October 01, 2004


Japanese war veterans who trained as kamikaze pilots have a certain clarity on the issue of Islamic suicide bombers, and feel insulted by any comparision:

Naoto Amaki, Japan's former ambassador to Lebanon, recalled delivering a polite lecture to Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Shiite Islamist militia Hezbollah, in 2001. Amaki said he told Nasrallah that Japan's experience was a lesson in the ultimate futility of violence.

Not so, replied the sheik.

"He told me: 'We learned how to do suicide missions from the kamikazes,' " Amaki recalled. "Nasrallah said the Shiites all commend the Japanese samurai spirit."

Amaki says the analogy is faulty. "We Japanese are not a religious people; we just obey instructions. But the Arab world is looking for support wherever they can get it, so they seek out every excuse to legitimize their actions."

And kamikaze survivors resent it.

Posted by Tim Blair at October 1, 2004 01:19 AM

Tough call to disentangle the moralities of the two.

I suppose you could say the kamikazes were acting within some kind of military structure and that their targets were generally - if not exclusively - military.

I can understand how Amaki would have been offended, if for no other reason than that the Sheik proved himself an obstinate, ignorant ass.

Posted by: C.L. at October 1, 2004 at 01:37 AM

"Nasrallah said the Shiites all commend the Japanese samurai spirit."

I hope Nasrallah commends the way that the Japanese samurai spirit was eradicated too. I certainly do.

Posted by: Clem Snide at October 1, 2004 at 01:52 AM

I'm with Clem; the kamikazi thing really worked out well for Japan in World War II, didn't it?

Posted by: Rob C. at October 1, 2004 at 02:28 AM

Note the sheik does not advocate suicide bombings, by, say, sheiks. He much prefers the "little people" to carry out such missions.

Posted by: Don Mynack at October 1, 2004 at 02:36 AM

Letterman must have been a bit uncomfortable with Kerry's tongue action. I didn't want to dwell too much while watching but couldn't help it; it was constant. Let's see if K's habit becomes as well known as W's smirk.

Posted by: chicago mike at October 1, 2004 at 03:11 AM

So according to the 10,000 Bin Ladens argument, we should be pestered to this day by Kamikazis -- since fighting back against the people who sent them only boosted recruiting. Cycle of violence and all that, you understand . . .

Posted by: Cosmo at October 1, 2004 at 03:11 AM

Kerry's tongue comments meant for previous story.

Posted by: chicago mike at October 1, 2004 at 03:13 AM

Does the phrase "kamikaze survivors" sound weird to you, too?

Posted by: gary at October 1, 2004 at 03:49 AM

Gary: Does defeat the purpose, doesn't it?

Amaki-san nailied it right on the head too: "But the Arab world is looking for support wherever they can get it, so they seek out every excuse to legitimize their actions."

I hope he did point out Hiroshima and Nagasaki, maybe wake the splodydopes up a little.

Posted by: Syd Barret at October 1, 2004 at 06:02 AM

C.L.: Absolutely, and that's the important difference.

Suicidally attacking military targets (I know of no kamikaze attacks on non-military targets; by the period of the war they started to be used, there wasn't really any non-military Allied target for them to attack, and warships were a far higher priority target) is a world different from attacking random civilians (or specifically children, for that matter).

The former is a legitimate, if desperate, military endeavour. The latter is terrorism and, in its way, cowardice. (Some physical courage is, of course, required to blow oneself up, but to risk being killed before then, by attacking an armed enemy, rather than civilians, is much moreso. Civilians don't generally fight back.)

Posted by: Sigivald at October 1, 2004 at 06:50 AM

Kamikaze and survivor do not go together.

Posted by: Le clerc at October 1, 2004 at 11:23 AM

If a suicide attacker wants to attack purely military targets - good luck to them.

Suicide terrorists who deliberately target civilians and those who support them are beneath contempt and deserve no protection of any sort.

Posted by: Razor at October 1, 2004 at 11:45 AM

kamikaze survivors, now there's not a significant demographic.

Posted by: Amos at October 1, 2004 at 11:50 AM

Hmmm, now we're touching on a subject that has intrigued me a little lately. At what stage in the war on terror should we consider the Hiroshimo solution? And how should it be employed?

Posted by: slatts at October 1, 2004 at 12:40 PM

Slatts, this is the thought that bothers me too. Eventually, someone is going to REALLY get the shits with these idiots. Remember what happened to last lot of people that thought it was alright to cut heads off. Hiroshima & Nagasaki ring any bells?
This is a bad solution for all involved but eventually they must be made to realise that we won't lose this war. Hopefully this can done without nuking them.

Posted by: Gibbo at October 1, 2004 at 12:58 PM

The Hiroshima solution won't work, for at least two reasons:

1) Japan surrendered because its government didn't want to see its people get incinerated. Islamoterrorists are undeterred by the threat of collateral damage to their fellow Muslims.

2) Our WWII enemy in the Pacific was the government of a single nation. Japanese all around the world weren't blowing up pizzarias and buses. Islamoterrorism is multinational, a motley collection of state-organized and grassroots organizations. If we nuke, say, Damascus and Riyadh, why should terrorists in Algeria or Gaza - or Paris - care?

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson at October 1, 2004 at 02:54 PM

Alan, you are quite correct. I'm not talking about a strategic strike though, I'm talking about sheer frustration or retaliation. That is my concern.

Posted by: gibbo at October 1, 2004 at 03:36 PM

Dar-al Islam,

Islamists don't value human lives but they are mad about *land* specifically 'holy site'.

Hiroshima solution:

a list of Islamic Holy Sites, ranked in order of importance with Mecca at the top (excluding Jerusalem of course)-

they threaten to kill our people, we threaten to nuke their holy sites.

Actually in practice this would only work with Mecca, the rest are part of the Shia/Sunni divide.

So, give the residents of Mecca 24 hrs to evacuate and kiss the Khaba goodbye!

Posted by: Om at October 1, 2004 at 04:19 PM

Of course even this might play into their hands by radicalising the present moderate Muslims.

So take it as a hypothetical, and one which may lead to a dangerous escalation, just what the Jihadis want!

Posted by: Om at October 1, 2004 at 04:21 PM

"Some physical courage is, of course, required to blow oneself up..."

No, not if you believe that by doing so you're going to be serviced in perpetuity by 72 beautiful naked virgins in Paradise. If you actually believe stupid shit like that, then it almost seems like a good deal.

Posted by: Jean-Luc Bidet at October 1, 2004 at 09:13 PM

"Surviving kamikaze" were mostly those who had been trained and deployed to air bases at the end of the war, with no opportunity to actually carry out attacks.

Posted by: a guy in pajamas at October 2, 2004 at 02:19 AM