June 21, 2005
Somebody, please, send Robert Pape's book ( http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0606-23.htm ) to Bush. Pape, the director of the Chicago Project on Suicide Terrorism at the University of Chicago, has arrived at a conclusion Bush needs to understand, although it is contrary to what he believes, or what he tells us he believes. "Suicide bombings are part of a conscious strategy that has a record of success in other places. Suicide bombing has gained adherents not because so many fanatics are looking for an excuse to throw away their lives, but because it works," is how Steve Chapman, writing for the Baltimore Sun, summarizes Pape's research.
Bush seems to believe that if the corporate media ignores suicide bombing, the suicide bombers will go away because, after all, the act is simply a demented craving for media attention. "A conservative columnist for The New York Times has suggested that the media simply cease coverage of suicide bombings," writes Joe Conason for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ( http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/226919_conason03.html ) . "It was a strange proposal from someone working at one of the world's most important news organizations, but one that aptly reflected current attitudes in the White House, the Defense Department and much of official Washington.... Both President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney evidently believe their own uplifting rhetoric and brusque dismissals of criticism. They won't let reality-based analysis intrude on their faith-based perspective."
Of course, Bush's "faith-based perspective" and refusal to face the music in Iraq will lead to more suicide bombings and more unnecessary death. "From Hezbollah in Lebanon to Hamas on the West Bank to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka," writes Pape in his book, Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1400063175/ref
%3Dase%5Fdissidentvoic-20/103-8402483-6736615 ... ), "every group mounting a suicide campaign over the past two decades has had as a major objective -- or as its central objective -- coercing a foreign state that has military forces in what the terrorists see as their homeland to take those forces out."
Pape's well-reasoned and methodical conclusion, based on research spanning more than two decades, will naturally be dismissed out of hand by the neocons, who have a vested interest in portraying suicide bombers as crazed Islamic fundies with no regard for human life, including their own.
For the Islamophobe Daniel Pipes ( http://www.danielpipes.org/article/390 ) , the advent of suicide bombing in the Muslim world reveals a flaw in the Arab and Muslim character, a flaw exploited by "a state-run ideology" (according to Pipes' fellow neocon traveler, the Israeli Meyrav Wurmser of the Hudson Institute), be that ideology Palestinian or Iraqi. "Why does this indoctrination work and why do Palestinian families enthusiastically send their children to die? What pressure could overcome the human instinct to protect one's beloved?" muses Pipes, already convinced of his biased and self-serving conclusion. "That pressure is not hard to locate, for it pervades Middle Eastern life. It is an unrelenting, compulsive preoccupation with family honor. The power of this obligation goes far beyond anything Westerners encounter." Certainly, revenge is an integral part of the mix, but for Pipes it ends there, little more than a deviant quirk of a degenerate Arab psychology minus any extenuating circumstances. "Combined, the monstrous social environment created by the PA and the families' preoccupation with social status goes far to explain why Palestinians glory in the destruction of their youth."
Of course, IDF soldiers killing grade school kids ( http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Articles/SunilSufferChildren.h
tm ) and forcing Palestinians to drink their own urine has nothing to do with it. Israel's destruction of the social and political infrastructure in the West Bank and Gaza has nothing to do with it. All blame is conveniently siphoned off and directed toward the Palestinian Authority, a joke when you consider the PA is more or less hamstrung and in fact encouraged to act as a corrupt and self-serving criminal operation (under the terms of Oslo, dominated by the Israelis).
Robert Fulford ( http://www.robertfulford.com/SuicideTerrorism2.html ), writing for the National Post, compares suicide bombing to sexual abuse. "The cult of death spreading among Palestinians remains mysterious to much of the world outside the Middle East, and no doubt to many Arabs as well. As a pathology that threatens world peace, it needs investigation by the UN. Palestinians drive their children mad with rage, send them off to die, then celebrate. The comparison with sexual abuse is impossible to avoid. We now know that adolescents and young adults around the world have suffered terribly from sexual abuse; but as a crime, is that as vile as persuading young people to kill themselves and others for politics?" In short, since the sexually abused of other cultures are usually not motivated to become suicide bombers, it must have something to do with the Palestinian people, a form of mass psychosis beyond sanity and religion. "Apparently Palestinian terrorism has become so popular that it transcends even the rules of Islam."
"It is certainly the case that vast segments of Palestinian culture have been given over to the creation and nurturing of suicide bombers," David Brooks writes for the Atlantic Monthly. "It's hard to know how Israel, and the world, should respond to the rash of suicide bombings and to their embrace by the Palestinian people." Mr. Brooks refuses to consider the logical explanation of this paradox, namely that collective desperation and the indisputable (and well-documented) fact Palestinians are eking out a severely diminished existence under fifty years of occupation and victimization may have something to do with suicide bombing and violence.
