Letters to the Editor – Weekly Issue of December 27, 2010
Readers write in about the motivations of suicide terrorists, the term 'conservative,' the price of parenting – and grandparenting, and the victimization of soldiers.
Robert Pape's Dec. 13 commentary, "What really drives suicide terrorists?", struck me as a study of details designed to support beliefs held beforehand. Mr. Pape talks about 2,200 suicide attacks around the world as if they were individual acts of suicidal violence "to resist the foreign occupation of land they prize."
Rather, most of these individuals were recruited, guided, and abetted by organizations with far greater geopolitical motives than removing foreign "occupiers." If it were only as simple as he opines.
Mr. Pape's exploration of what really motivates suicide terrorists looks at the present geopolitical situation, but neglects history. In Karen Armstrong's book "Islam: A Short History," she points out that history is to Muslims as theology is to Christians.
Witness the centuries-old hostility between Sunnis and Shiites over the true successor to the prophet. Or consider Muslims' memory of the Crusades. The memories of these issues are as strong today as are feelings about Western powers in Muslim lands, if not stronger. We shouldn't underestimate the influence of history on the present.