Good riddance to Syria's defense minister, his deputy (who was also Bashar al-Assad's brother-in-law) and to the other war criminals who were killed today when a suicide bomber detonated himself during a meeting a national security headquarters building in Damascus. If this act speeds the demise of the regime, then so be it, but some people are treating this attack as a wholly positive event. For instance, Keith Urbahn, a former spokesman for Donald Rumsfeld, stated on his Twitter account earlier today, that, "For once we should call a suicide bomber - the one that took out a major fraction of Assad's cabinet - a martyr."
Well, no, we shouldn't. It's tempting -- I felt such temptation earlier today -- but we should remember that suicide bombing is a leading indicator of societal collapse. And, as Max Boot points out in a perceptive post, this attack is perhaps a sign of direct involvement by al Qaeda, or an al Qaeda-affiliated group. I don't think we should start labeling Sunni extremists of the al Qaeda type "martyrs." We extolled similar men in the 1980s in Afghanistan, and we wound-up regretting that bout of glorification as well. Today's suicide bombers, just like yesterday's Afghan mujahideen, are all thrust, no vector; I don't think it is unfair to speculate that the men who organized today's suicide bombing will not one day organize a similar bombing against a Western target. Boot:
Quite possibly the bomber, who was rumored to be a bodyguard, was connected to the very organization that Syria once did so much to help-al-Qaeda in Iraq. It is hard not to see some element of cosmic justice here: what goes around comes around, ye reap what ye sow, if you play with fire, and all that. It is certainly a sign the Assad regime is getting ever more embattled, and the civil war many had warned would come if the U.S. provided arms to the rebel fighters has arrived anyway.
But while the victims-the men who directed the military forces that have killed upwards of 17,000 Syrians since the start of the fighting-undoubtedly deserved their fate, it is hard to take much satisfaction in the manner of their demise. For suicide bombing is never the weapon of the moderate.
Iraq is enough of an example, no?
UPDATE: There are reports filtering out now that the device that killed these war criminals may have been a remote-detonated bomb. Stay tuned.