Considering 42% of Palestinian families were destitute in 2003 and dependent on humanitarian assistance, according to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia ( http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/F42D09F0-C8F3-4D3C-81
DE-8043111AD3EE.htm ESCWA), and "economic and social data show marked deterioration of living conditions for the Palestinian people, including new forms of dispossession and destruction of private and public assets of all kinds," it should really be a no-brainer suicide bombing, as a way to get rid of a brutal Israeli occupation that threatens to literally reach genocidal proportions, is so widespread (in fact, it is remarkable there are not more suicide bombings in Israel). "Unemployment stood at 26% in the fourth quarter of 2003, but reached 70% in some areas. Food consumption was down by 86%," the ESCWA report continues. "Palestinians were living on less than $2.1 a day, a poverty rate of 63%, in mid-2003.... Humanitarian assistance is not sufficient to ensure a sustainable life with dignity and rights for the Palestinian civilians under occupation." But, as the report notes, it is not simply the Palestinians who are suffering under the iron fist of Israeli occupation, but Syrians as well. "In the Syrian Golan Heights, annexed by Israel in 1981, ESCWA said Israeli settlements continue to expand. It said access to natural resources and social services such as schooling and medical facilities were inadequate for the Arab population." Most Syrians have yet to become suicide bombers, but if Israel has its way with its Arab neighbor -- bombing it into submission, as Bush's neocon planners and their Likudnik comrades repeatedly urge (this is a favorite preoccupation for Ariel Sharon) -- the phenomenon may arrive in short order.
"The main thing is that terrorism is a choice people make," Dr. Rona M. Fields, a clinical psychologist and sociologist, told Georgie Geyer ( http://www.rense.com/general66/ssui.htm ). "It's not a sickness, and it's not religious as such. It's a choice they make when they feel that their group is threatened. It's a level of retributive justice; it's vendetta, not psychosis."
As Robert Fisk notes ( http://www.chss.montclair.edu/english/furr/pol/wtc/fisk09130
1.html ) , the Palestinians adopted suicide bombing from Hezbollah -- and Hezbollah successfully broke the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon. Israel's invasion and occupation of Lebanon killed approximately 18,000 innocent civilians, injured 30,000, made homeless between 500,000-800,000, and was singularly responsible for the creation and growth of the occupation resistance organization Hezbollah.
Robert Pape ( http://www.amperspective.com/html/honor_and_martydom.html ) made the following observation in the New York Times on May 19, 2005:
Before Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982, there was no Hezbollah suicide terrorist campaign against Israel; indeed, Hezbollah came into existence only after this event. Before the Sri Lankan military began moving into the Tamil homelands of the island in 1987, the Tamil Tigers did not use suicide attacks. Before the huge increase in Jewish settlers on the West Bank in the 1980s, Palestinian groups did not use suicide terrorism. And, true to form, there had never been a documented suicide attack in Iraq until after the American invasion in 2003.
In short, suicide bombing has nothing to do with Muslim or Arab psychology, as Zionist-centric "thinkers" such as Daniel Pipes and Meyrav Wurmser would have us believe. In Iraq, it has nothing to do with outside or foreign "jihadists," as Bush and Rumsfeld would have us conclude. Suicide bombing is a form of asymmetrical warfare used against technologically superior occupation forces. Bush's gaggle of carping neocons would have us believe this sort of warfare is "immoral" and psychologically deviant, and the right thing for the Iraqi resistance to do is line up out in the desert in battle formation and wait for Bush's B52s to carpet bomb them to dust. It's not going to happen and the Pentagon will be forced to accept reality, regardless of Bush's penchant for reality aversion: the Iraqis (and the Palestinians) will do whatever it takes to get rid of foreign occupiers, who are after all in Iraq not to hand deliver "democracy," as Bush never tires of telling them and us, but invaded the country to steal Iraq's natural resources and crush Arab nationalism (as the Israelis continue their effort to crush it in Palestine, with absolutely no success), a set of hopelessly flawed goals ultimately destined for complete and utter failure.
Kurt Nimmo is a photographer, multimedia artist and writer living in New Mexico. He is author of Another Day in the Empire: Life in Neoconservative America (Dandelion Books, 2003). To see his photo work and read more of his essays, visit his excellent "Another Day in the Empire" < http://www.kurtnimmo.com/blog/ > weblog.