Sunday, October 24, 2004

Old School Vs. New School


The old-school terrorists that Europe survived did not seek death, although they were sometimes willing to die for their causes. None were suicide bombers, although a few committed suicide in prison to make a political statement.

Crucially, their goals were of this earth. All would have preferred to survive to rule in a government that they controlled.

Now we face terrorists who regard death as a promotion — who reject secular ideologies and believe themselves to be instruments of their god's will.

Indeed, they hope to nudge their god along, to convince him through their actions that the final struggle between faith and infidelity is at hand. While they'd like to see certain changes here on earth — the destruction of Israel, of the United States, of the West, of unbelievers and heretics everywhere — their longed-for destination is paradise beyond the grave.

THE new terrorists are vastly more dangerous, more implacable and crueler than the old models. The political terrorists of the 1970s and '80s used bloodshed to gain their goals. Religious terrorists see mass murder as an end in itself, as a purifying act that cleanses the world of infidels. They don't place their bombs for political leverage, but to kill as many innocent human beings as possible.

Yesteryear's murderers of European politicians and businessmen by the old crowd seem almost mannerly compared to today's religion-fueled terrorists, who openly rejoice in decapitating their living victims in front of cameras.

When political terrorists hijacked airplanes, they hoped to draw attention to their cause. When Islamic terrorists seize passenger jets, they do it to kill as many people as possible.

The old terrorists were sometimes so rabid that they had to be killed or imprisoned. But others became negotiating partners for governments. From Yasser Arafat to Gerry Adams, some gained international respectability. (It even may be argued that Adams became part of the solution, rather than simply remaining part of the problem.)

For today's apocalyptic terrorists, negotiations are no more than a tool to be used in extreme situations, to allow them to live to kill again another day. And no promises made to infidels need be honored.

The Islamic terrorists we now face will never become statesmen. They wish to shed our blood to fortify their faith, to impose their beliefs upon the world, to placate a vengeful god.

That doesn't offer much room for polite diplomacy. Islamic terrorists have reverted to the most primitive of religious practices: human sacrifice. Their brand of Islam is no "religion of peace." They're Aztecs without the art. And it takes a Cortez to deal with them.


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