with the Native Americans? Takes a bit longer, but it takes the skin off the cat just as cleanly... Oh wait--that's the approach we were already taking before the War on Terror...
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 1:33 PM on July 12, 2005


Not to mention a general-principle sort of hatred for the open, modern, non-Muslim West. This is not neocon fantasy; it's writ large on so many of the sentiments coming from the mouth of terrorists themselves.

That is often true. It's the same mentality that the neocons themselves have: through (purportedly necessary) violence, they hope to remold the world into the shape of their designs. They know better than everyone else, and their goals are worthy enough to break up to and including millions of eggs.

However, the motivations of the leaders and instigators in both rabid camps are not the same as those of their unlucky soldiers.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:33 PM on July 12, 2005


To suggest, as such, shows a complete misunderstanding of causal relationships.

Oh gosh! Please don't tell my colleagues! That might put a serious crimp in my career as a modeler of dynamical systems. Do you think I'll have to retract all of the papers I've published?

No, friend. I do indeed understand causality, and maybe even its limits.

Look: sometimes things are multivariate. I know that's hard to understand for a lot of people in this era of fundamentalism and "moral clarity". But it's not complicated. It's like saying z = f ( x,y ). You want to focus on x, others on y, and I'm saying they both need to be considered. You don't just consider the variable you like best, or the one that you find most flattering.

So, let's be clear: you apparently do believe in root causes. You just disagree on what they are. And you still haven't answered my question on extermination. What is it, dios? Is it "convert or die" time? Fess up.
________________
posted by mondo dentro at 1:36 PM on July 12, 2005


Suicide bombings are Islamic in the same way that air strikes are Christian. After all, if we exclude Communist countries, how many air strikes have been carried out by non-Christian nations since WWII?

Sure, the people who actually carry out air-strikes might not necessarily be Christian, but their leaders almost inevitably are. The only common thread is Jesus, clearly.

We need to take this opportunity to ask ourselves: Why do so many of Christ's followers believe in the use of air-to-surface missiles? What is it about the New Testament that fuels this "cult of air superiority?"

-signed,
Bizarro-World dios
posted by iron chef morimoto at 1:36 PM on July 12, 2005


I was just wondering, when was it that Osama Bin Laden acted as a suicide terrorist?
I'm not convinced that his writings, speeches, or socioeconomic status are very relevant to the topic at hand.
posted by Zetetics at 1:36 PM on July 12, 2005


but the ultimate, STATED goal of al Qaeda is the conversion of all people in the world to Islam.

Can you show us a link to where that is stated?
posted by Pollomacho at 1:38 PM on July 12, 2005


dios writes "The cause of the bombings are a dangerous form of Islam."

I could agree that the cause of the bombings is a dangerous form of Islam coupled with the necessary conditions for it to grow and prosper. But that would lead us to the question of what are those necessary conditions and you'd accuse me of searching for root causes. In the end it is quite hopeless to frame your reasoning within a rigid ideologic border (apparently the one that says "The sole cause for terrorism is because the terrorists are evil", which leads nowhere).

There are causes other than the religious ones (because in the end, this Western de-construction of the Islamic texts is just self-serving - the Christian religious texts and history are just as full religious-sanctioned violence against "Pagans" or "Unbelievers"). Laden would be literally preaching on a desert if the objective conditions in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and other Islamic countries were different.
posted by nkyad at 1:39 PM on July 12, 2005


Yesno, Dios: Did you miss the part of the article where he concedes that for people like Bin Laden, there are larger concerns, but for the people who are likely to become suicide bombers (which are different from "homocide bombers," dhoyt. Notably, the Oklahoma bombers were homocide bombers, but not suicide bombers).
Poverty wasn't the root cause of Nazism, but the depression certainly encouraged mass approval.
The occupation of Saudi Arabia and Iraq are certainly the easiest recruitment motivators for groups like al Qaeda (and let's leave alone, for the moment, that they're not really a group per se, but an ideology). That's the point Pape is making. And his analysis of trends in terrorism is certainly more convincing than your weak-kneed snipes.
posted by klangklangston at 1:41 PM on July 12, 2005


sonofsamiam writes "However, the motivations of the leaders and instigators in both rabid camps are not the same as those of their unlucky soldiers."

Nice point, sonofsamiam; I'm glad someone pointed this out. The goals of the recruiters of suicide bombers would be irrelevant if it were impossible to recruit suicide bombers. I think it's important to make a distinction between an extremist leadership (political, religious, paramilitary, whatever) and public support for that leadership. We'll never be able to win the "hearts and minds" of the Al Qaeda leadership hiding in the caves of Baluchistan, but if we win over the hearts and minds of their potential recruits, we've won.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:42 PM on July 12, 2005


Seems like Bin Laden's own words don't support your contention. Basically he's following the teaching of the Koran which teaches that a Muslim must attack when attacked and must stop his attack when invaders and oppressors have been driven from their lands.

Excuse me, but the blatant targeting and murdering of civilians (NYC, Bali, Madrid, London) is never justified. It does not matter what name it is done in. How the FUCK does killing innocent people in London constitute a legitimate attack on the "oppressors" or "invaders?" Why did Bin Laden not target his attacks at the Saudi leadership who welcomed the U.S. with open arms?

If the national foreign policy of any country can be determined by an act of terrorism, what does that say, especially about democratic nations and their future? I don't think policy should be based on a reaction to what some psychopath reads in a book (in this case the Koran).

This entire situation is eerily similar to the Hashshashin and what they tried to do in the Middle East.
posted by tweak at 1:43 PM on July 12, 2005


Dhoyt: Apologies. Confused you with pardonyou?.
posted by klangklangston at 1:45 PM on July 12, 2005


Pollomacho,

My bin Laden quote and yours are from, I think, the same letter. Yet they seem to contradict each other. Sometimes, bin Laden calls for the conversion to Islam of the world. Other times, he just seems to want the West to leave the middle east alone.

I don't think we should take the public statements of terrorists seriously at all. They are calibrated for certain effects, not for truthful communication.

mondo,

I think simpler terminology would be the standard distinction between necessary and sufficient causes.

Everyone,

pretty please read that reason article.
posted by yesno at 1:46 PM on July 12, 2005


Oh, Christ/Muhammed. You're comparing the modern situation to Hassan i-Sabbah?!?!

Did you just last week read something about Muslim history for the first time?

It's not "eerily similar." It's not similar at all.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:47 PM on July 12, 2005


dios, you agree that fear of cultural invasion, economic, familial, and health hardship, poverty, and oppression provide prime picking grounds for those militant fundamentalist leaders who wish to recruit followers of their twisted violent worldviews. Are you arguing that it's solely, or even mostly, Islam that does this? Or that fundamentalist Islam is specifically tuned for a terrorist factory, or is it simply more prone to suicide bombers?

I would say poverty and whatnot provide followers for any form of fundamentalist, extremist belief system, whether it's fundamentalist Islam or Christianity or Hinduism*. You don't need a particular religion to produce terrorists, you just need extremists with a black/white worldview who have a lot of disenfranchised peoplet to prey on. Even if we eliminated Islam, I highly doubt some alternate craziness wouldn't arise to take its place.

*and if you think Buddhism is excluded, tell that to Sri Lanka.

On preview: Um, everyone pretty much said all this first. OH WELLZ
posted by schroedinger at 1:49 PM on July 12, 2005


Thematically, I think it is, sonofsamiam.

A small group of Muslims outside the religious mainstream kill in order to intimidate rulers and governments to get what they want. I should have said scary instead of eery, because the only thing that put the assassins out of commission was a Mongol invasion.

I think that's pretty accurate, but thank you for the cute ad hominem, your arrogance certainly helped me respect your own arguments.
posted by tweak at 1:51 PM on July 12, 2005


Excuse me, but the blatant targeting and murdering of civilians (NYC, Bali, Madrid, London) is never justified.

Who's trying to justify it? I'm trying to refute dios's contention that Bin Laden won't be satisfied until he's killed or converted everyone. According to Bin Laden's statements anyway, which is what he claimed lead him to his conclusion, this is not his plan. This is NOT an attempt by me to justify Bin Laden, it is an attempt to quote him.

If I quoted a Nazi saying "Jews are bad" it does not mean I think Jews are bad. It also isn't supporting his statements to find the part of Mein Kamf that the Nazi may be citing.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:52 PM on July 12, 2005


yesno: Except that a) that Reason article is just a fleshed out version of your comments here, and b) it's fundamentally flawed. Bin Laden isn't the one carrying out the suicide attacks, he's providing logistical support and unifying rhetoric. The priority should not be to eliminate him, but rather to undercut his base of support. We don't worry about white supremacists in this country not because they don't advocate very scary things, but rather because they have no popular support. Arguing that we must battle in the middle east because of speeches that Bin Laden has made is giving him too much credit, and is conceptualizing this conflict in Napoleanic tactics. We do not cut off the head of the hydra, we cut off its legs.
posted by klangklangston at 1:54 PM on July 12, 2005


Increasing the quality of life of people by bringing them freedom by democracy is a way to fight the spread of this form of Islam.

God help the army that must fight for an idea rather than an objective. After somehow failing to argue competently on behalf of a patently justifiable invasion, and as its more specious arguments were collapsing, the Bush administration then pivoted with breathtaking enthusiasm to nation building, something so Clinton-tinged that it had previously been held in contempt. The more that nation building in Iraq is in doubt, the more the mission creeps into a doubling of bets in hope of covering those that are lost. Now the goal is to reforge the politics, and perforce the culture, not merely of Iraq but of the billion-strong Islamic world from Morocco to the South Seas. That--evangelical democracy writ overwhelmingly large--is the manic idea for which the army must fight.
But no law of nature says a democracy is incapable of supporting terrorism, so even if every Islamic capital were to become a kind of Westminster with curlicues, the objective of suppressing terrorism might still find its death in the inadequacy of the premise. Even if all the Islamic states became democracies, the kind of democracies they might become might not be the kind of democracies wrongly presumed to be incapable of supporting terrorism...

If we could transform Germany and Japan, then why not Iraq? Approximately 150,000 troops occupy Iraq, which has a population of 26 million and shares long open borders with sympathetic Arab and Islamic countries where popular sentiment condemns America. The Iraqi army was dispersed but neither destroyed nor fully disarmed. The country is divided into three armed nations. Its cities are intact.

