Friday, October 22, 2010

"It's the occupation, stupid" - Robert Pape's stupid argument

Robert Pape, writing in Foreign Policy, says:
New research provides strong evidence that suicide terrorism such as that of 9/11 is particularly sensitive to foreign military occupation, and not Islamic fundamentalism or any ideology independent of this crucial circumstance. Although this pattern began to emerge in the 1980s and 1990s, a wealth of new data presents a powerful picture.

More than 95 percent of all suicide attacks are in response to foreign occupation, according to extensive research that we conducted at the University of Chicago's Project on Security and Terrorism, where we examined every one of the over 2,200 suicide attacks across the world from 1980 to the present day. As the United States has occupied Afghanistan and Iraq, which have a combined population of about 60 million, total suicide attacks worldwide have risen dramatically -- from about 300 from 1980 to 2003, to 1,800 from 2004 to 2009. Further, over 90 percent of suicide attacks worldwide are now anti-American.

He then goes on to his recommendation - stop "occupying" other countries and the problem goes away!

Pape then makes up some very subjective criteria to explain why most occupations do not result in suicide bombings -one that there is a "social distance" between "occupier and occupied," and the other is "prior rebellion."

There is a lot that is absurd about this obviously biased research meant to reach a foregone conclusion. Joshuapundit covered a few.

I looked up the raw data for his research supposedly showing no correlation between Islamic fundamentalism and suicide bombing, the Suicide Attack Database at the University of Chicago. It allows you to search for all attacks by country, year, group claiming responsibility and other factors.

Here is the full list of all groups that engaged in suicide attacks since 1981, according to the research that Pape relied on for his conclusion:

1920 Revolution Brigade
Abu-Dajanah al-Ansari Martyrdom Brigade
Aden-Abyan Army
Al Madina Regiment
Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade
Al-haramayn Brigades
Al-Jaysh al-Islami li Tahrir al Amaken al Muqaddasa
Al-Mourabito un Group
Al-Qaeda in Iraq
Al-Qaeda in Islamic North Africa
Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia
Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb
Amjad Farooqi group
Ansar al-Islam
Arab Egyptian League
Arab Resistance Movement - Al-Rashid Brigades
Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party
Armed Islamic Group
Assirat al-Moustaqim
Babbar Khalsa International
Chechen Separatists
Egyptian Islamic Jihad
Fatah al-Islam
Great Eastern Raiders Front
Harakat ul-Mujahidin
Hizb-I Islami
Hizbul Mujahedin
Islamic Holy War
Islamic Jihad
Islamic Resistance
Islamic Revolutionary Movement
Islamic State of Iraq
Jaish Ansar al-Sunnah
Jama'at Al-Tawhid Wa'al-Jihad
Jemaah Islamiya
Jund al-Sham
Kurdistan Workers Party
Lebanese Ba'ath Party
Lebanese Communist Party
Lebanese National Resistance Front
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
Mujahideen Shura Council in Iraq
Mujahideen Youth Movement
Mujahidin Shura Council
Mujahidin Shura Council
Partisans of the Sunni
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Popular Resistance Committees
Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front
Riyadus Salikhiin
Soldiers of the Prophet's Companions Group
Syrian Social Nationalist Party
Tehrik Taliban-e-Pakistan
Unknown Group
Vanguard of Arab Christians

Now, when you look at this list, do you see a pattern?

Now, it is true. many of these groups are not Islamist - some are secular and some are Christian - but practically all are Arab or Muslim, pointing to a much clearer correlation between suicide bombings and Arab/Muslim culture than a strained theory of "occupation."

Also, his biased research is apparent when he defines Pakistani suicide bombings against Pakistan - over 2000 deaths that do not fit any of his "occupation" criteria - as an example of US occupation, since Pakistan is a US ally!