Blood on the Sand: I.R.A. vs. Taliban

June 2, 2009

This. Is. It. At 9 PM tonight on Spike, Deadliest Warrior's final episode of the season airs, and we're getting our hands dirty when the IRA and Taliban go head to head in the ultimate showdown between modern terrorists.

Well gents, here we are. This is our final episode of the season, and it has been one hell of a ride. Geoff, Dr. D, and myself had no idea what we were signing up for when we started this gig, except that it was probably going to be pretty cool. After a lot of long hours on the range and in the lab, we had a feeling we were on to something, but your reactions have exceeded our wildest expectations.

On behalf of those two, as well as everyone involved in making the show, I just want to say thanks for making this such an incredible experience. Every comment has mattered to us. The positive feedback has been overwhelming, and we've taken your critical comments to heart: it's been an absolute thrill to keep the conversation going with The Aftermath (I'm sure Kieron would agree), and hopefully, we'll get to keep this discussion going in the future. Again, thank you all.

But on to tonight's episode.

This is about to get a bit ranty-and if you want to get to the point, I invite you to skip on towards the end.

Let me be frank: this was a hard episode to do. It's a hell of a matchup. We knew that from the first moment it was suggested that it was going to be hard as hell to do, but also, that we had to do it. We also knew that the distance of time and history usually give us a shield that protects us from offending anyone's sensibilities, but that in dealing with modern terrorists, we'd be stepping out from behind the shield of history. Because of that, we owe it to you to explain some of our reasoning behind this one, since it has already been suggested that we "could be seen as glorifying terrorism."

"Could be seen," by the by, is a hell of a way to couch the issue in a f#%*ing qualifier.

We decided to run IRA vs. Taliban as a matchup because we wanted to understand how terrorists function in combat. We live in an age where terrorism dominates the news-guerillas, asymmetric warfare, insurgents, sleeper-cells, terrorists, IEDs, hijackings, kidnappings, suicide bombings, ransoms, extremism-every day, we are confronted with a cocktail of these volatile terms. Perhaps these words were once used to inform, but now they've merged and bled into a constant drone of fear mongering.

Their meaning has been lost in an age where rather than understanding the threats at hand, we shuffle shoeless through airport security while numbly noting that today we're at threat level Orange on something called the Homeland Security Advisory System.

That's what the issue has been reduced to here in the United States: a color on a placard with some bulls**t bureaucratic buzzwords strung together to form the rough shape of name, while we get herded through the song and dance of taking off our belts and emptying our pockets, a magical voodoo ritual intended to make us safer. Security Theater at its finest.

All this while sons and daughters, brothers and sisters fight and die oversees to protect us from "terrorism," while most people can't be bothered to take the time to understand it. We just shrug-today the threat level is yellow-and then shuffle forward through the next metal detector.

Here's a newsflash: the terrorists have won. Not by the grand margin of miles, or yards, or even humble feet. Instead, they have won inch-by-inch. Sneaking, creeping inches. Baby steps. Smidges. Nudges. Just the littlest bit. The thin edge of the wedge.

And they're still winning. Every day that we remain ignorant to their threat, their capabilities, their intentions, their methods, and their mindset is another day they advance their goals.

The penultimate goal of any terrorist is to create a climate of fear-which frees them to pursue whatever their ultimate political goal actually is. This is the essence of terrorism-to make others live in fear, so that they are scared enough to change their behavior. To manipulate you into changing what you do and how you live your life, to force you to live in fear. Once you live in fear, you live on their terms, and they have begun to win. To live in fear is to be beset on all sides by a battle you cannot win.

What is the source of fear? What does a terrorist derive his or her power from? The unknown.

When you don't know when, or how, the next attack is coming from, when you begin to suspect your neighbors, countrymen, and every foreigner of plotting an attack on your life and your country, you've surrendered to fear. You're not being vigilant-you're living in terror of the unknown.

Thankfully, it's fairly easy to conquer fear of the unknown through information. Which is exactly what we aim to do tonight-we don't have all the answers, but we'd like to start you on the path to learning more about how terrorists live and work on their own turf.

We've spoken before about how we're interested in getting inside our warriors-taking apart their arms, armor, and tactics to see what makes them tick-well, the same thing applies to terrorists. As Sun Tzu said, "know thy enemy..."

We only have the time to cover a small sampling of their arms and tactics, but both the IRA and Taliban present interesting case studies in modern terrorism. By examining their arms and their tactics, we hope to pull away the mask of fear that their brand of scum hide behind.

