I spoke this weekend to a law enforcement agent who works in domestic counter terrorism. He said what we all know: one of the ways in which Islamic radicals recruit previously apathetic young men is through sex. Not actual sex, but the manufactured sex of rock videos. In other words, terrorist recruiters have figured out what Detroit knew in the 50s — if you attach a pretty lady to the product, men will associate that product with pretty ladies, and they’ll buy.
It turns out that one of the ways to counter this fantasy is to make it very clear that, not only will the product not produce fantasy sex, it won’t produce real sex either. Evelyn Gordon writes about the fact that, slowly but steadily, Israel has used warfare to defeat the Intifadah. I strongly recommend reading the whole article, but I’ll share one point here:
Palestinian terrorists, once lionized, were now unmarriageable, because the near-certainty of Israeli retribution made marriage to a wanted man no life. As one father explained: “I wouldn’t want my daughter to marry one. I want her to have a good life, without having the army coming into her house all the time to arrest her while her husband escapes into the streets.” And therefore, the terrorists were quitting.
Most terrorists aren’t die-hard fanatics, and non-fanatics respond to cost-benefit incentives. When terrorist organizations rule the roost, recruits will flock to their banner. But when the costs start outweighing the benefits, they will desert in droves. And then the “unwinnable” war is won.
UPDATE: A reader emailed me saying that the word “warfare,” in my sentence that “Israel has used warfare,” sounded incomplete. He’s right, since warfare can connote all sorts of different tactics, both military and otherwise. I meant conventional warfare, as opposed to the one-sided diplomacy the international community keeps trying to foist onto Israel.