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Who is most equiped to understand the suicide bomber?

Who claims to understand the suicide bomber? Ralph Peters' The Counterrevolution in Military Affairs in The Weekly Standard offers a direct, blunt challenge.

Living in unprecedented safety within our borders and lacking firsthand knowledge of the decay beyond, honorable men and women have convinced themselves that Osama bin Laden's professed goals of driving the United States from the Middle East and removing corrupt regional governments are what global terror is all about. They gloss over his ambition of reestablishing the caliphate and his calls for the destruction of Israel as rhetorical effects--when they address them at all. Yet, Islamist fanatics are more deeply committed to their maximalist goals than to their lesser ones--and their unspoken ambitions soar beyond logic's realm. Religious terrorists are committed to an apocalypse they sense within striking distance. Their longing for union with god is inseparable from their impulse toward annihilation. They seek their god in carnage, and will go on slaughtering until he appears to pat them on the back.

A dangerous asymmetry exists in the type of minds working the problem of Islamist terrorism in our government and society. On average, the "experts" to whom we are conditioned to listen have a secular mentality (even if they go to church or synagogue from habit). And it is a very rare secular mind that can comprehend religious passion--it's like asking a blind man to describe the colors of fire. One suspects that our own fiercest believers are best equipped to penetrate the mentality--the souls--of our Islamist enemies, although those believers may not be as articulate as the secular intellectuals who anxiously dismiss all possibilities that lie outside their theoretical constructs.

When a commenter at The Belmont Club offered up Mr. Peters' fantastic piece, Wretchard astutely noted a recollection Mary Mapes shared in her book version of Rathergate.

In Mary Mape's account of Rathergate, a visitor from the East Coast comes to Texas and while at a private home glimpses some people on their knees "mumbling". The visitor asks Mapes what those people were doing. Mapes explained that they were praying.

If that visitor were ignorant of [t]hat, what understanding might such a person have of Islam?

1 Comment

I would respectfully suggest that it is time to dust off copies of Eric Hoffer's The True Believer because he offers up some pretty good insight, especially Chapter 13 on "Factors Promoting Self-Sacrifice."