So you want to stop the suicide bombers?

Asia Times Online
Jul 12, 2005
By Toni Momiroski

...a book called Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, by Robert Pape, a University of Chicago political scientist, and it presents some compelling explanations for acts of terrorist violence...

Pape's study looks at 462 suicide-terrorist attacks between 1980 and early 2004 world-wide. The research finds that in over 95% of the cases the "central objective" of this form of terrorism was the eviction of foreign troops from occupied countries or regions that were considered by the terrorist groups to be occupied. Therefore, perceptions were a crucial indicator of reality articulated in acts of terror. What this means is that since suicide terrorism is mainly a response to foreign occupation, and not Islamic fundamentalism, "the use of heavy military force to transform societies over there ... is only likely to increase the number of suicide terrorists coming at us".

Some of the chief findings that Pape reached include:
# The terrorists are often quite proud of what they do in their local communities, and they produce albums and all kinds of other information that can be very helpful to understand suicide-terrorist attacks.
# The central fact is that overwhelmingly suicide-terrorist attacks are not driven by religion as much as they are by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territories that the terrorists view as their homelands.
# Since suicide terrorism is mainly a response to foreign occupation and not Islamic fundamentalism, the use of heavy military force to transform Muslim societies "over there" is only likely to increase the number of suicide terrorists "coming at us".
# It is a demand-driven phenomenon. That is, it is driven by the presence of foreign forces in the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. The operation in Iraq has stimulated suicide terrorism and has given suicide terrorism a new lease on life.
# Two-thirds of Al-Qaeda suicide terrorists from 1995 to early 2004 were from countries where the US had stationed combat troops since 1990.
# Before the US invasion, Iraq had never had a suicide-terrorist attack. Since the invasion, suicide terrorism has escalated rapidly, with 20 attacks in 2003, 48 in 2004 and over 50 in just the first five months of 2005. Every year that the US has stationed combat troops in Iraq, suicide terrorism has doubled.
# Of the terrorists since 1980 who completed the mission (actually killed themselves) most were walk-in volunteers. Very few were criminals, and few were longtime members of a terrorist group. For most suicide terrorists, their first experience with violence is their very own suicide-terrorist attack.
# There is no evidence that any suicide-terrorist organizations were lying in wait in Iraq before the US invasion - the suicide terrorists have been produced by the invasion.
# Al-Qaeda certainly has demonstrated the capacity to attack, and in fact it has made over 15 suicide-terrorist attacks since 2002, more than all the years before September 11 combined. Al-Qaeda is not weaker now, it's stronger.
# Not every foreign occupation has produced suicide terrorism. This is where religion matters, but not quite in the way most people think. In virtually every instance where an occupation has produced a suicide-terrorist campaign, there has been a religious difference between the occupier and the occupied community.
# When there is a religious difference between the occupier and the occupied, this enables terrorist leaders to demonize the occupier in especially vicious ways.
# Once the occupying forces withdraw from the homeland territory of the terrorists, they often stop - and often on a dime.
# The purpose of a suicide-terrorist attack is not so much to die as to kill, to inflict the maximum number of casualties on the target society to compel that target to put pressure on its government to change policy.
# If the government is already changing policy, then the whole point of suicide terrorism, at least the way it has been used for the past 25 years, doesn't come up.
# The reasons for the target selection of suicide terrorists appear to be much more based on operational rather than normative criteria. They appear to be looking for targets where they can maximize the number of casualties.

What does all this mean? Acts of terrorism and suicide are not random acts, but have clear strategic objectives. They can be political, but they are political only in terms of seeking to influence governments with respect of strategic interests related to occupation. While lobby and interest groups seek to influence democratic governments by words and electoral power, terrorists seek to do this through the only political means available to them. In their acts of violence, they seek to redress a power imbalance, that is, if the occupation ends, then so does terrorism.

Pape's findings point to the succinct view that the occupiers should get out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and quickly. Their presence invites more violence. More violence leads to additional violence from all sides. This provides the perfect conditions for "a new kind of war" - an "endless" war...

...Pat Robertson says he warned President Bush before U.S. troops invaded Iraq that the United States would sustain casualties but that Bush responded, "Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties."


