Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.

Freedom's Fidelity

Monday, August 25, 2003

The Economics of Suicide Bombing. Bill Hobbs points to this acute explanation of why suicide bombing is a losing proposition:
Suicide bombing is warfare's least cost effective weapon because it puts any consideration of a negotiated settlement between the combatants out of the question. In economic terms, it destroys the Pareto optimal frontier and reduces conflict to a zero-sum game. When the passengers of Flight 93 learned their aircraft had been commandeered for a suicide mission against the White House, ordinary men like Todd Beamer rushed the cabin without hesitation or thought of survival. When faced with a fanatical enemy bent on killing everyone the battlefield choices are rapidly narrowed to either the acceptance of your own destruction or the total annihilation of the enemy. And it is the zero-sum game that Islam should fear. For the value of that game is the expected value that Islam will annihilate the world minus the expected value that the world will annihilate Islam. The natural outcome of the kamikazes was the atomic bomb over Hiroshima. Nothing else would do. The natural reaction of the passengers on Flight 93 was to fight on at all costs. Nothing else would do. And the eventual reaction of nuclear-armed Israel, Russia and India to the unlimited slaughter of their populations does not bear thinking upon. And it will not be surrender, but rather something else. That is the cost effectiveness of suicide bombing.


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