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by Christoph Reuter

  • ISBN: 0691117594
  • Category: Politics
  • Author: Christoph Reuter
  • Subcategory: Politics & Government
  • Other formats: azw doc lit lrf
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; 1st edition (April 11, 2004)
  • Pages: 216 pages
  • FB2 size: 1222 kb
  • EPUB size: 1543 kb
  • Rating: 4.1
  • Votes: 272
Download My Life Is a Weapon: A Modern History of Suicide Bombing fb2

My Life Is a Weapon book.

My Life Is a Weapon book. In many cases these modern-day martyrs are well-educated young adults who turn them What kind of people are suicide bombers? How do they justify their actions?

by. Reuter, Christoph.


There was a problem with saving your item(s) for later. You can go to cart and save for later there. As Reuter's many interviews with would-be martyrs, their trainers, friends and relatives reveal, suicide bombers are motivated more by how they expect to be remembered-as heroic figures-than by religion-infused visions of a blissful life to come.

In many cases these modern-day martyrs are well-educated young adults who turn themselves into human bombs willingly and eagerly-to exact revenge on a more powerful enemy, perceived as both unjust and oppressive.

Christoph Reuter (Pianist), deutscher Jazzpianist, Komponist und .

Christoph Reuter (Pianist), deutscher Jazzpianist, Komponist und Musikpädagoge. Christoph Reuter (Reformator) (1520-1581), österreichischer Kirchenreformator. Diese Seite ist eine Begriffsklärung zur Unterscheidung mehrerer mit demselben Wort bezeichneter Begriffe. Life During Wartime (novel) - Life during Wartime is a science fantasy novel written by American author Lucius Shepard. Weapon of mass destruction - For the Hip hop album, see Weapons of Mass Destruction (album).

Christoph Reuter, an international correspondent for the German magazine Stern, spent 8 years moving among .

Christoph Reuter, an international correspondent for the German magazine Stern, spent 8 years moving among the society that in the 1980s produced suicide brigades for the Iran-Iraq War. Reuter interviewed entire communities, from Lebanon's Hizballah, to Palestinian militants, to Sri Lankan Tamils, while investigating the culture of martyrdom. Originally published in German as Mein Leben ist eine Waffe, My Life is a Weapon offers insight into the nuances of the justification and conditioning of suicide missions.

a modern history of suicide bombing. Published 2004 by Princeton University Press in Princeton, NJ. Written in English. In many cases these modern-day martyrs are well-educated young adults who turn themselves into human bombs willingly and eagerly - to exact revenge on a more powerful enemy, perceived as both unjust and oppressive.

Fine first-hand reporting is combined with a sensitive effort to explain. Suicide bombers are not usually the most downtrodden or uneducated, and they are not brainwashed (although they do undergo elaborate preparation rituals). In his chapter on the "feud of fatwas," Reuter shows how even establishment ulama have watered down strict Islamic injunctions against suicide, not to mention the equally strict Islamic rules governing combat.

My Life Is a Weapon: A Modern History of Suicide Bombing. interviewed as many families of suicide bombers as he could find, canvassed their countries of origin for insights, and has compiled the results in a short, readable book. The windows Mr. Reuter makes into suicide terrorists' family lives. show how lamentable is the ethos of chauvinism and pride that supports suicide terrorism. But they also show how fragile and contrived that support can sometimes b. -Brendan Conway, New York Sun.

MY LIFE IS A WEAPON: A Modern History of Suicide Bombers by Christoph Reuter Princeton £1. 5 pp179. The West has a serious problem with suicide bombers. Faced with people prepared to extinguish themselves, alone, in the midst of their enemies, we have no answer except constant vigilance. We cannot match their intensity of belief, which makes us feel fundamentally vulnerable and impotent.

What kind of people are suicide bombers? How do they justify their actions? In this meticulously researched and sensitively written book, journalist Christoph Reuter argues that popular views of these young men and women--as crazed fanatics or brainwashed automatons--fall short of the mark. In many cases these modern-day martyrs are well-educated young adults who turn themselves into human bombs willingly and eagerly--to exact revenge on a more powerful enemy, perceived as both unjust and oppressive. Suicide assassins are determined to make a difference, for once in their lives, no matter what the cost. As Reuter's many interviews with would-be martyrs, their trainers, friends, and relatives reveal, the bombers are motivated more by how they expect to be remembered--as heroic figures--than by religion-infused visions of a blissful life to come.

Reuter, who spent eight years researching the book, moves from the broken survivors of the childrens' suicide brigades in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, to the war-torn Lebanon of Hezbollah, to Israeli-occupied Palestinian land, and to regions as disparate as Sri Lanka, Chechnya, and Kurdistan. He tells a disturbing story of the modern globalization of suicide bombing--orchestrated, as his own investigations have helped to establish, by the shadowy Al Qaeda network and unintentionally enabled by wrong-headed policies of Western governments. In a final, hopeful chapter, Reuter points to today's postrevolutionary, post-Khomeini Iran, where a new social environment renounces the horrific practice in the very place where it was enthusiastically embraced just decades ago.

