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Dying to Kill - Suicide Versus Democracy
National Review ^ | 1/18/03 | Victor Davis Hanson

Posted on 01/18/2002 5:48:47 AM PST by veronica

This past summer I had a spirited discussion with a prominent historian. He assured me that the wave of suicide bombings on the West Bank marked "a revolutionary" break with the past.

It was a "new" tactic, he said — one for which Israel and other free societies simply had no antidote. "You see," he confidently announced, "when people wish to kill you more than they want to live, theirs is a cause that won't die." I replied that there that had been no kamikazes since the surrender of Japan on August 15, 1945 — and that Japanese militarism still seemed quite dead to me.

There is no doubt that suicide bombing portends terrible things for citizens of affluent democracies. What sort of sinister zeal possesses men to give up their lives to kill others? Why would these killers hate us to such a degree as to destroy themselves and us at once? Why do they prefer the next world to the present one?

I. "Holy" Warriors Are Not New

Warriors who deliberately seek death in battle — whether to end their own misery amid certain defeat, to undergo offensive missions that hold out no chance of their own survival, or to kill the enemy without hope of escape — are not altogether rare in history. When nearly surrounded, King Leonidas of Sparta sent away thousands of his army from Thermopylae in 480 B.C. There, with his remaining 299 Spartans and a few hundred Thespians and Thebans, he prepared to leave the confines of the pass and charge out to fight amid a sea of thousands of Persian troops. "Fight with great courage," the king told his Spartans hours before annihilation. "Today we will dine among the dead."

During the failed Jewish revolt of A.D. 73, when the last enclave of the zealots at Masada was surrounded, and before the Roman besiegers could storm the stronghold, the rebels under Eleazar ben Yair killed themselves. By the historian Josephus's count, all but seven of some 960 trapped men, women, and children perished. Hitler's order, in January 1943, for the encircled garrison at Stalingrad to shun escape or surrender and fight to the last man was equivalent to suicide for thousands.

Yet, the September 11 terrorists were somewhat different — more like the Japanese death brigades of World War II, who in their organization and training killed on a scale never seen before or since in civilized warfare. Thousands of Japanese flew as suicide pilots, commandeered ramming-boats, manned one-way rocket planes, or (as infantrymen) organized death charges. Many foot soldiers fought with dynamite satchels or grenades strapped to their bodies.

In all these cases, the sole intention was to kill as many of the enemy as possible before meeting certain death. A new fanaticism — a lethal mix of Shintoism, Buddhism, and Bushido — promised a better life in the hereafter, where warrior souls would enjoy a divine existence in return for their sacrifice on earth. The destruction of Japanese parliamentary government in the 1930s, and the rise of a dictatorship, had already


TOPICS: Extended News; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: clashofcivilizatio

1 posted on 01/18/2002 5:48:47 AM PST by veronica
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To: dennisw, vrwc54, onyx, sabertooth, johnhuang2, long cut, cachelot, optimist, alouette
FYI.
2 posted on 01/18/2002 5:56:38 AM PST by veronica
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To: veronica
VDH bump.
3 posted on 01/18/2002 5:57:31 AM PST by an amused spectator
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To: hockey pop, pad 34, benf, nachum, lent, sabramerican, thinkin' gal, miss american pie, college repub
Bump.
4 posted on 01/18/2002 5:58:31 AM PST by veronica
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To: veronica

Reuters Photo
An undated hand out picture distributed January 18, 2002 from Fatah shows Palestinian Fatah gunman Abdussalam Hassonah in the West Bank city of Nablus. The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed group linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, said it carried out an attack in Hadera on Thursday which left six dead, to avenge the killing on Monday of one of its leaders. The attacker was identified as Hassonah from a village near Nablus. REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini QUALITY FROM SOURCE

Associated Press
Former Palestinian Authority policeman Abed Hassouna, a member of the Al Aqsa Brigades is seen in an undated studio photograph released by the AL Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in the West Bank town of Nablus, Friday Jan. 18, 2002. Hassouna entered a banquet hall in Hadera Thursday night and opened fire with an assault rifle, killing six people and injuring 30. (AP Photo/HO/ AL Aqsa Martyrs Brigade)

