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Chapter 3- Explaining Suicide Bombers .doc

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Robert Brym

Sociology: As a Life or Death Issue Chapter 3: Explaining Suicide Bombers •From Karbala to Mekhola - Suicide attacks were institutionalized as a technique of collective violence in the modern Islamic world - In the early years of the twenty-first century, Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza became the region of the world with the highest frequency of, and the highest per capita death toll due to, suicide bombing •Explanations - Explanations for the rise in suicide bombings since the early 1980s focus on three set factors 1. The characteristics of suicide bombers 2. The occupation, by perceived foreigners, of territory claimed by the suicide bombers and their organizations as their homeland 3. The interaction between perpetrators of suicide attacks and occupiers 1. Focus on Perpetrators A) Psychopathology: individual characteristic - Lance Corporal Eddie DiFranco was the only survivor of the 1983 suicide attack on the US Marine barracks in Beirut who saw the face of the bomber; claimed the attacker looked straight at him and smiled - Many Westerners upon hearing this would automatically assume these kind of people are deranged and abnormal, such claims made without any supporting data . . . - However once interviews were conducted with prospective suicide bombers and biographies of successful suicide bombers were reconstructed, it was clear that they did not have a higher rate of psychopathology than the general population - In addition recruits who display signs of pathological behavior are automatically weeded out for reasons of organizational security - Gives no value into understanding the rise of suicide bombing in the world B) Deprivation: individual characteristic - Deprivation theory claims that suicide bombers act because they suffer extreme deprivation, either absolute or relative - Absolute deprivation: long-standing poverty and unemployment - Relative deprivation: growth of an intolerable gap between what people expect out of life and what they get - Deprivation frustrates people into committing self-destructive acts of aggression against source of their suffering - How ever evidence does not support this theory - One researcher (dumb bitch didn’t say who) found education and income data on about 30% ofArab suicide bombers between 1980-2003. Found that they were much better educated than the population from which they where recruited and they were typically from working and/or middle classes - Another scholar (dumb bitch didn’t say who x2) suicide bombers from Egypt and SaudiArabia have come from mainly middle- or upper-middle-class families - In addition attackers of 9/11 were well educated, middle class men - Gives no value into understanding the rise of suicide bombing in the world C) Culture: collective characteristic - Since explanations focusing on individuals characteristics failed, researchers began looking at collective characteristics - Some social scientists attribute much of the collective violence in the world to a “clash of civilizations” between Islam and the West - Their POV suggests that Islamic culture inclines to fanatic hatred of the West - However you have to be careful not to exaggerate its significance - Public opinion polls show thatArabs in the Middle East have strong favorable attitudes towardAmerican science and technology, freedom and democracy, education, movies, and television, and even towardsAmerican people; they do however have strongly negative attitudes towards American Middle East policy - Therefore it’s not a clash of civilization, its a deep political disagreement - Secondly, secular Muslim groups and non-Muslim groups outside of the Middle East have employed suicide bombing as a tactic.Among 83% of suicide attackers between 1980-2003 only 43 were religious. In Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza between 1981 to 2003, fewer than half of suicide missions were conducted by religious individuals - Finally suicide attacks were no means a constant in Islamic history - Gives no value into understanding the rise of suicide bombing in the world 2. Focus on the Occupiers - Robert Pape’s study of all 462 suicide bombers who attacked targets worldwide between 1980- 2003 suggests that: every group mounting a suicide campaign share one objective and that is to coerce foreign state to remove their military forces from their homeland - To support this claim he: - Quotes from leaders of the organization about their objectives; notes suicide attacks are not randomly distributed but occur in clusters to achieve particular goal; success (50%) - HOWEVER MUTHERFUCKING BRYM DOESN’TAGREE WITH HIM - Brym claims that he’s oversimplify these matter (of course, what a dick) - He proves this through analyzing the second Palestine intifada in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza - He begins by identifying three causal mechanism: - The reasons suicide bombers gave for their actions in public statements they made prior to attacking (bomber’s motives) - The reasons that representatives of organizations claiming responsibility for suicide attacks gave for their actions (organization’s rationales) - The specific preceding events that affect the timing of suicide bombings acco
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