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Wednesday, August 24, 2005


The buggy series on terrorism, which started at the end of July, continues in this article, the second of probably a good three or four such articles. Today's exposition is something of an interlude in the buggy series, at any rate as originally planned --- not that it's unimportant; just the opposite. Devoted entirely to an analysis of a recently published book by a University of Chicago political scientist, Robert Pape --- Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism --- the buggy article grapples at length with Pape's argument and views . . . which, as it happens, have caused a big splash in numerous circles, especially those highly critical of the Bush administration's war on terror. Some reviewers --- all non-specialists in the field of jihad terrorism, it needs to be added --- have called the Pape book groundbreaking and profound. Well, maybe groundbreaking if that means an entirely new perspective on Islamist terrorisms of the sort represented by Al Qaeda; but not necessarily profound if that means the basic Pape argument and views on the topic aren't without serious problems and flaws.

It doesn't follow, though, that the book has no merit at all. If it didn't, there'd be no reason for prof bug to dissect and criticize it at length.

The book's merits and what they amount to can quickly be set out here in the remarks that unfold in part one of today's buggy article. In part two, Pape's argument will be summarized first in conventional capsule form, then in a series of pivotal propositions that set it out argument in a more systematic manner. The latter, propositional way of presenting Pape's ideas, evidence, and logic has a double advantage for us: it will enable you, the buggy visitor, to follow more clearly the overall thrust of Pape's argument and more specific ramifications; and --- no less important --- it will allow prof bug in parts three and four to probe and lay out clearly the problems and shortcomings of that argument by paralleling its various major propositions.

Needless to add, the heart of the buggy analysis lies in these criticisms.

They will question several of his ideas, much of his evidence --- quantitative and qualitative alike --- and the logic and thrust of his overall argument. First, though, ponder the introductory comments. They'll provide you with a working-idea of how Pape's book and the buggy dissection and criticism of it fit in with the current buggy series on jihad terrorism that started almost a full month ago.


The Pape Argument At Odds with the Buggy Argument about Islamist Terrorism

By now, prof bug's main motive in tackling the Pape book should be clear: its argument collides head-on with the kind of analysis of jihad terrorism --- and especially its connections to radical Islamism (or Islamic fundamentalism if you prefer) --- that was set out in the initial article in the current buggy series. In particular, if Pape is right, the buggy view is wrong. If Pape's argument is fundamentally flawed, the buggy view might still meet with some legitimate criticisms down the road, but at least it will have survived intact the kind of clashing view that informs Pape's book. It's that simple.

(For more clarification of the terms Islamist and fundamentalist by Martin Kramer --- a gifted scholar of the Middle East who has roasted the pc-infested professors who dominate the Middle East Studies Association in this country for their rosy and chronic apologetics of Islamic fundamentalism and their total failure therefore to anticipate or predict Al Qaeda-like terrorism --- click here and here. This link will take you to the Kramer site that lists all his articles available online. In typical underhanded, below-the-belt pc-efforts to discredit Kramer personally, Juan Cole --- a leading apologist for Islamist extremism and even terrorism who is also the current president of he Middle East Studies Association --- sent a "confidential" email to some his fellow apologists that urged them to try and uncover some dirt about Kramer personally in order to smear him. The email went out recently. It quickly leaked out to Kramer. See what it says on the Kramer site and Kramer's astonished and detailed replies.

(Cole's behavior, to repeat, isn't something unusual. Far from that, it's fully in line with the authoritarianism and smear-tactics of pc-academics who --- faced with intellectual opponents of superior intelligence, knowledge, and scholarly work --- can't handle their critics' work in standard intellectual ways and resort to a series of low-blow stratagems to keep their pieties intact.

(As you'll see in later parts of this article, one of the many problems that bedevil Pape's understanding of radical Islamic fundamentalism is his overwhelming reliance on scholars like Cole and other pillars of the Middle East Studies Association and their excuse-making apologia such as John Esposito of Georgetown.

