How Terrorism Ends: Understanding the Decline and Demise of Terrorist Campaigns

Princeton University Press
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Amid the fear following 9/11 and other recent terror attacks, it is easy to forget the most important fact about terrorist campaigns: they always come to an end--and often far more quickly than expected. Contrary to what many assume, when it comes to dealing with terrorism it may be more important to understand how it ends than how it begins. Only by understanding the common ways in which terrorist movements have died out or been eradicated in the past can we hope to figure out how to speed the decline of today's terrorist groups, while avoiding unnecessary fears and costly overreactions. In How Terrorism Ends, Audrey Kurth Cronin examines how terrorist campaigns have met their demise over the past two centuries, and applies these enduring lessons to outline a new strategy against al-Qaeda.

This book answers questions such as: How long do terrorist campaigns last? When does targeting the leadership finish a group? When do negotiations lead to the end? Under what conditions do groups transition to other forms of violence, such as insurgency or civil war? How and when do they succeed or fail, and then disappear? Examining a wide range of historical examples--including the anti-tsarist Narodnaya Volya, the Provisional IRA, Peru's Shining Path, Japan's Aum Shinrikyo, and various Palestinian groups--Cronin identifies the ways in which almost all terrorist groups die out, including decapitation (catching or killing the leader), negotiation, repression, and implosion.



How Terrorism Ends is the only comprehensive book on its subject and a rarity among all the books on terrorism--at once practical, optimistic, rigorous, and historical.

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About the author

Audrey Kurth Cronin is professor of strategy at the U.S. National War College in Washington, DC, and senior associate in the Changing Character of War program at the University of Oxford. She is the author of Ending Terrorism: Lessons for Defeating al-Qaeda and the coauthor of Attacking Terrorism: Elements of a Grand Strategy.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Aug 24, 2009
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Pages
336
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ISBN
9781400831142
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / International Relations / Diplomacy
Political Science / Terrorism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Suicide terrorism is rising around the world, but there is great confusion as to why. In this paradigm-shifting analysis, University of Chicago political scientist Robert Pape has collected groundbreaking evidence to explain the strategic, social, and individual factors responsible for this growing threat.

One of the world’s foremost authorities on the subject, Professor Pape has created the first comprehensive database of every suicide terrorist attack in the world from 1980 until today. With striking clarity and precision, Professor Pape uses this unprecedented research to debunk widely held misconceptions about the nature of suicide terrorism and provide a new lens that makes sense of the threat we face.

FACT: Suicide terrorism is not primarily a product of Islamic fundamentalism.

FACT: The world’s leading practitioners of suicide terrorism are the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka–a secular, Marxist-Leninist group drawn from Hindu families.

FACT: Ninety-five percent of suicide terrorist attacks occur as part of coherent campaigns organized by large militant organizations with significant public support.

FACT: Every suicide terrorist campaign has had a clear goal that is secular and political: to compel a modern democracy to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland.

FACT: Al-Qaeda fits the above pattern. Although Saudi Arabia is not under American military occupation per se, one major objective of al-Qaeda is the expulsion of U.S. troops from the Persian Gulf region, and as a result there have been repeated attacks by terrorists loyal to Osama bin Laden against American troops in Saudi Arabia and the region as a whole.

FACT: Despite their rhetoric, democracies–including the United States–have routinely made concessions to suicide terrorists. Suicide terrorism is on the rise because terrorists have learned that it’s effective.

In this wide-ranging analysis, Professor Pape offers the essential tools to forecast when some groups are likely to resort to suicide terrorism and when they are not. He also provides the first comprehensive demographic profile of modern suicide terrorist attackers. With data from more than 460 such attackers–including the names of 333–we now know that these individuals are not mainly poor, desperate criminals or uneducated religious fanatics but are often well-educated, middle-class political activists.

More than simply advancing new theory and facts, these pages also answer key questions about the war on terror:

• Are we safer now than we were before September 11?
• Was the invasion of Iraq a good counterterrorist move?
• Is al-Qaeda stronger now than it was before September 11?

