Mia Bloom examines the use, strategies, successes, and failures of suicide bombing in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe and assesses the effectiveness of government responses. She begins with a review of the long history of terrorism, from the Japanese kamikazes during World War II, to the Palestinian, Tamil, Iraqi, and Chechen terrorists of today. Bloom explores how suicide terror is used to instill public fear, attract international news coverage, gain support for terrorist causes, and create solidarity or competition between disparate terrorist organizations. She also considers how terrorist groups learn from one another, how they respond to counterterror tactics, and where they receive their funding, and a new preface features an in-depth study of modern-day Pakistan, Somalia, and Iraq. Bloom boldly contends that social and political motivations inspire suicide bombers, and she develops a theory explaining why terrorist tactics work in some instances and fail in others.
An "explanation of the unexplainable," this lucid and comprehensive study of the historical roots and contemporary motivations of suicide terror is a major study. Bloom's historical range is formidable; the first eight chapters are a marvel of historical compression, moving from the Zealots of first-century Judea to the Japanese kamikaze of WWII within a few bleak but instructive pages. Bloom stresses that suicide bombings can only thrive with the implied consent of an aggrieved population, which can be withdrawn: the Omagh bombing of 1998, for example, was a disaster for the IRA. Over and over again-from Chechnya to the West Bank-history teaches that harsh counterterror tactics become part of the cycle, or, as University of Cincinnati political scientist Bloom terms it, part of the contagion of violence. She sees hopeful signs in Turkey's recent measured and partially successful response to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. The book also includes a fascinating chapter on suicide terror as practiced by women, especially in Chechnya and Sri Lanka, and how it is viewed, ironically, as a source of female empowerment. The last chapter is a clear-eyed consideration of the possible occurrence of suicide bombing on U.S. territory. A generous appendix contains charts and usefully annotated list of sources. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.