(Simply note in passing a few wrong-headed fatuities from some of MESA's leading members. In 1998, Esposito wrote that "focusing on Osama bin Laden risk[s] catapulting one of the many sources of terrorism to center stage, distorting ... the significance of a single individual." At MESA's annual national conference held a year after 9/11, 550 papers were read; one dealt with terrorism, one dealt with fundamentalism (not Islamism), and the rest avoided the subject. Fortunately, said Joel Beinin of Stanford, MESA's president that year: he sarcastically dubbed the study of terrorism "terrology" and praised the members' "great wisdom" for dismissing it in their work. Juan Cole put in his two cents worth: "Asking MESA to hold panels on contemporary terrorism, is rather like asking literary scholars to comment on the resignation of Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil." For the sources, click here.

(The buggy judgment, spelled out much later in this article on Pape? Relying on MESA and their leading scholarly members for illumination on the nature of radical Islamist fundamentalism and jihad terrorism would be more than a little like the pioneer engineers and scientists who built the first spacecraft to reach the moon in 1969 having drawn most of their insights into their challenges from the leading members of MFESA --- Miltants of the Flat-Earth Studies Association.)

Meanwhile, shift your attention and focus for the time being on . . .

  Dying To Win's Merits:

They're several really. Otherwise, why bother?

In shorthand terms, Pape's book ranges widely and is based on extensive, careful research. Its overall view of suicide terrorism relies at bottom on quantitative indicators of all such bombings and attacks that have occurred between 1980 and the end of 2003 . . . 315 terrorist incidents in all, 95% of which, according to Pape, have followed a clear, calculated strategic logic carried out by a total of 18 well-structured suicide-terrorist organizations --- all of which, it turns out, have had overwhelmingly secular nationalist aims. Tersely put, all 18 organized terrorist campaigns, says Pape, have been primarily motivated by hot-wire nationalist urges to politically coerce an alien occupying country --- without exception, democratic in all the campaigns --- and force it by means of drastic suicidal attacks on its military forces and civilians to withdraw from its national territory and allow the local people their independence and self-determination . . . the autonomy to structure their politics and society the way they want to without outside interference. He applies strategic logic in a coherent, consistent manner that jibes with its standard use in the study of coercive diplomacy (often called "compellence" in strategic jargon) --- rational, coolly calculated efforts that, in the case of suicide-terrorism since 1980, the 18 various suicide-terrorist organizations have undertaken in order to increase the costs of the occupation by the alien country so that, at some point, the costs clearly outweigh the benefits to the occupier's government.

That's well-done, this use of strategic logic . . . at any rate as far as it goes. What's more, Pape convincingly shows that the bursting explosion of suicide terrorism since 1980 --- after decades or more of lying dormant --- can be best understood in simple, straightforward terms: it works. The invading and occupying democratic countries' governments that have been coerced this way --- Israel in grappling with Palestinian terrorist organizations, the French and Americans in Lebanon after large casualties were inflicted on them by Hezbollah and others in the early 1990s, nd Sri Lanka's government in dealing with the Tamil Tigers suicide-bombings in the 1990s, Turkey in coming to terms with Kurdish rebels --- have, up to now, been forced into major concessions to the terrorist movements . . . usually full withdrawal, though sometimes something short of that.


The book's complex argument unfolds niftily in three systematically organized parts, all well-written and full of often stimulating points and information:

1) What the strategic logic of suicide terrorism amounts to --- rational, calculated attacks to politically coerce an opponent in the manner just mentioned.

2) What the social and organizational logic of the 18 suicide-terrorist movements amounts to --- nationalist struggles for national independence and self-determination, with religious influences decidedly secondary as a motivating-force in the coercive terrorist efforts. Specifically, the occupying country in 17 of the 18 organized suicide-terrorist campaigns has had a different religion, intensifying the local people's nationalist hatred of it.

3) The logic and motives of individual terrorist leaders and bombers, which amount to forms of clear altruistic behavior: of self-sacrifice and self-destruction in behalf of the national community's strivings after independence by sane, rational patriots.