 


Associated Press
An unidentified mourner weeps during the funeral of Avi Yazdi in the northern Israeli town of Or Akiva, Friday, Jan. 18, 2002. Yazdi, 24, a security guard at a banquet hall, was killed Thursday night when a Palestinian gunman opened fire on a group of revelers during a bat-mitzvah, a Jewish coming-of-age celebration, in the northern Israeli town of Hadera, killing six and injuring 30. (AP Photo/Eitan Hess-Ashkenazi)

 

 

 

5 posted on 01/18/2002 6:03:00 AM PST by dennisw
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Comment #6 Removed by Moderator

To: veronica
Excellent post! Excellent.

Try to ignore the bold typed LIES that mar this thread.

7 posted on 01/18/2002 6:13:57 AM PST by onyx
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To: tex-oma
How sickening to have to read such spam the day after Jews are slaughtered. But typical....

Jerusalem cleric praises child 'sacrifices' 'The younger the martyr, the greater and the more I respect him'

8 posted on 01/18/2002 6:14:25 AM PST by veronica
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To: veronica
There is a certain way to halt their stupidity but it is too cruel for the modern world to use as yet. The terrorist mindset is weird and can be used against them by annihilation of their home front, wives, children, mothers, fathers. They have no problem killing yours, but when their's are wiped out they halt their nonsense.

It will take alot more attacks like 9-11 but eventually the world may get to the point they will view collateral damage as a neccessary tool of war, in this particular war anyway.

9 posted on 01/18/2002 6:15:38 AM PST by MissAmericanPie
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To: tex-oma
The US has joined the Israeli media chorus in demanding that Arafat do more to stop the suicide bombings.....

And sliming AMERICA too. Even more typical...

An American died at the Bat Mitzvah yesterday BTW.

10 posted on 01/18/2002 6:16:41 AM PST by veronica
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To: tex-oma
Are Palestinians Human?

NO. Humans have souls.

11 posted on 01/18/2002 6:16:57 AM PST by onyx
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From - President Bush Speaks to United Nations Remarks by the President To United Nations General Assembly

"...THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, distinguished delegates, and ladies and gentlemen. We meet in a hall devoted to peace, in a city scarred by violence, in a nation awakened to danger, in a world uniting for a long struggle. Every civilized nation here today is resolved to keep the most basic commitment of civilization: We will defend ourselves and our future against terror and lawless violence.

A few miles from here, many thousands still lie in a tomb of rubble. Tomorrow, the Secretary General, the President of the General Assembly, and I will visit that site, where the names of every nation and region that lost citizens will be read aloud. If we were to read the names of every person who died, it would take more than three hours.

The terrorists call their cause holy, yet, they fund it with drug dealing; they encourage murder and suicide in the name of a great faith that forbids both. They dare to ask God's blessing as they set out to kill innocent men, women and children. But the God of Isaac and Ishmael would never answer such a prayer. And a murderer is not a martyr; he is just a murderer.

Yet, there is no such thing as a good terrorist. No national aspiration, no remembered wrong can ever justify the deliberate murder of the innocent. Any government that rejects this principle, trying to pick and choose its terrorist friends, will know the consequences.'

12 posted on 01/18/2002 6:30:34 AM PST by veronica
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To: tex-oma
What nonsense. If the Pallies had all of the West Bank/Gaza tomorrow they still would be the same crazies who want to destroy Israel. Any mental problems they have comes from Islam and their own demon like behavior. Demons who kill Jewish woman and children. Demons who do suicide bombing.

These cowards don't have the stones to outright attack the IDF although they do snipe at the IDF and FAIL.

13 posted on 01/18/2002 6:47:39 AM PST by dennisw
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Comment #14 Removed by Moderator

To: tex-oma
Yawn....

More spam...

15 posted on 01/18/2002 6:52:06 AM PST by veronica
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To: tex-oma
I'll keep posting CONSERVATIVES and President Bush. You keep posting rah-rah from the Marxist Islam Firsters.

