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Robert Pape's theory about the strategic logic of suicide bombing is another theory that traces the most significant factors behind a very complex issue to matters of social policy, and for this reason I am hoping that he is right.

For if this theory is (for the most part) correct, then we can dramatically reduce suicide terrorism by changes in policy.  In particular, we don't have to try converting large numbers of terrorists from their extremist and violent interpretation of Islam, much less destroying them altogether -- both obviously much harder (and morally dubious) tasks than altering our political policies.

Having said this, I have my doubts that Pape's thesis can fully exlain the British terrorists of Pakistani descent who kill British civilians.  How could it?  Because these British terrorists identify with Iraqis and Palestinians through the ummah and thus can vicariously claim Palestine and Iraq as their "homeland" (and thus the British and Americans as occupiers of their "homeland"?)

This seems plausible to me, but it seems rather more tenuous.  I've actually written to Pape to ask him specifically about this point, but he told me to read his book and see his comments following the latest terror plot bust.  So far, however, I have not found anything that specifically addresses this particular issue.

Could it be that some people -- even though they are economically relatively comfortable and fairly well educated -- feel so alienated from the society they live in that they turn to a radicalized, violent interpretation of their religion to find meaning in their lives?

Reading the numbers about British Muslims in this Pew report was pretty depressing on this point.

Out of the Dark Age came the most magnificent thing we have in our society: the recognition that people can have a society without having a state.

by marco on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 08:47:54 PM EST
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