Robert Pape

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Robert Pape
Robert Anthony Pape

(1960-04-24) April 24, 1960 (age 60)
EducationB.A., University of Pittsburgh
M.A., University of Pittsburgh
Ph.D., University of Chicago
OccupationPolitical Scientist, Professor, Author
Notable credit(s)
Bombing to Win
Dying to Win,
Cutting the Fuse, with James K. Feldman

Robert Anthony Pape Jr. (born April 24, 1960) is an American political scientist who studies international security affairs, especially air power and suicide terrorism. He is currently a professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago and founder and director of the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism (CPOST).[1]


Pape graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1982 from the University of Pittsburgh,[2] where he was a Harry S. Truman Scholar majoring in political science. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1988 in the same field. He taught international relations at Dartmouth College from 1994 to 1999 and at the United States Air Force's School of Advanced Airpower Studies from 1991 to 1994. Since 1999, he has taught at the University of Chicago, where he is now tenured.[2] Pape has been the director of the graduate studies department of political science as well as the chair of the Committee on International Relations at the University of Chicago.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Pape served as an adviser to both Republican Ron Paul and Democrat Barack Obama.[3]


After presenting preliminary data on his research into suicide terrorism in the American Political Science Review in 2003, Pape founded the Chicago Project on Security and Threats (originally, Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism), which he directs. The project is funded by the Carnegie Corporation, the Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the University of Chicago, and the Argonne National Laboratory.[4] In December 2009, Security Studies published an issue on terrorism featuring content exclusively from CPOST.


Bombing to Win[edit]

Pape published his first full-length book in 1996, Bombing to Win: Air Power and Coercion in War, where he questions the conventional wisdom that coercive air power is both effective and relatively cheap. Rather than coercing citizens of the bombed nation to rise up against their government, coercive air power often backfires, resulting in a citizenry that is both surprisingly resilient and loyal to their government. Pape also argues that air power and land power should be integrated and used together in a "hammer and anvil" fashion.

A 1999 RAND report funded by the U.S. Air Force (USAF) "explored the role of air power as a coercive instrument", attempting to rebut Pape's claim.[5] They concluded that, "Although the United States and the USAF have scored some notable successes, the record is mixed."[6] Horowitz and Reiter applied "multivariate probit analysis [to] all instances of air power coercion from 1917 to 1999". Their quantitative analyses essentially matched Pape's qualitative assessment that attacking military targets has improved the chances of success, but "higher levels of civilian vulnerability have no effect on the chances of coercion success".[7]

Dying to Win[edit]

Pape's Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism (2005) contradicts many widely held beliefs about suicide terrorism.[citation needed] Pape argues that there is "little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any one of the world's religions... Rather, what nearly all suicide terrorist attacks have in common is a specific secular and strategic goal: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland" (p. 4). Pape also presents evidence that the majority of suicide terrorists do not come from impoverished or uneducated backgrounds, but rather have middle class origins and a significant level of education.

In a criticism of Pape's link between occupation and suicide terrorism, an article titled "Design, Inference, and the Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism" (published in The American Political Science Review), authors Scott Ashworth, Joshua D. Clinton, Adam Meirowitz, and Kristopher W. Ramsay from Princeton charged Pape with "sampling on the dependent variable" by limiting research only to cases in which suicide terror was used.[8] Similar criticisms were made by Michael C. Horowitz, who concludes the presence of a occupying power is not a statistically significant indicator of likelihood to incite suicide terrorism.[9] In response, Pape argues that his research design is sufficient because it collected the universe of known cases of suicide terrorism.[10] In a rejoinder, Ashworth et al. discuss how even large samples of the dependent variable cannot be used to explain variation in outcomes, why suicide terrorism in some places but not others, if the sample does not vary.[11] Assaf Moghadam has also criticized Pape's conclusions.[12]

Cutting the Fuse[edit]

