10 Steps to Victory in AfghanistanPublished: October 3, 2009
End Suicide Attacks
TO win in Afghanistan, the United States and its allies must prevent the rise of a new generation of anti-American terrorists, particularly suicide terrorists.
The metric for measuring this threat is not the amount of territory controlled by the Taliban or Al Qaeda, but the number of people willing to be recruited as suicide terrorists. These individuals are motivated not by the existence of a terrorist sanctuary, but by deep anger at the presence of foreign forces on land they prize.
This is why the number of suicide attacks in Afghanistan, overwhelmingly against military targets, has skyrocketed as United States and NATO forces have increasingly occupied the country from 2006 on. There were nine attacks in 2005, 97 in 2006, 142 in 2007, 148 in 2008 and more than 60 in the first six months of this year.
It is imperative to decrease the number of suicide attacks. Given the ethnic divisions of the country, our best tactic is to use political and economic means to empower local Pashtuns to feel that they have greater autonomy from both Taliban and Western domination, and less need to respond violently.
A similar strategy toward Sunni groups in Anbar Province reduced anti-American suicide terrorism in Iraq and is our best way forward in Afghanistan.
— ROBERT A. PAPE, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago and the author of “Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism”