Friday, August 11, 2006

Dying To Explode

Oliver King, a columnist in the UK paper The Guardian latest piece What Really Motivates Suicide Bombers quotes extensively Professor Robert Pape of the University of Chicago the author of Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism.

Pape's conclusion is the suicide bombers are detonating themselves for secular, not religious reasons. Primarily because they are furious that Western troops are based on Arab lands and they see these attacks as the only method of forcing those troops out. To solve the terrorism problem Pape comes thislogical, if wrong in my opinion.

His remedy, outlined in a piece he wrote for the New York Times last year is that the west should "rebalance" its strategy by withdrawing its forces from Muslim lands and instead support efforts of governments there to tackle the extremists.

Pape has simply not listened to what the Islamists are saying. While many may site Western presence as one reason, the majority point to the Palestinian/Israeli situation and a general animosity against the West and its ideals.

CBS' Bob Simon, who I recently railed against, interviewed two failed suicide bombers in 2003 who were captured by Israel. Here is a sample:

"He wasn't trying to make me wear an explosive belt. He was giving me a ticket to heaven. Because he loves me, he wants me to become a martyr. Because martyrdom is the most exalted thing in our religion. Not just anyone gets the chance to become a martyr.”

That does not sound like a secular reason for dying.

Most importantly the suicide bombers see their death as a one way ticket to martydom and heaven. It would seem the line of thought is "Since I'm not really dying, merely changing locations why not press the detonator."

Dr. Ariel Merari, head of the Center for Political Violence at Tel Aviv University agrees in the CBS interview.

"They just saw the new door, the new life. Strongly people believe here and in Islam that you don't die,” adds Merari. “When you join an army, there is a possibility to die, but in this case you are not going to die … As a martyr for Islam and and for Palestine, it is absolutely sure that you are going to come out alive.”

This is the pivot point that our politicians and military have to figure out. Fighting suicide bombers is akin to battling zombies. Both are already dead so to speak so the threat of death cannot be used to stop them from attacking. Theoretically the pool of potential suicide bombers will never dry up as long as its filled with committed Muslims.

The only method to deal with this is you have to make a suicide bomber wannabee's life on earth not worth leaving. As long as he or she believes something better is waiting on the other side, then they will strap on their bomber belts and attack.


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