Iraqi girl on suicide bomber motivation

One common point of contention about the war is the degree to which terrorists and suicide bombers are reacting to things that we have done. To what degree are our actions *creating* terrorists vs. *deterring* them? I tend towards the "rationally vengeful" view - it seems to me that many of those attacking US troops are doing it because we have (accidentally or purposefully) killed their close friends and family. That is, they are impelled by a specific cause, rather than a general hatred of Americans. If that is true, then too high a ratio of innocents killed : terrorists killed will, on net, *produce* terrorists.

Others say that they attack us because we are infidels, not because of specific grievances, hence the number of terrorists is not affected by our actions. What is affected, they say, is the incentives which affect whether terrorism is expressed. Backing down shows weakness and encourages the terrorists, whereas drawing a hard line intimidates them. The Iraqi blog Baghdad Burning seems to support my view in this post:

I try to imagine what would happen to me, personally, should this occur. How long would it take for the need for revenge to settle in? How long would it take to be recruited by someone who looks for people who have nothing to lose? People who lost it all to one blow. What I think the world doesn’t understand is that people don’t become suicide bombers because- like the world is told- they get seventy or however many virgins in paradise. People become suicide bombers because it is a vengeful end to a life no longer worth living- a life probably violently stripped of its humanity by a local terrorist- or a foreign soldier.

I hate suicide bombers. I hate the way my heart beats chaotically every time I pass by a suspicious-looking car- and every car looks suspicious these days. I hate the way Sunni mosques and Shia mosques are being targeted right and left. I hate seeing the bodies pile up in hospitals, teeth clenched in pain, wailing men and women…

But I completely understand how people get there.

One victim was holding his daughter. "The gunmen told the girl to move then shot the father," said a relative.

Would anyone be surprised if the abovementioned daughter grew up with a hate so vicious and a need for revenge so large, it dominated everything else in her life?

Or three days ago when American and Iraqi troops fired at a family traveling from one city to another, killing five members of the family.

"They are all children. They are not terrorists," shouted one relative. "Look at the children," he said as a morgue official carried a small dead child into a refrigeration room.

Who needs Al-Qaeda to recruit 'terrorists' when you have Da’awa, SCIRI and an American occupation?

I don't know what the magic number is - how many innocent victims it takes to give rise to a new terrorist. But it is not infinity. And in a land in turmoil, where ruthless terrorists stand ready to help give anger an explosive release, it may not be very high at all.

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Where are all the Jewish

Where are all the Jewish suicide bombers. You'd think all the families of Jews killed in WWII would still be at it. I knew one lady who survived the concentration camps and she literally had a life not worth living, yet she didn't feel compelled to kill innocents. What about the families of all those Japanese and Germans we killed in the last war. You don't think life wasn't worth living in Germany at the end of that war? What about all the victims of Islam? Millions of them. Why aren't their family practicing sucide bombing on innocents?

There are plenty of countries with worse standards of living that the oil rich countries most of these bombers come from. Furthermore many of the bombers were not deparate cases, and were from families with no deaths and plenty of opportunity.

Your theory also doesn't explain why most terrorists are Muslim, while they are in the minority when it comes to people unjustly killed in this world. It just doesn't fly empircally.

Any normal person who's mind has been twisted by a madman like Mohammed, would feel compassion for other innocent victims after being one themselves. The natural reaction is not to lash out at other innocents. Problem is that Islam teaches that non-muslims are inherently evil, and therefore the proximate causes of suffering in this world. It is only natural to kill them and anyone who works with them.

Read the Koran and the history of Islam. Get a clue. Where do you think the word assasin came from? Crazy suicidal muslims, that's where. There's a long history of this kind of stuff with Islam. Killing infidels has been fashionable for quite some time in that neck of the woods.

Brian - Your points are

Brian - Your points are totally irrelevant. The need for a catalyst does not invalidate the existence of a reaction.

I said "In country X, A causes B", and you said "But how come A causes B only in country X? If A could really cause B, it would happen everywhere!" That is logically coherent only to reject the claim "A always causes B", which is not what I was saying.

Please allow my argument some nuance! I was not claiming to have found the single cause for worldwide terrorism, merely some evidence for what I suspect to be an important element in Iraq.

As you point out, the violence of the Islamic religion may be a necessary factor. As I mentioned, its also important that Iraq has ruthless terrorist leaders who will take advantage of those with motive by providing method and opportunity. Again, the fact that there are other aspects to the reaction does not mean that an increase of reagent A does not add to an increase in output B.

Brian -- Israel itself

Brian --

Israel itself admits that many of its founders were terrorists -- Zionism was a very militarized movement prior to the founding of Israel. Look up Irgun. Suicide bombing had not yet been invented at the time (blame that little innovation on the Tamil), otherwise in all likelihood you would have heard of Israeli suicide bombers. Suicide bombing is after all the evolutionary pinnacle of terrorism (for the moment), causing the maximum of horror for the minimum expense.

Terrorism is a standard technique that the weak and oppressed use against the strong and established when they perceive other options as hopeless. While Islam has embraced it more thoroughly than most, and there is a legitimate debate as to whether that is a property of the religion, you do that debate no credit by your ignorance of history.

