Suicide Warfare: Culture, the Military, and the Individual as a Weapon

Suicide Warfare: Culture, the Military, and the Individual as a Weapon

Suicide Warfare: Culture, the Military, and the Individual as a Weapon

Suicide Warfare: Culture, the Military, and the Individual as a Weapon

Synopsis

This book provides up-to-date coverage of the policies, strategies, and effects of suicide in war, examining this subject from societal and military perspectives to shed light on the justifications for using human beings as expendable weapons.

Excerpt

On May 1, 2011, American Special Forces Navy SEALs raided Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in the dead of night. They found him and killed him. Nearly a decade after the 9/11 suicide attacks on the United States had claimed over 3,000 lives, the United States had achieved its most significant response to al Qaeda’s 9/11 attack.

Suicide attacks in modern warfare have become more frequent and significant. In an increasing number of conflicts, suicide is or has been part of the strategy of one of the combatants in the conflict. Suicide warfare occurs in conflicts within a single country, in regional conflicts, and in conflicts that span across the globe. The damage caused by suicide attacks is sobering. When I conducted a global search on the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism (CPOST), from 1981 to 2011, I found 2,236 suicide attacks that caused 29,472 deaths and wounded 72,255. The deaths matched the population of the city of LaGrange, Georgia, 29,588, and of Winsford, England, 30,007. The tragedy is that the casualty numbers are much higher today.

This book examines suicide in war from the perspective of culture, the military, and the individual as a weapon. Understanding these elements and how they interrelate within a conflict explains why some groups embrace suicide warfare and others refuse to.

Suicide happens in every society, in every culture. Each society comes to terms with suicide in its own way. Some societies reject suicide in all circumstances. Some reject it in most situations, but justify it in others. When suicide is justified, it is frequently associated with sacrificing for the society’s greater good.

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