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Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism Paperback – Jul 25 2006

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (July 25 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812973380
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812973389
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.4 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #170,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 61 reviews
139 of 163 people found the following review helpful
Original--A Major Contribution to Understanding July 12 2005
By Robert David STEELE Vivas - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The University of Chicago is an extraordinary institution--the author, employed there, lives up to their reputation for methodical, scholarly, useful reflections grounded firmly in the facts. This work significantly advances our understanding of terrorism and of the three forms of suicidal terrorism: egotistic, altruistic, and fatalistic. The author documents his findings that most suicidal terrorists are altruistic, well-educated, nationalistically-motivated, and fully witting and dedicated to their fatal mission as a service to their community.

Of the 563 books I have reviewed--all in national security and global issues, and all but four among the best books in the field--this new work by Professor Pape stands out as startlingly original, thoughtful, useful, and directly relevant to the clear and present danger facing America: an epidemic of suicidal terrorism spawned by the "virtual colonialism" of the US in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and now Iraq as well as other countries.

I will not repeat the excellent listing of facts in the Book Description provided by the publisher--certainly that description should be read carefully. If you are a Jewish zealot, don't bother, you will not get over the cognitive dissonance. Everyone else, including Muslim, Protestant, and Catholic contributors to Congressional and Presidential campaign funds, absolutely must read this book.

There are many other books that support the author's key premises, all well-documented with case studies and the most complete and compelling statistics--known facts. I am persuaded by the author's big three:

1) Suicidal terrorism correlates best with U.S. military occupation of specific countries that tend to be undemocratic and corrupt, where the U.S. in collusion with dictators and one-party elites are frustrating legitimate national aspirations of the larger underclass and middle class;

2) Virtually all of the suicidal terrorists comes from allies of the U.S. (at least nominally--they actually play the U.S. as "useful idiots") such as Saudi Arabia, rather than Iran;

3) The three premises shared by Hezbollah, Hamas, Al Qaeda, the Tamil Tigers, and now the Iraqi insurgency, are all accurate and will continue to be so if the U.S. does not pull its military out of the Middle East, Pakistan, Indonesia, and other locations:

a) Occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, and virtual colonialism everywhere else, demand martyrdom operations;

b) Conventional inferiority mandates self-sacrifice (not only suicidal terrorism, but other asymmetric attacks including the death of a thousand cuts against key energy, water, and transportation nodes in the USA; and

c) The US and its European allies are vulnerable to coercive pressure. The withdrawal of the Americans and the French from Viet-Nam and then Lebanon, of the Israelis from the West Bank, and other concessions itemized by the author, have all made the case for suicidal terrorism. It works and it will explode.

I will mention several other books to support this author, but wish to stress that alone, his work is spectacularly successful in documenting the fallacies of the U.S. national security policy.

Among the books that support him are
Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror
The Search for Security: A U.S. Grand Strategy for the Twenty-First Century
Rogue Nation: American Unilateralism and the Failure of Good Intentions
The Fifty-Year Wound: How America's Cold War Victory Has Shaped Our World
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
Tactics of the Crescent Moon: Militant Muslim Combat Methods
Understanding Terror Networks
The Global Class War: How America's Bipartisan Elite Lost Our Future - and What It Will Take to Win It Back
The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People

This is a core reading for every officer at STRATCOM and SOCOM, and for anyone who wishes to be effective at either Public Diplomacy or Strategic Communication or Information Operations. This author should be an invited distinguished funded speaker at every single war college in the Western democracies. We cannot win without listening to him. Military withdrawals, combined with energy independence, are essential. Without them, we not only will not fully defeat the current crop of suicidal terrorists, but we will, in attempting to deal with the current threat with old counter-productive and heavy-handed means, give birth to hundreds of thousands in the next generation of suicidal terrorists.

There are not enough guns in the world to win this one, even if we had competent intelligence at the neighborhood level, which we do not. In keeping with the author's recommendations, it is clear that moral capitalism, informed democracy, equanimity toward bottom up movements for national liberation and an end to corruption, an honest policy process in Washington, D.C.--these are the keys to victory.