So why is it that these

So why is it that these terrorists spend more of their time killing Iraqi civilians than Americans?

Brian, In addition to what

Brian,

In addition to what Grant said, just take a look at the history of the Balkan wars. The horrors there should dispel any myth that terrorism is strictly or even overwhelmingly an Islamic phenomenon. The dynamics were different than they are with today's al-queda and co., but all sides engaged in terrorism.

Here's one Iraqi response to

Here's one Iraqi response to something Riverbend wrote:

http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/2004/09/whos-lying.html

This is by an Iraqi, Ali Fadhil, who, unlike Riverbend, does not hide his identity. One of these people, Ali or Riverbend, is not to be trusted in what they say. I've made my choice on who to trust.

So why is it that these

So why is it that these terrorists spend more of their time killing Iraqi civilians than Americans?

Most events have been comprehensible to me by hypothesizing that the "insurgents" are mainly a combination of foreign Islamofascists (Zarqawi) and local Baathists. The goal of the Baathists is to take back the country and re-establish a Baathist dictatorship. The goal of the Islamofascists is to establish an Islamic state with Al Qaeda leadership at the top. These are two different goals but for now these ultimate goals share immediate goals, which is to wear the Americans down eventually making them leave, and more immediately to prevent a democratic Iraqi government from coalescing, as such a government would be an impediment to their dreams of dictatorial power.

So, why kill Iraqis? Well, why not? They are easy targets, so you get a lot of bang for your buck. This gets reported in US newspapers, which wears the Americans down. Right now the US is on the verge of leaving. It also no doubt makes things difficult for the young Iraqi government, in part by discrediting it (the government is discredited by its inability to stop the massacres), in part by intimidating it (e.g. intimidating the police) rendering it ineffective, in part by keeping the economy from recovering (the richer the Iraqis get, the less easy they will be to conquer once the Americans leave). And so on. If you want to bring a society to its knees so that once the Americans leave you can go in and pick up the pieces, you could do worse than randomly blowing stuff and people up.

Please allow my argument

Please allow my argument some nuance! I was not claiming to have found the single cause for worldwide terrorism, merely some evidence for what I suspect to be an important element in Iraq.

You want to find out about the Iraqi terrorists, then hear their own confessions. For example:

http://www.memritv.org/Search.asp?ACT=S5&P1=65

Yeah, the information is tainted by the possibility of coerced confession, but show me better evidence of what is going on in their heads. Riverbend isn't it.

Patri, while you certainly

Patri, while you certainly didn't claim to have found THE cause of terrorism, it was implicit in what you wrote that your cause was the stronger one, the more likely one, the right answer. Personally, I think you are confusing proximate issues that cause an individual to make a decision with the larger root issues of culture, education, wealth, social conditioning and more. Brian tries to make this point, but with examples rather than a hypothesis that accounts for the negative examples he gives.

I will hypothesize that culture, especially certain cultures that are heavily steeped in judeo-christian-muslim religions, has far more to do with terrorism than any other single factor. Once you have the cultural background for it, then you need leaders who are willing to kill innocents and use despairing people as suicide bombers. Now, add in individual issues that bring about despair and anger to lead a single person to make a choice to blow themselves up and kill others when they do. The reason that Germany and Japan had few terrorist type actions after WWII is because of their culture. There were at least as many despairing and angry people there, per capita, as in Iraq. The difference is that they don't have a tradition of such behavior, a cultural call to individual suicide warriors (although both have a tradition of organized suicidal sacrifice, but that's not the same thing). Looking at Irish, Jewish and Arab culture, you see such a thing. Combine it with the strident, uncompromising zealotry of their religions, and voila!

Now, on to your response to Brian. It is quite true that the creation of victims in Iraq due to the ongoing war there is causing there to be more suicide bombers. But, and I think this is important, it's not causing there to be more terrorist leaders. That number is, it appears, affected negatively by the war in Iraq. Of course, I am simply making an observation based on what I gather from various media available to me. I haven't made a solid study using sources not publicly available. But, I think on its face, my conclusion seems reasonable given the reaction over the past 6 months to the barbarism of al-Zarqawi and company. If you can reduce, or eliminate, the population of terrorist leaders, which you posit to be a contributing factor, then you ultimately can reduce the number of suicide bombers. Since culture and terrorist leaders, in my hypothesis, are the root cause, it seems apparent that there are two strategies to reduce the problem, one of which is short term and the other long term.

Removing US troops from Iraq would, immediately, cause a reduction in terrorist activity in Iraq. That is a good thing. But, is it the best thing? You see, the apparent defeat of the US (which is exactly how al-Zarqawi, bin Laden and the rest would spin it) would actually lead to more dedicated terrorists, as opposed to suicide bombers. So, the long term solution is two-fold. First, reduce, or eliminate, the number of terrorist leaders. Second, change the cultural imperatives leading to suicide bombers existing.

Constant, Yes, I know. The

Constant,

Yes, I know. The question was meant to be directed specifically at Patri, since it doesn't seem to jive with his position.

Driving ‘Round The

Driving ‘Round The Blogosphere
Light, and not so light, reading for a Saturday evening.

...

Where are all the El

Where are all the El Salvadorian and Nicaraguan suicide bombers is the better question.

Eric writes: "If you can

Eric writes: "If you can reduce, or eliminate, the population of terrorist leaders, which you posit to be a contributing factor, then you ultimately can reduce the number of suicide bombers. Since culture and terrorist leaders, in my hypothesis, are the root cause, it seems apparent that there are two strategies to reduce the problem, one of which is short term and the other long term....So, the long term solution is two-fold. First, reduce, or eliminate, the number of terrorist leaders. Second, change the cultural imperatives leading to suicide bombers existing."

Oh, I totally agree with this. My argument was that we need to be careful about giving enemy leaders additional cannon fodder. I certainly agree that we should try to kill the enemy leaders too. And that we should try to change the culture. But is the US military really a good device for changing culture? Somehow, I doubt it!

I was merely arguing that we should be more careful about killing civilians, and understand that collateral damage recruits for the enemy. I did not call for an immediate pullout, that seems like a bad idea. On the other hand, from what I read in the Iraqi blogs, I think that a timetable would be valuable. It sounds like Iraqi's are worried that we will never leave, and our refusal to set a timetable reinforces that worry.

So why is it that these

So why is it that these terrorists spend more of their time killing Iraqi civilians than Americans?

Don't they usually kill Iraqi civilians who cooperate with the occupation? Members of the goverment, police forces, etc? It seems to me that you could easily convince someone bent on vengeance that Iraqi sympathizers are just as valid a target as Americans.

Patri, While many of the

Patri,

While many of the suicide bombings have some sort of government-affiliated primary target, they typically also kill large numbers of regular civilians. Besides that, the whole theory doesn't seem to pan out empirically. Anthony Cordesman, "Iraq's Evolving Insurgency" (large PDF), p. 20:

The “cost” of suicide bombers was also low. While no reliable figures are available, only about 10% seemed to have been Iraqis as of August 2005, and most had recruited from outside Iraq by various Islamist organizations. Key sources were North Africa, the Sudan, Jordan, Syria, Gulf states like Saudi Arabia, and Central Asia.

So no, most of the suicide bombers aren't even Iraqis. BTW, if you want to understand the shape of the insurgency in Iraq, I highly suggest Cordesman's report. Extensive and very well researched, without even the slightest whiff of partisanship.

Matt - that is significant

Matt - that is significant evidence against my thesis, thanks for the info.

Patri asked: "But is the US

Patri asked: "But is the US military really a good device for changing culture? Somehow, I doubt it!"

Any military guy will agree with you (the sane ones anyhow). The culture cannot be changed by force. Unless, of course, we are willing to reduce their culture to bare subsistence, as we did in Japan and Germany. I don't think we are willing to do that. By the way, TJ, are you saying that we lost our humanity in Japan and Germany?

All the military can do, at best, is provide a breathing space for the culture to change itself. Which is what our military is trying to do in Iraq. They are trying to hold the wolves at bay while Iraq remakes itself.

What is truly needed is a Reformation of Islam, similiar to the Protestant Reformation. That would, unfortunately, be a brutal process. But, the good thing, we hope, is that Islam would come out the other side having rejected much of the zealotry and fanaticism it currently has.

>> But is the US military

>> But is the US military really a good device for changing culture? Somehow, I doubt it!

One of the questions that seems to have come up is "Why so few Japanese/German/Jewish/Timorese/etc. terrorists compared to Muslim terrorists?" I propose the following explanation: the Japanese/Germans/Jews/Timorese were much more thoroughly brutalized -- they were culturally "broken". They suffered a defeat/holocaust so total that further resistance/retaliation was essentially unimaginable.

Islam has not been so broken. Many people in Muslim nations believe that resistance against Our Imperial Might is still possible. Many Muslims hate the US without that hatred being tempered by sheer terror. I suspect that this is because the US government has, to date, been unwilling to impose a true Reign of Terror. This would involve large scale indiscriminate retribution against civilians, such as carpet bombing, death camps, or NBC weapons.

I claim that a calculated use of terror, aimed at "breaking" the religion of Islam, would to much to curb Islamic fanaticism. If the US cleansed Mecca and Medina with nuclear fire without significant cost, the impotence of the Muslims' False God Allah would be exposed for all to see. The Jewish Holocaust forever ended the illusion of the Jews as "God's chosen people" (chosen for what?) The use of extreme measures against centers of Muslim resistance to US power, as well as important cultural landmarks, could have a similar effect.

The War on (Islamic) Terror can be decisively won, using terror, the kind of terror only a powerful state can provide. And all it will cost is our humanity -- the weapons themselves are already bought and paid for.

But, the good thing, we

But, the good thing, we hope, is that Islam would come out the other side having rejected much of the zealotry and fanaticism it currently has.

Yeah somehow I think Muslims are quite a long way off from "Man, Economy, and State" and the non-aggression axiom.

"From 1996 to 1999, I

"From 1996 to 1999, I interviewed nearly 250 people involved in the most militant camps of the Palestinian cause: volunteers who, like S, had been unable to complete their suicide missions, the families of dead bombers, and the men who trained them.

