Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Deterring Those
Who Are
Already Dead

An article by Laurent Murawiec, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute:

Deterrence works because one is able credibly to threaten the center of gravity of the enemy: the threat of inflicting unacceptable losses upon him, whether in a bar brawl or in nuclear escalation. The calculus deterrence relies upon is: is it worth it? Is the Price/Earning Ratio of the contemplated action so hugely negative that it would wipe out the capital?

Deterrence works if the price to be paid by the party to be deterred hugely exceeds his expected earnings. But deterrence only works if the enemy is able and willing to enter the same calculus. If the enemy plays by other rules and calculates by other means, he will not be deterred.

There was nothing the Philistines could have done to deter Samson. If the calculus is: I exchange my worthless earthly life against the triumph of Allah on earth, and an eternity of bliss for me, if the enemy wishes to be dead, if to him the Apocalypse is desirable, he will not be deterred.

When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the Mayor of Tehran, he insistently proposed that the main thoroughfares of Tehran should be widened so that, he explained, on the day of his reappearance, the Hidden Imam, Mohamed ibn Hassan, who went into the great occultation in 941 AD could tread spacious avenues.

More recently, he told the Indian Foreign Minister that “in two years, everything will be settled,” which the visiting dignitary at first mistook to mean that Iran expected to possess nuclear weapons in two years; he was later bemused to learn what Ahmadinejad had meant, to wit, that the Mahdi would appear in two years, at which points all worldly problems would disappear.

This attitude, truly, is not new, nor should it surprise us: religious notions and their estranged cousins, ideological representations, determine not only their believers’ beliefs but also their believers’ actions. Reality, as it were, is invaded by belief, and belief in turn shapes the believer’s reality.

The difference between the religious and the ideologically religious is this: the religious believer accepts that reality is a given, whereas the fanatic gambles everything on a pseudo-reality of what ought to be.

The religious believer accepts reality and works at improving it, the fanatic rejects reality, refuses to pass any compromise with it and tries to destroy it and replace it with his fantasy.

Go read the whole thing.