In all three parts, Pape also sets out some closely reasoned analysis of specific terrorist movements among the 18 total organized campaigns of suicide-terrorism, trying at times to underpin that analysis with some fairly simple (if questionable) statistical evidence as well as qualitative case-study analysis There's also a fourth part really, a final chapter. In it Pape unfolds some policy advice to the Bush administration on how to fight the real nature of Al Qaeda and its offshoots that follow logically from his analysis of their motives and behavior. In his view, the military interventions in the Saudi peninsula early in the last decade, not to forget the military action that brought the US and its allies into Taliban Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein's Iraq, are all drastically wrong and misconceived.

But Note: It's A Flawed If Stimulting Book

The buggy judgment? Even if you disagree with Pape's overall argument and the viewpoint that informs it, you can't but come away from the book without a better understanding of why that wisdom is essentially sound in its basics . . . or so the buggy analysis that follows in parts two, three, and four will argue here.

It doesn't follow that everyone who holds that conventional, basically correct outlook on jihadist terrorism would agree with the Bush-Blair policy of occupying Afghanistan and Iraq militarily. Obviously, certain governments in NATO have disagreed with their Iraq policy since the start of the war to topple Saddam Hussein's brutal government in March 2003. Still, it does mean that Pape's book, for all its merits, amounts in the end to a whitewashing of radical Islamist movements, ideologies, and their connection to jihad terrorism. This isn't, mind you, just the opinion of prof bug. It happens to be the outlook on Islamist terrorism of the Al Qaeda sort that is shared by all the democratic governments in the West and elsewhere, including the small number of Muslim democracies: Turkey (a stable democratic ally in NATO) and the three new Muslim countries of Afghanistan and Iraq and Indonesia. Nor is that all. As the behavior of dozens of other, non-democratic Muslim governments reveals, they too share the democratic view that jihad terrorism and extremist Islam threaten their own countries's security . . . so much so that they are allied informally with the Western world in its conflicts with the Islamist jihadists.

Pape's Motives Here: Why Speculate? No Need To Question His Good Faith

Whether the desire to whitewash Islamist extremism and its connections to jihad terrorism was what originally prompted Pape's study of suicide-terrorism --- which were prefigured in an article that appeared in the American Political Science Review in 2003 --- is not clear. How could it be clear? Who can be sure what the motives are that prompt an intelligent, gifted scholar to undertake a lengthy research-project on a controversial front-burner topic of immense importance? Pape himself might not be fully conscious of all his motives.

After all, we all do things --- especially complicated things that require sustained effort --- for a variety of motives, some of which might even be in conflict with one another. And for what it's worth, Pape is not a pacifist or a left-wing activist who opposes the use of force. His last chapter makes that clear. He's a realist, a term in international relations theory that refers to someone who takes power-politics for granted and seeks to find ways through diplomacy, deterrence, and coercive diplomacy to manage the relations between armed states and groups. . . some of which conflicts will flare into open war or terrorist activities at times.

Enough said. Prof bug has no reason to question the boda-fides that underlie Professor Pape's argument.

That doesn't make his argument right. And whatever the intent and unconscious motives might have initiated his project and its results, it does end up not just wrong but, it seems, dangerously misleading . . . a whitewashing, to repeat, of a raw rippling threat from Islamist terrorists world-wide, many of whom, it also seems, wouldn't hesitate to use biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons against the US and its democratic allies if they thought they could get away with it.

One Last Point

A key question follows.

If Pape is right, how come all the major countries of the world with diplomatic and military clout --- not all allied with the US like India or China, and for that matter not democratic either such as authoritarian China or a deformed, semi-autocratic democracy like Russia --- have created an informal Concert of Great Powers, global in its reach, that the world has never experienced before and that is aimed at countering jihad terrorism, including the use of military force and coercive diplomacy?

