Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Dying to Win & The Crisis of Islam (copy)

As Veterans’ Day nears, one’s reading list of books could represent other military holidays such as Memorial, Flag and Armed Forces Day. A popular and readable list might include: James Bradley’s Flags of Our Fathers or Flyboys, Stephen E. Ambrose’s Band of Brothers or Citizen Soldiers, and even Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation.

Although these create a great list, they really don’t reflect the true picture of today’s veterans. Today’s veterans can be as young as 18 years old. This younger troop may have served in Iraq last month; older veterans may have seen conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East.

The battlefields of these young veterans may be the same sand, grass and pavement; yet the machinery used to gain this ground is quite technically advanced. The battlefields are now mapped in computer coordinates not dead reckoning. Airplane bombers no longer need fighter pilot escorts, since bombs are dropped from the super stratum. Heck, even the bombs are smarter.

How do we win a War on Terrorism when our enemies are unseen terrorists? I guess naval officers faced this same dilemma in the Pacific theater during World War II. The first Kamikaze must have been seen as a fluke, until five more followed suit.

For this Veterans’ Day, spend some time exploring terrorism and its chilling threat to our current and future servicemen and women. Both, Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism by Robert Pape and The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror by Bernard Lewis, bring a historical perspective with future consequences.

Author Pape is a political scientist at the University of Chicago. He claims Dying to Win is, “groundbreaking evidence to explain the strategic, social, and individual factors responsible for [terrorism].” He is also the first author to provide an all-inclusive list of suicide attacks since 1980.

Author Lewis’s award-winning essay in The New Yorker has been expanded into The Crisis of Islam. The book is a comprehensive, historical journey through 13 centuries of Islamic culture. From the Crusades to modern times, Lewis provides religious and political reasoning for resentment and acts of terrorism towards America.

Whatever you read, remember our veterans November 11; they have served us well.

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