Updated: 5/16/2006; 3:32:48 PM.

Current events
Post-9-11 events and analyses

daily link  Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Suicide Solution: Christopher Dickey compares epidemics of suicide in different cultures, applied to today's terrorists.  "In “Dying to Win,” Pape concludes that  “suicide terrorism is mainly a response to foreign occupation.” Whether the people blowing themselves up are Palestinians, Chechens, Kashmiris, Tamil Tigers, or for that matter Japanese kamikazes, they are part of nationalist struggles, he says, and “they see themselves as sacrificing their lives for the nation’s good”..” Pape is a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, and he holds on to this essentially political explanation even when it has to be stretched a bit. Did the problem of occupation loom large in the lives of the young British-raised Pakistanis and East Africans who attacked public transport in London last July? Where did occupation figure in the minds of the highly educated men from Egypt, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia who carried out the 9/11 attacks against the United States?  ..  Al Qaeda propaganda tells them that the ummah,  the global nation of all Muslims, is under attack. ..  But that perception is not new—and suicide bombings on this scale are. ..

“Once a specific form of suicide takes place, it becomes part of the thinking and, if you will, the repertoire of people who can identify with that person who killed himself,” says the Dutch researcher René Diekstra, now at Holland’s Roosevelt Academy. “We know that what we call ‘suicide contagion’ is particularly prevalent in the late teens and early adult age. There is a search for identity, and for heroism.” These are exactly the themes the suicide organizers exploit. ..

Over the long run, Diekstra argues, Muslim societies will have to change. Islam will have to reaffirm its traditional values to resist the romance of martyrdom that more and more young people find attractive. New role models for young Muslims will have to be found, publicized, and revered. But the first step in any such process, as Pape argues, is to end foreign occupations wherever possible..

In the 1980s you had some six million Palestinians and Lebanese under Israeli occupation. Now some 20 million Iraqis (especially the 5 million Sunni Arabs) feel themselves under U.S. occupation—plus 18 million Saudis and some 2 million Kuwaitis who may see themselves as threatened by foreign troops in their neighborhood. “If we ever decide to invade Iran,” says Pape, “we’re going to discover that 70 million people can provide a lot more suicide bombers.” To stop the spread of the suicide disease, in other words, we have to stop the spread of the occupation disease."

  9:38:49 AM  permalink  

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Copyright 2006 © Ken Novak.
Last update: 5/16/2006; 3:32:48 PM.