Remember, these same countries have often been at diplomatic loggerheads in the recent past. Some like Russia, China, Germany, and France even opposed the US-led coalition to go to war and topple Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Come to that, some of them even seem to worry about the huge power balance in favor of the US as the world's lone superpower. And yet they all more or less work together in intelligence and otherwise to counter the global Islamist threat and the jihad terrorism that it supports. And so we ask again: how could anyone convinced by Pape's argument explain why it is that China, India, and Russia have allied with the US, West Europe, East Europe, and Japan --- along with dozens of Muslim countries in North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia --- and see themselves locked in a common struggle against jihadist terrorism and the vicious, hateful core of its ideological driving-force? How could all these governments be wrong while Pape is right?



(I) A Careful If Conventional Summary


Suicide terrorism is age-old, recorded throughout history over the millennia, but then went dormant for decades and generations in recent times until 1980. Since then, says Pape, there has been a sudden rash of suicide bombings and attacks, a total of 315 world-wide . . . at any rate down to the end of 2003, the date he completed his study. A good 301 of them or 95%, it turns out, have been carried out in systematic ways by well-organized terrorist movements in a total of 18 different suicide-terrorist campaigns over that 23 year period. Each and every one of these organized terrorist movements has commanded broad popular support in their national or ethnic communities. Small wonder. All 18 suicide-terrorist campaigns have been pursued in cool, carefully calculated manner by a variety of nationalist movements whose shared intent, first and foremost, has been to coerce an occupying alien state on their territory and force it sooner or later to withdraw, granting national autonomy and self-determination to the local peoples.

Such cool-headed, calculating behavior to coerce the alien occupier is a form, Pape argues, of strategic logic --- the last resort of the weak against the much stronger military occupier (and at times its local national-stooges in power) who can't be defeated by open insurrection or even non-suicidal terrorism.

Like all such strategic behavior that is coercive --- in international relations theory, it's called coercive diplomacy (compellence) or deterrence carried out by sovereign nation-states --- suicide-terrorism has been rational and carefully calibrated . . . directed toward a clear policy objective: specifically, it aims at altering the cost/benefit calculus of the occupying power's government and hence ensure that, sooner or later, the costs of continuing the occupation clearly outweigh the benefits in its leaders' minds. At that point, either the occupier's government will withdraw or at least negotiate a settlement with the suicide-terrorist leaders that are largely satisfactory to them. The strategic logic and behavior of the organized suicide-terrorist campaigns throws light on their members and organizations.

Fanatics, let alone demented people, turn out not to be present in these organized groups. All the major studies of their leaders and members --- which include extensive interviews with many of the surviving members --- show that. Far from being crazed or fanatical, the suicide-terrorist organizations have been led and manned by clear-thinking people whose behavior and aims are at bottom socially altruistic. They have been willing to act selflessly for the national independence and autonomy of their ethnic or national communities; and not surprisingly, they enjoy broad popular support for that reason. The same has been no less true of the individual terrorist bombers or assassins themselves. Anything but half-loony zealots, they are, at bottom, unusually altruistic members of the national communit who are willing to sacrifice themselves coolly and deliberately behalf of their peoples' struggles for national freedom.


In these 18 organized suicide-terrorist campaigns since 1980 --- five of which were still raging when Pape completed his study at the end of 2003 ---religious motives, Pape finds, have influenced the terrorist movements and members only in secondary and indirect ways. They have never been the driving force of the terrorist groups in those campaigns . . . never their root cause. Instead, secular and nationalist struggles for national liberation and independence against the alien military occupier have invariably been the predominant motive. There are, Pape further finds, no exceptions in any of the suicide-terrorist campaigns. No, none . . . whether the terrorist organizations are manned by Hindus, Sikhs, or Muslims. Religion, to the extent it has played a role at all in the suicide-terrorist campaigns, has done so indirectly: specifically, whenever the occupying military power has had a religion different from the occupied peoples, these differences have intensified their hatred of it and hardened the nationalist aspirations of the suicide-terrorist movements for independence and self-determination. By the same token, these religious differences have also stepped up the popular support they enjoy within their national or ethnic communities.