In contrast, on the day of Germany's surrender, Eisenhower had three million Americans under his command--61 divisions, battle hardened. Other Western forces pushed the total to 4.5 million in 93 divisions. And then there were the Russians, who poured 2.5 million troops into the Berlin sector alone. All in all, close to 10 million soldiers had converged upon a demoralized German population of 70 million that had suffered more than four million dead and 10 million wounded, captured, or missing. No sympathizers existed, no friendly borders. The cities had been razed. Germany had been broken, but even after this was clear, more than 700,000 occupation troops remained, with millions close by. The situation in Japan was much the same: a country with a disciplined, homogenous population, no allies, sealed borders, its cities half burnt, more than three million dead, a million wounded, missing, or captured, its revered emperor having capitulated, and nearly half a million troops in occupation. And whereas both Germany and Japan had been democracies in varying degree, Iraq has been ruled by a succession of terrifying autocrats since the beginning of human history.


Our Blindness
posted by y2karl at 2:00 PM on July 12, 2005


tweak writes "Excuse me, but the blatant targeting and murdering of civilians (NYC, Bali, Madrid, London) is never justified. It does not matter what name it is done in. How the FUCK does killing innocent people in London constitute a legitimate attack on the 'oppressors' or 'invaders?' Why did Bin Laden not target his attacks at the Saudi leadership who welcomed the U.S. with open arms?"

To paraphrase your indignation, how the FUCK does bombing innocent people in Baghdad constitute a legitimate attack on the 'oppressors'? If my memory serves me well, in the end it was because their leader was evil. Unfortunately, these reasoning applies perfectly - our civilians are as expendable to them as theirs are expendable to "us"

On preview, trying to understand the reasons and motives of the enemy does not mean justifying them or agreeing with those reasons and motives.
posted by nkyad at 2:01 PM on July 12, 2005


I think simpler terminology would be the standard distinction between necessary and sufficient causes.

You've got a point there. But the I prefer to emphasize the more neutral term "multivariate". Otherwise people just keep trying to argue that their cause is the sufficient cause, or at least that its "more necessary".
________________
posted by mondo dentro at 2:01 PM on July 12, 2005


Are there any historic examples where:

(1) there was a bloody terrorist war
(2) the imperial power withdrew from the terrorists' homeland
(3) the terrorism ended and everyone parted friends
posted by b1tr0t at 2:03 PM on July 12, 2005


b1tr0t writes "Are there any historic examples where:

"(1) there was a bloody terrorist war
"(2) the imperial power withdrew from the terrorists' homeland
"(3) the terrorism ended and everyone parted friends"


United States against England, Angola against Portugal, Algeria against France, Vietnan against France, Vietnan against United States, Vietnan against China (busy guys).
posted by nkyad at 2:08 PM on July 12, 2005


your arrogance certainly helped me respect your own arguments.

Yeah, I'm pretty worried about that, since you're clearly an interlocuter of the first order.

I seriously cannot fathom what you might be getting at beyond Muslims + Violence == SomeOtherMuslims + Violence. There's nothing beyond the most superficial of similarities. Intersectarian violence in Islam is a very, very complicated subject. There's a lot more variance among Islamic sects than western Christian sects.

The philosophies of bin Laden and the modern fundamentalists bear almost no resemblance to those of the medieval Ismailis, and it DOES matter.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:08 PM on July 12, 2005


b1tr0t writes "Are there any historic examples"

There's some analogy to the South African experience, b1tr0t, and maybe even to the British experience in South Asia. And given the current rapprochement between the U.S. and Vietnamese governments, you might have just described the long-term aftermath of the Vietnam war.

Suicide bombing is a relatively new phenomenon, however. In Israel/the occupied territories, Lebanon, and Sri Lanka, there have been peace processes in place that have resulted in (sometimes quite shakey) cease-fires. Only time will tell if those conflicts can be resolved peacefully.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:16 PM on July 12, 2005


"(1) there was a bloody terrorist war
"(2) the imperial power withdrew from the terrorists' homeland
"(3) the terrorism ended and everyone parted friends"


From the article:

"In Lebanon, for instance, there were 41 suicide-terrorist attacks from 1982 to 1986, and after the U.S. withdrew its forces, France withdrew its forces, and then Israel withdrew to just that six-mile buffer zone of Lebanon, they virtually ceased. They didn’t completely stop, but there was no campaign of suicide terrorism. Once Israel withdrew from the vast bulk of Lebanese territory, the [Hezbollah] suicide terrorists did not follow Israel to Tel Aviv."

Well, they didn't part friends but...
posted by y2karl at 2:19 PM on July 12, 2005


To paraphrase your indignation, how the FUCK does bombing innocent people in Baghdad constitute a legitimate attack on the 'oppressors'? If my memory serves me well, in the end it was because their leader was evil. Unfortunately, these reasoning applies perfectly - our civilians are as expendable to them as theirs are expendable to "us"

Come on. tweak was obviously talking about deliberate, planned, coordinated attacks on innocent civilians. I have seen no concrete evidence that the U.S. has deliberately and knowingly bombed innocent people in Baghdad. Or is that a distinction without a difference for you?
posted by pardonyou? at 2:19 PM on July 12, 2005


the title of the article is plagarized from Bruce Hoffman (who knoweth whereof he speaks)
posted by warbaby at 2:27 PM on July 12, 2005


pardonyou? writes "I have seen no concrete evidence that the U.S. has deliberately and knowingly bombed innocent people in Baghdad. "

Moving and deploying one billion dollar bombers or warships to deliver one million dollar missiles or bombs in populated areas is hardly done undeliberately and unknowingly. Your "collateral damage" was somebody's daughter.
posted by nkyad at 2:29 PM on July 12, 2005


United States against England, Angola against Portugal, Algeria against France, Vietnan against France, Vietnan against United States, Vietnan against China (busy guys).

heh. leave it to a country (US) that established itself using military tactics denounced as terrorism at the time by the dominant imperial power (Britain) to declare war on the very tactics it used to establish itself... see, history's full of little ironies like that. that's what makes it all worthwhile.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 2:30 PM on July 12, 2005


Your "collateral damage" was somebody's daughter.

Chalk it up to "the fog of war," I guess...
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 2:31 PM on July 12, 2005


I have seen no concrete evidence that the U.S. has deliberately and knowingly bombed innocent people in Baghdad.

If I have a statistical model of an air campaign that tells me the percentage of civilian dead and wounded that can be expected, and if I then go further and deliberately use euphemism to assuage my guilty conscience, by referring to these noncombatant casualties as "collateral damage", is there really all that much of a difference? Especially when the particular campaign being fought was picked for dubious motives? What about when we seal off a place prior to bombardment, a la Fallujah?

Yeah, there's a difference, but it's not quite big enough for me. Guess I'm just not enough of a moral relativist. I mean, wallowing in cognitive dissonance is not the same thing as virtue.
__________________
posted by mondo dentro at 2:33 PM on July 12, 2005


Pardonyou?: That is a fairly wan distinction, frankly. The targetting of innocent people by terrorists and the killing of innocent people through bombing that was sure to kill innocents in the pursuit of a goal, no matter how noble that goal was, are pretty similar. Or would the attacks on London have been acceptable if they legitimately believe that they had a chance at killing Blair?
posted by klangklangston at 2:35 PM on July 12, 2005


iron chef morimoto , you always make me :D
posted by nola at 2:37 PM on July 12, 2005


I concur with the best way to decrease suicide bombings is to improve quality of life thesis.

I also think that the main reasoning behind terrorism of this sort is political and that is sad.
posted by Mossy at 2:45 PM on July 12, 2005


United States against England, Angola against Portugal, Algeria against France, Vietnam against France, Vietnam against United States, Vietnam against China (busy guys).

How about France vs. Germany in WWII and Vietnam vs. Japan in WWII. Both incidentally were sponsored by the US and UK. The Vietnam incident lead to at least two of the other noted movements (Vietnam vs. France and US) by the very agent we trained to carry out the actions against Japan, Ho Chi Minh.
posted by Pollomacho at 2:54 PM on July 12, 2005


The targetting of innocent people by terrorists and the killing of innocent people through bombing that was sure to kill innocents in the pursuit of a goal, no matter how noble that goal was, are pretty similar.

I disagree. If you asked US soldiers currently in Iraq whether they'd prefer to bomb industrial targets or indiscriminately bomb cities with the possibility of killing civilians, I doubt many would say they'd prefer to risk killing innocents.

Terrorists, on the other hand...I think you know their policy. It may seem a small distinction to you, but it is large to many, and it is dangerous & dishonest to try and equate the goals of military—plenty of whom don't even want to be in Iraq—with those of fringe terrorists.
posted by dhoyt at 2:59 PM on July 12, 2005


"The cause of the bombings are a dangerous form of Islam."


So, what came first? Fundamentalism or adverse economic-political conditions?

Isn't it entirely possible, if not likely, that the brand of Islam that supports campaigns of suicide bombing is the direct result of disenfranchisement?

For example, are the United Arab Emirates or Kuwait particularly violent places? How often does a bomb go off in Dubai?
Not that often, if ever. Could that be a result of the staggering wealth of those countries?
What do you want to bet that the majority of suicide bombers come from particularly poor areas?
posted by Jon-o at 2:59 PM on July 12, 2005


mondo, 1 points for academic smackfu

morimoto, 1 point for teh funny
posted by spiderwire at 3:05 PM on July 12, 2005


Excuse me, but the blatant targeting and murdering of civilians (NYC, Bali, Madrid, London) is never justified. It does not matter what name it is done in.

I wonder how you feel about how you feel about our firebombing of Dresden, Hamburg, Tokyo, etc. in WWII.
posted by myeviltwin at 3:09 PM on July 12, 2005


The targetting of innocent people by terrorists and the killing of innocent people through bombing that was sure to kill innocents in the pursuit of a goal, no matter how noble that goal was, are pretty similar.

One of the reporters asks whether it isn't cowardly to have bombs carried in baskets to public places by Muslim women. M'Hidi quite sensibly replies, "Is it any less cowardly to bomb villages from planes with napalm? Give us your planes and we'll give you our baskets."

/apologies for linking to something called "epinions"
posted by iamck at 3:14 PM on July 12, 2005


Here's the logic: Martyrdom and religion are tools for maintaining power. Bin Laden and Bush both use religion and glorify martyrdom. The deaths are for God and country.

