Author. (1960- )

Former SAASS Instructor, University of Chicago political science professor


Post-9/11, pre-Sunni Revival Iraqi morass


Investigation into root causes of suicide bombing terrorism from 1980 to present


Statistical data from every known suicide bomb attack worldwide from 1980 to 2004 (315 cases)

    • Terrorism involves use of violence by an org other than a national gov, to intimidate/frighten a tgt audience.

Central Proposition.

  • there is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any one of the world’s religions … nearly all suicide terrorist attacks … compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland.
  • At bottom, suicide terrorism is a strategy for national liberation from foreign military occupation by a democratic state.
  • Terrorism, an ill defined problem, which can lead to using the wrong medicine. Interaction with state vs a no-state actor is distinctly different.
  • Terrorism as a mean to an end. The US exceptionalism, we have the gov/pol/eco system…why don’t you guys want it?

Other Major Propositions.

  • Modern suicide terrorist groups … are weaker than their opponents … are broadly supported by a distinct national community … have a close bond of loyalty to comrades … have a system of initiation and rituals ... are independent actors who rarely follow the dictates of others blindly
  • Suicide is the weaker part coercing a stronger one, and the only means they see is suicide
  • Punishment with conv. weapons is not suited/strong enough to deter terror.
  • We have to stop current activity, and stop new recruitments.
  • Was the US stationing in SA and ME the start (1990’s)? And not directed at Western way of living?
  • Suicide terrorism is most likely when the occupying power’s religion differs from the religion of the occupied, for three reasons … fears that the enemy will seek to transform the occupied society; makes demonization … easier; and makes it easier … to reliable suicides … as martyrdom
  • Democracies are often thought to be especially vulnerable to coercive punishment … suicide terrorism is a tool of the weak … they must also be confident that their opponent will be at least somewhat restrained. … although recent scholarship casts strong doubt on the presumption that democracies are generally more restrained than authoritarian states.
  • All about interests, maintaining US hegemony.
  • Under the condition of foreign occupation, religious difference—more than Islam or any other particular religion—hardens the boundaries betweennational communities
  • Al-Qaeda’s … a coalition of nationalist groups seeking to achieve a local change in their home countries, not as a truly transnational movement seeking to spread Islam
  • Absent the altruistic motive, many suicide attacks would probably not occur and many suicide attackers might well seek other opportunities to contribute to their community.
  • American military presence remains the pivotal factor driving al-Qaeda’s suicide terrorists
  • The United States has powerful economic and diplomatic tools to manage the local balance or power, while removal of American combat forces from the region is likely to diminish the main source of instability to the Saudi regime. Further, American naval power would remain a formidable military instrument for influence in the region, should immediate uses of power prove necessary. Above all, a return to off-shore balancing (stay physically out of Middle East, have all on keel) will send an unmistakable signal that the United States is not in the business of empire, and will thus suck the oxygen out of the atmosphere that breeds anti-American suicide terrorism. Would this help on the Israel problem? No.
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