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Daniel
Pipes

April 22, 2009

 

 

The Limits of Terrorism

by Daniel Pipes
Jerusalem Post
April 22, 2009

http://www.danielpipes.org/6295/limits-of-terrorism

Does terrorism work, meaning, does it achieve its perpetrators’ objectives?

With terror attacks having become a routine and nearly daily occurrence, especially in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, the conventional wisdom holds that terrorism works very well. For example, the late Ehud Sprinzak of the Hebrew University ascribed the prevalence of suicide terrorism to its “gruesome effectiveness.” Robert Pape of the University of Chicago argues that suicide terrorism is growing “because terrorists have learned that it pays.” Harvard law professor Alan M. Dershowitz titled one of his books Why Terrorism Works.

But Max Abrahms, a fellow at Stanford University, disputes this conclusion, noting that they focus narrowly on the well-known but rare terrorist victories – while ignoring the much broader, if more obscure, pattern of terrorism’s failures. To remedy this deficiency, Abrahms took a close look at each of the 28 terrorist groups so designated by the U.S. Department of State since 2001 and tallied how many of them achieved its objectives.

His study, “Why Terrorism Does Not Work,” finds that those 28 groups had 42 different political goals and that they achieved only 3 of those goals, for a measly 7 percent success rate. Those three victories would be: (1) Hezbollah’s success at expelling the multinational peacekeepers from Lebanon in 1984, (2) Hezbollah’s success at driving Israeli forces out of Lebanon in 1985 and 2000, and (3) the Tamil Tiger’s partial success at winning control over areas of Sri Lanka after 1990.

That’s it. The other 26 groups, from the Abu Nidal Organization and Al-Qaeda and Hamas to Aum Shinriko and Kach and the Shining Path, occasionally achieved limited success but mostly failed completely. Abrahms draws three policy implications from the data.

  • Guerrilla groups that mainly attack military targets succeed more often than terrorist groups that mainly attack civilian targets. (Terrorists got lucky in the Madrid attack of 2004.)
  • Terrorists find it “extremely difficult to transform or annihilate a country’s political system”; those with limited objectives (such as acquiring territory) do better than those with maximalist objectives (such as seeking regime change).
  • Not only is terrorism “an ineffective instrument of coercion, but … its poor success rate is inherent to the tactic of terrorism itself.” This lack of success should “ultimately dissuade potential jihadists” from blowing up civilians.

This final implication, of frequent failure leading to demoralization, suggests an eventual reduction of terrorism in favor of less violent tactics. Indeed, signs of change are already apparent.

 

Sayyid Imam al-Sharif

 

At the elite level, for example the former jihad theorist, Sayyid Imam al-Sharif (a.k.a. Dr. Fadl), now denounces violence: “We are prohibited from committing aggression,” he writes, “even if the enemies of Islam do that.”

On the popular level, the Pew Research Center’s 2005 Global Attitudes Project found that “support for suicide bombings and other terrorist acts has fallen in most Muslim-majority nations surveyed” and “so too has confidence in Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.” Likewise, a 2007 Program on International Policy Attitudes study found that “Large majorities in all countries oppose attacks against civilians for political purposes and see them as contrary to Islam. … Most respondents … believe that politically-motivated attacks on civilians, such as bombings or assassinations, cannot be justified.”

On the practical level, terrorist groups are evolving. Several of them – specifically in Algeria, Egypt, and Syria – have dropped violence and now work within the political system. Others have taken on non-violent functions – Hezbollah delivers medical services and Hamas won an election. If Ayatollah Khomeini and Osama bin Laden represent Islamism’s first iteration, Hezbollah and Hamas represent a transitional stage, and Turkey’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, arguably the world’s most influential Islamist, shows the benefits of going legitimate.

But if going the political route works so well, why does Islamist violence continue and even expand? Because they are not always practical. Rita Katz of the SITE Intelligence Group explains: “Engaged in a divine struggle, jihadists measure success not by tangible victories in this life but by God’s eternal benediction and by rewards received in the hereafter.”

In the long term, however, Islamists will likely recognize the limits of violence and increasingly pursue their repugnant goals through legitimate ways. Radical Islam’s best chance to defeat us lies not in bombings and beheadings but in classrooms, law courts, computer games, television studios, and electoral campaigns.

