Customer Reviews for

Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2005

    Demonstrates How Data and Analysis Can Hide As Much as They Reveal

    Robert Pape's approach to Dying to Win is interesting in a variety of ways, including his heavy reliance on data, models and analysis, something often missing from historians of the Middle East. In reading the book, one gets the impression, however, that the author began with a conclusion and then worked the data in order to prove it. The conclusion or thesis of his work is that there is really little difference between Islamist suicide attackers and those of non-Islamic organizations, since what they share is an absolute nationalist commitment, coupled with a similar commitment to eject outsiders from their mist. The problem with this approach is that it relies on an analysis of suicide bombers only, as opposed to the movements, which spun them. Furthermore, Mr. Pape must take the position that for Muslims there are no nation-states and thus any non-Muslim presence in a predominantly Muslim land not only justifies the use of suicide attackers, but also provides enough impetus to get individuals from outside that country to join the fight and commit suicide. Nationalism, in this circumstance, would be based on loyalty to a supra-national Islamic state, as opposed to a more traditional country. Complicating the nationalist explanation is Iraq, where suicide attackers' often target and kill fellow Muslims, many of which do not support the occupation. In the end, the book is more interesting as a source of data and general methodology, than as a source of wisdom. It also illustrates how data, without sufficient context can be used to prove almost anything.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2005

    Interesting quantitative approach to analyzing terrorism

    While Pape assesses suicide bombers¿ motives by using more precise statistics, we might wonder why Bush II continues to mislead the American public by repeating that the terrorist bombers fight and kill because ¿they hate our freedoms.¿ On the contrary, the author demonstrates by quantitative facts what many other experts have been saying for some time -- that the terrorists wage war against democracies like the U.S. because they reject the U.S. military presence in their homelands, such as the Persian Gulf. The facts clear the confusing fog of presidential rhetoric. For example, the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka thus far carry out the majority of all suicide bombings in the world, and they operate from a Marxist-Leninist ideology in Hindu communities, and not from Islamic fundamentalism. Pape uses quantitative analysis to prove other facts that many other experts (former CIA agents, journalists, military officers, etc.) have already discussed in the many books on this subject. Large militant organizations carry out 95% of all suicide bombings in the world. Suicide bombings arise from political entities, such as Al Queda, Hamas, and the LTTE. The author develops this as his central thesis: suicide terrorism¿s goal arises from secular, nationalistic political demands while religion comes into play as a secondary ideological platform.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2005

    Both Commendable and Acutely Disapointing

    Obviously well informed, the Author suggests a novel and interesting approach to analyzing suicide terrorism from a statistical point of view in order to learn what we may from this new and scary phenomenon. For the first 100 or so pages, he delivers a generous share of often surprising facts about the wave of violence that is now sadly familiar in our lives, as well as very perceptive and generally incisive comments of his own. Unfortunately, this leads him to his 'Great Theory', and once he fully formulates it, the author will pound his points rather relentlessly and, sadly, at the cost of the intellectual rigor he demonstrated in the first few chapters. Be prepared for his parsing of the statistical universe until it serves the greater purpose of 'The Theory', as well as a rather shameless treatment of causality. Once the Truth appears, all arrows must be made to point in the 'right' direction. So, for example, suicide terrorism has nothing to do with Islam, we are told, because about a quarter of all recorded events were perpetrated by the Tamil Tigers. It doesn't matter that the first (and about three quarters of all) recorded events occurred in Islamic countries, or that they begun in the 1980's, which is to say contemporaneously with the rise of hard-core fundamentalist Islam, or even, as the author freely recognizes, that the Tamil's Tigers did explicitly copy the methods of their successful Middle-Eastern peers. No, it really has nothing to do with Islam. No references to Iranian children human waves used for clearing mines in the Iran-Iraq war, no, no conceptual connection there. As long as the political faction claiming the suicide attack is deemed secular (say, the PLO), the author is fully satisfied that it doesn't count as having anything to do with Islam. Even the clear correlation between the location of Western troops in the Middle-East and the apparent local appeal of suicide terrorism amongst the population, one of the authors strongest points, is given the accelerated causality treatment. He concludes, not surprisingly, that it is the presence of Western troops that is responsible, of course. It doesn't even occur to him that there might be a reason for these troops to be there in the first place. Maybe this was already a 'problem spot'? No, the author insists that the root cause of suicide terrorism is the presence of troops on the ground in Islamic countries. Considering that the US is being blamed for 'abandoning' Afghanistan after the Russian withdrawal, this is kind of funny. Didn't help there, it seems. Ah, but there were troops in other places. So nothing but a complete evacuation of all 'lands that the Muslims see as theirs' will do, I take it. Presumably, this includes parts of Brooklyn. So in the end, we are left with an interesting statistical analysis, many relevant point, and the nagging task to have to constantly remind ourselves that we need to interpret the facts for ourselves, as the author's conclusion is systematically, and some times comically, driven to demonstrate his 'Great Insight'. When one has the talent and intellectual abilities the author clearly demonstrates, as a reader, one should be able to expect a little rigor to boot. Not in this case.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2005

    Good quantative analysis of terrorism

    The facts clear the confusing fog of presidential rhetoric. For example, the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka thus far carry out the majority of all suicide bombings in the world, and they operate from a Marxist-Leninist ideology in Hindu communities, and not from Islamic fundamentalism. Pape uses quantitative analysis to prove other facts that many other experts (former CIA agents, journalists, military officers, etc.) have already discussed in the many books on this subject. Large militant organizations carry out 95% of all suicide bombings in the world. Suicide bombings arise from political entities, such as Al Queda, Hamas, and the LTTE. The author develops this as his central thesis: suicide terrorism¿s goal arises from secular, nationalistic political demands while religion comes into play as a secondary ideological platform. Moreover, despite the rhetoric of western democracies, notably the U.S., they have yielded often to terrorists¿ demands. In 1983, the Americans and French withdrew from Lebanon as a result of Hezbollah¿s bombing that killed 241 U.S. Marines. This concession serves as one among nine major conflicts that Pape reviews. He argues that these concessions to terrorists have taught them to develop a logical approach to their operations and encouraged them to increase their campaigns.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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