Of the 18 suicide-terrorist campaigns that have raged since 1980, such religious differences and their consequences, it turns out, have been present in 17.

The one exception? It was the Kurdish insurrection and suicide-terrorism launched by the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party) movement in the late 1990s against Turkish rule. The Turks are Muslims, and so too are the Kurds; and this religious commonality blunted the PKK's terrorist ardor and popular support and eventually facilitated a peaceful settlement of the conflict: by the late 1990s, the Turkish government withdrew most of its military from Kurdish areas in the east and the PKK ended its suicidal and other forms of terrorist attacks.

In all the remaining 17 suicide-terrorist campaigns, by contrast, the animosity and determination of the terrorist movements toward their outside occupiers have been markedly increased by sharp religious differences, and they have made a mutually satisfying settlement between the movements and their alien occupiers much harder. That doesn't mean most of those 17 terrorist campaigns have continued down to the present (end of 2003). A good 13 of these had ended at the start of 2004, and --- a key point Pape stresses --- 7 of them did so when the occupying country's government was coerced and decided to withdraw its military forces.



Pape looks several times at Muslim-led, Musim-manned suicide-terrorist campaigns. His findings?

He starts with the commonly held belief in the non-Muslim world --- and in large parts of it --- that Islamist fundamentalism has inspired the suicide attacks of Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al Asq Martyr's Brigade, Kashmir terrorists, and other Muslim-manned terrorist movements. That's wrong, Pape insists in the very first three pages of his book, and over and again in later chapters that include some statistical tests of any such connection. All 18 of the organized suicide-terrorist campaigns and the groups involved in them turn out, as we've just noted, to be overwhelmingly motivated by secular and nationalist aims directed at the occupying alien country. More to the point, there is "little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism" or any of the world's other religions" . . . or so Pape insists repeatedly from the start of his book on, again with qualitative and quantitative evidence.

Consider the evidence he sets out.

First off, the leading suicide-terrorist movement in the world has been the Tamil Tigers in tiny Sri Lanka, and they happen to be a Marxist-Leninist group whose members may be Hindu, "but who are adamantly opposed to religion." A good 76 of the 315 total suicide attacks since 1980 were committed by these secular Marxists . . . a number superior to those carried out by Hamas against Israel in a series of suicide-attacks starting in the late 1980s. At most, Islam has been associated with only half of the total 315 attacks. Yes, just half --- or so Pape tries to show with quantitative data. And even then, Islamic influences of any sort --- fundamentalist or jihad-inspired motives --- have had an impact only in the indirect, secondary manner just clarified. When, as in 17 of the organized terrorist campaigns the terrorists and their national or ethnic communities have had a religion that differs from the occupiers', the hatred of the locals for the alien oppressor has intensified as has their support for the altruistic suicide-terrorists who --- motivated by national urges --- have struggled for national autonomy and self-determination. Period.

Note quickly. Even al Qaeda, Pape insists, conforms to this pattern.

It is overwhelmingly a secular and nationalist movement, even if transnational in membership, and its major aim has been to liberate the Saudi peninsula from occupying American military forces on Saudi soil and ---- with other Coalition-members --- now in Iraq.

Pape admits that calling bin Laden a nationalist in a conventional way may seem strained at first, but it really isn't. Bin Laden and Al Qaeda desire the liberation of the Saudi Peninsula and its oil wealth and Muslim holy places from occupying American forces. (In other places, as on p. 54, Pape refers to the whole Middle East, not the Saudi Peninsula as the coveted territory.) Once the American withdrawal occurs, bin Laden and his associates believe the Saudi and other Gulf States' regimes --- highly unpopular, autocratic, and religious apostates: also, American stooges --- would come tumbling down, followed soon by the creation of an Arab super-state signified by the re-creation of the caliphate . . . created originally by Mohammed's immediate followers as they conquered non-Muslim territories and located in Baghdad until the end of the 13th century, after which it moved to the expanding Ottoman Empire and eventually was located after the middle-15th century in Istanbul. At any rate it was until the Ataturk revolution and its abolition in the 1920s by that secular regime.