None of the suicide bombers — they ranged in age from 18 to 38 — conformed to the typical profile of the suicidal personality. None of them was uneducated, desperately poor, simple-minded, or depressed. Many were middle-class and held paying jobs. Two were the sons of millionaires. They all seemed entirely normal members of their families. They were polite and serious, and in their communities were considered to be model youths. Most were bearded. All were deeply religious..."

- Nasra Hassan http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,7-1692606,00.html

Stefan, you're right, they

Stefan, you're right, they are. The Christian Reformation took a couple of centuries to really take hold. But, what's the alternative? And that sort of cultural change can only come from inside their culture. The best the West can do is not make excuses for them, which, unfortunately, is what many are currently doing. Of course they have many, many reasons to be angry, desire change, etc. That doesn't have to lead to terrorism, suicide bombers and all the rest, automatically.

TJ Madison. Check your facts

TJ Madison.

Check your facts on East Timor.

1. The US military was NOT involved.
2. The occupying militias were withdrawn in accordance with prior conditions.
3. The peacekeeping force (Australia, NZ, Thailand and (?)Fiji(?) was in East Timor under the flag of the UN at the request of the Indonesian government.

Grant, I knew about

Grant,

I knew about everything you mentioned. Read what I wrote again. Nothing of what you said applies.

Suicide bombing against innocent civilian targets is not what the Tamil Tigers are notorious for. They were going exclusively after military and political targets. Can't really complain about that now can we. Nor did they invent the suicidal bombing concept. A well known earlier example is the Kamakazis. I don't know the earliest example of this but the Islamic Corsairs were doing this long ago, as were the Islamic assassins.

Even assuming your false belief that suicide bombing had not yet been invented, what about after the Tamils. Why aren't the Jews in Germany right now blowing themselves up along with Germans. What about all those formerly Christians and Jews lands now occupied but Muslims (ie 99.999% of current Muslim territory). How come Christians and Jews aren't blowing themselves up there? Jews and Christians are very badly treated in most of these countries. They are second class citizens and their societies have been waning for centuries under Muslim persecution. Surely the Copts have as valid a reason to blow up Muslims in Egypt as any other aggrieved person on the planet.

The question remains. Where are all the Jewish suicide bombers?

>>Check your facts on East

>>Check your facts on East Timor.

>>1. The US military was NOT involved.

The US government provided >80% of the weapons. The initial invasion and genocide began in 1975 after Suharto asked Ford and Kissinger for permission. As the genocide escalated during the Carter administration, so did the arms sales.

All of this is irrelevant to my point, however -- which would be the same if the Martians had been responsible. My point was that massive violence and large scale atrocities (murder of 1/3 of the population in the case of East Timor) was sufficient to dampen the population's interest in revenge. Had the East Timorese merely been "messed with" or "had their honor insulted" they might still be "uppity", possibly to the point of engaging in terrorist violence in Jakarta.

>>2. The occupying militias were withdrawn in accordance with prior conditions.

Clinton pulled on the leash and Congress stopped the arms sales. The Indonesians left shortly thereafter.

>>By the way, TJ, are you saying that we lost our humanity in Japan and Germany?

I wasn't alive back then. Were you? That said, those Americans who find the actions of the US military at Hiroshima and Dresden acceptable have in my mind forfeited all right to moral outrage over events like 9/11. All further complaints about terrorism then resolve down to "Islamic terrorists are evil because they don't work for our team" -- an argument I find less than compelling.

>>The question remains.

>>The question remains. Where are all the Jewish suicide bombers?

Well, the vast majority of candidates in Europe were turned into air pollution. Most of those who survived the death camps did so by collaborating with their captors. Some of those that did not (see www.sobibor.info) became partisans and did engage in guerilla resistance against the Nazis.

In more recent times, those Jews who had been affected personally by the Palestinian conflict have had the option of joining the IDF and taking out their aggression on Palestinian civilians directly. There was one case I heard of where some extremist Israeli Jews attempted to blow up a school full of Israeli Arab girls with a car bomb. The Israeli police were very observant and lucky and foiled the plot. The plotters, to their surprise, were not looked upon favorably by the general population. Apparently the Israeli public looked down upon their attempts to eliminate Arab weapons factories before they could come on-line.

>>Why aren’t the Jews in Germany right now blowing themselves up along with Germans. What about all those formerly Christians and Jews lands now occupied but Muslims (ie 99.999% of current Muslim territory). How come Christians and Jews aren’t blowing themselves up there?

Well, a largely Christian force seems to have retaken Iraq, and has been dropping hints about similar plans for Syria and Iran. Would-be Christian terrorists probably simply joined Lynnie England's Army. The Jews seem to be making slow progress retaking territory as well, so why would they bother blowing themselves up?

It is common practice in

It is common practice in writing an article to open with your main point, give supporting statements in the middle, then close with a summary of your main point. It is also common to use a title for the article that is relevant. You seemed to follow that model.

The title of the article is:

"Iraqi Girl on Suicide Bomber Motivation”

I guess this article is going to be about Suicide Bombers. Presumably terrorists since most such bombers target innocent civilians.
Your first sentence was:

"One common point of contention about the war is the degree to which terrorists and suicide bombers are reacting to things that we have done."

This is a general statement. Out of context it could be an excuse for any terrorism done anywhere, just so long as we did something first. You might be talking about worldwide terrorism just so long as it occurred after the war began.