I don't expect bin Laden or Bush to relinquish power or cease using the tools at their disposal.
posted by surplus at 3:17 PM on July 12, 2005


As Robert Pape's paper The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism PDF

Abstract: Suicide terrorism is rising around the world, but the most common explanations do not help us understand why. Religious fanaticism does not explain why the world leader in suicide terrorism is the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, a group that adheres to a Marxist/Leninist ideology, while existing psychological explanations have been contradicted by the widening range of socio-economic backgrounds of suicide terrorists. To advance our understanding of this growing phenomenon, this study collects the universe of suicide terrorist attacks worldwide from 1980 to 2001, 188 in all. In contrast to the existing explanations, this study shows that suicide terrorism follows a strategic logic, one specifically designed to coerce modern liberal democracies to make significant territorial concessions. Moreover, over the past two decades, suicide terrorism has been rising largely because terrorists have learned that it pays. Suicide terrorists sought to compel American and French military forces to abandon Lebanon in 1983, Israeli forces
to leave Lebanon in 1985, Israeli forces to quit the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in 1994 and 1995, the Sri Lankan government to create an independent Tamil state from 1990 on, and the Turkish government to grant autonomy to the Kurds in the late 1990s. In all but the case of Turkey, the terrorist political cause made more gains after the resort to suicide operations than it had before. Thus, Western democracies should pursue policies that teach terrorists that the lesson of the 1980s and 1990s no longer holds, policies which in practice may have more to do with improving homeland security than with offensive military action.


dates from 2003 as well, warbaby, I think the titles are more a case of coincidence than plagiarism.

By the way, here is Hoffman's entire article.
posted by y2karl at 3:20 PM on July 12, 2005


dhoyt writes "it is dangerous & dishonest to try and equate the goals of military—plenty of whom don't even want to be in Iraq—with those of fringe terrorists."

If they were in any way "fringe" we wouldn't be having this discussion. Fringe terrorists nowadays are what is left of the Peruvian Sendero Luminoso ("Enlightened Path", a very Chinese name for a once very Maoist group), most racial/nationalist American militias, some animal rights groups. The Islamic Fundamentalists are a large (if porous) military force fighting a war against those their leaders appointed as the enemy, as any soldier would do. Terrorism, as it was already said in this thread, is a military tactic used many times throughout History by the weaker force in a conflict.
posted by nkyad at 3:31 PM on July 12, 2005


Was this posted because of the bombings in London? Other than some official statements today regarding four native-born Englishmen now being blamed, I haven't heard anything even from the government that the underground & bus bombings had anything to do with Islam, Iraq, etc. (Bush says "They hate our freedom" if you ask him his dog's name, so that's not exactly a reliable indicator.)

Why would anyone want to assume the religion of whoever did this? As for those flimsy & fake Web claims of responsibility, they've been officially debunked and even if they weren't, they're about the same as someone taking responsibility for a crime in Metafilter comments -- except people have actually heard of Metafilter and it doesn't vanish as soon as it's mentioned by Wolf Blitzer.
posted by kenlayne at 3:32 PM on July 12, 2005


My bin Laden quote and yours are from, I think, the same letter.

Sorry I didn't get back to this sooner, actually mine are from two different audio statements made by OBL and an interview conducted with him.

From the Letter sited within your article, it does indeed state that they are calling the west "to Islam." I don't know if he really means to convert people here or something else. After all if the westerners are truly ignorant of God and Islam and Ossama kills them then Ossama is the evil doer, If they have been taught and still reject Islam then God will punish them mightily, right? I'm just trying to understand that from his perspective. Maybe I shouldn't as I do agree that he is zealous kook and that his statements are indeed calculated for effect.
posted by Pollomacho at 3:51 PM on July 12, 2005


If they were in any way "fringe" we wouldn't be having this discussion. The Islamic Fundamentalists are a large (if porous) military force fighting a war against those their leaders appointed as the enemy, as any soldier would do.

Fringe, in the sense I was intending, was meant to imply that of the world's 1 billion Muslims, those taking up arms against 'infidels' & civilians are on the fringe, not the mainstream. Agreed?

People join the organized military for any number of reasons: to pay for college, they like the discipline, the lifestyle, they want a good retirement, they want to travel, they want to serve their country out of patriotism, or they want to seek a better life than the 9-to-5 existence can give them. My father and other relatives joined to find interesting applications for their respective careers: medicine and computer programming.

Terrorists, on the other hand, organize for the sole purpose of erasing their enemies from existence. They don't wish for a democracy, they don't wish for religious peace, they don't wish for a good career or a good retirement. They wish to take the simplest, most extreme and most selfish route to achieve their ends: murder in cold blood, often with hopes of religious martyrdom.

I maintain that the attempts here to equate the US military with fringe terror groups is dishonest, lazy, and does not hold water in the real world. Lucky for you, there is the internet, where no supposition is too off-base, or tenuous, or altogether crackpot.
posted by dhoyt at 3:54 PM on July 12, 2005


dhoyt writes "Terrorists, on the other hand, organize for the sole purpose of erasing their enemies from existence. They don't wish for a democracy, they don't wish for religious peace, they don't wish for a good career or a good retirement. They wish to take the simplest, most extreme and most selfish route to achieve their ends: murder in cold blood, often with hopes of religious martyrdom."

I don't really follow - you are proposing that all terrorist forces are nothing more than cold-blood killers without any further objective than the killing in and by itself. I find this extremely simplistic. Are you saying the Palestinian groups do not wish for some sort of resolution for their conflict? Or that the IRA didn't have very specific objectives and carried its dirty war guided narrowly by those objectives? Or that the Islamic groups that have been attacking the West are doing so just to vent their homicidal tendencies? Also, it does not matter why people join the military - in the end, the sole purpose of a military force is to make war against one's enemy. All else are side benefits that may or may not be present (or else, while honoring your father and grandfather you're dismissing not only irregular groups but also all military forces in many countries where democracy, religious peace, a good career or a good retirement are not available and still people join to defend what they hold dear).

dhoyt writes "I maintain that the attempts here to equate the US military with fringe terror groups is dishonest, lazy, and does not hold water in the real world. Lucky for you, there is the internet, where no supposition is too off-base, or tenuous, or altogether crackpot."

That was quite uncalled for in an otherwise civilized discussion. Even if you won't accept that the terrorist groups are a form of military force, the adjectives "dishonest" ," lazy" and "crackpot" should be qualified by specific explanations. Not that I really care, because as you said, this is the Internet - you too don't have to make any effort, you may just keep throwing empty words around and insulting anyone who disagrees. Eventually everybody will notice how brilliant and naturally correct your ideas are.
posted by nkyad at 4:16 PM on July 12, 2005


I have seen no concrete evidence that the U.S. has deliberately and knowingly bombed innocent people in Baghdad.

That's so cute, it's so nice that you really want to believe that, I'm not kidding. But you can't bomb a country without killing people. It is physically impossible. If you deliberately and knowingly bomb a country, you are deliberately and knowingly bombing innocent people. There has never been a war without innocent people dying, because that's what wars do, they kill innocent ordinary people. A military action that does not produce that result is not called war or bombing campaign, it's called covert operation, like targeted assassinations, stuff like that.

Please do keep that in mind, even if you want to argue the moral distinctions of principle, goal, cause, method, etc. between terrorism and war.
posted by funambulist at 4:21 PM on July 12, 2005


While I agree that comparisons between Al Queda and a trained national military force is short sided, dhoyt, I would not agree that religious martyrdom and cold blooded murder are in any way the same (besides, wouldn't angry, indiscriminate terrorists be committing hot blooded manslaughter?). One seeking martyrdom in the sense of this particular Islamic variety is not seeking a "selfish" goal, they wish to uplift their cause by their death. If they were selfish they would want to live to exist in the results of the change.

Discounting democracy or peace as their end goals without examination is a lazy way of dismissing a situation that is out of control. In their eyes they are more akin to Nathan Hale. Think of them more as the kamikaze in WWII, willing to give everything, even their lives, to stop the advancement of the unbelievers.

I'm not saying I agree with their cause as noble, but your assessment of their cause is simplistic at best.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:22 PM on July 12, 2005


nkyad writes "Fringe terrorists nowadays are what is left of the Peruvian Sendero Luminoso ('Enlightened Path', a very Chinese name for a once very Maoist group)"

Actually they're best known (at least outside Peru) as "Shining Path". Many of their leaders went on trial some time last year and were quite openly brazen (even in court) about their aims and means.
posted by clevershark at 4:25 PM on July 12, 2005


Is there a genuine, substantive difference between saying "I'm going to go and kill civilians" and "I know that bombing this area will kill civilians and I don't want that but I'll go ahead and do it anyway knowing that civilian deaths will ensue"?

In both cases there is the foreknowledge of death, and a conscious, open-eyed decision to go ahead with the act.
posted by clevershark at 4:29 PM on July 12, 2005


Terrorists, on the other hand, organize for the sole purpose of erasing their enemies from existence. They don't wish for a democracy, they don't wish for religious peace, they don't wish for a good career or a good retirement. They wish to take the simplest, most extreme and most selfish route to achieve their ends: murder in cold blood, often with hopes of religious martyrdom.

The King David Hotel in Jerusalem was built by the Moseri family, members of the wealthy and influential Jewish establishment in Cairo and Alexandria. They set up a shareholding company to finance its construction, consisting mainly of Egyptian businessmen and wealthy Jews from all over the world. The luxurious seven-storey building, with 200 rooms, was opened to the public in 1931. In 1938, the Mandatory government requisitioned the entire southern wing of the hotel, and housed the military command and the Mandatory government secretariat there. The British chose the King David for its central location and because it was easy to guard. They built a military communications center in the hotel basement and, for security reasons, added a side entrance linking the building to an army camp south of the hotel. Fewer than a third of the rooms were reserved for civilian use.

It will be recalled that after Black Sabbath (Saturday), Menahem Begin received a letter from Moshe Sneh (chief of the Haganah General Headquarters) with instructions to blow up the King David. After preparatory work and several postponements, Irgun fighters gathered at 7 am. on Monday, July 22, 1946 at the Bet Aharon Talmud Torah seminary in Jerusalem. They arrived one by one, gave the password and assembled in one of the classrooms. They realized that they were being sent on a mission, but none of them knew what the target was. Shortly afterwards, the senior command arrived and it was only when the briefing began that the assembled fighters discovered that they were going to strike at the King David Hotel...