This is a towering accomplishment and a major contribution to strategic thinking.
156 of 184 people found the following review helpful
Throwing Stones is Throwing Stones June 6 2005
By Sidney Frieden - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Pape's book takes a flinty-eyed look at the data and presents us with inarguable conclusions that many readers will not like. (Witness the ideological hatchet job below, masquerading as a reader review.) If you can't make yourself believe that US foreign policy (and the foreign policies of other powerful democracies) might somehow be a contributing factor in the proliferation of suicide bombing campaigns we are witnessing today, then don't bother reading this book. If you have to let yourself believe that Islam is the source of most suicide bombing in the world, even if the data shows that it isn't, then don't waste your time reading this book. But if you're tired of not understanding why hundreds of billions of dollars of military hardware, intelligence infrastructure and foreign aid, and hundreds of thousands of US soldiers posted overseas, seems only to buy us more suicide bombers, then perhaps you'd be interested in a fresh idea why this is the case. You may not like Pape's conclusions. You may not be happy about them. But you can't deny that they are based on the data, and that his analysis of the data is manifestly non-ideological in the best sense of that term. If we are going to win the war on terrorism, we had better be prepared to stop thinking ideologically from time to time, and take a look at the facts.
151 of 183 people found the following review helpful
Insightful, Groundbreaking Work. + rebuttal to 1-star review June 16 2005
By John K - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This new work by Robert Pape is a long awaited step forward in the understanding of the phenomenon of suicide terrorism that presently faces the Western world. In it, Pape makes his case in a straightforward and airtight argument based on his study of the global experience of suicide terrorism from 1980-2003. And by no means is this any run-of-the-mill examination. It is by far the most comprehensive, thorough, and methodical look at suicide terrorist attacks, the terrorists themselves, the societies that support them, the democracies that bear their cost, and the political circumstances surrounding them.

Pape lays out his ideas in what he terms as the "Nationalism Theory of Suicide Terrorism." One sees, through his analysis, that almost all suicide terrorist attacks since the advent of the tactic have had several similarities. 1) They exist as part of a larger organized campaign 2) they target democracies 3) they seek a strategic political objective (national liberation). This is a cursory explanation of the author's ideas that are elucidated in the book. He then concludes with recommendations stemming from his study's findings.

These ideas are simply novel, well thought-out, and groundbreaking. If they do not find wide acceptance in short order they will certainly be the subject of important debate and any future scholarship will be obliged to address them. The author and all those that worked with him did a great job.

The concluding prescriptions for future foreign policy decisions are quite reasonable and based on sound footing, but, of course, always debatable. Foreign policy has to be one of the most convoluted and difficult issue areas in any field and it is a matter of dire importance because, unlike in domestic policy, you only get one chance.

That is the end of my review. I would like to take a minute to address a previous 1-star review entitled "A Misleading Work" June 6, 2005 by "Anonymous."

Though the anonymous reviewer's complaints about the book lacked coherence and organization, though probably not more than their thought process, there seems to be three main issues in Pape's study that they object to:

1) Too much reliance on graphs/statistics, along with statistical errors

2) The LTTE (Tamil Tigers) existing as a statistical outlier

2a) All other suicide terrorist attackers were Muslims

3) Definition of foreign occupation too broad

3a) Al-Qaeda organization does not fit into Pape's model

I will briefly show that these objections are faulty.

1) Too much reliance on graphs/statistics, along with statistical errors

"Pape provides 14 pages of charts..."

The author conducted the largest study of the subject in history and drew his conclusions from the data. It is obviously necessary to use those facts/statistics to present the argument.

"...factoring 315 suicide terrorists into a billion people is just foolishness..."

There are roughly one billion Muslims in the world, Pape did not use this statistic in his analysis. There were a total of 315 suicide attacks during the period covered by the study, 48-57% were secular and even less were Muslim. (Pape 210)

"...with such a small set --only 15 total campaigns over 30 years -- one group can easily flood the average."

There have been only 18 campaigns in the 23 years covered in the study. 13 have been completed, five are ongoing, and all are included. The "small set" is comprised of all suicide terrorist campaigns in modern (relevant) history.

2) The LTTE (Tamil Tigers) existing as a statistical outlier

2a) All other suicide terrorist attackers were Muslims

"...if they are excluded, it is clear from Pape's own charts that every single other suicide attack since 1980 was committed by a Muslim."

The LTTE is the most prolific suicide terrorist organization in history and has succeeded in assassinating the two highest ranking officials through suicide attacks (heads of state). Any study that did not include the organization would be seriously flawed. It is just plain false that all other attacks were committed by Muslims. Did you read the book?

3) Definition of foreign occupation too broad

3a) Al-Qaeda organization does not fit into Pape's model

"The definition, however, is too broad to be useful."

Pape's definition is apt, especially in the minds of the people living in the countries in question. Your definition may differ but that is irrelevant.

"If a risk can only be calculated by taking into account a potential enemy's subjective experience..."

Understanding the "subjective experience" of the people in question is the ultimate purpose of the book. Achieving that understanding is necessary for calculating risk, developing strategies, and making decisions.

"...it isn't at all obvious that al Qaeda, the group we are really concerned about, qualifies."

