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The Human Use of Human Beings: Suicide Bombing, Technological Innovation, and the Asymmetry of Modern Warfare

Jeffrey William Lewis ()

Global Politics Review, 2016, vol. 2, issue 2, 9-27

Abstract: Suicide bombing remains by far the most lethal weapon readily available to terrorist groups. The systematic means by which organizations pressure individuals into becoming living bombs demand that we understand suicide bombing as a technology, an alternative and relatively inexpensive means by which militants have been able to approximate the electronic control systems of states. Such an analysis of suicide bombing is consistent with the history of technology, in which human beings have repeatedly been used as data processing units. By recognizing how and why alternative technologies such as suicide bombing have become so effective we can begin to understand why the expensive and complex weapons deployed by states are sometimes ineffective for combating insurgency resulting in a tremendous mismatch in costs incurred by the two sides. To begin closing this gap state forces must recognize that complex machinery is not necessarily superior to simple devices, and should whenever possible pursue simple, robust solutions to the challenges of modern combat rather than selecting the most expensive and complex option by default.

Keywords: suicide bombing; terrorism; technology; history; modern warfare (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Y8 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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Handle: RePEc:gpr:journl:v:2:y:2016:i:2:p:9-27