Martyrs R Us

With the sentencing of Saddam Hussein, we have yet another milestone in the War on Terror accomplished. Hussein, for his crimes against humanity, has been judged by his peers — fellow Iraqis, those who suffered most under his fist — and sentenced to hang by the neck until he is dead.

And with that comes yet more predictions of rises in violence, of riots and terrorist attacks and mayhem in its wake.

But while I always hear about “killing terrorists only makes more terrorists,” I haven’t seen too much evidence of it.

We killed both of Saddam’s sons, the “Scott Evils” of dictators. No real disturbances.

We got Zarqawi with a couple laser-guided love notes. Not much fuss.

We put a lot of Al Qaeda’s leadership in prison or left them pushing up daisies. No major retaliations.

I think it was in a Tom Clancy novel where the characters were discussing the danger of converting a live enemy into a dead martyr. The response, and I’m loosely paraphrasing here:

“Do you know what all martyrs have in common? They’re all dead.”

Killing one’s enemy might inspire more to take up their cause. Or it might show the price of defiance. But the number of terrorists who redouble their efforts after being killed is 0%.

In all of recorded history, I can only think of three figures whose death actually led to more and more support for their cause, eventually leading to the triumph over their oppressors. And all three of them — Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, and Dr. Martin Luther King — were not terrorists or even men of the sword, but men who preached peace and non-violence.

As the people of Texas are fond of saying, “some folks just need killing.”

And if some people take those deaths as inspiration to become terrorists, then they’ve just moved themselves on to that list of folks.

Soldiers in Iraq say Pulling Out Would Have Devastating Results
Anything To Win


  1. jhow66 November 6, 2006
  2. Jodin November 6, 2006
  3. epador November 7, 2006
  4. Knightbrigade November 7, 2006
  5. theExecutioner November 7, 2006
  6. _Mike_ November 7, 2006
  7. Brian November 7, 2006