But the terrorists’ strength emanates from even more powerful sources. What we have not appeared to understand is that their spirit and practice differ categorically from the methods, traditions and policies of the armies of the West, in two crucial ways.
First, they are not bound by the Geneva conventions, they do not wear uniforms, they do not regard civilians as non-combatants, they do not care for the wounded, they do not respect the sanctity of rescue and medical corps, and, what should be immediately obvious, they do not take prisoners; they take hostages…..
Second, they are subjectively invincible. They do not take casualties. Their bodies are like weapons; when these are spent, they can be discarded.
I could not help but think that we have been here before. Does no one remember the fanaticism with which the Japanese fought World War Two? They invented the suicide bomber and called it “kamikaze.” As we island hopped our way toward Japan we often had to kill virtually every soldier on an island to take it – they would not stop. Part of the justification for using nuclear weapons on Japan was that we knew if we invaded we would fight not only the military, but the citizenry. Fanaticism is not new. And we know how to combat it.
This is not a comic book, we do not have to keep the blood-soaked, evil-at-entirely-new-levels villain alive so that he can return a few issues from now. There is no need for the tortured ideological contortions that Batman uses to avoid killing the Joker. This is reality. The enemy is real, they are evil, and they will not stop – UNLESS WE KILL THEM. That is the nature of fanaticism.
Sadly, the current enemy is not as conveniently concentrated and targetable as were the Japanese in World War Two. Therefore, nukes are not an option. But the strategy remains the same – overwhelming force – killing them before they kill us. It is simple really. That is how you deal with fanatics. It is funny how many fanatics lose their fanaticism when their fellow fanatics start dying in droves. When that happens there are no martyrs, only less people trying to kill us.
I was going to say how much I regret sounding like some sort of brain dead kill-em-all type, but then I think about the fact that sometimes we cut off limbs so the body can keep going. That’s not brain dead, that’s medicine. Right now, I think the world needs some medicine.