Who's Afraid To Die?

Catholic Knight reports on a story overlooked by most of the media: Iran now claims to have a missile that can put a satellite in orbit. So what, you may say. The problem is that if you can get a payload into orbit, you can also bring that payload down anywhere on the globe. For example, if you have a small nuclear device you could bring it down on Chicago.

Most interesting is the point he makes about the resulting Cold-War like confrontation between the U.S. and Iran:

First and foremost, the Iranians have an advantage over the West ideologically. Their ideology is religious in nature, in the sense their religion teaches them not to be afraid to die. In fact, in some cases it actually encourages suicide martyrdom. What this means is simple. In an arms race with Iran, it is the United States who assumes the role of the old Soviet Union, not the nation of Iran. Why? Because throughout the original Cold War, it was the USA that was more willing to take it to the brink than the Soviet Union. Americans were willing to die for freedom, but how many Russians were willing to die for communism? In those few cases when the USA and the USSR nearly did the unthinkable, it was the USSR that backed down.

The same was true with Pope John Paul II's clashes with communist Poland - pope wins, communists back down. The answer to this mystery is simple enough. Christians in the USA, and Catholics in Poland, were not afraid to die. They knew their cause was worth fighting for, and if it just happened to get them killed, they knew they had a better place to go in the afterlife.

In contrast, atheistic communism offers nothing to comfort the soul when the mind contemplates its own mortality. So when death was no longer a fear for Christians under communist rule, the power of communism crumbled, because the power of communism is the fear of death. (i.e. "Submit or die!") Communists are atheists. They have no hope of the afterlife. This life is all there is, as far as their concerned. If that's what you really believe, what are you going to do when somebody threatens to end it? You'll back down of course.

Since the Cold War ended, however, a lot of things have changed. The West is far less religious than it once was. Secular Humanism (an ideology just one step away from atheistic communism) now dominates western Europe. This same philosophy has now permeated every corner of North American culture as well. In addition to that, the majority of those who still do practice Western Christianity have become very decadent. Suffering and death doesn't often cross the minds of modern Christians in the West.

So the West is substantially weaker than it once was when it first faced the Soviet threat of communism some 60 years ago. The new USA looks a lot more like the old USSR in "religious" ideology, when you compare it to the piety of Iranians, and Mesopotamian Muslims in general. Now it's the Iranians who aren't afraid to die, and the Americans who have everything to loose. In a real nuclear showdown between the two, it will be America that blinks not Iran. MORE

This makes so much sense it is terrifying. Westerners in general, and Americans in particular, have lost their resolve. It happened slowly over the last 40 years or so, and we've now reached a point where there is very little that most of us are willing to stand up and die for.

This is not a good position to be in during a tough negotiation. As any real estate agent can tell you, the most important advantage you can have is the ability to walk away. In an international confrontation walking away is usually not an option. Willingness to fight, and to bear the inevitable losses, is the winning hand.

Merely possessing powerful weapons is not sufficient if your opponent believes you will never use them. However, if you are equipped for battle and have the resolve to actually fight the battle, whatever the cost, most opponents will back down.

Is the West prepared to fight to the death? No, we're not.

We'd better find some resolve. Our lives and futures depend on it.

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