Robert Pape, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, gave a lecture titled "Cutting the Fuse: Moving Beyond the War on Terror" on October 28, 2010, at Georgetown University. The room in which it was held was packed to full capacity, which gives an idea of his celebrity.
Pape has garnered much attention and influence in recent years for his thesis that the vast majority of suicide bombings—"well over 95 percent of them," as he put it— are motivated by foreign military occupation. The goal is tactical: to kick out the occupying power. Pape expanded on this thesis, noting that he approaches the study of suicide bombings as an oncologist approaches the study of lung cancer and, as such, has concluded that foreign occupation triggers suicide bombings in the same way smoking triggers lung cancer. Therefore, he proposed, ending foreign occupation should eliminate the majority of suicide bombings. The remaining examples would just be "flukes," such as victims of lung cancer who never smoked a day in their life.
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