The Marine Corps News has just released a story which resolved itself four days ago about a thwarted attempt to blow up a girl's school in Anbar province.
KARABILAH, Iraq (July 7, 2006) -- Thanks to the work of Marines and Iraqi Security Forces, 800 elementary-aged girls will now have a school to attend this fall. ... “The bomb had the potential of taking down both wings of the building and the school would have been unable to open by September,” said Capt. Rick Bernier, commanding officer of Company C – the Marines responsible for providing security alongside Iraqis in this city. The Marines discovered the bomb and immediately secured the building leaving Iraqi Security Forces to provide 24-hour security to prevent further attacks.
Had the attack not been discovered, it would have been held up as another failure of the Coalition to protect civilians from the "chaos" unleashed by the failed Bush administration. But the reality is that it is extremely hard to protect all civilian targets. A coordinated attack which ripped through 8 commuter trains in Mumbai, all on the same line, and killed close to 150 people at last count is an example of how hard it is to secure society against the terrorism.
Eight bombs tore through packed commuter trains in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) today, killing at least 147 and wounding hundreds more in what authorities called a co-ordinated terrorist strike at the heart of a city embodying India’s global ambitions. The country’s major cities were put on high alert after the blasts, which appeared timed to cause maximum carnage in the bustling financial centre of 16 million. Mumbai’s crowded rail network – which carries more than six million people a day – was thrown into chaos and authorities struggled to gauge the impact.
One of the interesting things about the Jihad's targeting strategy is it recalls the early debate over the use of airpower at the start of the 20th century. Theorists were then debating whether the "unstoppable bomber" should target the enemy's strength (precision bombing) or the the enemy's morale (area bombing). The US has invested vast amounts of money in developing munitions which can literally fly through a window; in concrete-filled bombs which use kinetic energy only to hit their targets. Terrorists also have the equivalent of the precision guided weapon in the shape of the suicide bomber. But attacks on schools or railway lines are a conscious decision to hit a mass target, to play Curtis LeMay to our Haywood Hansell.
Ironically, the decision to strike women and children is admired by some as a source of "moral strength"; proof of the committment and hence the righteousness of our enemy. Nowhere was this more eloquently expressed than Francis Coppola's Apolcalypse Now, when the fictional Colonel Kurtz described what he admired most about the Viet Cong.
I remember when I was with Special Forces--it seems a thousand centuries ago--we went into a camp to inoculate it. The children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for polio, and this old man came running after us, and he was crying. He couldn't see. We went there, and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile--a pile of little arms. And I remember...I...I...I cried, I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out, I didn't know what I wanted to do. And I want to remember it, I never want to forget. And then I realized--like I was shot...like I was shot with a diamond...a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought, "My God, the genius of that, the genius, the will to do that." Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they could stand that--these were not monsters, these were men, trained cadres, these men who fought with their hearts, who have families, who have children, who are filled wi th love--that they had this strength, the strength to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men, then our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral and at the same time were able to utilize their primordial i nstincts to kill without feeling, without passion, without judgment--without judgment. Because it's judgment that defeats us.
What kind of people would blow up a little girl's school or attack a train full of working Indians? And what kind of people would admire them?