For ten days, the British Engineering Corps cleared the wreckage, and on July 31 it was officially announced that 91 people had been killed in the explosion: 28 Britons, 41 Arabs, 17 Jews and 5 others.'


On May 20, 1948, the five big powers of the United Nations Security Council agreed in the choice of Count Bernadotte as mediator to seek peace in the Arab-Jewish conflict in Palestine. Ten days later he initiated conferences with Arab and Jewish lead ers in Palestine and Arab leaders in Cairo, Egypt, and Amman, Jordan. He succeeded in obtaining agreement to a four-week truce commencing June 11. On June 28 he submitted to the Arab League and the Israeli government a peace plan that both sides rejected in part. On July 12 he made a report to the United Nations Security Council, in session in New York, and shortly thereafter returned to Palestine.

On September 17, Count Bernadotte and Colonel Andre P. Serot of the French air force were assassinated in Jerusalem by members of the Stern group, an organization of extreme Zionists who had committed numerous atrocities over a period of years agains t the British and Arabs.

posted by y2karl at 4:31 PM on July 12, 2005


It is certainly about occupation.

But for thse that blow themselves into the nothing of death, it is entirely in the name of God.

Religion is an extremely effective political tool, and is always used by those in power to control the powerless. Religion affects people on a very personal, emotional level, allowing for an amazing depth of response from the masses, with very limited commands.

Once you control someone completly through religion, leaders simply issue code words, and like a sci fi machine the people act.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 4:36 PM on July 12, 2005


Religion is not the root cause of Islamic resistance and terrorism. It is, however, an essential cause of suicide bombing. The belief that one will go to heaven is almost essential for organised suicide bombings to take place. I don't see that this is in any doubt.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 4:50 PM on July 12, 2005


I agree with others who recognize that Pape's done a very useful thing by doing the hard work to look at all suicide terrorists to date to understand motivations. Without having read his book, I feel his thesis probably holds up well in terms of the horrifying spate of suicide terrorists seeking to destroy the construct of "The New Iraq".

However, what I think that historical data might not reflect is that the suicide attack on the United States on 9.11 was a genuinely new phenomenon in a variety of ways; scale, means, planning, etc.

His model probably reflects and predicts well the local Iraqi suicide terrorists, and our military and civilian leaders would be wise to try to learn from it.

But, without being the scientist that he is, I believe that 9.11 is a metastasizing of the phenomena into something else; something that recruits differently, objectively has different (or at least broader) aims than he suggests, and something that absolutely will require an equally paradigm shifting response to effectively counter.

A more Democratic Middle East would be one such response. Now how do we get there?
posted by extrabox at 4:51 PM on July 12, 2005


>>I disagree. If you asked US soldiers currently in Iraq whether they'd prefer to bomb industrial targets or indiscriminately bomb cities with the possibility of killing civilians, I doubt many would say they'd prefer to risk killing innocents.

Terrorists, on the other hand...I think you know their policy. It may seem a small distinction to you, but it is large to many, and it is dangerous & dishonest to try and equate the goals of military—plenty of whom don't even want to be in Iraq—with those of fringe terrorists.<<

I know that you disagree. Here's why I find your disagreements less than compelling: First off, that's a false dichotomy. Bombing industrial centers kills civilians, whether or not the toll is limited by the humanity of the attackers. Deciding what level of casualties are acceptable is not the same as eliminating casualties, and the motivations of both the terrorists and the troops are tactical more than anything else. By using suicide bombers, the terrorists believe that their objectives will be furthered. By bombing water treatment plants or automobile factories, military planners believe their objectives will be furthered. Trying to create a distinction relies entirely upon whether or not you agree with their goals, and the amount of rationalization you are prepared to engage in.
Second, the contention that many in the military do not wish to be in Iraq is wholly irrelevant. They follow the orders of those who clearly do wish to be in Iraq, and as such are the machinery through which war is conducted. The individual soldier's motivations matter not a whit when they conduct actions that kill civilians.
Further, you assert in a later comment that the only motivation of terrorists is the extermination of their enemy. This type of simplistic argument is exactly what the study mentioned in the FPP seeks to refute, with data, and belies a pretty fundamental back-defining of the word "terrorist." From the Jewish terrorists that founded Israel, to the Zapatista "terrorists" currently engaged in Chiapas, the word terrorist is broad enough to encompass many groups with many different motivations, very few of which can be boiled down simply to erasing their enemies.
I understand the points that you are trying to make, but they don't seem to be backed up by anything but rhetoric and your own views.


Pretty_Generic: Well, except for the Marxist Tamil Tigers, who (being Marxist) are generally disinclined to believe in God. Didja read the article?
posted by klangklangston at 4:54 PM on July 12, 2005


But for thse that blow themselves into the nothing of death, it is entirely in the name of God.

Nah, most who do do it in the name of revenge or for other people.
posted by Mossy at 4:57 PM on July 12, 2005


Extrabox: I'm not sure how 9/11 wouldn't fit in his pattern. Mostly because from what I know about the attackers, they seemed to fit his pattern pretty well.
Something I do find interesting is that one can extrapolate a common thread of nationalism out of the anti-occupation attacks, and that nationalism was the great killer of the 20th century. Honestly, I would have expected a move away from nationalism as a motivator, and a move toward economic motivations for political violence. I always thought of nationalism as a very modernist mindset, and expected more post-modernism...
posted by klangklangston at 4:57 PM on July 12, 2005


In the 1970s and the 1980s, the United States secured its interest in oil without stationing a single combat soldier on the Arabian Peninsula. Instead, we formed an alliance with Iraq and Saudi Arabia, which we can now do again. We relied on numerous aircraft carriers off the coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and naval air power now is more effective not less. We also built numerous military bases so that we could move large numbers of ground forces to the region quickly if a crisis emerged. That strategy, called “offshore balancing,” worked splendidly against Saddam Hussein in 1990 and is again our best strategy to secure our interest in oil while preventing the rise of more suicide terrorists.

Could somebody please tell me how this strategy does not contradict his main point?
posted by afroblanca at 4:59 PM on July 12, 2005


It's right there in front of you:

without stationing a single combat soldier on the Arabian Peninsula
posted by y2karl at 5:05 PM on July 12, 2005


But what about :

We relied on numerous aircraft carriers off the coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and naval air power now is more effective not less. We also built numerous military bases so that we could move large numbers of ground forces to the region quickly if a crisis emerged.
posted by afroblanca at 5:06 PM on July 12, 2005


klangklanston; for one thing, "9.11 Terrorists" share an explicit vision of Islam as being much bigger than any one state; in this vision it is not a simple matter of troops in Saudi Arabia - it's a vision that sees any Western 'infidel" presence anywhere in Islamic lands as a defiling of that environment. Under this new paradigm, the bombing in Spain was not only an attack that fits Pape's data, but also an attack that imagines recapturing Spain itself as an Islamic land. While it would make sense that the 9.11 suicide terrorists fit his model in one sense, they are also larger than the model; trite as it may be, the "9.11 terrorists" are globalized. These suicide attackers aren't confining themselves to Iraq - they are in London, Madrid, and New York. And as an international, borderless force, their identification with Islam seems far more relevant.
posted by extrabox at 5:35 PM on July 12, 2005


I think his point is you need an army on the ground to have an occupation. No army of occupation, no campaign of suicide terrorism.

...Moreover, over the past two decades, suicide terrorism has been rising largely because terrorists have learned that it pays. Suicide terrorists sought to compel American and French military forces to abandon Lebanon in 1983, Israeli forces to leave Lebanon in 1985, Israeli forces to quit the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in 1994 and 1995, the Sri Lankan government to create an independent Tamil state from 1990 on, and the Turkish government to grant autonomy to the Kurds in the late 1990s. In all but the case of Turkey, the terrorist political cause made more gains after the resort to suicide operations than it had before. Thus, Western democracies should pursue policies that teach terrorists that the lesson of the 1980s and 1990s no longer holds, policies which in practice may have more to do with improving homeland security than with offensive military action.

This was the point that Bruce Hoffman more specifically

The United States, of course, is not Israel. However much we may want to harden our hearts and our targets, the challenge goes far beyond fortifying a single national airline or corralling the enemy into a territory ringed by walls and barbed-wire fences that can be intensively monitored by our armed forces. But we can take precautions based on Israel's experience, and be confident that we are substantially reducing the threat of suicide terrorism here.

The police, the military, and intelligence agencies can take steps that work from the outside in, beginning far in time and distance from a potential attack and ending at the moment and the site of an actual attack. Although the importance of these steps is widely recognized, they have been implemented only unevenly across the United States.

* Understand the terrorists' operational environment. Know their modus operandi and targeting patterns. Suicide bombers are rarely lone outlaws; they are preceded by long logistical trails. Focus not just on suspected bombers but on the infrastructure required to launch and sustain suicide-bombing campaigns. This is the essential spadework. It will be for naught, however, if concerted efforts are not made to circulate this information quickly and systematically among federal, state, and local authorities.

* Develop strong, confidence-building ties with the communities from which terrorists are most likely to come, and mount communications campaigns to eradicate support from these communities. The most effective and useful intelligence comes from places where terrorists conceal themselves and seek to establish and hide their infrastructure. Law-enforcement officers should actively encourage and cultivate cooperation in a nonthreatening way.

* Encourage businesses from which terrorists can obtain bomb-making components to alert authorities if they notice large purchases of, for example, ammonium nitrate fertilizer; pipes, batteries, and wires; or chemicals commonly used to fabricate explosives. Information about customers who simply inquire about any of these materials can also be extremely useful to the police.

* Force terrorists to pay more attention to their own organizational security than to planning and carrying out attacks. The greatest benefit is in disrupting pre-attack operations. Given the highly fluid, international threat the United States faces, counterterrorism units, dedicated to identifying and targeting the intelligence-gathering and reconnaissance activities of terrorist organizations, should be established here within existing law-enforcement agencies. These units should be especially aware of places where organizations frequently recruit new members and the bombers themselves, such as community centers, social clubs, schools, and religious institutions.