LOL.

16 posted on 01/18/2002 6:53:26 AM PST by veronica
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To: veronica
"Nobody ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."
-- General George S. Patton

17 posted on 01/18/2002 6:55:16 AM PST by Snake65
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64% of Palestinians support suicide bombers - Poll shows most oppose halt in fighting with Israel
18 posted on 01/18/2002 6:59:47 AM PST by veronica
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To: veronica
"No national aspiration, no remembered wrong can ever justify the deliberate murder of the innocent."

True. But if I support evil policies and vote for people to implement these policies, am I an innocent?

Perhaps I ought to claim sovereign immunity. :)

A mafia don is not innocent simply because he did not personally pull the trigger on his enforcer's gun. He's guilty of at least conspiracy to murder.

I will grant however that this guilt is almost completely an American oddity. American conspiracy law is quite strict.

19 posted on 01/18/2002 7:09:16 AM PST by Tauzero
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To: tex-oma
So, the Palestinian suicide bomber is only trying to quell their inner pain and turmoil when they blow up Jewish shopping centers and bat mitzvahs. Oh, if only someone could have reached out and given Ahmed a hug in time....

RUBBISH!

Their suicides are no different than the Heaven's Gate cult, except that they seek to take out their enemy in the process. A bunch of young minds are fed a lot of hate and garbage growing up, told that this is their destiny and something far better awaits them on the other side. These ignorant fools are then given a gun or a bomb and told to go please Allah.

Mohammed Atta's letter says far more about the suicide terrorist's mindset than trying to equate it with the clinically depressed. I sense your two authors came up with this hokey idea in order to soothe their own associated guilt for these horific deeds.

20 posted on 01/18/2002 7:13:09 AM PST by Tall_Texan
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To: onyx
Try to ignore the bold typed LIES that mar this thread."

You mean like the original article?

The way to cure suicide bombers is to kill them all before they get a chance to kill you.

--Boris

21 posted on 01/18/2002 7:20:55 AM PST by boris
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To: onyx
I'm sorry; I meant article #6, in "bold type".
22 posted on 01/18/2002 7:21:34 AM PST by boris
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To: veronica
wanna take bets on whether or not "tex-oma" is on arafat's payroll? I am further willing to bet he is located in the same building as arafat.....only a low life scum pali who supports actions like yesterdays atrocity could post his kinda crap this soon after.....
23 posted on 01/18/2002 7:22:36 AM PST by is_is
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To: veronica
Why would these killers hate us to such a degree as to destroy themselves and us at once? Why do they prefer the next world to the present one?

They prefer the next world because they obviously believe it's got to be better than this one.

It seems to me that you usually won't find suicide bombers among the ranks of the athiests. They've got everything to lose, and nothing to gain.

24 posted on 01/18/2002 7:27:33 AM PST by CubicleGuy
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To: is_is
Bump.
25 posted on 01/18/2002 7:29:58 AM PST by veronica
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To: CubicleGuy
It seems to me that you usually won't find suicide bombers among the ranks of the athiests. They've got everything to lose, and nothing to gain.

your statement proves that this is a war against a religion.....i love GWB....but all of the pc BS that this is not a war against islam will not change the fact that it IS !!!!

26 posted on 01/18/2002 7:31:17 AM PST by is_is
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To: dennisw
Am I the only one that thinks the picture of the first gunmen bears resembelence to Jerry Seinfeld?
27 posted on 01/18/2002 10:16:02 AM PST by College Repub
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To: onyx
"Try to ignore the bold typed LIES that mar this thread."

Yep. They lost me as soon as they called psychology a "science." The concept of the scientific method is unknown to the field of psychology as practiced today.


28 posted on 01/18/2002 10:30:26 AM PST by Harrison Bergeron
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To: tex-oma
Your author says "occupation" is the problem, but since '93 and Oslo the vast majority of Palestinians do NOT live under Israeli occupation, but rather under the direct rule and control of the Palestinian Authority. The result of a greater than 90 precent reduction in Israeli occupation (and other major moves toward peace and final status negotiations) has been MORE violence by the Palestinians (suicide bombers, gunmen and mortar attacks) nearly universal popular approval of such terrorist tactics by the Palestians, and nearly as widespread a REJECTION of the peace process.