Iraqis, Sistani Stunned by the Violence of a Bombing - New York Times

BAGHDAD, Iraq, July 17 - Even in Iraq, where shocking killings have become part of daily life, some acts are so profoundly violent that the country seems to pause, trying to fathom what happened.

That was the case on Sunday, after a suicide bomber appeared in Musayyib, a poor town just south of Baghdad, and blew himself up under a fuel tanker on Saturday night, igniting a fireball that engulfed cars, shops and homes. At least 71 people died; 156 were wounded. Some bodies were badly charred, making identification difficult.

Some senior elected officials and civic and religious leaders spoke out on Sunday, condemning the attack, one of a wave of suicide bombings that has shaken the greater Baghdad area in the past eight days. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most revered Shiite cleric in Iraq, asked the government "to defend this country against the mass annihilation," according to Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi, who led a delegation that visited the ayatollah on Sunday.

But nothing has stopped the bombings. In Baghdad, four suicide bombers struck within a span of four and a half hours on Sunday.

An Interior Ministry official listed the attacks: at 8 a.m., a car exploded at a checkpoint guarded by ministry commandos, killing three of them and wounding 10 civilians. Another car bomb killed a police commando and a civilian and wounded five civilians at 9:45 a.m. A third detonated near an office of the High Electoral Commission in Baghdad at 11:10 a.m., killing three and wounding one. The fourth struck at 12:30 p.m., killing one civilian and wounding another.

The surge of suicide attacks torturing the capital has seemingly confounded Iraqi and American forces, which have focused their Baghdad security efforts on stopping the bombers. Attacks are often undetectable until the last seconds before detonation, especially in the case of moving car bombs, and nearby civilians can slow the reaction of security forces.

Additionally, no obvious pattern has appeared in the recent string of attacks except that, like the scores of others that have made suicide bombs a prominent feature of this war, they have often singled out Shiites in large numbers or Iraqi and international security forces.

The National Assembly called for three minutes of silence nationwide on Wednesday to commemorate the Musayyib victims, as well as those in a suicide attack last Wednesday in Baghdad that killed more than two dozen people, mostly children.

Early leads in the investigation into the Musayyib attack suggest that insurgents had carefully planned it for maximum civilian casualties.

Several days earlier, the truck, which belonged to Iraq's Oil Ministry, had been hijacked by armed insurgents and the driver kidnapped en route from Baghdad to Falluja, according to an official at the Interior Ministry, who requested anonymity for fear of administrative punishment or reprisals from the insurgents.

"The only explanation the Interior Ministry has now is that the whole operation was arranged, and an insurgent was waiting in Musayyib to blow himself up at the location," the official said in a telephone interview.

"The situation is not good, and not what we hoped for," Hussein al-Shaalan, a member of the National Assembly, said in a telephone interview. The National Assembly intends to question the interior and defense ministers in the coming days about ways to improve the nation's domestic security.

Since the insurgency coalesced in the months after the ouster of Saddam Hussein, the level of guerrilla violence in Iraq has been cyclical. Mindful that rebel activity sometimes spikes in the weeks or days leading up to specific political events, including elections and transfers of power, military officials predict a rise in insurgent attacks between now and the mid-August date set for the constitutional convention, and again before the mid-October constitutional referendum and in advance of the national elections in December.

The current guerrilla campaign comes several weeks after the American authorities announced what they said was a successful effort to severely reduce the ability of insurgents to launch attacks in the capital - timing that suggests that the bombings may be a response to the American command's claims.

The attacks also come as most of the country's major Sunni Arab communities have begun to coalesce around a commitment to get out the Sunni Arab vote in the December elections for a full government, a decision the government views as a further step toward solidifying a political process that the insurgency has been trying to undermine.

Military analysts say that although it is difficult to assess the insurgency's organization, they believe that the attackers have a flat structure without complicated hierarchies. Much of the violence is carried out by independent cells that may communicate on certain occasions with high-level leaders but mostly take broad guidance from Web sites and videos, and set up their own attack schedules within their own regions.