* Make sure ordinary materials don't become shrapnel. Some steps to build up physical defenses were taken after 9/11-reinforcing park benches, erecting Jersey barriers around vulnerable buildings, and the like. More are needed, such as ensuring that windows on buses and subway cars are shatterproof, and that seats and other accoutrements are not easily dislodged or splintered. Israel has had to learn to examine every element of its public infrastructure. Israeli buses and bus shelters are austere for a reason.

* Teach law-enforcement personnel what to do at the moment of an attack or an attempt. Prevention comes first from the cop on the beat, who will be forced to make instant life-and-death decisions affecting those nearby. Rigorous training is needed for identifying a potential suicide bomber, confronting a suspect, and responding and securing the area around the attack site in the event of an explosion. Is the officer authorized to take action on sighting a suspected bomber, or must a supervisor or special unit be called first? Policies and procedures must be established. In the aftermath of a blast the police must determine whether emergency medical crews and firefighters may enter the site; concerns about a followup attack can dictate that first responders be held back until the area is secured. The ability to make such lightning determinations requires training-and, tragically, experience. We can learn from foreign countries with long experience of suicide bombings, such as Israel and Sri Lanka, and also from our own responses in the past to other types of terrorist attacks.


A lot of this is old advice but then the article dates from 2003. Whether or not it or aything like it has been taken is another matter entirely.
posted by y2karl at 5:42 PM on July 12, 2005


y2karl, thanks for the reference to Pape's 2003 paper (which is dated August) and finding the link to Hoffman's (which is dated April). But the plagarism I was referring to was the title in American Conservative. It may just be an oversite, but not one that is supposed to occur in professional publications. Ah, well. I don't think it's worth pursuing.

In regard to the question of resistance and occupation, I think it is important to distinguish between resisting an unlawful occupation and insurgency which seeks to overthrow a legitimate government. The situation in Iraq is a continuation of the invasion, there was no discontinuity of the establishment of a legitimate government. It's a small point, but the use of insurgency to refer to what is realistically a resistance is a reframing of the issue that begs the question of the relationship between the combatants.

If this misperception is shared by US leaders, it's no wonder they are unable to grasp the nature of the conflict or that their strategy contains so many errors. To paraphrase: you fight the conflict you have, not the one you want. But the Bush regime's delusions are about the only constant in their policy.
posted by warbaby at 5:58 PM on July 12, 2005


OK. Accepted as true. Now what?

That's really the $64,000 question. Unfortunately, the most logical route--appeasement--also has some really bad historical cases: Chamberlain with Hitler, Roosevelt with Stalin... you have to have a really good understanding of what motivates them. If it's territorial expansion, you can't submit. If it's simply "get out of my fucking country," well, I think they've got a point.

The problem is, no one wants a dialogue. The way I see it, if someone tells me he's going to kill himself and take me with him, well, I want to know what his beef is, because maybe we can work something out. I tend to think that most people are selfish enough to value their own lives enough to only risk sacrificing it when the issue is greatly important to them. Given that, they at least deserve to be heard out. Hell, it's in our own best interests.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:12 PM on July 12, 2005


"Force terrorists to pay more attention to their own organizational security than to planning and carrying out attacks. "

WHAT!!?? Using counterterrorism units to fight terrorism?
Why! Why that's just crazy talk! You don't need counterterrorist groups. We just need to bomb more stuff! Everyone's a counterterrorism expert nowadays anyway. Hell, quonsar was a tadpole in SEAL 6 so long they call him Jurrasic Frog. Goedel was in Delta when they were still calling it Alpha. Mondo dentro was the one who gave Demo Dick the idea for DEVGRU.*
...aaand the joke collapses in a steaming heap.

"God help the army that must fight for an idea rather than an objective."
A-fuckin'-men.


*No offense meant guys, just took the first coupla names to post
posted by Smedleyman at 6:15 PM on July 12, 2005


Y2karl says : I think his point is you need an army on the ground to have an occupation. No army of occupation, no campaign of suicide terrorism.

Well, I can accept the basic premise of military occupation as the wellspring of suicide terrorism. However, I think that he runs into trouble when he starts proposing a way to "secure our oil interests without encouraging the rise of suicide terrorists."

I mean, seriously, isn't that, like, the 64 million dollar question for the new millennium? Plus, I think that it's seriously flawed to point at the policies of the 80's and 90's as a success, considering where they led us to.
posted by afroblanca at 6:33 PM on July 12, 2005


Post-Comment : What Civil_Disobedient said

(wow, similar phrasing and everything)
posted by afroblanca at 6:45 PM on July 12, 2005


As far as the "army of occupation" as a necessary condition; where pray tell, was the American army of occupation in respect to the bombing of the African embassies in 1998 or the later attack on the Stark, eh? Oops. Heh, heh.

Thanks again for the Pape 2003 paper. The first page is mostly chest-pounding and gloating that Pape's pro-war faction is now guiding policy and Hoffman's faction is mostly sidelined. I guess all the wonderful progress in Iraq and Afghanistan is evidence of how smart Pape's clique is.

It's interesting how he mischaracterized people as "traditionalists." This is particularly hilarious because he then goes on to cite ground-breaking papers (which were very much minority positions that became majorities after extensive open debate.)

Shorter Pape: War on Terra good! Flypaper theory good! (pounds chest and yodels war cry.) Sheesh, another cocktail party commando.
posted by warbaby at 7:12 PM on July 12, 2005


Question for those who think terrorism is about religion:

Some exceptionally benevolent country has invaded the US. and is currently occupying a large swath of your home state. What do you do? I know what I would do, and I'm not muslim.
posted by Freen at 7:23 PM on July 12, 2005


radical Islam is the common denominator for suicide

Thats rediculous. Historically it is not true, and there plenty of radical islamists that dont kill themselves, and there are suicide bombers who are not radical Islamists.
posted by stbalbach at 7:29 PM on July 12, 2005


I have seen no concrete evidence that the U.S. has deliberately and knowingly bombed innocent people in Baghdad.

Before the war started:
Air war commanders were required to obtain the approval of Defense Secretary Donald L. Rumsfeld if any planned airstrike was thought likely to result in deaths of more than 30 civilians. More than 50 such strikes were proposed, and all of them were approved.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:44 PM on July 12, 2005


Witness the Tamil Tigers, a Marxist-Leninist group. Which should settle the muslim = suicide isssue for people who want a reality-based understanding. But since klangklangston made this point upthread, I guess some people would rather repeat themselves than read.

Pape completely misses the point that Hoffman makes about religiously motivated terrorism being different from "Clauswitzian" warfare as an extension of political policy. Hoffman (and I) don't buy the argument that terrorism is a form of warfare. Warfare may engage in terroristic tactics, but there's a fallacy in equating the two. Terrorism is distict from warfare, something that Pape explicitly denies. It's a huge difference and Pape falls in with the people who treat international terrorism as the only form.

As a result, their analysis falls on its face when confronted with the reality of domestic terrorism (which they don't address at all.) The problem becomes manifest in a situation like Israel or Iraq. Pape's proposed solution is to geographically or demographically (whatever the hell that means -- apartheid?) the conflicting populations. So he endorses the wall in Israel and suggests that the ultimate solution to American foreign policy concerns is 1930's style (i.e. pro-fascist) isolationism similar to what racial nationalists like Pat Buchanan advocate.
posted by warbaby at 7:49 PM on July 12, 2005


Please stop putting horizontal rules under your comments. Your words are no more special than anyone else's. If you wish to set them apart, use them well, rather than underlining them. [/derail]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:50 PM on July 12, 2005


Freen - What does your question have to do with, say, the mostly Saudi terrorists behind 9.11?

America never 'invaded' Saudi Arabia - we did have military bases, but our military presence there was never that of an invading army.

As it is now coming out that those responsible for the London bombings were all four British born, Pape's model would suggest that they acted to get the US military out of England, not Iraq or Afghanistan.

But more likely, they are/were Islamic radicals who identified more with a perversion of Islam that they believed was shared throughout the Islamic world, than the particular nation state they happen to have been born in, and were citizens of.

And I don't believe Pape's model really accounts for this.
posted by extrabox at 8:29 PM on July 12, 2005


stav, don't be a drama queen. Show me the collateral damage from horizontal rules under comments. Explain to me how horizontal rules under comments have threatened the homeland in any significant way. If your only argument is some arbitrary and querulous protest against "specialness" -- then I've clearly overestimated the loft of your down, my feathered friend.
posted by vetiver at 8:41 PM on July 12, 2005


But the plagarism I was referring to was the title in American Conservative.

Huh ? Pape's book is entitled Dying To Win: The Logic of Suicide Terrorism. Which is a title he took from his original 2003 paper The Strategic Logic Of Suicide Terrorism. Hence the American Conservative article title. Hoffman wrote an article and Pape wrote a paper with the same title in the same year. I mean, oh wow, man, they both used the phrase suicide terrorism. How lucky is that ?

You know, one can argue that, considering the overlapping topics of either article or paper, the titles are, well, logical.

But, Hoffman was first! Pape stole his title, man! OK, you win.

Anyway, Pape in his interview, says

Thus, Western democracies should pursue policies that teach terrorists that the lesson of the 1980s and 1990s no longer holds, policies which in practice may have more to do with improving homeland security than with offensive military action.

Now, in his 2003 paper, Pape writes

...although study of the personal characteristics of suicide attackers may someday help identify individuals terrorist organizations are likely to recruit for this purpose, the vast spread of suicide terrorism over the last two decades suggests that there may not be a single profile. Until recently, the leading experts in psychological profiles of suicide terrorists characterized them as uneducated, unemployed, socially isolated, single men in their late teens and early 20s. Now we know that suicide
terrorists can be college educated or uneducated, married or single, men or women, socially isolated or integrated, from age 13 to age 47.

In other words, although only a tiny number of people become terrorists, they come from a broad cross section of lifestyles, and it may be impossible to pick them out in advance. In contrast to the first-wave explanations, this article shows that suicide terrorism follows a strategic logic. Even if many attackers are irrational or fanatical, the leadership groups that recruit and direct them are not. Viewed from the perspective of the terrorist organization, suicide attacks are designed to achieve specific political purposes: to coerce a target government to change policy, to mobilize additional recruits and financial support, or both. Crenshaw has shown that terrorism is best understood in terms of its strategic function; the same is true for terrorism. In essence, suicide terrorism is an extreme form of what Thomas Schelling calls 'the rationality of irrationality,' in which an act that is irrational for individual attackers is meant to demonstrate credibility to a democratic audience that still more and greater attacks are sure to come. As such, modern suicide terrorism is analogous to instances of international coercion. For states, air power and economic sanctions are often the preferred coercive tools. For terrorist groups, attacks are becoming the coercive instrument of choice.