Based on your definition of occupation, whatever that may be, the group may not qualify. However, Pape shows that this is exactly how Osama bin Laden defines it. It is the foundation of his organization's propaganda and mobilization efforts and, as is shown in the book, 95% of people in Saudi Arabia agree with him. (Pape 82)

The errors in your analysis and criticism reveal several things about you. You have an entrenched view of Muslims as terrorists, you don't understand anything about Islam or the Middle East (in either contemporary or historical terms), and you apparently do not understand that not all people in "Muslim" areas/countries are Muslims. You are also suspicious that Pape is some sort of liberal/socialist despite the non-political nature of his book (he does not use George Bush's name once). Finally, you are likely a conservative, a fact which is disheartening and embarrassing for a proud neo-con like myself due to your sub-par presentation and mistaken/uniformed positions.

In conclusion, I would just like to say, don't listen to that person. They don't know what they are talking about and the book does not deserve the 1-star review. It's a great book, go read it.
36 of 46 people found the following review helpful
It is all about the data June 6 2005
By Plan to use this to to teach - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is the first really good book on suicide terrorism. The book's immense strength is that it is based on the world's only really good database of suicide terrorist attacks, complete through the end of 2003. Neither DOD nor CIA has equally good data, at least not unclassified.

The book is admirably well structured, proceding inexorably from data to theory to conclusions to policy advice. But as another reviewer pointed out, you don't really have to trust the author's conclusions -- the data are all in there, and they speak eloquently by themselves.
22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Nationalism, Terrorism and Occupation Sept. 20 2005
By C. Middleton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The Bali suicide bombing of 2002, killing 103 Australians and another 100 innocent people, next to 9/11, ranks as one of the worst terrorist attacks in modern history. In the news last week, an American turned al- Qaeda terrorist, warned Australians, particularly Melbournians, in a video broadcast across the Arab and western world, that an attack was imminent in the not so distant future. As a result, security measures across the city have doubled, particularly with the Common Wealth Games scheduled to open next year. The London bombings of a few months ago confirmed that the terrorists mean business, and preventing further bloodshed, stopping the terrorists, is of the highest priority. Dying to Win is an incredibly well researched investigation into the nature of suicide terrorism. Robert Pape has shattered the received wisdom concerning the nature of these killers and what drives them to perform these terrible acts. His research has also led him to a possible solution to combat terror, which those in power should heed.

Why was Australians targeted by suicide terrorists? Investigations have shown that it was the Indonesian terrorist organization, Jemaah Islamiya (JI), however the training, financing and technological expertise, came from al-Qaeda, in order to punish Australians for their military involvement in the invasion of Afghanistan. This car bombing of an over crowded disco, where Australians were known to frequent for many years, was a devastating blow and the motive was clear, military presence in the Muslim homeland, Saudi Arabia and others throughout the Persian Gulf, will not be tolerated.

In this clear and concisely written text, Pape has demonstrated that suicide terrorism is not motivated through a fanatic, Muslim fundamentalism, wishing to destroy our western way of life, but a direct result of military occupation in the Persian Gulf. He analyses the top terrorist organizations that use suicide terrorism as a weapon, and all of them, including the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka, Hezbollah of Lebanon, Hamas/Islamic Jihad of Palestine and al-Qaeda of Saudi Arabia use extreme measures in order to motivate the occupying military force to leave their territory.

Our stereotypical image of a suicide terrorist is usually a young Arab boy, uneducated, poor and easily influenced by evil with nothing left to lose. However, since 1990, the standard has changed, that is, the suicide terrorist is usually educated coming from a middle-class background with no criminal record, and perceived as successful. The driving force behind the suicide is an overwhelming sense of nationalism, brought about by the humiliation created from one's home being occupied by another country. In a word, this is not about religious fanaticism, a monolith of Muslim fundamentalism threatening our Christian values and way of life, as a few neocons would have us believe, but about military occupation. The research is impeccable and it speaks for itself.

Pape believes our presence in Iraq has only fuelled the fire as the amount of suicide bombings there have quadrupled. His solution is gradual withdraw of all Persian Gulf countries, however with a military force in wait to move in if the balance of power shifts and our oil interests are threatened. He believes that "off-shore balancing", a strategy of our military in wait with diplomacy in place with Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq, ensuring the balance is maintained, democratization can develop on its own, ensuring peace throughout the region.

The other arm of his strategy is to beef up security at home, particularly greater presence at our borders, preventing terrorists from entering our countries in the first place.

Bottom line, suicide terrorism is motivated by nationalistic sentiments, in an effort to remove foreign powers from their homelands. It is not about religious fanaticism, but about military occupation. The result of Pape's research is very clear on this point and his proposed solution is a sane one, and one that should be considered by those in power.