I've been in favor of the creation of a Palestinian State for over 20 years, and still am, but clearly the Palestinians are not ready for it. Indeed they don't even want it if it means making peace with Israel. I am now convinced that Israel must REOCCUPY the territories. The world can try to talk the Palestinians into accepting a peacefully negotiated State in another 10 or 20 years. Maybe next time they won't throw a tantrum and have to be put in "time out".

29 posted on 01/18/2002 11:09:53 AM PST by Stultis
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To: College Repub
**Am I the only one that thinks the picture of the first gunmen bears resembelence to Jerry Seinfeld?**

No. I thought the exact same thing. Seinfeld disguised as a Saudi...

30 posted on 01/18/2002 1:28:40 PM PST by Tall_Texan
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To: CubicleGuy
**It seems to me that you usually won't find suicide bombers among the ranks of the athiests. They've got everything to lose, and nothing to gain.**

Funny. If I were an atheist, I'd be more inclined to commit suicide because (assuming I'd done it successfully) I'd be sure no punishment awaited me. I'd take out a few enemies and die, game over.

Nonetheless, history is on your side here. Atheists are terrible at organizing fatwahs and jihads. And they're usually so anal and selfish that they could hardly be bothered to do something for the community. Why should they, since there's nothing in it for THEM!

31 posted on 01/18/2002 1:36:26 PM PST by Tall_Texan
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To: veronica
Here's an excerpt taken from a News Max article published today for you to yawn over:

'The discovery of a major spy ring inside the United States is straining the already tense relations with Israel. Although, Israel denied any involvement with the penetration of the U.S. wiretap system, the CIA and FBI are investigating the direct government ties to the former Israeli military and intelligence officials now being held by the Justice Department.'

(alarm clock ringing) Time to wake up, Veronica.

32 posted on 01/18/2002 1:39:03 PM PST by Ridin' Shotgun
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To: Ridin' Shotgun
Isn't that from the NewsMax article which quoted the FBI as saying the FOX 'Israeli spy story' had inaccuracies in it?

Yes the whole thing is a yawner. Always was.

BTW - what does it have to do with suicide bombers?

33 posted on 01/18/2002 1:45:04 PM PST by veronica
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To: veronica; *Clash of Civilizatio
Full article:

This past summer I had a spirited discussion with a prominent historian. He assured me that the wave of suicide bombings on the West Bank marked "a revolutionary" break with the past. It was a "new" tactic, he said — one for which Israel and other free societies simply had no antidote. "You see," he confidently announced, "when people wish to kill you more than they want to live, theirs is a cause that won't die." I replied that there that had been no kamikazes since the surrender of Japan on August 15, 1945 — and that Japanese militarism still seemed quite dead to me.

There is no doubt that suicide bombing portends terrible things for citizens of affluent democracies. What sort of sinister zeal possesses men to give up their lives to kill others? Why would these killers hate us to such a degree as to destroy themselves and us at once? Why do they prefer the next world to the present one?

I. "Holy" Warriors Are Not New
Warriors who deliberately seek death in battle — whether to end their own misery amid certain defeat, to undergo offensive missions that hold out no chance of their own survival, or to kill the enemy without hope of escape — are not altogether rare in history. When nearly surrounded, King Leonidas of Sparta sent away thousands of his army from Thermopylae in 480 B.C. There, with his remaining 299 Spartans and a few hundred Thespians and Thebans, he prepared to leave the confines of the pass and charge out to fight amid a sea of thousands of Persian troops. "Fight with great courage," the king told his Spartans hours before annihilation. "Today we will dine among the dead."

During the failed Jewish revolt of A.D. 73, when the last enclave of the zealots at Masada was surrounded, and before the Roman besiegers could storm the stronghold, the rebels under Eleazar ben Yair killed themselves. By the historian Josephus's count, all but seven of some 960 trapped men, women, and children perished. Hitler's order, in January 1943, for the encircled garrison at Stalingrad to shun escape or surrender and fight to the last man was equivalent to suicide for thousands.