To what degree are our actions creating terrorists vs. deterring them?

This is more of the same. It would be our fault if we were creating terrorist that would not otherwise exist. Also by not stopping them our actions also are morally suspect.

? I tend towards the “rationally vengeful” view - it seems to me that many of those attacking US troops are doing it because we have (accidentally or purposefully) killed their close friends and family.

More of the same but here it gets a little confused. After all, those attacking US troops are not terrorists, although they might be suicide bombers. People who blow up troops are by definition not terrorists whether they die in the act or not.

That is, they are impelled by a specific cause, rather than a general hatred of Americans.

OK, now who “they” refers to is confused. Is it the terrorists, the suicide bombers attacking US troops? Who? You have also at this point put up a straw man argument, no one is saying that mere hatred of Americans leads to terrorism. If that was the case then the French would be the worlds leading terrorists.

If that is true, then too high a ratio of innocents killed : terrorists killed will, on net, produce terrorists.

Well, we are back to terrorists in general. Which by definition are the ones who are not attacking the troops but innocent civilians. Make up your mind. You seem to lack a lot of nuance here. Why, should only the killing of innocents lead to the creation of terrorism, what about the guilty, what about soldiers, terrorists, and insurgents. Don’t the families of these non-innocent casualties get angry? This war had an astoundingly low ratio of innocents killed compared to combatants as in other wars. What about that? Seems not to have entered your mind. Also I am starting to think you bought into the anti-war propaganda. Are you suffering under the delusion that 100,000 civilians were killed in this war?

So here we are at the end of your first paragraph, which really should at this point have clarified the point of your article. It appears that you are saying that innocent victims lead to terrorism. There is no mention that this is restricted to Iraq, or to Muslim societies. Nowhere in the rest of your article will you do this. So no wonder I would pick this up. Also one would think that from the point of view of protecting America it would be terrorists in general that would be the concern. After all, our forces are meant to protect us, not the rest of the world.

Others say that they attack us because we are infidels, not because of specific grievances, hence the number of terrorists is not affected by our actions.

This is news to me. Where does the part after the “hence” come from. Of course, if they attack us because we are infidels, the number of terrorists will still be affected by our actions. As an example if we try to peacefully trade with some members of Muslim communities that don’t take their religion so seriously this will tend to infuriate others. If we are asked to help some Muslims against others this will also tend to infuriate them. The more successful we are in comparison to them the more it will infuriate them. If we protect minorities within their communities from their depredations it will infuriate them.
There are all sorts of other subtleties to this position I will not point out.

So, of course protecting innocents from the depredations of Saddam is going to cause them to “act up”. Notice how they don’t give a rat’s ass when some Muslim leader is a ruthless bastard invading for pure gain and the basest reasons. It’s the thought of a non-Muslim setting foot on Islamic lands in a non-subjugated status that infuriates them. The fact that the purpose is moral only irritates them more since it shows Islam in a bad light.

Islam is all about is not being “rationally vengeful” but being irrationally vengeful. In fact the Koran teaches that persecution is worse than slaughter. In the context of Mohammed being laughed at by others when he proclaimed himself to be speaking with Allah this is quite disturbing. This is what counts as persecution, questioning their faith. As Surah 2:193 teaches “And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. “. Hell, many of these Islamists think they are being persecuted when we buy oil from the Middle East. There is no rationality to Islam. Their moral precepts are one-way double standards and are not fathomable in terms of western ethics.

Terrorism is in the Koran also. It is praised highly and commanded over and over again by Mohammed’s sock puppet Allah.

This is where moral culpability comes in, something that this whole argument about “creating terrorists” misses. The actions of the terrorists are not our moral responsibility. No more so than if a criminal breaks into our house and says do X or I will kill. We have no moral responsibility to behave in a way that reduces the number of terrorist acts. It’s blackmail, plain and simple. If an individual decides that he is going to purposely target innocent people because Allah demands such behavior when the Muslim doesn’t come out on top, well then that’s his fault not mine. It is also the problem of the other idiots that believe and teach such nonsense. Every Muslim is morally culpable when they spread those same beliefs. It’s there in their hearts already, only waiting for an excuse to come out.

Don’t be so shy about your arguments. You damn well know that arguments about creating terrorists are about moral culpability. If it weren’t then why care? The people suffering from the philosophy are the very people who espouse it. That we cannot protect every last one of them is not our moral problem either. We can only be expected to accomplish what is humanly possible. It’s quite impossible to stop someone from killing others if he doesn’t care about the repercussions to himself, or actually believes the he will be rewarded instead.

I actually see people like you as part of the problem. If we didn’t spend so much time arguing such obviously incorrect points in public then perhaps the Muslims would get the picture. What needs to be worked on is the fact that their religion is not only false but also unethical to the point of being evil. As long as people actually believe in Islam there is going to be unneeded bloodshed in this world.

Terrorism is in the Koran

Terrorism is in the Koran also. It is praised highly and commanded over and over again by Mohammed’s sock puppet Allah.

This one is definitely a keeper.