According to military analysts, insurgents have learned in recent months that while attacking Iraqi or the American-led coalition forces has a certain propaganda payoff, it is much easier to strike civilian targets that have far less protection than troops or installations. And such attacks have the side effect of sowing chaos and distrust within the government.

Nabeel Muhammad, senior lecturer in international relations at Baghdad University, said in a telephone interview on Sunday that the insurgency was "desperate to start a sectarian unrest in the country."

"They keep looking for new methods to attack, and the Iraqi people are the only victim."

The insurgents have shown a keen ability to adapt and strengthen their tactics. Saturday's attack in Musayyib may be a case in point.

Adnan Ahmed, 35, a local government official who saw the bombing, explained that a man wearing a body belt of explosives dove underneath a propane fuel tanker and detonated himself shortly after 8 p.m. as the street teemed with pedestrians, including Shiite worshipers heading to the mosque and shoppers in the nearby market.

The explosion appeared to blow a hole in the bottom of the tank and ignite the fuel inside, officials say. Yet the resulting fireball left the huge fuel cylinder mostly intact.

All night, rescuers and relatives rushed survivors to hospitals around the region and carted bodies to morgues, and others battled the fires that gutted buildings and left behind a junkyard of blackened cars.

By late Sunday afternoon, an eerie, haunting quiet descended over the site. Few spoke at all.

It was the most deadly suicide bombing since Feb. 28, when a driver detonated his sedan full of explosives in a crowd of Iraqi police and army recruits in Hilla, killing at least 122 people.

Iraqis Stunned by the Violence of a Bombing - New York Times

there's a difference between VISION and DELUSION.

White House ruled the "Election" in Iraq (4.00 / 3)
How absolutely stupid can people be, to think that there were "free and fair" elections in Iraq?

Voter registration was the hardest part of that operation, as you can see here:

First of all, the Coalition Provisional Authority had passed a number of laws that totally placed Iraq, as a polity, in the hands of the Coalition and the White House. The Iraqis are not sovereign, nor do they exercise any real power inside their territory. What happens, happens because the White House wants it to happen. (Which is why the rising resistance movement is gaining ground. When you disenfranchise a people, through an illegal occupation, shit stuff happens).

The U.S. applied overt and covert influence on the election, seeking to sponsor and aid favorites, while making it harder for opposition voices to be heard. There are many ways of providing assistance, for instance by allowing your favorites to operate under the protective umbrella you otherwise reserve for your own, inside the Green Zone. That protection can also be extended, when required, outside Fort Apache, while it can also be withdrawn from those not toeing the line.

The Iraqi elections were a sham - the conclusion was foretold. The Shi'ites would have run away with it, if it had truly been free - but then they would have lost the protective umbrella supplied them by the U.S.

Thus the Shi'ites were smart enough to recognize that they now had a shot at some real power, and of possibly creating a Shi'ite southern stronghold, in line with what the Kurds managed in the north, under Garner, before the war. They went along with getting a result just short of a majority - good enough to make them feel powerful, and sufficietly "small" to not make Bush and Cheney look like idiots for handing Iraq to Iran.

The fact that it took forever to resolve the distribution of actual power, after the election, clearly reflects how rigged the entire affair was.

Or how about the post-rigging of the result? The fact that the U.S. suddenly realized that the Shi'ites could run off with the south, and possibly the country, anyway? Which led the White House to suddenly "demand" that the Sunnis should get representation, and the Coalition to begin negotiating with the resistance.

I'd say that's pretty much rigging the election, post-factum, isn't it?

What if an entire group chose to not participate in a national election, as a protest, in a European democracy? Then, once the election was over, the E.U. enters into the picture, and demands that the group that voluntarily disenfranchised itself should get a significant portion of the seats in parliament, in spite of not having participated? Uproar would ensue.

So - please, lets stop the pretense. The White House manipulated the world, in order to get its war. Once inside Iraq, do you think it would stop short of rigging what required rigging, in order to try and get what it came for?

Fortunately, there's a difference between VISION and DELUSION.

Vision is tested by time, and grows in legitimacy as its predictions are borne out.

Delusions, likewise, are also tested by time, and are revealed for what they are. In the case of the White House on Iraq, the stark, raving, mad ramblings of people who think they can create reality.