Pape's Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It is co-authored with James K. Feldman, was published in 2010. Cutting the Fuse evaluates more than 2100 suicide attacks (6 times the number evaluated in Dying to Win) in an attempt to identify key factors that explain the ebb and flow of suicide terrorist campaigns. The book recommends that nations to avoid stationing troops where they will be perceived as occupiers threatening local culture and institutions or coercing the government of an occupied state to do things that would be perceived as benefiting the occupiers at the expense of the local population. When occupation is necessary, minimize the threat to local culture by helping local officials to do things they might otherwise want to do but didn't previously have the ability and by treating collateral damage with great sensitivity.[13]

Work on economic sanctions[edit]

In 1997 and 1998, Pape published two articles examining the efficacy of economic sanctions.[14][15] Pape contests the validity of international economic sanctions in achieving policy goals, judging that only 5% can legitimately be considered successes, as opposed to 34% claimed in the work of other scholars. One of these scholars, Kimberly Ann Elliot, responded to Pape's initial piece, suggesting that Pape had mischaracterized the data, and that his views on economic sanctions and Elliot's views on economic sanctions were "not terribly different."[16] Pape's response, in the same issue of 'International Security', insisted that he had not mischaracterized the data, and that his view of economic sanctions is meaningfully different from the picture put forth by Elliot and others.[17]

Selected publications[edit]


  • Bombing to Win: Air Power and Coercion in War. Cornell University Press, 1996. ISBN 0-8014-3134-4 (hardcover). ISBN 0-8014-8311-5 (paperback). Debated in Security Studies 7.2 (Winter 1997/98) p. 93-214 and 7.3 (Spring 1998) p. 182-228.
  • Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism. New York: Random House, 2005. ISBN 1-4000-6317-5 (hardcover). London: Gibson Square 2006 (updated). ISBN 1-903933-78-1 (hardcover).
  • with James K. Feldman, Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It. University of Chicago Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-226-64560-5


Articles about Robert A. Pape[edit]


  1. ^ "UChicago CPOST". Retrieved 2017-02-08.
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ Weiss, Philip (2008-05-05) Mr. Zbig, The American Conservative
  4. ^ "A Scholarly Look at Terror Sees Bootprints In the Sand" by Caryle Murphy Washington Post, July 10, 2005; D01
  5. ^ Byman, Waxman, and Larson (1999)
  6. ^ Byman, Waxman, and Larson (1999, p. iii, 5/195)
  7. ^ Horowitz, Michael; Reiter, Dan (2001), "When does aerial bombing work? Quantitative empirical tests, 1917-1999", Journal of Conflict Resolution, 45 (2): 147–173, doi:10.1177/0022002701045002001
  8. ^ American Political Science Review , Volume 102, Issue 02, May 2008, pp 269-273.
  9. ^ Horowitz, Michael C. (20 January 2010). "Nonstate Actors and the Diffusion of Innovations: The Case of Suicide Terrorism". International Organization. 64 (1): 33–64. doi:10.1017/S0020818309990233.
  10. ^ American Political Science Review , Volume 102, Issue 02, May 2008, pp 275-277.
  11. ^ Design, Inference, and the Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism: A Rejoinder, Draft Manuscript,
  12. ^ Moghadam, Assaf (2006). "Suicide Terrorism, Occupation, and the Globalization of Martyrdom: A Critique ofDying to Win". Studies in Conflict & Terrorism. 29 (8): 707–729. doi:10.1080/10576100600561907.
  13. ^ Robert Pape and James K. Feldman, Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It. University of Chicago Press, 2010. pp. 330-33.
  14. ^ International Security, Volume 22, Issue 2, Fall 1997, pp 90-136.
  15. ^ Pape, Robert A. (Summer 1998). "Why Economic Sanctions Still Do Not Work". International Security. 23 (1): 66–77. doi:10.2307/2539263.
  16. ^ Elliott, Kimberly Ann (undefined NaN). "The Sanctions Glass: Half Full or Completely Empty?". International Security. 23 (Summer 1998): 50–65. doi:10.2307/2539262. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  17. ^ Pape, Robert A. (Summer 1998). "Why Economic Sanctions Still Do Not Work". International Security. 23 (1): 66–77. doi:10.2307/2539263.


External links[edit]