We are on notice.

 www.danielpipes.org

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123897547166291201.html

 

Wall Street Journal

Obama’s NK Reaction: More Talks

The president sends the wrong messages to Israel and Iran.
By JOHN R. BOLTON

Prior to North Korea’s launch yesterday of a Taepodong-2 ballistic missile, President Barack Obama declared that such an action would be “provocative.” This public statement was an attempt to reinforce the administration’s private efforts to urge the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (DPRK) not to fire the missile.


That effort failed, as have countless other attempts to deal softly with Pyongyang. Incredibly, U.S. Special Envoy for North Korea Stephen Bosworth revealed — just a few days before the launch — that he was ready to visit Pyongyang and resume the six-party talks once the “dust from the missiles settles.” It is no wonder the North fired away.

Once the missile shot was complete, the administration’s answer was hand-wringing, more rhetoric and, oh yes, the obligatory trip to the U.N. Security Council so that it could scold the defiant DPRK. Beyond whatever happens in the Security Council, Mr. Obama seems to have no plan whatever.

In 2006, when Pyongyang last lit off a volley of missiles and then exploded a nuclear device, the Security Council responded unanimously with Resolutions 1695 and 1718, which imposed extensive military and some economic sanctions. Unfortunately, the impact of these resolutions was dramatically undercut by subsequent Bush administration diplomacy, which effectively let North Korea off the hook. By re-engaging Pyongyang diplomatically rather than increasing the external pressure, George W. Bush relegitimized the North and gave it yet more time to bargain.

Yesterday’s launch is attributable to prior failures, but the global consequences now unfolding are Mr. Obama’s responsibility. In fact, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is expected to announce today deep cuts in the U.S. missile defense program, an extraordinarily ill-advised step.

The initial draft Security Council resolution responding to yesterday’s missile launch, written by Japan and the U.S., is weak. It essentially only reaffirms Resolutions 1695 and 1718, and minimally tightens existing enforcement mechanisms. Moreover, China and Russia made it plain before the launch they had no interest in stricter sanctions — even arguing with a straight face that Pyongyang was only interested in peaceful satellite communications.

What the Security Council will ultimately produce is of course uncertain — but resolutions almost never get tougher as the drafting and negotiations proceed. Even worse than a weak resolution would be a “presidential statement,” a toothless gesture of the Council’s opinion. Either way, North Korea has again defied the Security Council, gotten away with its launch with the support of Russia and China, and now will likely confront only pleas by Mr. Obama and others to return to the six-party talks.

Those talks are exactly where North Korea wants to be. From them ever greater material and political benefits will flow to Pyongyang, in exchange for ever more hollow promises to dismantle its nuclear program.

So far, therefore, the missile launch is an unambiguous win for North Korea. (Although not orbiting a satellite, all three rocket stages apparently fired, achieving Pyongyang’s longest missile flight yet.) But the negative repercussions will extend far beyond Northeast Asia.

Iran has carefully scrutinized the Obama administration’s every action, and Tehran’s only conclusion can be: It is past time to torque up the pressure on this new crowd in Washington. Not only is Iran’s back now covered by its friends Russia, China and others on the U.N. Security Council, but it sees an American president so ready to bend his knee for public favor in Europe that the mullahs’ wish list for U.S. concessions will grow by the minute.

Israel must also be carefully considering how the U.S. watched North Korea rip through “the international community.” The most important lesson the new government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should draw is: Look out for No. 1. If Israel isn’t prepared to protect itself, including using military force, against Iran’s nuclear weapons program, it certainly shouldn’t be holding its breath for Mr. Obama to do anything.


Russia and China must also be relishing this outcome. They will have faced down Mr. Obama in his first real crisis, having provided Security Council cover for a criminal regime, and emerged unscathed. They will conclude that achieving their large agendas with the new administration can’t be too hard. That conclusion may be unfair to the new American president; but it will surely color how Moscow and Beijing structure their policies and their diplomacy until proven otherwise. That alone is bad news for Washington and its allies.

Mr. Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of “Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad” (Simon & Schuster, 2007).

by Baruch Gordon

(IsraelNN.com) Among the most important challenges facing science today is designing an efficient system for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. The ability to do so will introduce hydrogen into the market as a clean, sustainable fuel. But man-made systems for getting to the root of water that exist today are very inefficient and often require additional use of sacrificial chemical agents.