I don't know where in the the fuck you get

Shorter Pape: War on Terra good! Flypaper theory good!

or

The first page is mostly chest-pounding and gloating that Pape's pro-war faction is now guiding policy and Hoffman's faction is mostly sidelined. I guess all the wonderful progress in Iraq and Afghanistan is evidence of how smart Pape's clique is...

out of that.

Where you get all this Pape's pro-war faction and Hoffman's faction or flypaper theory shit or that he endorses the wall in Israel out of anything Pape wrote or said is beyond me. How about some quotes to back up all this pounds chest and yodels war cry confabulation of yours ? We are not reading the same paper.

You're just blowing it out of your ass, talking big and making sweeping assertions that have, as far as I can tell, next to nothing to do with anything either Pape or Hoffman wrote. You are not exactly coherent. Stop making sentences, start making sense.

I'm with stavros on the underlining. What is up with that ?
posted by y2karl at 9:40 PM on July 12, 2005


"Suicide terrorism is rising around the world, but the most common explanations do not help us understand why."
Perhaps this is a completely stupid alternative explanation- but has the internet anything to do with this?
Are we seeing the internet functioning as an accelerant? Plugging murderous extremists into that "international, borderless force" of a like-minded minority in a way that simply wasn't possible 20 years ago?
If suicide bombers are maddened individualists who need massive group validation to act - they can hardly be better primed to go off THAN by the net.
Just looking for a more coherent theory than American - or American-style - foreign policy and one which also fits the relatively very recent dates of the phenomenon.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 9:44 PM on July 12, 2005


Geeze, Karl. Calm down. I'm speaking from personal experience and I guess I should translate. Sorry I sounded so provacative, but I'm not picking a fight with anybody here. I disagree strongly with Pape's positions.

I'm particularly irked that he uses Jenkins and Hoffman's data from the RAND terrorism chronology, doesn't provide a citation for others' work and has the gall to claim in the interview that his is first and original with the data on suicide terrorists. He's ten years late and not original.

The first page of the 2003 paper was Pape boasting about his faction (meaning militarists who favor isolationism) got the upper hand over the internationalists who don't favor military action as the first choice against terrorism (meaning Hoffman, Jenkins, Laquer, Rappoport et al.) Yes, I know these guys and have worked with several of them. The Holy War paper is on my web site and Bruce gave me permission to post it, since RAND wasn't putting up a lot of stuff on their site at the time.

Pape, 2003, pg. 15 bottom of column 1:
...the best course to improve Israel's security may well be a combined strategy: abandoning territory on the West Bank along with an actual wall that physically separates the population.
Look, there are policy disputes over this stuff. There sure as hell wasn't a lot of consensus backing Bush and the moves he has made, like the National Security Strategy, completely threw over the traces of most of the progress in pursuing peace versus making permanent limited war (aka the Reagan Doctrine.) Pape is aligned with the isolationist conservative -- who are further to the right than the neocons, though they share some goals and policies (particularly concerning support for the Likud.)
posted by warbaby at 10:28 PM on July 12, 2005


All I'm asking is what would it take for you to engage in acts of terrorism. Religion or another country in your back yard?

For me, I know that if the russians invaded, or had bases on American soil, I'd go all Red Dawn on them. If the religious right took over, I'd vote. What about you?

Look, take the American Revolution. The guerilla tactics of the revolutionaries was approximately the equivalent of terrorism back then. Was it about religious belief or nationalism?
posted by Freen at 12:00 AM on July 13, 2005


I read this article (and a few others from May when the book was released [incidentally, much of Pape's dialogue seems very very similar to a press release he made]) yesterday sometime and was immediately struck by how simplistic was the argument being proffered.

OK, maybe it's of contributing value to data analyze the suicidal bombings from the last 20-odd years in terms of adding to the core knowledge base on guerilla tactics but I'm not persuaded that reducing the problem to a simple occupational thesis helps our overall understanding.

I'm a little remiss in not having read all the comments here but it seems to me that suicial bombing is a tactic applied in particular scenarios and it is the elucidation of events that make up each data point which ought to be of greater interest to those who seek to prevent further episodes.

Doubtless fringe Islamic interpretation of the Koran plays a role in many cases. But it is quite likely, in a given situation that oppressive trade embargoes, poverty, internal corruption of local politics, cultural and familial peer pressure, restriction of citizen rights and a whole truckload of other phenomena have a variable contribution to the problem.

So, I'll just say thanks Mr Pape for crunching the data. It's of passing interest.
posted by peacay at 12:49 AM on July 13, 2005


extrabox said: America never 'invaded' Saudi Arabia - we did have military bases, but our military presence there was never that of an invading army.

That's not the way a whole lot of Arabs and/or Muslims see it. To them the US bases in on holy soil were allowed in by a weak, corrupt, and damn near apostate Saudi regime to make it an agent of Crusader imperialism, and to them the American military presence is an occupation.

Parallel: in 1979 the Afghan regime invited the Soviet Union to lend "fraternal assistance", but that's not how a large part of the Afghani people saw it. As they saw it their country had been invaded and occupied -- a perception the US certainly reinforced, which is where Osama came from in the first place.

The important thing to remember is that to the opponents of the US military presence there, there is no real difference between the Soviet presence in Afghanistan and the US presence in Arabia. You can argue with them all you want, all that "we're only here to help defend you," etc. etc., but they'll keep saying "Yes, that's what the Soviets said about Afghanistan." And when you come down to it they're right: a government they don't think much of invited a bunch of non-Muslim foreigners to send "fraternal assistance".

Be strong enough to admit the truth.
posted by davy at 6:09 AM on July 13, 2005


Well said, davy.
posted by Freen at 6:32 AM on July 13, 2005


Warfare may engage in terroristic tactics, but there's a fallacy in equating the two. Terrorism is distinct from warfare

Are you kidding? "Terrorism" is a term that is applied to the martial actions of a desperate faction that has relatively few resources. What we call "acts of terror" are guerilla actions that are designed to send a political message. Just because they're not forming ranks and facing the opposition on a clear battlefield doesn't mean their activity isn't "war." Sure, terrorism is scary and it's intended to frighten, but so is any bombing.

Every explosion sends a message. If the US bombs some factory, it's as symbolic as it is tactical. It's an assertion of power and a demand for compliance.
If a "terrorist" blows himself up in a shopping mall, that action, too, is an assertion of power and a demand for compliance.

Of course, bombing a factory and bombing a shopping mall have different tactical motives. The destruction of a factory would hamper the enemy's mechanism of war and make it more difficult for them to fight conventional battles. "Terrorist" attacks, being unconventional, obviously can't be expected to share the conventional logic of target selection. They simply don't have the options that accompany aerial bombardment. Without those options, they're limited to targets that any civilian can access. A guerilla army will take what it can get.

One might argue that the expressed point of terrorism is to inflict casualties on the civilian population, and that probably isn't that far from the truth. But "war" isn't defined by who dies from it. War is a struggle between to groups who want the other to submit. Terrorism acknowledges and relies on a strategy that has been know to conventional generals for centuries: make sure that the war costs the enemy more than it costs you. While a civilian death doesn't hurt our military infrastructure as much as the loss of a factory, it puts pressure on our government to expedite the conflict and to take the effort to win quickly abroad while appeasing us at home.

I think was The Art of War that said, "If you can't move, force your enemy to move."

All in all, I think that the word "terrorism" does more to dehumanize and underestimate the enemy than it does to actually define the activity.
posted by Jon-o at 6:42 AM on July 13, 2005


That is nonsense. The idea that these wouldn't occur if we simply removed our bases is the most asinine argument one could put forth.

dios, they may still hate us but it would be very difficult to recruit people disaffected and angry enough to sacrifice their lives to hit a foreign land without a domestic provocation.

I understand you don't like the author's conclusion for political reasons, and I further can comprehend (but don't agree with, primarily because I think our occupation and forward projection in the Middle East is based on bad policy) the argument that we should not be deterred from our Middle Eastern adventures by terrorists. But to claim that suicide attacks on our troops and civilians wouldn't decrease if we removed our most obvious provocations seems pretty, well, asinine.
posted by norm at 7:08 AM on July 13, 2005


Please stop putting horizontal rules under your comments. Your words are no more special than anyone else's. If you wish to set them apart, use them well, rather than underlining them.

Thanks for that contribution to the thread, stavrosthewonderchicken. Which is a bigger breach of thread etiquette? Derailing the thread with a trivial, totally off-topic remark, or using a typographic convention of which you don't approve?

First of all, you have one serious self esteem problem if you think this has anything to do with thinking one's words are "special". Get a freaking life.

Now, notice how everyone puts spaces between paragraphs? The only way I found to have an equally-sized space after the last paragraph is with an underrule. (I'm not an HTML jock.) I suppose I could just put one a character wide, if that would less offend your delicate sensibilities. I'd prefer a blank line. There's no real reason for this, other that I think it looks nicer. Either way, it's a trivial typographic preference. Nothing more.

And speaking of emphasizing text, everyone italicises parts of their posts? Why is that any different? Are those emphasized words too "special"?

What a jackass.

P.S. Now, if there is an actual rule (official or community) at this site (no pun intended) to not put the end-rule, I'll comply. I'll think it's stupid, but I'll comply.
__
posted by mondo dentro at 7:19 AM on July 13, 2005


No, I'm not kidding. When I make jokes I wiggle my ears.

The definitional problem of terrorism has been a big stumbling block. If you can't distinguish between war and terrorism then then the solution to the problem of terrorism is war. And we have seen what a swell idea that is.

Some guys at the UN terrorism studies group offered up this definition: "Terrorism consists of acts that would be considered war crimes in time of war."

But terrorism is distinct from war and crime, though it partakes of aspects of both. It is a distinct thing, as evidenced by the fact that we are discussing terrorism here, and not war or crime, per se.

It looks like the old lumpers (inductive arguing from the general to the specific) versus splitters (deductive going from specific to general) indebate. I'm arguing for split then lump. YMMV.
posted by warbaby at 7:21 AM on July 13, 2005


But for thse that blow themselves into the nothing of death, it is entirely in the name of God.

