Abraham’s work is an attempt to analyze the effectiveness of terrorism strategies that involve attacks on civilians to pressurize governments into making policy concessions. This is the first research of its nature to examine a big sample of terrorist organizations from the perspective of policy effectiveness (English, 2016). The analysis includes all 28 “Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO)” designated by the US Department of State since 2001. Target selection is a key tactical variable for the success of FTO. Irrespective of their nature, terrorist organizations do not tend to achieve their policy goals when attacks on military targets are less than on civilian targets. This discussion essay revolves around the conclusion provided by two important manuscripts; “Why Terrorism Does Not Work by Max Abraham” and “The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism by Robert A. Pape”.
Abraham’s analysis nullifies the prevalent argument that terrorism is an effective technique of political bullying. The terrorism cases postulate that first, existing terrorist organizations hardly triumph their policy goals and second, the lower rate of success is inherent to the approach of terrorism itself. The major part of his work consists of the theory development on why countries are unwilling to make policy concessions when the primary target of terrorist organizations are civilian populations (Gould & Klor, 2010; English, 2016).
On the other hand, Pape (2003) analyzes suicide terrorism from psychological, social, and strategic perspectives in his prominent book “Dying to Win”. The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism is a sub-part of this book. Pape collected global data on suicide terrorism attacks covering 1980-2001 and conclude that these attacks follow a strategic logic, one explicitly intended to pressurize modern liberal democracies to make substantial regional concessions. The analysis further revealed that the suicide terrorist attacks have been rising significantly during the last couple of decades because the terrorist organizations have learned that it pays. For example, coercing Israeli and the US to leave Lebanon. After evaluating different terrorism activities, Paper (2003) conclude that western policymakers should tailor terrorism control policies in such a way that teach terrorists that the lessons of the last two decades are no longer hold. Also, the emphasis of western democracies should be improving homeland security as compared to offensive military action (Ashworth et al., 2008).
Pape (2003) does not believe that low education, poverty, or religious fervor alone explains the suicide phenomenon. Pape postulates that the suicide attacks phenomenon is not religion-based but an effort to force democracies to take out military forces from the homeland of that particular terrorist organization. So the suicide terrorism is strategic in nature and designed to coerce modern democracies. While data analysis by Abraham (2006) revealed that the terrorist organizations achieved their 42 policy objectives where the key success variable is target selection by the groups. Data further challenged the bookish argument that terrorism is strategically rational behavior. Abraham develops a theory that terrorist organizations are incapable to realize their policy objectives via targeting civilians (English, 2016). Abraham made a powerful claim that the success rates of terrorist groups are extremely low and they rarely triumph over their policy objectives. The emphasis of the author is on the capacity of terrorists to secure their strategic goals. In another place, Abraham describes that the terrorist activities are only effective in producing harm and fear but these activities are politically ineffective and that the failure to produce the desired effect is inherent in the tactic itself. Abraham has a lot to say on “Al-Qaeda” and postulates that the motivation of this group is to change the foreign policy of the United States but the political development trends have worked against rather than for the group.
Abrahms, M. (2006). Why terrorism does not work. International Security, 31(2), 42-78.
Ashworth, S., Clinton, J. D., Meirowitz, A., & Ramsay, K. W. (2008). Design, inference, and the strategic logic of suicide terrorism. American Political Science Review, 269-273.
English, R. (2016). Does Terrorism Work? Debates, Problems, and a Framework for Future Research. Revista Cidob D Afers Internationals, (112), 27-43.
Gould, E. D., & Klor, E. F. (2010). Does terrorism work?. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 125(4), 1459-1510.
Pape, R. A. (2003). The strategic logic of suicide terrorism. American political science review, 343-361.