Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Horror

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?


Blogger desert rat said...

Time has a background piece on the suspected Mohammedan group, not aQ, but a local Mohammedan faction.

In 2003, just before twin bomb blasts in August that killed more than 50, TIME spoke to "Umar," a SIMI operative, or Ansar ("guide"), who said his men were carrying out the attacks. The 44-year-old said: "This country doesn't work for Muslims any more. You can't get a proper education, you can't get a job. You're not even safe." He said he and his men had no intention of ever ending their murderous campaign. "We will continue," he told TIME. "There is no limits on our actions... Even to kill children is good — you stop the generation there, at the beginning." ..."

7/11/2006 06:25:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Even more importantly what kind of people would think that such horrific acts would bring them peace and power?

In Alfred Coppel's "The Burning Mountain" the novel of the U.S. invasion of Japan that never occurred, a Japanese pilot flys out to scout the U.S. invasion force and on the way back regards the Japanese grand plan to show the Americans a bloodbath, and thinks "They fill the seas with ships and the skies with aircraft. Will such people be sickened by such a strategy or angered beyond words by it?"

7/11/2006 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger Starling said...

Wretchard asked: "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?"

I wonder about this myself. Assuming yours was not a rhetorical question, I decided to take a try at an answer.

In the first case, I think there are two basic groups: (1) fanatics or true-blue believers, i.e. people who are convinced beyond all doubt that the ends justify any means used to get there and (2) sociopaths and psychopaths, or whatever name you give to people saturated with hatred and/or blinded by the lust for power. Whatever the name, such people are always on the look out for a strong leader and/or ideology, for someone or something to provide them some justification or cover, some banner under which they act upon their violent impulses.

As for the second question (who admires them) my guess is that these are people who have the same passions and impulses as those above, but have them a little better under control.

Whether that control is the result of having a conscience or is achieved through strong(er) social conditioning (they've been told and largely believe that acting on those impulses is wrong), I don't know.

The admirers secretly and sometimes openly admire those who will act on the impulses in a way that the admirers only dream about.

The admirers harbor fantasies about being to act this way and sense something grand, even spritual, in the unchecked and unbridled use of power.

These are people still very likely to confuse heat with light.

7/11/2006 10:12:00 PM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

A recent article on the rebuilding of Fallujah said that terrorists still destroy any electrical plant, water tower, etc. paid for by the US, but generally leave those sponsored by the Iraqi government intact. So they prevent citizens from having electricity and clean water just because of hatred of the US.

In Iraq I think a big part of it is that the Sunnis were in control and the US took that away, so they see red everytime they hear about the US.

The untold story is that the population at large knows who these people are, and tolerates them. For example in the Fallujah story the Iraqi who was interviewed says that he has a good relationship with the insurgents, which is the reason that the Iraqi sponsored public works don't get torn down -- he talks the insurgents out of doing it. Those citizens if they chose, could turn the insurgents in, or lynch them. Instead they are part of the problem.

7/12/2006 05:08:00 AM  
Blogger dueler88 said...

It should go without saying here at belmont that Muslim Extremists are the kind of people who would blow up a little girl's school, and that too many rank-and-file Muslims admire them.

We instinctively knew that, as soon as we saw that plane hit the south tower at the WTC, the fight we suddenly found ourselves engaged in could not be won without the help of average muslims. The fight could not be won without average muslims ACTIVELY preventing the extremists in their faith from acts of murder, mass or otherwise.

By the time the average Germans figured out that the Nazi party really meant what they'd been saying, it was too late to stop them. The citizens of Imperial Japan by-and-large didn't fly a kamikaze, but they revered such noble and selfish acts of bushido.

It took the TOTAL destruction of the Nazi war machine and two medium-sized Japanese cities, and thus the morale of the Nazis and Japanese, to get the fighting to stop.

What will it take for the Muslim community to help us avoid the catastrophe of necessity that is careening toward all of us?

7/12/2006 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger mts said...

Marines save a school, and I have visit a blog to know this. Army soldiers embarass detainees at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, and I can't get away from the media bombardment on the issue, even if I moved to a Greek Island Monastery.

What must one do to get either an American-leaning, or at least a truly unbiased, editor on one of our country's major news outlets? Not buying newspapers anymore doesn't seem to do the trick, since people are already doing that in droves.

7/12/2006 02:02:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

"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?"

The people who must hide...hide for the same reason they strike the women, children, old and weak. They cannot come out in the open, into the light, face their betters. They must hide or face their quick and, they know, righteous slaughter for their wickedness, which they also know.

7/12/2006 07:41:00 PM  

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