T.J. Madison, So are you

T.J. Madison,

So are you trying to make the point that most surviving Jews are collaborators or terrorists? Morally unworthy of living. That's what it sounds like your trying to do. Especially with your equation of guerrilla resistance to genocide with terrorism. Unless of course the Jews were targeting innocents. You know, like blowing up churches and the like. What evidence do you have of that? The only holocast survivors I've met have been victims.

What proof do you have that most survivors were collaborators? What do you think counts as collaboration when you are a starving skeleton? The vast majority of those found in the camps were not living fat and sassy.

As for the occasional non-Muslim bomber. My thesis is not that no non-Muslims do this. "Where are all the" is an American venacular for "please show me large quantities of this". It doesn't mean you won't find an occasional one. Thus if some Americans are on a fishing trip to someones great fishing spot and they capture a few measly specimens someone is likely to say "Where are all the fish!".

There is an occasional Jew or Christian, who is either crazy or pushed over the edge by all the Muslim bombings of innocents who goes in for this kind of thing. Of course they are roundly critisized and punished if caught. The opposite occurs in Islam, often with the family of the suicide bomber recieving a trust fund, and enormous funeral procession, accolades in the press, and martyr status. In fact, I watched a documentary on Channel 13 which followed a Palestinian family and the mother was proud to announce that she was raising her boys to be suicide bombers and her girls to produce more suicide bombers. I have heard the same sentiment from other Palestinian mothers elsewhere.

Will other peoples/religions react to Islam with like means. Yes, after a while they will like in the Balkins. Have other peoples/religions done this sort of thing in the past. Sure. The problem is this is here and now, and the people doing the killing have absolutely no legitimate claims. You can expect people not to fight back when your religion calls for their total subjegation and/or extermination.

"Well a largely Christian force seems to have retaken Iraq ...", Boy I didn't know that. Have any other new information for us? What the hell does that have to do with suicide bombers. It's not like our purpose there was to kill innocent civilians. If it were we'd just sit back and drop a nuke on them.

David Rossie, I did not say

David Rossie,

I did not say that terrorizing, or killing innocent civilians was the sole domain of Islam. I don't see why you would use the Balkins as a example since this is surely an area where Islam is morally responsible. This is an area that was invaded by Islam and where the natives were horribly mistreated by the invaders. Invaders that do not even respect the humanity of the opposition. Of course, there is going to be trouble.

If you want examples of terrorizing and killing that out-do the Muslims in terms of rate and numbers then you should turn to some other vile ideology like the Nazis or Communism.

Thing is, there aren't like a billion Nazis around, and the Communists have been pretty much contained. Nor did they use suicide bombers as a rule. There is nothing in the Nazi ideology that says you get to go to heaven for blowing yourself up with a bunch of Jews. Same for Communism and capitalists.

Fact of the matter is that Islam and suicide bombing are highly correlated. I am starting to think you guys are living in some sort of fantasy land where this is not the case.

TJ wrote: "I wasn’t alive

TJ wrote: "I wasn’t alive back then. Were you?"

Nope, but I know, and have known, many men and women who were. I've known, in fact, Americans, Brits and Germans who lived through and/or fought in WWII. None of them struck me as having "lost their humanity". They all struck me as individuals caught up in a truly terrible set of events, trying their best to survive and be able to look themselves in the mirror come morning.

TJ wrote: "That said, those Americans who find the actions of the US military at Hiroshima and Dresden acceptable have in my mind forfeited all right to moral outrage over events like 9/11."

I'm sure we do, in your particular world view. That doesn't really bother me. You betray yourself even further when you say:

"Would-be Christian terrorists probably simply joined Lynnie England’s Army."

You betray and significant and deep misunderstanding of the people who join the US Army. As with any organization of that size, there are some Lynnie England's. But Lynnie England no more defines all people who join the US Army than Audie Murphy does. Each one is an individual, with individual motivations and world outlooks. It is, of course, much easier to view them as would be terrorists and the new crusaders.

>>What proof do you have

>>What proof do you have that most survivors were collaborators?

Exhibit A is "Survival in Auschwitz" by Primo Levi, who should know, having had firsthand experience.

>>What do you think counts as collaboration when you are a starving skeleton? The vast majority of those found in the camps were not living fat and sassy.

Let's look at this from the viewpoint of a hapless Jew fresh off the train to Auschwitz. Very likely he's sent to the gas chambers immediately and killed. In this case he has been murdered by fascist scumbags, and has my utmost sympathy. If he's not murdered immediately, he's cast into a world of nightmarish horror. Probably he's in shock for several days, just dealing with the madness of the situation and unable to think straight.

However, if he survives longer than a week and has even minimal intelligence, two inescapable facts will occur to him:

1. The people operating this establishment are demons in human form.
2. This place is a death camp, and if he stays here he's going to die.

Under these conditions, there are only two rational and moral courses of action:

1. Try to escape. Some planning and coordination is sensible, but no more than a few weeks worth. If he waits longer he won't have the strength left.
2. Die gloriously in a fight against the demons. Yes, the demons have machine guns. But they're overconfident, and killing even one SS guard brings the end of the war closer.

Most of those who survived the death camps did so because they had some value to the proper functioning of the camps -- the Nazis used them to make the death machine run more efficiently. Each day they traded their labor, which was used directly in the murder of others, for another day of life in Hell. The most extreme examples of this were the Sonderkommando, whose job was to maintain the incinerators, which were the weak links in the genocide machinery.