The LTTE ('tamil tigers') are a pretty secular organization, and were the first group to carry out suicide bombings. I think for these people that blow themselves into the nothing of death, it's sometimes in the name of desperation.
posted by chunking express at 7:28 AM on July 13, 2005


The first page of the 2003 paper was Pape boasting about his faction (meaning militarists who favor isolationism) got the upper hand over the internationalists who don't favor military action as the first choice against terrorism (meaning Hoffman, Jenkins, Laquer, Rappoport et al.)

I don't know where you are getting all this stuff. Note that the text quoted in my last comment is from page 1 of The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism.

...In essence, suicide terrorism is an extreme form of what Thomas Schelling calls 'the rationality of irrationality,' in which an act that is irrational for individual attackers is meant to demonstrate credibility to a democratic audience that still more and greater attacks are sure to come. As such, modern suicide terrorism is analogous to instances of international coercion. For states, air power and economic sanctions are often the preferred coercive tools. For terrorist groups, attacks are becoming the coercive instrument of choice.

That's pretty much how the first page reads--there is an abstract and then he begins explain his study in fairly straightforward academese. The subject is suicide terrorism. You drag in all this boasting and faction talk from god knows where and go on about how he is gloating. You have read a lot into that first page. Where is the gloating ?

You claim expertise, drop a series of names, make all these wild assertions about factions on one hand and blather about a title being plagiarized on the other. Big talk.
posted by y2karl at 7:44 AM on July 13, 2005


If you don't know the positions of the authors, I can see where you wouldn't understand my initial comment. But I've explained that. The section you've quoted is Clauswitzian (terrorism is an instrument for the pursuit of political policy).

I see Pape's subtext, you don't. Ok fine. You didn't see the stuff he wrote about the wall either. Cool.

Perhaps we should stick to small talk. What do you think of horizontal rules? *wiggles ears*
posted by warbaby at 7:59 AM on July 13, 2005


hmmm. Looks like things are moving over here.
posted by warbaby at 8:41 AM on July 13, 2005


The first page is mostly chest-pounding and gloating that Pape's pro-war faction is now guiding policy and Hoffman's faction is mostly sidelined. I guess all the wonderful progress in Iraq and Afghanistan is evidence of how smart Pape's clique is.

You were saying something about cocktail party commandos ? That is some subtext, Mr. Because I Said So.
posted by y2karl at 9:08 AM on July 13, 2005


warbaby says:So he... suggests that the ultimate solution to American foreign policy concerns is 1930's style (i.e. pro-fascist) isolationism similar to what racial nationalists like Pat Buchanan advocate.

Is Isolationism really such a bad response? Wouldn't it, following the logic of Pape, cut the legs out from under the recruiters and the actual "suiciders"?

Also, I didn't notice anything particularly pro-facist in the article. Is Pape's proximity to Buchanan's publication and views enough to make the philosophy of isolationism from the Arabian Peninsula "pro-facist"? I may find Buchanan's stances on many issues offensive, but that doesn't take away from the validity of his and Pape's opinion in this case.
posted by aburd at 10:49 AM on July 13, 2005


No, he's a pro-Likud isolationist--didn't you read that sentence fragment which proves it beyond the shadow of a doubt?--just like Pat Buchanan. Pat Buchanan is famous for his pro-Likud isolationism. We all know that. warbaby also asserts Pape is pro-Iraq War in the thread above:

The first page is mostly chest-pounding and gloating that Pape's pro-war faction is now guiding policy and Hoffman's faction is mostly sidelined. I guess all the wonderful progress in Iraq and Afghanistan is evidence of how smart Pape's clique is.

He's part of the pro-Likud pro-Fascist pro-Iraq War isolationist militarist faction who steals article titles. It's so obvious.
posted by y2karl at 11:37 AM on July 13, 2005


Anybody who believes "terrorism is never justified" needs to consider the American squashing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, both largely civilian targets.

Please, go ahead and argue that those bombings were justified, as you'll only be supporting the uncomfortable axiom, "Terrorism is, um, *sometimes* justified."

That's the parallel between the morality of Islamic terrorists and the US dropping the A-bomb: Assuming "losing" is not an option, as it wasn't for us in WW2, is it better to strike a few civilian targets, killing maybe 5-10,000 civilians, total? Or to wage a head-on war (assuming they had the means), which would kill 100s of thousands? Which is the more "moral" course of action?
posted by LordSludge at 1:55 PM on July 13, 2005


"All in all, I think that the word "terrorism" does more to dehumanize and underestimate the enemy than it does to actually define the activity."
Well said Jon-o.

We don't live in Sun Tzu's world anymore. Not that your quote isn't relevent, mobility is still the key to warfare. But cities are no longer obstacles. Modern war fighting IS city fighting. It's not necessary to move the enemy so much as it is to soak into him (Musashi).

What's the difference between 1,000 miles and 500 miles?
Eight million people.

Out in the field you have to worry about recon, air defense, NBC defense, fire planning, and other tactical issues while balancing resouces for offensive and defensive ops.
In urban warfare, these problems become nearly inconsequential while your trying to cover your own PR, refugees, unrest in crowds, the local governments who might have a beef with - whatever - , street gangs, schools, the local cops, cultural/religeous sites, disease, etc - all while trying to not run roughshod over the infrastructure and private property.

Bombing by air, which sucks, and does kill civilians, does alleviate some of those issues and may, in the long run, ultimately save more lives than it takes.

Why?

Because right now our leaders think of close quarter battle in the Vietnam or WWII sense of clearing rooms. City fighting is no longer all about the infantry. Mogadishu, if it taught us anything, taught us the rules of engagement no longer apply.
That is - once the enemy knows you won't shoot non-combatants, they will hide behind them. Shoot them, you are the asshole. So what's the current solution? Well, clear them beforehand. Bomb.
Do I like that? No fucking way.

But suicide bombing is the rough eqivalent to that air assault. Only more advanced.

Why?

Theater operations have become fully integrated with global considerations, particularly considering communications, etc. The troops oon the ground are not just a force, but a diplomatic, ecomomic and cultural factor.

The tactical level of warfare has changed over the past years. We were - very slowly - getting up to speed (I'd again point to Kennedy's - et.al - creation of the SEALs and other spec op war groups). Urban ops have redefined the tactical level of war.

What we need is an interagency task force (non-mercenary) that is military but can train and administer police, administrate municipal areas, put out money for arms and intellignence as well as economic development, straighten out the gangs as well as communicate with the middle class, deal with the media as well as psyops, and slowly fade into a civilian operation. Pretty much like a river move from rock to silt to mud to clear water in projecting strategy into tactical level operations.

How does that relate? The "terrorists" are already there. They have agents already soaking in to us projecting their global and theater level strategies into tactical level operations.

Our technology may be superior, but their ability to translate their plans is much more advanced.

On the other hand, perhaps part of the problem is we're not so sure what our plans are. Typically this means deception or betrayal at some level. Or stupidity. Bureaucratic resistance perhaps? I don't know. But this "they hate freedom" and "war on terror" jingoism doesn't fill me with trust in our global strategy.
To quote Willard: "I don't see any 'method' at all."
posted by Smedleyman at 3:04 PM on July 13, 2005


"Which is the more "moral" course of action?"
LordSludge, when you are engaged in a fight - winning is the only morality. All other considerations are secondary.
To (loosely) quote Brecht: Food first, then politics.

Those were the tools we had at the time.

I don't believe your dichotomy applies to me, since I believe this applies to the terrorists as well.

I'd ask if is it more moral to alter policies in order to avoid a relatively small but very visible number of casualties, at the cost of potentially harming many more people, but in a more nebulous and unseen way.

That one is beyond me I'm afraid. I only know you have to be alive to worry about morality.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:16 PM on July 13, 2005


I forgot to note this gem:

As far as the "army of occupation" as a necessary condition; where pray tell, was the American army of occupation in respect to the bombing of the African embassies in 1998 or the later attack on the Stark, eh? Oops. Heh, heh.

First, to paraphrase your logic there, warbaby:

As far as the "army of occupation" as a necessary condition; where pray tell, was the American army of occupation in respect to the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 or the later suicide attack on the same place on September 11, 2001, eh? Oops. Heh, heh.

All of the abovementioned attacks were made by Al Qaeda. You have heard of Osama Bin Laden, have you not ? Maybe these will refresh your memory:

Osama Bin Laden is both one of the CIA's most wanted men and a hero to many young people in the Arab world.

He and his associates were already being sought by the US on charges of international terrorism, including in connection with the 1998 bombing of American embassies in Africa and last year's attack on the USS Cole in Yemen.


BBC September 18, 2001

"We declared a jihad -- a holy war -- on the United States government because it is unjust and tyrannical," bin Laden told CNN in an April 1997 interview...

Many Americans first learned of bin Laden after President Clinton called him "the pre-eminent organizer and financier of international terrorism" after U.S. intelligence linked him to the August 7 bombings in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 258 people and injured more than 5,000 others...

U.S. authorities have linked bin Laden to terrorist acts around the globe. They include:

The 1995 bombing of U.S. military barracks in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, that killed five people. The men who carried out the attack said they were influenced by bin Laden.

A 1992 bombing attempt on U.S. troops in Yemen.

An attack on U.S. soldiers in Somalia in 1993.

The 1996 Khobar Towers bombing that killed 19 U.S. servicemen in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

Ties to Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. After the bombing, Yousef fled to a Pakistani safe house financed by bin Laden.

A 1994 plot to assassinate President Clinton during a trip to the Philippines.


CNN August 28, 1998

Shorter answer: Saudi Arabia, stupid.
posted by y2karl at 10:14 AM on July 14, 2005


does anyone else see irony when Americans whine about terrorists not fighting fair? It wasn't that long ago when we heard the same thing from the British in their orderly lines.

y2karl, thanks for the interesting posts
posted by sineater at 11:29 AM on July 14, 2005


Regarding the shorter answer above, which in all fairness should have been In Saudi Arabia, for one, stupid, here are bin Laden's own words:

(Q1) Why are we fighting and opposing you?
Q2)What are we calling you to, and what do we want from you?

As for the first question: Why are we fighting and opposing you? The answer is very simple:

(1) Because you attacked us and continue to attack us.

a) You attacked us in Palestine...