Al Qaeda's immediate and ultimate aims, then, are and remain nationalist on a regional scale. The ultimate goal is religious only in the sense that the new caliph would, as in Ottoman and Baghdad times, combine religious and political authority at the same time, allowing the true rule of the Sharia, Islamic law, to be reinstalled on Arab territories. Never mind. Islamic fundamentalism, according to Pape, is overwhelmingly peaceful, and he relies on several members of MESA --- the Middle East Studies Association --- to underpin his view. What fundamentalists want is to rule by means of the Sharia, and such an objective is not violent in itself at all; just the contrary.

As for bin Laden himself, Pape admits that he doubtlessly hates the United States . . . the embodiment of the evil West and the major power behind menancing and degenerate globalization in the Muslim world. Not to worry. As we'll see in a moment, Pape offers up a new strategy for victory against Al Qaeda terrorism, and once the US were to adopt and implement it, Al Qaeda's fragile organization would likely crumble, and the support of the Muslim masses for its suicidal terrorist attacks on the US and its allies would soon crumble too.


Why have democratic countries been singled out by suicide-terrorists?

First off, they've been the occupying states on alien territories where the suicide-terrorist campaigns break out. What's more, the terrorist groups resorting to suicide attacks believe --- one and all --- that democratic governments are the easier to coerce . . . obviously, because they are vulnerable to popular opinion in their homelands as the costs to the occupying military forces mount. Pape admits that most political science research doesn't jibe with this view, but never mind. What counts, he says on p. 84, is how the terrorist movements see things . . . not how scholars or others do.

The same logic applies to which foreign countries are military occupiers on foreign soil. In the Saudi peninsula, Americans and their government believed they were there at the request of the local Arab governments --- not unwanted occupiers. Not so . . . not if Al Qaeda, for instance, sees the US military presence in another light. Similarly, if Al Qaeda members decide to attack American "allies" in the Middle East or elsewhere, it's a matter of how they define the local governments behavior and the role they think that the US plays in propping up those governments in the Gulf States, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere in the Middle East. Interestingly, Pape himself refers to Morocco and other Middle East and North African Arab governments in these terms too.

What are the other democratic occupiers that the remaining 17 suicide-terrorists have sought to coerce strategically?

The US (plus France) in Lebanon in 1983, which was attacked by Hezbollah. Israel in two other Hezbollah campaigns in Lebanon between 1985 and 1994. Sri Lanka in three Tamil Tiger (LTTE) campaigns in the 1990s. India by Sikh terrorists in 1995 Muslims. Turkey attacked in two PKK (Kurdish National Workers Party) campaigns in the late 1990s. These add up to 13 completed campaigns, 7 of which ended with the democratic occupying country either withdrawing completely its occupying forces or making huge concessions for local autonomy --- the case of the PKK in Turkey and of LTTE in Sri Lanka. In the remaining 6 cases, the outcome was no change in the status quo when the suicide-terrorist campaigns began.

Five suicide-terrorist campaigns were ongoing as of December 2003, the end-point, remember, of the Pape study. Al Qaeda has singled out the US and its "allies" since 1996. Chechens have struggled for national liberation against Russia since 2000 too. Muslim suicide-terrorists have launched a campaign against India starting in 2000 as well. Starting in the same year, Israel has had to grapple with several Islamist and secular suicide-terrorist groups that seek to drive them off Palestinian land. And Iraqi rebels --- whose organization membership isn't known, says Pape --- have launched suicidal attacks on the US and its allies in that country since 2003.


For Pape, his quantitative and qualitative analysis makes very clear what the root causes of suicide-terrorism have been since 1980 in a total of 18 different organized campaigns: a variety of secular and nationalist struggles, carried out in rational strategic terms, for national liberation against hated democratic countries occupying their homelands.