Professor Pape answers these questions with analysis grounded in fact, not politics, and recommends concrete ways for today’s states to fight and prevent terrorist attacks. Military options may disrupt terrorist operations in the short term, but a lasting solution to suicide terrorism will require a comprehensive, long-term approach–one that abandons visions of empire and relies on a combined strategy of vigorous homeland security, nation building in troubled states, and greater energy independence.

For both policy makers and the general public, Dying to Win transcends speculation with systematic scholarship, making it one of the most important political studies of recent time.


From the Hardcover edition.
“This is at the top of my list for best books on terrorism.”–Jessica Stern, author of Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill

How can the most powerful country in the world feel so threatened by an enemy infinitely weaker than we are? How can loving parents and otherwise responsible citizens join terrorist movements? How can anyone possibly believe that the cause of Islam can be advanced by murdering passengers on a bus or an airplane? In this important new book, groundbreaking scholar Louise Richardson answers these questions and more, providing an indispensable guide to the greatest challenge of our age.

After defining–once and for all–what terrorism is, Richardson explores its origins, its goals, what’s to come, and what is to be done about it. Having grown up in rural Ireland and watched her friends join the Irish Republican Army, Richardson knows from firsthand experience how terrorism can both unite and destroy a community. As a professor at Harvard, she has devoted her career to explaining terrorist movements throughout history and around the globe. From the biblical Zealots to the medieval Islamic Assassins to the anarchists who infiltrated the cities of Europe and North America at the turn of the last century, terrorists have struck at enemies far more powerful than themselves with targeted acts of violence. Yet Richardson understands that terrorists are neither insane nor immoral. Rather, they are rational political actors who often deploy carefully calibrated tactics in a measured and reasoned way. What is more, they invariably go to great lengths to justify their actions to themselves, their followers, and, often, the world.

Richardson shows that the nature of terrorism did not change after the attacks of September 11, 2001; what changed was our response. She argues that the Bush administration’ s “global war on terror” was doomed to fail because of an ignorance of history, a refusal to learn from the experience of other governments, and a fundamental misconception about how and why terrorists act. As an alternative, Richardson offers a feasible strategy for containing the terrorist threat and cutting off its grassroots support.

The most comprehensive and intellectually rigorous account of terrorism yet, What Terrorists Want is a daring intellectual tour de force that allows us, at last, to reckon fully with this major threat to today’s global order.

The definition and understanding of "terrorism" is in a state of unprecedented evolution. No longer are acts of terrorism rare and far-flung. Following the horrendous attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, U.S. citizens have had their eyes opened to a new world where this nightmare stalks the daily news and is never far from consciousness.

Attacking Terrorism brings together some of the world's finest experts, people who have made the study of this rising menace their life's work, to provide a comprehensive picture of the challenges and opportunities of the campaign against international terrorism. Part one, "The Nature of Terrorism," provides an overview and foundation for the current campaign, placing it within the political and historical context of previous threats and responses. Part two, "The Responses to Terrorism," looks at the range of policy instruments required in an effective strategy against terrorism.

The contributors to this volume bring finely honed analyses and nuanced perspectives to the terrorist realities of the twenty-first century—history, analyses, and perspectives that have been too often oversimplified or myopic. They bring a new depth of understanding and myriad new dimensions to the crisis of terrorism. And they reach into aspects of counterterrorism that broaden our grasp on such important tools as diplomacy, intelligence and counterintelligence, psycho-political means, international law, criminal law enforcement, military force, foreign aid, and homeland security, showing not only how these tools are currently being employed but how often they are being underutilized as well.

Attacking Terrorism demonstrates that there are no easy answers—and that the road toward victory will be long and arduous, frightening and dangerous—but as Audrey Kurth Cronin states in her introduction, "As the campaign against international terrorism unfolds, a crucial forward-looking process of strategic reassessment is under way in the United States, and this book is intended to be a part of it."

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