(b) You attacked us in Somalia; you supported the Russian atrocities against us in Chechnya, the Indian oppression against us in Kashmir, and the Jewish aggression against us in Lebanon.

(c) Under your supervision, consent and orders, the governments of our countries which act as your agents, attack us on a daily basis...

(d) You steal our wealth and oil at paltry prices because of you international influence and military threats. This theft is indeed the biggest theft ever witnessed by mankind in the history of the world.

(e) Your forces occupy our countries; you spread your military bases throughout them; you corrupt our lands, and you besiege our sanctities, to protect the security of the Jews and to ensure the continuity of your pillage of our treasures.


bin Laden's 'letter to America'

See also Pollomacho above.
posted by y2karl at 1:30 PM on July 14, 2005


Oh, I see. You've redefined "occupation" to "military presence" and then conflated that into a huge sloppy fallacy. By this logic, we should be seeing terrorist insurgencies using suicide attacks anywhere there are US military bases. Nope. The suicide attacks are narrow compared to a broad military presence. So the question is why do we see them in these limited circumstances?

That's the question Pape poses and tries to answer in the broader sense. I think his analysis is flawed.

You, Karl, on the other hand, stepped on your dick in a series of comments above.

For some strange reason known only to yourself, you find the notion there being policy factions in the US security community. I don't see how imagining things as monolithic makes critical analysis of policy anything other than simplistic nonsense, but whatever floats yer rubber ducky.

Most telling is the fact you posted an article which Pape wrote in 2003 -- written just after the hawks won their policy struggle over whether or not to invade Iraq -- in which Pape specifically endorses the Israeli wall project.

I cite his endorsement. You say I'm making it up (a classic case of projection based on ignorance) and got called on it.

Now you've taken offense over your own laziness as if it's all something I did to you. Grow up, grow a pair, but grow something and get on with your life.

I think you are a little too much in love with your self-manufatured identity as the bullgoose conspiracy kook of the blue. If you want to be owned by your pose, fine. But kindly leave me out of your unhealthy fantasy life.
posted by warbaby at 10:51 AM on July 15, 2005


"fight the notion"

sigh.
posted by warbaby at 10:54 AM on July 15, 2005


Thus, Western democracies should pursue policies that teach terrorists that the lesson of the 1980s and 1990s no longer holds, policies which in practice may have more to do with improving homeland security than with offensive military action.

That's Papes from 2003.

I just don't see where you get Shorter Pape: War on Terra good! Flypaper theory good! from that.

Most telling is the fact you posted an article which Pape wrote in 2003 -- written just after the hawks won their policy struggle over whether or not to invade Iraq -- in which Pape specifically endorses the Israeli wall project.

Let's read the passage from where that sentence comes, shall we ?

Given the limits of offense and of concessions, homeland security and defensive efforts generally must be a core part of any solution. Undermining the feasibility of suicide terrorism is a difficult task. After all, a major advantage of suicide attack is that it is more difficult to prevent than other types of attack. However, the difficulty of achieving perfect security should not keep us from taking serious measures to prevent would-be terrorists from easily entering their target society. As Chaim Kaufmann has shown, even intense ethnic civil wars can often be stopped by demographic separation because it greatly reduces both means and incentives for the sides to attack each other. This logic may apply with even more force to the related problem of suicide terrorism, since, for suicide attackers, gaining physical access to the general area of the target is the only genuinely demanding part of an operation, and as we have seen, resentment of foreign occupation of their national homeland is a key part of the motive for suicide terrorism.

The requirements for demographic separation depend on geographic and other circumstances that may not be attainable in all cases. For example, much of Israel's difficulty in containing suicide terrorism derives from the deeply intermixed settlement patterns of the West Bank and Gaza, which make the effective length of the border between Palestinian and Jewish settled areas practically infinite and have rendered even very intensive Israeli border control efforts ineffective. As a result, territorial concessions could well encourage terrorists leaders to strive for still greater gains while greater repression may only exacerbate the conditions of occupation that cultivate more recruits for terrorist organizations. Instead, the best course to improve Israel's security may well be a combined strategy: abandoning territory on the West Bank along with an actual wall that physically separates the populations.


Abandoning West Bank territory is not exactly part of the Likud party platform.

Papes then continues:

Similarly, if Al Qaeda proves able to continue suicide attacks against the American homeland, the United States should emphasize improving its domestic security. In the short term, the United States should adopt stronger border controls to make it more difficult for suicide attackers to enter the United States. In the long term, the United States should work toward energy independence and, thus, reduce the need for American troops in the Persian Gulf countries where their presence has helped recruit suicide terrorists to attack America. These measures will not provide a perfect solution, but they may make it far more difficult for Al Qaeda to continue attacks in the United States, especially spectacular attacks that require elaborate coordination

Perhaps most important, the close association between foreign military occupations and the growth of suicide terrorist movements in the occupied regions should give pause to those who favor solutions that involve conquering countries in order to transform their political systems. Conquering countries may disrupt terrorist operations in the short term, but it is important to recognize that occupation of more countries may well increase the number of terrorists coming at us.


You make the claim that this paper makes Papes part of the pro-war faction. You certainly can claim to have a unique perspective.

I didn't post that link to refute anything Hoffman wrote. It was just to note that they came up with the same title about the same time. I posted the article that because you brought up this stupid plagiarized title crap, which I thought was such a silly thing to say. You can't copyright a title, for one.

I really don't see a contest between them in what they write. They have many points of agreement as the quotes above demonstrate..

Then you went off the deep end with this Papes is part of a pro-war faction and then Papes is a pro-Likud militarist isolationist. He's a neocon--but wait, he's an isolationist, too. He wants America to project military power in the world and he's for Fortress America, too. He's two, two mints in one! Man, all your bases belong to you.

You claimed Papes was pro-Iraq war. You cited nothing to support this beyond I am an expert and because I said so. Then you claim he's a militarist isolationist. You cite nothing to support the latter but one sentence fragment--a sentence fragment which contains, besides mention of the wall, the phrase abandoning territory on the West Bank. Like you, that fragment of a tentative speculation has something for everyone.

You write

Witness the Tamil Tigers, a Marxist-Leninist group. Which should settle the muslim = suicide isssue for people who want a reality-based understanding

and then. two lines later, it's Pape completely misses the point that Hoffman makes about religiously motivated terrorism being different from "Clauswitzian" warfare as an extension of political policy.

You seem to drop that "Clauswitzian" like it's some sort of smart bomb and have it every way possible sentence by sentence--the all your base belongs to you approach once more.

For some strange reason known only to yourself, you find the notion there being policy factions in the US security community.

I don't find the notion itself that novel but, sorry, I can't take your word for it. For obvious reasons. For some strange reason, again, known only to yourself, you can't bother link to anything supporting this claim of a Papes clique and a Hoffman clique.

I think you are a little too much in love with your self-manufatured identity as the bullgoose conspiracy kook of the blue. If you want to be owned by your pose, fine. But kindly leave me out of your unhealthy fantasy life.

I think it's you who has the gift of projection. I am not claiming to be an expert. You are. I am not talking about factions, you are. If anyone is the the bullgoose conspiracy kook of the blue, it's you with your pulled from your ass factions talk.

I asked you to cite anything to support these contentions. You can't. I'm sorry but one sentence fragment mentioning the wall and a pull out from the West Bank--does not make any case for anything but your laziness. You fall back on claiming to be an authority but you just can't provide links. Instead you point to one sentence upon which to hang a whole cockamamie pile of claims. To which I just provided the context.

I didn't make any claims. I provided a link. You ended up writng all this crap which you can't support in response to a mild demurral in regards to your stupid plagiarized title comment. You started spouting off like it was Hoffman v. Papes all of sudden. I called you on it. You kept digging yourself deeper and deeper. Your answers were more wild claims and variations what an expert you are.

You are an expert who can't seem to write two sentences without the second contradicting the one before it. One blowhard assertion contradicting the just previous blowhard assertion after another after another does not make for an authoritative voice. Not at all. As to whether you can walk the walk I do not know but you sure can't talk the talk.
posted by y2karl at 6:16 PM on July 15, 2005


Also, speaking of Clauswitzian,

and quoting your Pape completely misses the point that Hoffman makes about religiously motivated terrorism being different from "Clauswitzian" warfare as an extension of political policy, let's look at the date and title of the article you list:

Holy Terror: The Implications of Terrorism Motivated by a Religious Imperative, Dr. Bruce Hoffman's RAND report with a post-Oklahoma City bombing postscript is dated May 1995.

So it was written when the phrase al Qaeda wan't part of the common vernacular. Hoffman certainly doesn't mention it. The paper seems to be devoted to what was then known about Islamic terrorist groups and domestic far right Christian militias. Clausewitz is not mentioned nor does Hoffman really make a distiction between terrorism and warfare. He doesn't address Papes's central thesis--suicide terrorism’s goal arises from secular, nationalistic political demands while religion comes into play as a secondary ideological platform, as this reviewer puts it--at all as Papes had not published anything on the topic until 2003.

There were no factions. And their papers are, essentially, apples and oranges, separated by a decade.

In fact, from Hoffman, here is an interesting quote:

Moreover, today, when old empires and countries are crumbling and new ones are being built and when new assertions of religious and ethnic identity are made with uncompromising ferocity, the possession of a nuclear bomb or the development of a chemical or biological warfare capability may become increasingly attractive either to new nations seeking to present their sovereignty or to would-be nations seeking to attain their independence. In both instances, terrorists may find new roles for their skills and expertise. Terrorists may be employed by countries either to steal nuclear weapons or strategic material from another country or themselves be paid to stage a covert nuclear, chemical, or biological attack in order to conceal the involvement or complicity of their state patron. In the future, terrorists may become the "ultimate fifth column": a clandestine, cost-effective, force used to wage war covertly against more powerful rivals or to subvert neighboring countries or hostile regimes. In this respect, the lesson of Iraq's overt invasion of Kuwait loom large.

Um, I may be wrong here, but wasn't this terrorists paid... to stage a covert nuclear, chemical or biological attack in order to conceal the complicity of their state patron stuff essentially the administration's initial argument for invading Iraq post haste ?

By your cherry-picking-one-sentence-or-so ad hominem smear 'logic', that should be Shorter Bruce Hoffman: War on Terra good! Flypaper theory good !
posted by y2karl at 3:56 PM on July 17, 2005


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