Today the US death toll in Iraq reached 4000. The death toll on the Iraqi side is a matter of dispute it goes from 85,000 to 600,000. Being a pacifist myself it´s been hard to me to understand why do so many people willingly go to war. This morning I was doing some research on the subject and came up with some unusual reasons for dying at war. On the US side it turns out that many of those who are counted as US death toll are not really US citizens…until they die. How post mortem citizenship can make somebody from Guatemala die fighting for the US in Iraq escapes me. Most likely the unfortunate soldier was trying to obtain both, US citizenship and a lifetime to enjoy it after the war and sadly just got the former. But the citizen reward pales in comparison to the reward offered in the other side, that one of the Virgins waiting for you in heaven.

In August, 2001, the American television channel CBS aired an interview with a Hamas activist Muhammad Abu Wardeh, who recruited terrorists for suicide bombings in Israel. Abu Wardeh was quoted as saying: “I described to him how God would compensate the martyr for sacrificing his life for his land. If you become a martyr, God will give you 70 virgins, 70 wives and everlasting happiness.”

Considering the enormous amount of violent deaths that are occuring in the Middle East there must be an endless supply of virgins in heaven.

The first casualty of war is common sense.

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No Comments on March 24, 2008  · 

Most brilliant post I’ve ever seen.

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Daniel on March 24, 2008  · 

Just on a sidenote.. The “Virgin Airline” 😉 promise could result from an old mistake in translation,

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Matin on March 25, 2008  · 

I disagree with you on this one. Yes, there are some people that go to war to earn citizenship or virgins in the afterlife, but that is the minority. In the first article, it states 109 of the 4,000 soldiers that have died were non-citizens.

The majority of people that go to war do so to serve their country, protect their loved ones, make their family proud, or because it is the only action that makes sense in a frustrating situation. As an example, does the female suicide bomber become a martyr because she believes she will receive virgins in heaven? No, most likely she commits the vile act because she is lead to believe it the only way for her to fight. When people are in difficult situations, they tend to make decisions that may not make sense to me or you.

On the American side, the majority enlist mainly to serve their country. This sounds Spartan, but it is the predominant reason you would hear if you asked American soldiers.

I’m not sure if you believe the post, or you just thought it sounded interesting. I understand you are frustrated; nonetheless, I disagree about your conclusion.


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olivier on March 25, 2008  · 

There was a novelty on the market of the suicide bombers lately: in a few cases in Israel or Iraq, suicides bombers were women and not men. Is it the first steps for women emancipation in the world of Islamic extremism.
I still wonder what those women get promised for their sacrifice for Allah after their deaths: a life of labour in a kitchen stinking fried oil with a violent husband maybe?!……

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Martin Varsavsky on March 25, 2008  · 


I am sorry but even those who are truly American do not tend to be well off. This to me means that lack of choice may have as much to play in this equation as patriotism if not more.

Joi Ito on March 25, 2008  · 

It’s white raisins, not virgins.,2763,631357,00.html

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Wanunu on March 25, 2008  · 

Christians and Muslins have live in peace for more than a couple of centuries but you seem putting salt over old bounds.

A small number of fundamentalists, orthodoxes, radicals and terrorists throughout history have work endlessly to achieve what you present as evidence. Yet, when it comes to the source of the problem you avoid it altogether.

By avoiding to mention who are the instigators you clearly show your bias.

Please stop pretending you are a liberal peace loving man while avoiding talk to us about Zionism. In case that you want some moral clarity please read this link

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uno on March 25, 2008  · 

Yesterday I saw a documentary on a spanigh channel called Historia.

It was about suicide bombers in Gaza. More especifically about children suicide bombers by the name ( Goldstein) I saw at the end of the documentary I think the team was from Israel.

The conclusion I understood is that it is unstopable. I never saw such a tragedy. Horrible. From both sides. If anyone of you see this documentary and still find a solution in a few lines o even apges or even books than I didn’t understand.

Children being happy and desiring to die is not something that hapen only because someone ask them to do it.
It’s true that people do horrible things when in war. It’s true that they realize it when they find peace and feel ashame of it. But here milions of people have seen this documentary. No one can say we didn’t know. I don’t blame any side of the conflict, it would be too easy.

I just blame all of us away from that conflict. Not the one involved in it. What I’m afraid of, is from our tolerance to this horror. We might be the next one and we won’t recognize it. I really have been shoked of what a system can come out of control. I tell it for both sides. Neither Israelies neither Palestinians are aware of what they have build.

I won’t talk about a systemic aproach and blalblabla. These two sides cannot reach an agreement. That’s impossible.
Martin, I know you’re positive, open, fair, good willing, but please have alook to this documentary and maybe you will stand back from simplistic aproach. At least now I will. I say it again: both sides.

Excuse me if it’s too long.

Un saludo

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uno on March 25, 2008  · 

One more explanation. I’m Arabic and my son looks like one in the documentary. the one in the Israeli jail. This has amplified my very deep disapointment in human beings.

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Matin on March 28, 2008  · 


Look at the big picture. Go back hundreds or thousands of years. Life is much better now than it was then. If you only listen to the media you would think the world is going to implode with carnage soon. However, look at the countries that were previously held back by the Cold War and communism. Eastern Europe, parts of India, and parts of China have improved greatly over the last 15 years.

Part of the problems in the Middle East has been magnified by the end of the Cold War. Twenty years ago, if the US wanted to enter Iraq, the USSR would have been on the other side trying to stop them or fight against them. Additionally, many of the weapons used by the insurgents are left over weapons from the Cold War.

If you look at individual examples, things always can look distorted. If you look at the big picture over hundreds of year, we are better off now on average and will continue to improve.


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Matin on March 28, 2008  · 

I am sorry but even those who are truly American do not tend to be well off. This to me means that lack of choice may have as much to play in this equation as patriotism if not more.


I agree with you on both of these points. From an American standpoint, this has something to do with your previous post on lending and debt in the US.

On the American side, Western Europe has a much stronger middle class, which I think is a sign of a prosperous nation. The greatest problems in a country are created when the gap between the lower and upper class is great and there is little class mobility.

Regarding suicide bombings, this happens because of the vast difference in technology and resources between the two parties at war.

It has more to do with lack of choice than virgins or citizenship. Thanks for clarifying.


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Eros on March 31, 2008  · 

Martin, in case you haven’t seen it, theres a funny as hell stand-up commedy parody of a suicide bomber terrorist on youtube, exactly commenting this stuff about the 70 virgins,
It is called ” Jeff Dunham – Achmed the Dead Terrorist ”

Link :

Its actually one of the most viewed videos on youtube…
Hope that ull have a good laugh.

3.0 rating

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