He quote’s Professor Pape summarizing his findings:
“We have lots of evidence now that when you put the foreign military presence in, it triggers suicide terrorism campaigns, … and that when the foreign forces leave, it takes away almost 100 percent of the terrorist campaign,” Pape said in an interview last week on his findings.
He then asserts:
Anyone ever hear of the Germans or Japanese launching terrorist attacks against US forces when their countries were occupied? No? Oh, wait, what about the Tibetans? Any suicide bombers in Tibet blowing up markets with Chinese troops in them? No?
Lebanon. Of course. After the US removed those marines and the Israelis withdrew from South Lebanon in 2000 , isn’t it amazing how quickly the assassinations, the suicide bombings and the Hezbollah inspired terrorism stopped? Oh, wait…it didn’t, did it?
Virtually all suicide terrorism, with the sole exception of some instances by the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka is a tactic exclusively of the Religion of Peace. And that includes the two World Trade Center bombings, which occurred way before we invaded Iraq or Afghanistan.
I have four points I want to make now, and I hope that Mr. Miller will respond.
First, Prof. Pape’s work, (which I am not a contributor to, btw) does not try to explain all terrorism. He feels, and says so repeatedly, that suicide terrorism is the most deadly, per attack, and that if we could just stop suicide terrorism, then dealing with other terrorism would be much easier. Whether you agree with that or not, certainly determines what you think we might need to do, even if you accept his findings.
Second, Prof. Pape does not claim that occupation causes suicide terror, only that it triggers it. (I am aware that in the past he may have said such things, so you may well find a quote where he says it, but recently he has been very careful to say that he believes that it is a trigger.) It may seem like a semantic difference, but it is not. A cause is a cause, in that with X, Y will definitely happen. However, a trigger is what we call a necessary condition, meaning that you may get it, or you may not. In other words, Prof. Pape’s work should not be taken as a justification for suicide attacks, nor should people understand it as ‘blaming the victim’. The logic merely describes the most common conditions under which suicide terrorism occurs.
Third, your assertion about Lebanon is factually incorrect. Our data is available for search and you can check for yourself. You will notice that there is neither any attack by Hezbollah, nor in Lebeanon following the complete Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. If you are aware of one, by all means let us know. We are not dogmatic about this, and prefer to have complete data than to win a debate on the web.
Finally, your real argument, and the one that I truly wish to engage, is the litany of cases where there was occupation, and no suicide attacks occur. What you are essentially saying is that Prof. Pape selected on the dependent variable, and you are right. This point has been raised several times that I know of. This is part of the reason he cannot convincingly say that occupation causes terrorism. There is a strong correlation, but as any stats person will tell you, correlation is not causation. Nevertheless, if suicide terrorism is the most difficult and costly form of terrorism, and you only get suicide terrorism when you are occupying a country, you could therefore end the occupation without fear of suicide terrorism following you home.
For this reason, Kori Schake correctly points out that this then becomes a question of preferences and objectives. If the objective is important enough, it really does not much matter how many people blow themselves to smithereens, you stay the course. However, if it turns out that the occupation that is ‘triggering’ the suicide bombing is also not that important, than perhaps just stopping the occupation would be a better, lower cost policy.
I pause for response
To be continued…