Primo Levi tells the story of a particularly bad day in Auschwitz. Some time earlier, a group of Sonderkommando had become Men once again, long enough to kill some SS guards and, far more importantly, blow up one of the incinerator units before dying gloriously. Every day the incinerator was off-line saved thousands of lives. On this day one of the men incidentally associated with the revolt was publically executed in front of the entire wing of the death camp that Levi was in. Just before he was hanged, the resister exclaimed, "I AM THE LAST." All the prisoners knew what he meant: he was the last MAN there, all the others has been broken, their will to resist gone.

So yes, the death camp survivors were mostly collaborators. They survived by doing WHATEVER IT TOOK to survive. As a result they were transformed into vermin. This was a bad trade, because some things really are worse than death.

I suspect this sort of selection pressure took care of most Jews who might have become suicide bombers. Also, very few people were stupid enough to believe they were Chosen by a benevolent God after surviving the Holocaust.

>>You betray and significant

>>You betray and significant and deep misunderstanding of the people who join the US Army. As with any organization of that size, there are some Lynnie England’s. But Lynnie England no more defines all people who join the US Army than Audie Murphy does.

Quite true. But she probably has much in common with would-be Christian terrorists.

To clarify: Most Army guys aren't rapists, torturers, and murderers, but those that are are likely the sort of people who would have become terrorists had the circumstances been favorable. It's unlikely that the percentage of Muslims who are suicide bombers is much greater than the percentage of Americans who are torturers.

>>They all struck me as individuals caught up in a truly terrible set of events, trying their best to survive and be able to look themselves in the mirror come morning.

If you truly believe this, then you have to seriously entertain the possiblity that Islamic terrorists, including suicide bombers, were also individuals caught up in a truly terrible set of events, trying their best to do what they thought was right under the circumstances.

Believing this requires a degree of understanding and compassion that most people aren't capable of.

Brian, all you're pointing

Brian, all you're pointing out is that Islamic terrorism has unique characteristics, not that terrorism is uniquely Islamic. But why does that matter? Is Islamic terrorism so much worse than Christian terrorism? If so, in what ways? I don't see how suicide bombers are so much scarier than genocide, but I do see how their ambitions are more to worry about here than the designs of some petty warlord.

The conflicts in the Balkans, the two world wars, nazism, communism, etc. provide ample evidence that people of all ethnicities and faiths are willing to allow, support and participate in terrorism during times of conflict. I think it has more to do with a breakdown in civil society than any group characteristic.

It could happen here, if our social order were to break down. Who doesn't know individuals who, without the restraints of society, would probably hurt people? How many times has it been uttered to an undesirable that if we didn't live in the states, they'd be killed or beaten? Just take a look at the kooks at A.I.-rottweiler. They talk about shooting liberals and others not-so-infrequently. Are these idle words, or real urges that our liberal society represses?

Brian writes: Don’t be so

Brian writes: Don’t be so shy about your arguments. You damn well know that arguments about creating terrorists are about moral culpability. If it weren’t then why care?

This indicates a deep misunderstanding of my beliefs. What I am exploring here is consequences, not culpability. The general question I am curious about is: What are the net consequences of the war in Iraq? On the US? On Iraqis? On the world?

What I care about is whether the actions we are taking are making the world a better place. Are we on net creating terrorists, or destroying them? Clearly we are providing an opportunity for many more terrorist attacks on Americans (soldiers) than usual. Are our soldiers a honeypot - a trap to draw in existing terrorists and kill them, so they never strike at civilians? (In which case I get benefit from their presence). Or are they stirring up a nest of hornets which would have lived quietly had it not been disturbed?

This analysis is important to how I feel about the war being funded by money stolen from me at gunpoint. Is my money being spent productively or counterproductively? Either way, it is wrong to fund war by theft. Either way, it is wrong to kill innocent civilians in a country whose populace did not ask for our help. Either way, it is wrong to send National Guardsmen, who signed up to defend their country against disasters and invaders, to die in the sand.

But some wrong things (like anti-smoking bans) provide personal benefit, others (like the FDA) cause personal harm. And I'm always curious as to which is which.

Patri, Perhaps foreign wars

Patri,

Perhaps foreign wars are, for good or ill, unavoidably the price we pay for having a military in the first place. In which case you should weigh the net benefit/detriment of the Iraq war versus the net benefit of having a national defense for the last 2 years.

David, But why does that

David,

But why does that matter? Is Islamic terrorism so much worse than Christian terrorism? If so, in what ways? I don’t see how suicide bombers are so much scarier than genocide, but I do see how their ambitions are more to worry about here than the designs of some petty warlord.

The conflicts in the Balkans, the two world wars, nazism, communism, etc. provide ample evidence that people of all ethnicities and faiths are willing to allow, support and participate in terrorism during times of conflict. I think it has more to do with a breakdown in civil society than any group characteristic.

Do you believe that libertarian ideas are important? I.e., would a society where ideas of civil rights and free markets are prevalent be more prosperous than one where they aren't? If so, why can't the opposite also be true - that certain all-encompassing totalitarian ideologies like militant Islam are detrimental?

