Over at Strategy Page they discuss the campaign of suicide bombers in Iraq:
This effort has become the second largest suicide attack campaign in the last century. The largest was the Japanese use of suicide pilots, in air attacks on the U.S. Navy (and some allied ships) during the later stages of World War II. Some 2,800 suicide pilots died. They managed to sink 34 ships and damage 368 others. About 4,900 sailors died. Only about 14 percent of the Kamikaze pilots survived U.S. fighters and anti-aircraft fire, to actually hit a ship. The Kamikaze always attacked military targets, while the suicide bombers tended to avoid anyone who could shoot back.
That last sentence is what has always set the Japanese kamikazes apart from today’s suicide bombers, and I guess I’ve never really equated the two in any way other than the obvious fact that both include self-destruction as part of their mission.
This is different than what we normally mean when we say things like “suicide mission” we don’t really mean ‘suicide’ but ‘so difficult you might not survive.’ Even guys who charge a machine gun bunker with a .45 and a grenade have some hope, however dim, that they will survive. Even then, its not the sort of action taken when reasonable alternatives exist.
With both the Kamikazes and Islamic suicide bombers, the idea was to demoralize the opponent, and force an end to the conflict, or at least reduce the extent of the attackers defeat. The tactic failed in both cases, although both Kamikazes and Islamic “martyrs” are admired for their courage.
Maybe it’s just Murdoc, but I have no admiration for your typical Islamic suicide bomber, not even anything resembling the grudging sort that I have for the Japanese kamikaze pilots. I keep hearing things like “no matter what side you’re on, you can’t deny that the 9/11 terrorists were brave men.”
Excuse me, but I can deny it. Sure, the 9/11 hijackers had to overcome their own personal fears to carry out their mission, but that hardly qualifies one deserving respect for bravery. They hijacked basically defenseless civilians for the purpose of using their plane as a weapon against other basically defenseless civilians. I don’t really see a lot of difference between the 9/11 bastards and the bastards that blow up dozens or hundreds of worshipers at mosques or random patrons at an open-air deli.
The Japanese pilots who tried to fly their planes into Allied warships were uniformed members of an official government military on a military mission against military targets for military purposes. Virtually none of today’s suicide bombers fit this profile.
What’s next? Do we have to respect the killers at Columbine and Virginia Tech and Westroads Mall for their courage?