Oct 21, 2011

Robert Pape and the Doctrine of "Off-Shore Balancing"

This post is an analysis of the work of Dr. Robert Pape as seen in this video:

(Parts2-4 link from this video)

Dr. Pape gives a very persuasive presentation here that suicide terrorism is the result of one fundamental factor:  foreign occupation.  This is clear when looking at the data he presents- and I believe him when he says the database is quite substantial.  This data is merely a reflection of logic- it seems anyone taking a serious look at the what this policy inevitably entails- heavily armed foreign troops affecting daily life- would conclude it will result in a catastrophic increase in attacks on occupiers.  I think one only has to imagine Chinese troops in Kansas dictating and enforcing different laws, statutes, policies, etc. to get the picture...

The interesting aspect of this phenomenon is the suicide aspect.  Why do these people use suicide terror as the vehicle to carry out their sacred mission?  It cannot be said that "they are just kooky religious."  Pape addresses this- proving it has nothing to do with religion at all.

One cannot remove the suicide from suicide terrorism, just as the self cannot be negated when discussing "self immolation."  In fact, the two phenomena are ideologically parallel, except the former chooses to directly attack the perceived enemy when performing the final act whilst the latter chooses to harm no others.  Both suicides are likely driven by the same factor- outrage relating to outside control.

I found the data gathered vividly connected suicide terrorism to foreign occupation.  My contention with Dr. Pape arises in his analysis of the solution to this problem.  One first has to examine the presumption embedded within the policy that we have to protect "strategic interests and obligations."  Then, we will move on to the actual policy solution offered (and accepted) of "Off-Shore Balancing." (OSB)

Strategic Interests

"Strategic Interests" could be read as "Corporate Interests."  This has been well outlined in the John Perkins book, The Confessions of an Economic Hit Man  These concerns have absolutely no place in foreign policy of the government, as the funds needed to pursue these interests are extracted from the citizen- who has no profit in the enhancement of the select corporations who benefit from this welfare.


"Obligations" is a confusing term, as it can be read two ways- moral obligations or perhaps economic obligation.  

The moral obligation for intervention is rooted in the doctrine of "American Exceptionalism" which says we are really, really great and every one should be like us- if they are not, we will force them to!  This is at best a misguided fallacy, and at worst a facade to justify infinite horrors on the world.  Ironically, as we stumble further and further into domination, we undermine the "moral" value of the doctrine itself.

I also wonder if Dr. Pape was referring to a financial obligation when he said this.  He never clarified, but I could see that being a possibility-especially considering the debt crisis we are facing.  This, of course, relates to our "interests" referenced above.  If "outside forces" are allowed to use financial leverage to control policy (again, compelling citizens to support this), it would be tantamount to blackmail on a continual basis.  We are not obliged to this! 

Off-Shore Balancing (OSB)

Off-Shore Balancing (OSB) is, in short, a policy of removing the "troops on the ground" and instead using a combination of economic policy and so called "off-shore" tactics (such as air strikes) to create the conditions necessary to achieve our strategic interests and obligations.

OSB is fundamentally flawed in that it recognizes the frustration of a people who are unable to choose their destiny because an outside force is affecting their lives to such a drastic degree, but merely changes the mechanism through which the force is applied.  Certainly, this will reduce the suicide attacks on our troops who are currantly in other countries because they will simply no longer be there!  (Much like legalizing drugs would drastically reduce drug crime.)  However, these people are not just blowing themselves up because of foreign occupation, per se- it is the atrocities committed by the occupiers that moves these individuals to suicide terrorism.  What will happen when these radicalized people are affected with atrocities via off-shore balancing, yet have no "occupiers" to blow up?

The answer to this question is what people in this country should fear the most.  For, OSB will have the effect of inviting terrorists to attack us at home.  These attacks will be far fewer, but much more deadly-as they are directed by suicide terrorists willing to travel from far away.  These folks are not likely to go all that way to merely walk off the low diving board for an uneventful sploosh.  Rather, they will be doing a cannonball of the high dive trying their best to get everyone wet.  OSB is, thus, an immoral strategy as it shifts the target of terrorism from warriors to civilians and from far away countries to our own backyard.

Only when we embrace a policy of non-intervention can we truly achieve morality.  Debating the nuances of a policy of "on-shore" intervention vs. "off-shore intervention" misses the fundamental point- intervention leads to terrorism.  Ultimately, no foreign power can assert authority over a sovereign nation.  The degree of the response will vary depending upon how obtrusive the foreign intervention is, but since the late '70's the inevitable response is terrorism.  OSB would be back to the future- inviting another terrorist attack here at home whilst our defense forces are hopelessly entangled around the globe.  This is a disaster.

Although I am extremely critical of the analysis Dr. Pape draws from this research, I highly recommend you watch the video.  The research is very important, and we do indeed need to find the proper cause in order to find the proper remedy.  We ignore it at our peril.

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