Sure, I believe that there is something in human nature that is susceptible to violent ideas, but those ideas - communism, fascism, militant Islam - are what animates that nature. Thus, it is important to point out those ideas and meet them head on.

Jonathan, I do agree that

Jonathan, I do agree that ideas are important. I believe, also, that the treatment of Islamic terrorism as a uniquely dangerous threat is harmful. It does seem to offer a floor against which some can measure the standards of western morality. It also sharpens our focus onto one area of the world, so that we forget ills elsewhere. And it allows people to forgive the excesses of nationalism and egalitarianism, especially when those forces are harnessed against the greater evil of Islamic terror.

I think Islamic terrorism can be studied without diminshing the evil found elsewhere in the world. "Where are the Jewish bombers?" is the wrong question to be asking.

I wrote: "They all struck me

I wrote: "They all struck me as individuals caught up in a truly terrible set of events, trying their best to survive and be able to look themselves in the mirror come morning."

TJ wrote: "If you truly believe this, then you have to seriously entertain the possiblity that Islamic terrorists, including suicide bombers, were also individuals caught up in a truly terrible set of events, trying their best to do what they thought was right under the circumstances."

Yes, I do believe it, based on my personal knowledge of some of those people. Clearly, it is not true of a minority of the people involved. The Einsatzgruppen members, for example. But, again, I won't judge all individuals by the acts of a few individuals.

Now, on to your larger point. First, if you re-read what I said about the source of terrorism and suicide bombers, you will not see, anywhere in it, a wholesale condemnation of the individuals involved. A condemnation of a culture that breeds such behavior, yes, you will see that. Second, each individual is still responsible, morally, for their actions. No matter how horrific the situation you find yourself in, you, the individual, are responsible for whether your behavior is moral, or not.

Whether you are Tibbets, piloting Enola Gay, or Atta, piloting a civilian aircraft, or a common soldier shooting another soldier, you are responsible for the actions you took. The person who straps on a bomb vest and kills civilians that are not part of the conflict is morally wrong. Just as a soldier who kills a civilian is wrong. I have no moral objection to someone blowing themselves up to kill an enemy soldier. From my cultural perspective it is a poor choice, consequentially speaking. But not immoral, per se.

Patri: Either way, it is

Patri:

Either way, it is wrong to kill innocent civilians in a country whose populace did not ask for our help.

How does a populace ask for help?

What did the Iraqis not do that suggests they did not ask for our help?

Addressing Patri's main

Addressing Patri's main point:

What I care about is whether the actions we are taking are making the world a better place. Are we on net creating terrorists, or destroying them?

An extremely valid question, but it seems to me that Patri's analysis in his original post uses the wrong approach to answer it. It focuses on individual acts - innocent civilians killed and people deciding to become suicide bombers. The thesis is that the one has a tendency to increase the other; Patri stops just short of an economic analysis of the marginal rate of civilian-to-terrorist conversion.

The pro-war faction would answer the question "are we making the world a better place" not by counting deaths and marginal conversion rates but rather by assessing progress towards strategic goals. The strategy posits that a democratic Iraq with a self-sufficient security force will produce not only fewer deaths from terrorists within Iraq but also less terrorism globally. It also posits that our current actions in Iraq are necessary to pursue that strategy.

Whether that's true, and to what degree it is true, and how significant the costs and benefits will be are all certainly debateable. But that's the place to have the debate over terrorism reduction - at the strategic level, not at the micro level.

there is a very interesting

there is a very interesting article by Max Fuller,on how the use of death squads is strategic to balkanise Iraq:

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=FUL20051110&articleId=1230

Mike Whitney has a shorter piece on this:

'The war on terror is the “seminal lie” from which all the administration’s criminal excesses are mere tributaries. America’s unprovoked aggression in Iraq, as well as the appalling assault on civil liberties, has been carried out in the name of the war on terror. In fact, it has been used as to mask everything from police-state legislation at home to massive human rights violations abroad. The war on terror is an all-consuming fraud that poses the greatest threat to personal freedom and global security the world has ever seen. If unchallenged, the dictatorial-powers of the president will continue to increase and the world to be plunged into another century of war.

Fuller’s article sweeps away the illusions created by the war on terror. With laser-like intensity he focuses attention on the most expansive clandestine Intel-operation of all time; the terrorizing of an entire nation, pushing it inexorably towards civil war. The Interior Ministry is the epicenter of Iraq’s violent malaise. It is the headquarters for the Badr and Wolf Brigades; the American-trained death squads which are responsible for the massive assassination program directed at “alleged” Sunni resistance fighters. The torture chambers, death squads, and random bombings are not caused by foreign terrorists, nor are they the work of Iranian agents striving for a theocratic regime in Baghdad. They are, in fact, the nefarious activities of American puppet-masters, who matriculated in the terror wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador. Now, under Uncle Sam’s benign gaze, they are plying their trade in Iraq; wreaking havoc and spreading suffering on an unimaginable scale.

etc

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=WHI20051203&articleId=1392

Against the War? What’s

Against the War? What’s your Solution?
Although Patri Friedman was not voicing opposition to the war, he did move me to ask this question: those who oppose the War in Iraq in particular, and/or the War on Terror in general — what do you propose we do to avoid having another September...