The suicide bomber is a cheap, low-tech weapons system that can almost single-handedly destabilize a country like Afghanistan or Pakistan.
There is an almost endless supply of depressed, disillusioned youths to draw on in these countries and others; whip them up with enough hate rhetoric, fit them with a cheap plastic explosive and ball-bearing vests, and send them out to destroy a key political leader, a crowded marketplace, whatever.
It’s almost impossible to counter, as recent events in both Afghanistan and Pakistan have shown.
Interestingly, we know a lot about who creates these human missiles and deploys them.
In Afghanistan, dozens of suicide bombers have been caught before they could pull off their attacks, or had a last minute change of heart and turned themselves in.
A large number of them have turned out to be drug addicts and alcoholics from poor refugee families, dead-enders full of guilt; many were blackmailed by threats against their families. And they all tell the same story of who recruited them: either renegade Pakistani Army ISI officers, or fundamentalist mullahs
from the many Taliban-style religious schools in Pakistan, schools funded by the same wealthy Saudi Arabians who bankroll al-Qaeda.
The suicide bombers who have been plaguing Pakistan itself recently seem to be members of al-Qaeda itself and allied groups.
Suicide bombing (and suicide assassination with guns, as in Benazir Bhutto’s death) is not the kind of problem you can solve on the battlefield; it’s just too hard.
To even partially counter it, you have to turn society into a kind of minimum-security prison. You have to go after the recruiters, the masterminds, the poisonous entities that send young men out to destroy themselves and others while staying comfortably out of the line of fire themselves; that’s the only rational way to go.
Unfortunately, we seem to lack the will to untangle the complex global networks that riddle our closest allies, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia; not only the will, but the skill.
Instead, we persist in making war in Iraq and threatening Iran and Syria, three countries with nothing to do with the terrorist nexus.
The tragic death of Benazir Bhutto, which pushes Pakistan and its nuclear arsenal closer and closer to collapse and takeover by al-Qaeda and company, should be an unmistakable sign that we’ve mishandled the War on Terror for way too long, that we’re in real danger of letting our enemies prevail, but don’t bet on it.
I just saw the idiot Rudy Giuliani on television; his take on the Bhutto assassination: “This was clearly an attempt to destabilize Pakistan.”
Thanks for nothing.
We are being led by fools, who don’t know who our real enemies are, how to fight them, or anything else useful.
Very, very sad indeed.