Now, that's a delusion of the first order. And the Cheney administration is fast approaching its last throes, because of that delusion.

That's why the GOP is panicking, and the White House is battening hatches now. This is much, much bigger than the investigation into the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson - the proper name for this scandal is Iraqgate.

"I don't do quagmires, and my boss doesn't do nuance."

by SteinL on Mon Jul 18th, 2005 at 03:15:06 CDT

Daily Kos :: Comments Open Thread: "there's a difference between VISION and DELUSION. "

Karl Rove's America

By Paul Krugman
The New York Times

Friday 15 July 2005

John Gibson of Fox News says that Karl Rove should be given a medal. I agree: Mr. Rove should receive a medal from the American Political Science Association for his pioneering discoveries about modern American politics. The medal can, if necessary, be delivered to his prison cell.

What Mr. Rove understood, long before the rest of us, is that we're not living in the America of the past, where even partisans sometimes changed their views when faced with the facts. Instead, we're living in a country in which there is no longer such a thing as nonpolitical truth. In particular, there are now few, if any, limits to what conservative politicians can get away with: the faithful will follow the twists and turns of the party line with a loyalty that would have pleased the Comintern.

I first realized that we were living in Karl Rove's America during the 2000 presidential campaign, when George W. Bush began saying things about Social Security privatization and tax cuts that were simply false. At first, I thought the Bush campaign was making a big mistake - that these blatant falsehoods would be condemned by prominent Republican politicians and Republican economists, especially those who had spent years building reputations as advocates of fiscal responsibility. In fact, with hardly any exceptions they lined up to praise Mr. Bush's proposals.

But the real demonstration that Mr. Rove understands American politics better than any pundit came after 9/11.

Every time I read a lament for the post-9/11 era of national unity, I wonder what people are talking about. On the issues I was watching, the Republicans' exploitation of the atrocity began while ground zero was still smoldering.

Mr. Rove has been much criticized for saying that liberals responded to the attack by wanting to offer the terrorists therapy - but what he said about conservatives, that they "saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war," is equally false. What many of them actually saw was a domestic political opportunity - and none more so than Mr. Rove.

A less insightful political strategist might have hesitated right after 9/11 before using it to cast the Democrats as weak on national security. After all, there were no facts to support that accusation.

But Mr. Rove understood that the facts were irrelevant. For one thing, he knew he could count on the administration's supporters to obediently accept a changing story line. Read the before-and-after columns by pro-administration pundits about Iraq: before the war they castigated the CIA for understating the threat posed by Saddam's W.M.D.; after the war they castigated the CIA for exaggerating the very same threat.

Mr. Rove also understands, better than anyone else in American politics, the power of smear tactics. Attacks on someone who contradicts the official line don't have to be true, or even plausible, to undermine that person's effectiveness. All they have to do is get a lot of media play, and they'll create the sense that there must be something wrong with the guy.

And now we know just how far he was willing to go with these smear tactics: as part of the effort to discredit Joseph Wilson IV, Mr. Rove leaked the fact that Mr. Wilson's wife worked for the CIA I don't know whether Mr. Rove can be convicted of a crime, but there's no question that he damaged national security for partisan advantage. If a Democrat had done that, Republicans would call it treason.

But what we're getting, instead, is yet another impressive demonstration that these days, truth is political. One after another, prominent Republicans and conservative pundits have declared their allegiance to the party line. They haven't just gone along with the diversionary tactics, like the irrelevant questions about whether Mr. Rove used Valerie Wilson's name in identifying her (Robert Novak later identified her by her maiden name, Valerie Plame), or the false, easily refuted claim that Mr. Wilson lied about who sent him to Niger. They're now a chorus, praising Mr. Rove as a patriotic whistle-blower.

Ultimately, this isn't just about Mr. Rove. It's also about Mr. Bush, who has always known that his trusted political adviser - a disciple of the late Lee Atwater, whose smear tactics helped President Bush's father win the 1988 election - is a thug, and obviously made no attempt to find out if he was the leaker.

Most of all, it's about what has happened to America. How did our political system get to this point?