Reviews about My Life Is a Weapon: A Modern History of Suicide Bombing (4):
This book is strongest in providing a brief but useful overview of terrorism as a strategy used by various groups over the ages. It is not a deeply analytical book, and does not deal except in passing with the larger questions, such as when terrorism is or is not employed as a strategy, and when it is or is not successful, or even what it means to be 'successful' in this situation.

The book was published in German in 2002, and so it is more than a bit out of date in analysing Al Qaida and home-grown terrorist groups. Nevertheless, it was well worth translating, and readers will learn from it. It is also well-written, as is to be expected from a professional journalist.

The one-star review by Joseph Shahadi is, in my estimation, quite unwarranted, although some of his points have at least superficial validity. I find myself bored with the "Eurocentric" critique of terrorism, and Reuter is not very culpable. On the other hand, I think he places much too much emphasis on the religous as opposed to social and political nature of Islamic terrorism. Terrorists tend not to be more religious than average, although more than a few intensified their religious observations leading up to self-sacrifice. Even Al-qaeda is more of a political and social than a religious movement, although it clearly using religion as an agent of maintaining solidarity.
With My Life is a Weapon: A Modern History of Suicide Bombing Christoph Reuter, a journalist and international correspondent for the German magazine Stern, offers a modern history of suicide terror. Over the course of nine chapters he traces a genealogy of the practice at different points in its history and across several cultures. Chapters on the ancient Persian assassins, suicidal child-soldiers of the Iran/Iraq war, Lebanese Hezbollah, Palestinian Shahids (martyrs), and Japanese kamikazes are considered in parallel with Al-Qaeda and separatist movements in Sri Lanka and Kurdistan. Reuter writes, "This book attempts to piece together, in a logical sequence, what is known about [the origins of suicide terror]--which societies facilitate its development, what conditions are most favorable for its spread, and how the various tactics used have been developed" (6). However, the study that follows is compromised by its founding assumptions: that identifying the origins of suicide terror will shed light on its contemporary purveyors and that some cultures are more hospitable to this practice than others.

In his introduction, Reuter decries the "facile explanations for suicide attacks offered in the Western media" as merely leading to more questions and begins by asking, "If the attacks are to be attributed to radical Islam per se, why have they appeared only in the last twenty years?" (11). Unfortunately, this auspicious beginning is quickly undone as he writes, "Perhaps the thorniest question is how a society can come to tolerate, and indeed foster a practice so opposed to the survival instinct as to be pathological?" (11). The glamour of such a question for a Euro-American audience (no doubt the focus of Reuter's "we" and "us") is undeniable--what sort of people are these that destroy themselves to kill others? However, the Islamophobic assumptions that so often underlie this line of inquiry--even on the left--render the answers almost wholly in orientalist terms. Reuter asserts, "Islam, in its political form, is a well-suited ideology for war," a hyperbolic claim that could as easily be made about Christianity or Judaism and to a similarly banal effect (17). He writes, "Groups from Morocco to Iraq are linked together as though by invisible paths and secret passageways. Thus, injustices perpetrated in Chechnya or on the West Bank can stir up hatred within Morocco and Saudi Arabia, and unintentionally provide aid and comfort to opportunists who stoke the flames of righteous anger elsewhere" (18). In his view, this process, nourished by Islamic mythologizing, has led to the "reinvention of [the] historical archetype" of the martyr (3).

Reuter's focus on Islam, problematic in any case, compromises his argument rhetorically as well, causing him to make strange leaps, elisions, and outright exclusions in his history of suicide terror. For example, he notes the use of murder by suicide as a battle strategy employed by, among others, ancient Jews in Imperial Rome. Yet, he begins his timeline of the practice in the 11th century with the rise of the Persian assassins, whose cult he describes in some detail. Reuter writes, "The sect disappeared without a trace, leaving behind it no tradition, no religious heritage [and] attracting no pilgrims other than Western journalists" (27). However, a few paragraphs later he flip-flops. "On the one hand, nothing remained of the assassin sect per se. On the other hand, something did survive of them after all--a kind of negative afterimage of their deeds. . . . the popular fear of them and their readiness to die, which had just as disturbing an effect in their time as the suicide killings in New York, Tel Aviv, or Colombo do today" (27).

Therefore, Reuter, despite the utter lack of any supporting evidence--which he goes some way himself to point out--elects to draw a direct link between the 11th century assassins and the suicide bombers of our contemporary moment. The lubrication upon which he relies for this astonishing conflation is the notion that Islam itself has remained unchanged across multiple cultures from the Crusades to the present. In fact the only interpretive changes that Reuter notes since the 11th century are those that seem to justify suicide attacks. Thus, he gives tremendous weight to the declarations of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a celebrity TV cleric who has celebrated Palestinian suicide attacks as "the highest form of Jihad" (122). Al-Qaradawi, who has no special authority other than that which is conferred by celebrity, nevertheless offers his own distinction between suicide and martyrdom: "A person who commits suicide kills himself for his own benefit. But a person who becomes a martyr sacrifices himself for the faith and the nation" (122). "This is simply politics," Reuter writes, "the kind of politics that attempts to give practical decisions and popular opinions some kind of retroactive Islamic legal basis, even if a wholly fabricated one" (125).

