The end of an argument

The supply of suicide bombers appears to be running low:

Two suicide attacks on pet markets in Baghdad today have left approximately 100 killed and twice as many wounded. Both attacks used women “with Down’s syndrome” according the the Daily Mail and less specifically, they were described as “mentally disabled” according to CNN. Both bombs appear to have been remote detonated. These women probably did not know they were carrying explosives at all, and it would probably be fair to include them among the victims….

Today’s attacks also tell us that al Qaeda in Iraq is getting very desperate in seeking the high-casualty attacks that they so value. They were forced to scrape the bottom of the proverbial barrel, and use not only women (which they’d prefer to subjugate), but mentally disabled women at that, suggesting that finding willing volunteers is becoming ever more difficult.

When you can’t easily find a few hundred volunteers among a potential pool of 1.2 billion people, I think it’s pretty safe to conclude that religion is not a very powerful motivating factor underlying suicide bombings. Meanwhile, that well-known religious group, the Tamil Tigers, continue their explosive campaign against the Sri Lankan government, sans suicide.

A suspected Tamil Tiger roadside bomb attack on a civilian bus has killed 27 people and wounded dozens more in central Sri Lanka. The attack came as a six-year ceasefire between the state and rebels formally expired.

Suicide bombing is merely a dramatic propaganda statement that anyone who has seen The Godfather II should understand. It’s designed to inspire the very kind of fear that permeates Sam Harris’s ludicrous first book. It’s also militarily negligible, except perhaps in the very limited case of high-level political assassinations. When, like every other military or political tactic, it ceases to become effective for the moment, it’s set aside in favor of other, more effective tactics. The idea that use of this tactic ever said anything significant about religion or religion’s place in the modern world, even a particular religion, was always a particularly stupid argument.

This will become become obvious to even the most skeptical Harris fan once the either the Iraqi and Afghani occupations end and bombings by Muslims slow to a single-digit, Jerusalem-focused trickle again, or Iran is occupied and a new wave of bombing horrors wrack both the Middle East and West.