In particular, the strategic logic of suicide terrorism --- far more deadly than ordinary terrorism (about 14 times more casualties per incident) --- is a last-resort effort by nationalist forces to politically coerce the occupier and force its withdrawal. Religion has been largely incidental to the tap-roots of suicide-terrorist campaigns. To the extent that it has influenced 17 of those 18 campaigns, it has been in the secondary and indirect way of creating a religious difference between the occupying military power and the local populations . . . in which case the differences have aggravated local nationalist hatred for the foreign oppressor and intensified the determination of the suicide terrorists to go on trying to coerce it.

As for the reason why so many different suicide-terrorist campaigns have flared around the world since 1980, it's easily explained in Pape's view: whatever democratic governments might originally claim once the suicide terrorists begin attacking their military forces or civilian populations, they have --- up to now --- been largely coerced and forced to withdraw pell-mell from the occupied lands or negotiate some sort of settlement that leaves the locals with national autonomy. In short, suicide terrorism pays. It has worked successfully in 7 out of the separate 13 terrorist campaigns.

Nor is that all. Sooner or later, Pape argues, it will force the US and its allies to withdraw from the Saudi Peninsula and come to terms with bin Laden and al Qaeda.


In the very last chapter, Pape devotes 13 pages to a plea for a new strategy in the war on terrorism. The existing Bush policy has been a disaster: by militarily invading Afghanistan and Iraq and seeking to transform these Muslim countries into democracies of the sort Al Qaeda and its offshoots hate, the US has continued a policy of what bin Laden calls "veiled colonialism" and that Pape agrees (so it seems) is accurate. It's not just accurate, it has backfired. Supported by various Western and Arab or Muslim countries (the latter directly or implicitly), the Bush occupational policies haven't decreased Al Qaeda's terrorist incidents and supporters, they've increased and multiplied them. Witness the ill-conceived adventure in Iraq . . . a fiasco that will continue to mount in costs the longer the US and its allies remain on Iraqi soil and seek to implant a western-style democracy.

What should the US do then?

Pape's answer: adopt a new strategy of victory against al Qaeda.

For a start, the US and its allies will have to withdraw from Iraq and the surrounding Arab countries, militarily for sure, and probably diplomatically (or so Pape implies). Not to worry. After all, the source of al Qaeda's hostility to the US and the rest of the West --- rooted as it is in nationalist urges and having little to do with Islamic fundamentalism --- will have likely been satisfied by such a withdrawal, and it will no longer have much attraction to the Arab and other Muslim peoples around the world. Transnational support for the fragile Al Qaeda movement and its suicide terrorism will no less likely begin to dry up too. And just in case the withdrawal did lead al Qaeda or other groups hostile to the US and the West to take control of Persian Gulf and Saudi oil resources --- the major concern and national interest of the US in the region, so Pape says --- that shouldn't concern us much: offshore deterrence by American air- and sea-power will, somehow (in ways not spelled out), ensure that we will all continue to have access to their oil wealth.

But note. Should deterrence fail, any military action that we might have to then undertake should be strictly limited --- as it was in the first Gulf War of 1991 --- to protecting access to those oil resources.

Meanwhile, to complete the new victorious strategy against al Qaeda, Pape argues that the US should strive for energy independence at home and better border and immigration controls while continuing to use calculated military action against any al Qaeda terrorist "we locate." It's not a perfect strategy, or Pape agrees on the last page of the final chapter --- but it's the best we can expect, and it would suffice to make it ever harder for al Qaeda to launch future terrorist attacks in the US and to "explain to Muslims why they should attack America at all."

"For nearly ten years," Pape concludes, "al-Qaeda suicide terrorists have been dying to win. With the right strategy, however, it is the United States that is poised for victory." .

Replies: 1 Comment

No wildly inventive threats today. I've been enjoying your work on the web for at least a couple of years, as study material, and didn't even realize until today that comments were invited.

And the music drives me crazy! So don't change it. Great work.

Posted by Sam_S @ 08/28/2005 10:33 PM PST