Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It

Article excerpt

Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It. By Robert A. Pape and James K. Feldman. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 20 10. 349pp. $30.

Ever since the attacks of 9/11, Western scholars have struggled to understand what motivates suicide terrorists to take their own lives in paroxysms of violence against civilians. In Cutting the Fuse, University of Chicago political scientist Pape and Feldman, formerly of the Air Force Institute of Technology, analyze new data, extending Pape's earlier research on suicide terrorism in Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism.2 This enhanced data set now includes the universe of suicide attacks from 1980 to 2009. According to the authors, the original argument is robust and still stands.

Pape originally claimed that occupation is the taproot of suicide terrorism. In the new book, the authors emphasize that since 2006, use of this tactic has spiked in Afghanistan and Pakistan following U.S. interventions. Although the Afghan case supports Pape's thesis, the notion that Pakistan is occupied makes one wonder about the authors' grip on reality. Consequently, it is unclear why suicide attacks there have spiked in recentyears. More broadly, the explicit rejection of a religious explanation in favor of a secular, strategic logic does not hold, as Max Boot has convincingly demonstrated in The Weekly Standard? …

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