Yet, the September 11 terrorists were somewhat different — more like the Japanese death brigades of World War II, who in their organization and training killed on a scale never seen before or since in civilized warfare. Thousands of Japanese flew as suicide pilots, commandeered ramming-boats, manned one-way rocket planes, or (as infantrymen) organized death charges. Many foot soldiers fought with dynamite satchels or grenades strapped to their bodies.

In all these cases, the sole intention was to kill as many of the enemy as possible before meeting certain death. A new fanaticism — a lethal mix of Shintoism, Buddhism, and Bushido — promised a better life in the hereafter, where warrior souls would enjoy a divine existence in return for their sacrifice on earth. The destruction of Japanese parliamentary government in the 1930s, and the rise of a dictatorship, had already helped to create the authoritarian state necessary for the kamikazes — and desperation was the final ingredient. By late 1944, obsolete planes and green pilots could no longer stop a massive American fleet and air force headed for the Japanese mainland.

The climactic struggle between democratic and suicidal forces was the battle for Okinawa, called Operation "Holy War" (Ten go) by the Japanese. Between April 1 and July 2, 1945, over 110,000 Japanese died — nearly to the last man (barely more than 7,000 were taken prisoner). Yet the defenders killed over 12,000 Americans, inflicting an additional 30,000 casualties. Among the dead were 5,000 American sailors, victims largely of the nearly 2,000 kamikaze attacks against the American fleet.

II. The Divine Wind (Kamikaze) What can we learn from this, history's only real example of a democracy facing organized suicide attackers? There are uncanny similarities between 1945 and 2001, despite the vast differences across time and space. Japanese kamikazes were young and impressionable — mostly between 18 and 24. They were convinced by older, more cynical officers (many of whom would survive the war) that their sacrifice would gain them paradise, and that suicide missions were the only mechanism left to stop a murderous America that wished to destroy — not merely defeat — the Japanese people.

Once the squadrons were organized, very little training was required. Return landings would, of course, be unnecessary. In the case of the Ohka — manned rockets dropped from Betty bombers — pilots did not need even the rudimentary skills required for taking off. In a sense, Japanese planners figured that America's technological and organizational preeminence could be nullified by suicide pilots, who became, in effect, early cruise missiles. A once-obsolete Zero fighter, when piloted by a kamikaze, suddenly became as deadly as far more expensive and sophisticated German V-1 and V-2 rockets — and much more accurate, too, since it could change course and trajectory in mid-flight. In the right circumstances, the brain of a man determined to die can be more effective than any computer.

Moreover, much of Western superiority in military design and expense was invested in protecting the attacker — armor plating, parachutes, self-sealing gas tanks, extensive training, sea and air rescue — and thus was quite unnecessary on one-way missions. In the same way, our present-day fundamentalists discovered that it did not take much skill to pilot even a sophisticated jet — provided there was no takeoff or landing required, and that the purpose was simply to crash into a rather large target. Today's skyscrapers, after all, were as prominent objectives as yesterday's fleet carriers or battleships.

Then and now, a man with little training — powered by fanatical zeal and hatred for the West, full of delusions of paradise, relatively young, and recruited and trained by professional militarists — could do quite a lot of damage to initially unprepared Americans. If, in the past, a Japanese kamikaze (who had little or no chance of sinking an American ship in a conventional attack himself) could raise havoc on the carrier Bunker Hill, and kill hundreds in the process — so too an otherwise impotent al Qaeda terrorist might topple a billion-dollar building and kill thousands, thanks to his willingness to die.

We, like our forefathers — who saw 36 ships lost and another 368 damaged at Okinawa (the greatest single battle losses in the history of the U.S. Navy), were stunned by the audacity and effectiveness of the September 11 terrorists and the rumors of more to come. But just as astounding as the initial suicide bombings off Okinawa, and in Washington and New York, was — in both cases — the swift and terrible response of the Americans.