His sudden disdain for politics is Reuter's attempt to parse the religious and secular motivations for suicide attacks, while simultaneously maintaining that Islam is at their root. He writes, "It is no coincidence that such would-be martyrs (who embrace death as they strike out at their enemies) appeared first of all within Islam . . ." (16). What is not clear is exactly which Islam is at the center of Reuter's concern. He clearly disapproves of "political" Islam but also asserts that suicide bombers reinterpret "traditional" Islam via "torturously reasoned justifications" for martyr operations (64). By making the distinction between "nationalist" and "Islamist" goals of suicide attacks, Reuter assumes that these categories do not imbricate each other or, more properly, that they are homogenous categories in the first place.

"Whatever else it is," Reuter writes, "Islam is a belief system filled with infinite possibilities that can legitimate a wide range of practices as and when the need arises. Suicide bombing is one such practice . . ." (117). Tellingly, he does not interrogate the political circumstances under which suicide terror occurs, the arising "need" he alludes to but does not explain. In his chapter on Israel and Palestine, Reuter writes affectingly about the misery of the Palestinian people but never commits to naming its cause. This has the effect of naturalizing Palestinian suffering by framing it as an element of their character (a tactic he employs elsewhere, as when he suggests that affection for the film Titanic is indicative of a Shi'ite predilection for suffering). Reuter quotes Israeli psychologist Ariel Merari on the motivating factors for a suicide attack: "At the end of the day, it comes from the individual himself, from his experiences, from his beliefs" (109).

The reader is thus presented with a self-sustaining model of the suicide-bomber, whose actions, triggered from within by his "beliefs," occur in a political vacuum. Furthermore, he considers the connections between disparate terrorist enclaves as points in a vast, hidden network of power relations but does not consider the parallels between the political circumstances of each group. Reuter posits that suicide bombing has influenced the collective psychology of Islamic societies via "what German psychologists call the `Werther effect,' in which the [suicide-bomber] becomes an idol whom others strive to emulate"(13). Therefore, "belief" which travels by way of "invisible paths" between Islamic societies has "infected" them with the cult of martyrdom.

While this paradigm cannot account for the role of nationalism and resistance in the practice of suicide bombing, those outside of Islamic societies fall entirely beyond its scope. Nevertheless, he makes an effort to finesse their inclusion in the sequence of his history. To this end, Reuter compares the influence of the samurai on the Japanese kamikazes to that of the Shi'ite defeat at Karbala on modern suicide bombers (whether they are Shi'ite or not). He also reports with sufficient portent that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a secular Marxist group operating in Hindu Sri Lanka, trained with the PLO in the 1970's, despite the fact that the PLO--also secular and Marxist--has never utilized suicide terror. Nevertheless, Reuter insists, "Islamist influences have undoubtedly been manifest in less direct ways (among the LTTE), especially through extensive global television and radio coverage," an utterly speculative claim that serves only to fit his current examples into a frame based on his narrow vision of Islam (162).

The growing corpus of books devoted to the phenomenon of suicide terror all work within (or against) the matrix of assumptions that pervade western representations of Islam. Reuter's book, while arguably well intentioned, is typical of those generated by journalists who specialize in this topic. As with Barbara Victor's execrable Army of Roses, clichés and journalese take the place of scholarly analysis, a phenomenon that reinforces and legitimizes orientalist tropes. Significantly, the only comprehensive survey of data about the worldwide phenomenon of suicide terror, political scientist Robert A. Pape's Dying to Win: the Strategic Logic of Suicide Terror, explicitly states that Islam--fundamentalist or otherwise--is not a primary motivating factor in the practice.

Reuter's original premise, exploring "an opponent who . . . has moved outside all the conventional rules of power and war in which we have always trusted," is fascinating but his penchant for mapping the indirect "secret passageways" of inter and intra-cultural influence take him far afield his original questions (2). As a result Christoph Reuter has--unintentionally--constructed a history that reveals a good deal more about contemporary Western ambivalence toward Islam than about suicide attacks and those who carry them out.
Trash Obsession
Christoph Reuter provides an excellent overview of the historical origins and applications of this extreme of terrorist tactics. "My Life is a Weapon" surveys this tactic across religious and ethnic lines. That global perspective enhances the relevance of the this work. Mr. Reuter weaves antedotes from attacks as well as interviews with family and friends of martyrs. These stories greatly contribute to the read-ability of this work. Mr. Reuter delves into the various rationale typologies through his research. For us in the west to understand the "why" we need to read Mr. Reuter's research. This fast reading work should be a must for everyone in the domestic emergency services community as well as our military defenders destined for theaters overseas.

The reader's special attention should be concentrated on the descriptions of the Battle of Karbalah (680 a.d.). The west has a tendency to forget the past, a characteristic not shared by most of the world. The Battle of Karbalah is a focal point for extremist Islamic rationalization for this tactic. Practioners endeavoring to understand this tactic must accept the importance of this epic battle as a focal point of motivation for many extremist martyrs.

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