A thousand years ago Hasan-i-Sabbah created the Order of the Assassins, a fanatical group said to have been drugged into committing political murder and promised the sexual delights of paradise if they were caught and killed.
So far, they sound no different than Palestinian suicide bombers. But there are a number of distinctions. Firstly, they never targeted random, innocent civilians. The victim was always a single military or political target. Secondly they disdained the use of a crossbow or poison for fear of collateral damage. Their weapon of choice was the dagger, which has to be done up close and personal and assures that only the intended victim is indeed assassinated. Thirdly, their death was never a suicide - they never took their own lives. Almost always, they died at the hands of the victim's bodyguards.
In this manner there is much to be admired about what today some may erroneously call terrorists. I do not, since there was very little terror spread when almost the entire population had nothing to fear from them.
Had Palestinians adopted the same technique of targeted assassination against military and political leaders, there might have been some sympathy for their cause, but as it stands, these barbaric cowards who target non-military women and children deserve the contempt of the world.
Apropos, tonight on Tavis Smiley, Carroll Bogert tells Tavis about the importance of not using cluster munitions during times of war because of the injuries and fatalities caused to civilians.
I have blogged before that those fighting against modern terrorists have been hamstrung with silly rules regarding the proper way to fight a war, recall that despite Israel's efforts to fight a humanitarian war with warning leaflets and care about whom it bombs, they did not gain any brownie points in Europe, the UN or the Arab World. Israel was still denounced for its barbarity and its "disproportionate response". Israel fought the kindest, gentlest war in history and it still got a smack-down.
The best way to fight
Notwithstanding my belief that the best way to fight is to completely obliterate your enemy, I am opposed to cluster-bombs and land-mines. If the objective is to kill as many civilians as we can, then let's be open about it and simply drop a nuke. It's cheap and fast. Landmines do not kill efficaciously. Otherwise there would be fewer kids walking around without arms or legs.
If Muslims from a millennium ago can be admired for targeting only their enemies, so can we. I have no opposition to "smart" cluster weapons that self-destruct if they reach ground without hitting their target and thus eliminates the risk of unintended civilian deaths and injuries months or years after hostilities have ceased.
There have been instances where cops have shot perpetrators without killing them, giving thugs time to shoot back and mortally wound the officer. But if cops used bullets that exploded when they hit their target, it would make being a cop a lot safer. However, would we as a society tolerate the kind of bullets that, after missing their intended target, would explode days, weeks, or months after they lodged in a wall somewhere? Obviously not. Weapons that are prone to indiscriminate use, are unreliable as to their intended victim, and that pose severe and lasting risks to civilians should be banned by all nations. We can do better.
We have already agreed not to use biological and chemical weapons precisely because it targets obtusely. Again, I don't feel that war should be fought with gloves on, so if we want to decimate the civilian population because of a long-term military objective then by all means, drop the mother of all bombs. But I don't get how dropping bombs that may or may not explode, may or may not hit the target we are after, may or may not explode this week, this year or ever; I don't get that. Want to kill everything in sight? Then do it. Otherwise we might as well be making explosive dice.