Now, a unique approach developed by Prof. David Milstein and colleagues of the Weizmann Institute’s Organic Chemistry Department, provides important steps in overcoming this challenge. Their research demonstrated a new mode of bond generation between oxygen atoms and even defined the mechanism by which it takes place. It is the generation of oxygen gas by the formation of a bond between two oxygen atoms originating from water molecules that proves to be the bottleneck in the water splitting process. Their research has recently been published in Science.

To read the rest of this amazing article click here: More Israel news

by Daniel Pipes

FrontPageMagazine.com

April 2, 2009

http://www.danielpipes.org/6258/avigdor-liebermans-brilliant-debut

Avigdor Lieberman became foreign minister of Israel yesterday. He celebrated his inauguration with a maiden speech that news reports indicate left his listeners grimacing, squirming, and aghast. The BBC, for example, informs us that his words prompted “his predecessor Tzipi Livni to interrupt and diplomats to shift uncomfortably.”

 

Avigdor Lieberman yesterday.

 

Too bad for them – the speech leaves me elated. Here are some of the topics Lieberman covered in his 1,100-word stem-winder:

The world order: The Westphalia order of states is dead, replaced by a modern system that includes states, semi-states, and irrational international players (e.g., Al-Qaeda, perhaps Iran).

World priorities: These must change. The free world must focus on defeating the countries, forces, and extremist entities “that are trying to violate it.” The real problems are coming from “the direction of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq” – and not the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Egypt: Lieberman praises Cairo as “a stabilizing factor in the regional system and perhaps even beyond that” but puts the Mubarak government on notice that he will only go there if his counterpart comes to Jerusalem.

Repeating the word “peace”: Lieberman poured scorn on prior Israeli governments: “The fact that we say the word ‘peace’ twenty times a day will not bring peace any closer.”

The burden of peace: “I have seen all the proposals made so generously by Ehud Olmert, but I have not seen any result.” Now, things have changed: “the other side also bears responsibility” for peace and must ante up.

The Road Map: The speech’s most surprising piece of news is Lieberman’s focus on and endorsement of the Road Map, a 2003 diplomatic initiative he voted against at the time but which is, as he puts it, “the only document approved by the cabinet and by the Security Council.” He calls it “a binding resolution” that the new government must implement. In contrast, he specifically notes that the government is not bound by the Annapolis accord of 2007 (“Neither the cabinet nor the Knesset ever ratified it”).

Implementing the Road Map: Lieberman intends to “act exactly” according to the letter of the Road Map, including its Tenet and Zinni sub-documents. Then comes one of his two central statements of the speech:

I will never agree to our waiving all the clauses – I believe there are 48 of them – and going directly to the last clause, negotiations on a permanent settlement. No. These concessions do not achieve anything. We will adhere to it to the letter, exactly as written. Clauses one, two, three, four – dismantling terrorist organizations, establishing an effective government, making a profound constitutional change in the Palestinian Authority. We will proceed exactly according to the clauses. We are also obligated to implement what is required of us in each clause, but so is the other side. They must implement the document in full.

The mistake of making concessions: He notes the “dramatic steps and made far-reaching proposals” of the Sharon and Olmert governments and then concludes, “But I do not see that [they] brought peace. To the contrary. … It is precisely when we made all the concessions” that Israel became more isolated, such as at the Durban Conference in 2001. Then follows his other central statement:

We are also losing ground every day in public opinion. Does anyone think that concessions, and constantly saying “I am prepared to concede,” and using the word “peace” will lead to anything? No, that will just invite pressure, and more and more wars. “Si vis pacem, para bellum” – if you want peace, prepare for war, be strong.

Israeli strength: Lieberman concludes with a rousing call to fortitude: “When was Israel at its strongest in terms of public opinion around the world? After the victory of the Six Day War, not after all the concessions in Oslo Accords I, II, III and IV.”

Comments:

(1) I have had reservations about Lieberman and still do, but this speech has him off to a great start. Put as briefly as possible, he announced that “Israel is back.”

(2) Given that the formal name of the Road Map is “A Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” I confess myself puzzled by the news reports (such as the one headlined in the Los Angeles Times, “Foreign minister says Israel not bound to follow two-state path“) declaring that Lieberman has pronounced the end of the two-state solution.

(3) There is much irony in Lieberman now championing the Road Map, an initiative he and many others of his outlook condemned at the time. For an authoritative discussion at the time of its origins, flaws, and implications, see the analysis by Daniel Mandel, “Four-Part Disharmony: The Quartet Maps Peace.”

 

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