Sunday, October 14, 2007

Kingdom Come

There is a scene in the move The Kingdom, directed by Peter Berg, where a young Saudi who has evidently been made to be caught up in the fanaticism of Islamo-fascism, confronts a number of FBI agents who beg the young man, presumably because he is so young, to put down the gun he had just used to kill one of their partners. You can see that he has to make up his mind whether to drop the gun or to try to "kill as many of them as he can" along the way.

There is a brief moment of contemplation, then he decides to raise his gun. Big mistake, of course. I recommend you see the movie for the rest of the story.

As I was pondering that scene my mind went back to the recent PBS series on World War II directed by Ken Burns. The one theme that seems to have exact parallel relevance is the fanaticism of the Japanese soldier. The Americans would invade small island by small island in the Pacific. A necessary element of a strategy to place the appropriate hardware in proximity to Tokyo to bring down the fanatic regime that initiated the attack on Pearl Harbor killing 3,000 innocent people (sound familiar?).

As they invaded each small island, the Japanese entrenched themselves and pretty much fought to every last man. Even young mothers with babies jumped off cliffs and killed themselves to avoid American capture. Young Japanese fanatics who were told, and somehow came to believe as fact that it would be better to die to the very last man, and "kill as many Americans as possible along the way," than to surrender.

Another parallel: Kamikaze pilots versus today's suicide bombers.

So as we consider these interesting parallels, I think the lesson to learn is to consider what brought about victory and the end of bloodshed, and an end to a killing of innocent people in the 1940's? What was it? It was the unfortunate message that the Japanese leaders received when hundreds of thousands of their people were being incinerated by atomic bombs. According to the Burns film in interviews with people who lived through it, it was either the use of something like the A-bomb or it was going to be a grueling slog into Tokyo where hundreds of thousands of lives on both sides would be sacrificed.

And in my humble opinion, there is no moral equivalency. In other words, he who starts a fight by killing a few thousand innocent lives cannot be considered on the same moral field as the ones countering their having been attacked.

A question we've raised numerous times on this blog: do we have the gumption, if and when necessary, to take the steps needed to bring about a close to warfare with such a fanatical enemy? Could we do what it may take in a land that, unlike during World War II, has an an electronic medium with a fierce anti-war-for-any-reason bias, that records every scintilla of activity on the battle field, or at least those that underscore their particular biases, while, unlike during WWII, complacency and a detachment from the war remains on Main Street? Our civilization stands or falls on this.

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