Robert A. Pape

Suicide Terrorism Caused by Occupation, Not Islam


Robert A. Pape, professor of political science at the University of Chicago and author of the study Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, explains why it is that suicide bombers do what they do: To rid their land of foreign combat forces. That’s it. Not religion. Not virgins in Heaven. Not Democracy. Not Freedomâ„¢. Not women’s rights… Occupation.

MP3 here. (15:25)

Robert A. Pape is Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago specializing in international security affairs. His publications include Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism (Random House 2005); Bombing to Win: Air Power and Coercion in War (Cornell 1996), “Why Economic Sanctions Do Not Work,” International Security (1997), “The Determinants of International Moral Action,” International Organization (1999); “The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism,” American Political Science Review (2003); and “Soft Balancing against the United States,” International Security (2005). His commentary on international security policy has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, New Republic, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, and Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, as well as on Nightline, ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Fox News, and National Public Radio. Before coming to Chicago in 1999, he taught international relations at Dartmouth College for five years and air power strategy for the USAF’s School of Advanced Airpower Studies for three years. He received his Ph. D. from the University of Chicago in 1988 and graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Pittsburgh in 1982. His current work focuses on the causes of suicide terrorism and the politics of unipolarity.

8 thoughts on “Robert A. Pape”

  1. Charles I always enjoy your podcast here and am wondering is your regular show availble by podcast since I see nothing on it at the radio stations website.

    Also could you interview Dr. David Ray Griffin, Paul Craig Roberts, Architect Richard Gage, Nafeez Ahmed or others from the 9/11 Truth Movement considering the recent anniversary and the most recent polling done? Thanks for the great work you do.


  2. it’s sad stuff. that’s what you call asymmetric warfare. they are not conceeding defeat, instead they are fihgting now ‘dirty’ – they find ways to resist and ultimately reach their goal – whatever that may be. Of course they have an ideology so that they can recruit their cannonfudder.It’s very discouraging and tough to have such an enemy (there’s a good french movie , think it’s called ALgier. about the asymetric warfare of the arab ‘terrorists’ or ‘murderers’ or ‘resistance’ vs the french rule- a text book reference for both sides as of what to expect= a war of attrition and nerves


  3. Pape is not entirely accurate. There were suicide truck-bombs deployed against Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War. The bomber, I believe, was Iranian. Khomeini’s comments certainly encouraged martyrdom as a form of religious resistance and vigilance against the Infidel – as “a prayer to God” (Dilip Hiro). 5% of suicide attacks having religious motivation, is a significant percentage! Pape seems to generalise…

    1. Khomeini’s comments compare very well with those of President Bush, who wrote about the “evil-doers” (people opposed to his reign) to be identified and vanquished. The propaganda was increasing daily and was planned long before US citizens imagined.

      It is obvious that his war against Oil-producing countries has been dreamed of and planned for a very long time.

  4. Robert Pape has rendered the world a great service by writing his book DYING TO WIN.
    His work becomes more noteworthy when we realize that he produced this work at the height of 9/11 hysteria, when all rational thought on the subject was under heavy assault.

    Even today, 6 years later, there are politicians, who cannot open their mouths without uttering the words TERROR and TERRORISM; and yet have not read Robert Pape’s definitive work on the subject.

    I suggest that send all White House Officials and Representatives on the Hill a copy of DYING TO WIN. Send 2 copies to idiots like Senator Lieberman for good measure.

    And while you are at it send also a copy of this book to DIIS (Danish Institute for Internationale Studies). This institute is going to spend something like $2 million researching the terrorist phenomenon in Denmark.
    Denmark is the little Scandinavian country which had participated in the invasion of Iraq; and now has troops in Afghanistan.
    Two Danish soldiers were killed in Afghanistan just a few days ago.
    Danes would benefit much from reading Robert Pape.

  5. The “suicide bomber” as (s)he is known was first the chosen mode of war of the Tamils of Sri Lanka.

    Their objective was and has been clear: to establish a separate homeland for the beleagured Tamils in Sri Lanka.

    Why should Muslim be different?

    Incidentally, it is interesting to note that the “sucicide bomber” was largely a democratic creation – they operated first in democratic countries.

    Consult the essay below:

    You and the Atomic Bomb (Essay) What would George Orwell have made of 9/11; or American military power and Iran’s desire for a nuclear bomb?

Comments are closed.