In 1945, picket destroyers, improved radar, increased sorties, and bombing of bases on the mainland ensured that not a single battleship or carrier was actually sunk. On Okinawa itself, horrific flamethrowers and fire-spouting tanks were introduced to incinerate would-be suicidal troops. Increased nighttime watches and strict fire control, coupled with integrated artillery and naval gunfire, blew apart banzai charges. The result was that upon the conclusion of the ghastly battle of Okinawa, most veteran imperial land forces were ruined, the last vestiges of the Japanese navy destroyed (the suicidal cruise of the battleship Yamato being a complete failure), and the air forces rendered nearly impotent.

Moreover, there were reports of last-minute hesitancy and even ditching by kamikazes. Later accounts described drunkenness and near-insurrection as pilots had to be drafted, and were no longer solely volunteers. Much is made of the supposed 5,000 kamikazes waiting on the mainland for the American invasion. But more likely was that they comprised only a few thousands, from an angry society of hundreds of millions, willing to blow themselves up to kill Americans. We shall never know what would have transpired had the Americans invaded Japanese home soil. Yet for some five weeks after Okinawa, the American fleet was in still in range of land-based enemy planes, thousands of aircraft remained on the homeland — and kamikazes attacks were rare.

After Okinawa was declared secure on July 2, only five more suicide sorties were reported before the surrender on August 15. Had the Japanese simply run out of willing pilots, or were they saving their reserve kamikazes for the final assault? America, of course, took no chances, and prepared extraordinary measures to neutralize the kamikaze threat during the planned invasion.

Similarly, after this terrible past September of 2001, the West was told that thousands of Islamic fundamentalists were ready to bomb America, Europe, and Israel. In fact, there were only a few hundred, from an angry society of hundreds of millions, willing to vaporize themselves to kill Americans. Alarmists, these past few months, have recalled the kamikazes; realists should remember how they were dealt with. We may well have more bombings, but the attacks are finite — and the remedy proven.

III. Lessons From the Past
In 1945, the terror of suicide brought out the greater terror of the Western way of war. Grim Americans left Okinawa with a changed mentality about the nature of battle itself: From then on, the fanaticism of the human will to die would be repaid in kind by the greater fanaticism of the industrial and technological power to live. Okinawa taught the world that the chief horror of war is not the random use of suicide bombers, but the fervent response they will incur from Western industrial powers — as seen at Hiroshima.

The restraint upon Americans' singular ingenuity for making war usually rests only with their own moral reluctance — a brake that suicidal attack seems to strip away entirely. It was not surprising, but entirely predictable, that a nation that 60 years ago produced napalm, flamethrowers, and — eventually — A-bombs to combat the specter of thousands of suicidal warriors would retain the dark imagination, organization, and willpower to blast apart a few hundred suicide bombers and their enclaves of support in Afghanistan.

In this recent war, the West's military referents for the Islamic fundamentalists of the present have been the fanatical kamikazes of the past. This autumn their letters were published in newspapers, and veterans of the conflict relived the horror on television. We sensed that kamikazes and al Qaeda terrorists alike strike at the very psyche of the Western mind, which is repelled by the religious fanaticism, the authoritarianism, or perhaps the despair, of such enemies — confirming that wars are sometimes not just misunderstandings over policy, or the reckless actions of a deranged leader, but accurate reflections of real and fundamental differences in culture and society.

Yet in precisely the same way as kamikazes off Okinawa led to frightful measures of mass destruction, so too jumbo jets exploding at the World Trade Center were the logical precursors to daisy cutters and bunker busters in Afghanistan, as an unleashed America resounded with a terrible fury and effectiveness not seen since 1945. And it is not over yet. A roused and angry mind at Caltech or in Silicon Valley, with a wife, kids, dog, and house in the suburbs, can conjure up far more lethal weapons and strategies than can any madman from the Middle East.

There is a lesson here that al Qaeda bombers, their leaders, and their sponsors should ponder, as they seek to die to kill those who so desperately wish to protect and defend — and to live.

34 posted on 01/18/2002 9:28:39 PM PST by denydenydeny
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