Robert Pape

The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism


Robert A. Pape, professor of political science at the University of Chicago and author of Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, discusses his database of every suicide terrorist attack on earth since 1980, what it shows about the role of religion and occupation in motivating suicide terrorism, the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, the amount of truth discernible from social science, the suicide bombing campaign in Iraq and spread around the world since the Iraq invasion, the motivation of the Japanese Kamikazes, the suicide attacks of the Jewish Zealots against Roman occupation 2,000 years ago, the strategic logic of suicide terrorism, the importance in the difference in religion of the occupiers and occupied, the illogical Obama/McCain consensus on escalating the war in Afghanistan and now Pakistan, the example of Hezbollah’s suicide campaign against Israeli/French/American forces in Lebanon, the profile of the individual suicide bomber, why fighting them over there makes us less safe here, Adam Gadahn and the real, human, political reasons he sites in al Qaeda recruitment videos, and why Paul Wolfowitz got it wrong even on the one occasion he was right.

MP3 here. (51:57)

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.

15 thoughts on “Robert Pape”

  1. I agree great interview. The thing is, in America, were it is most important that this issue be clearly understood, [it], doesn’t seem to even rate as a passing thought.

    Although, having just listened to the debate between Biden and Palin it is clear to me at least that even the Iraqi people have as many choices as the American people do when it comes to electing a reflective self-critical government.

  2. Pape forgot to answer the criticism Scott raised about how he defines “occupation”.

    It would be interesting to have Pape outline what the academic reaction has been to his central thesis. Do most other foreign policy experts agree with him?

  3. Scott can you please SPELL the name of the American who was born in California and is living with Osama since the nineties? Adam something…
    Also, does Dr.Pape have a website? Can’t seem to locate it…

    IMMEDIATE UPDATE: I just found the spelling (for whoever else is interested):

    It’s Adam Gadahn

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