I'll leave it to tonight's episode to give you a more thorough breakdown of the IRA and the Taliban, and you can certainly learn more on your own. As always, I encourage you to find out more from the plenitude of resources available on the Internet and in libraries.

Those who would claim that we are somehow glorifying terrorism miss the point-whoever emerges as the "victor" of tonight's simulation leaves a pile of corpses in their wake. Yet they too will suffer at the hands of their enemy in our simulation. If you wish to look to this episode, or indeed, our entire show for a moral, it is this: the wages of sin are death, and violence begets more violence. Those who fight for the spoils of war, who glorify in violence itself, reap what they sow. Live by the sword, and ye shall surely die by it.

You've already seen this demonstrated in Mafia vs. Yakuza. We didn't glorify organized crime, but set wolf against wolf, to show ultimately, the price they paid.

You might ask then, what about our soldiers, those warriors who live under a code? There are those who fight to defend us from such foes-and that is why we owe our soldiers our highest respect. They risk this paying the ultimate price in service to a noble cause. They suffer at the hands of this same dread cycle, but chose to, that they might stand in opposition to it. For our sakes.

This was one of the greatest takeaways I had from Green Beret vs. Spetsnaz-despite the outcome of that episode, it was apparent that soldiers, true soldiers, fight in the defense of something larger than themselves. Ideologies aside, they stand for order and civilization in the face of howling chaos-which is the only thing terrorists will ever accomplish: Naked, howling chaos as violence begets violence in an unending cycle. Though their ultimate goals may be something else, this is all terrorism succeeds in producing.

It is this cycle of violence that is anathema to life as we know it. Terrorists don't hate our trains, our bridges, our airplanes, or our buildings-they hate us, and the relative prosperity and security that we do enjoy. Their best tool for taking this from us is to create a climate of fear and ignorance-to hijack the efforts of our media and government, and turn it towards hypnotizing us into a siege mindset, so that every day is lived in fear. To turn order to chaos.

I'm not going to pretend that tonight's episode is going win the War on Terror-we're an entertainment. As an informative entertainment, each episode is just 42 minutes of footage, with a blog and a webisode along for the ride. But if we succeed in pulling aside the mask of fear, even a little bit, then our efforts will have been worth it tonight.

There is a second purpose to all of this, and if you're skipping in from the beginning, now is the time to start reading.

Some of the most infernal devices we examined in this episode were landmines and IEDs. Though we only saw their effects on human simulants-gel torsos and the like-it made their devastation crystal clear. Walking away from those tests with the knowledge of what these weapons can do, and in fact, are doing all over the world left a bad taste in our mouths.

Because we had seen first hand the effects of these weapons, we wanted a way to reach out and stop their effects directly, and thankfully, there is a way to do that. The cast and crew of Deadliest Warrior got together and made a donation to the United Nations Association of the United States of America's Adopt-A-Minefield program.

You can visit their website at http://www.landmines.org/ to learn more about their mission directly, but to summarize quickly, Adopt-A-Minefield works to clear active minefields all over the world. They're currently active in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and their efforts (and your money) go directly to clearing these minefields and protecting civilian populations.

For you, terrorism probably means living with getting searched at the airport (that belt-and-shoes-and-pockets song and dance). For someone in Iraq or Afghanistan, it means there's an active minefield where you live, threatening your safety and the safety of your loved ones as you're trying to live your daily life. That's just for starters, never mind living with organizations like al-Qaeda or the Taliban as your neighbors.

But we can fight them, directly. We might not be able to fight everything they do, but we can take this one weapon away from them. Together, we can work to clear active minefields. We can work to clear not only the mines themselves, but the fear their use incurs.

We're asking you to join us. Please, visit the Adopt-A-Minefield website. Please, make a donation. Do it to make someone's life better. Or, if you're a spiteful son-of-a-bitch like I am, think of it as a none-too-subtle "F*** YOU," to anyone who would use these weapons to harm civilians and create a climate of fear-too anyone who is waging a war of terror.

Remember, this is an enemy that preys on innocent people inch-by-inch, and so we must fight them, inch-by-inch. Every square inch of a reclaimed minefield is another blow from the hands of courage, beating back the tide of fear. It's a victory for innocent people everywhere, and because this is a battle of inches, no contribution is too small.

So for us, that's what making tonight's episode has been about: understanding and disarming the greatest weapon of terrorism.

Fear.

Fear through ignorance, fear of the unknown, and now, fear of a weapon that we can stop. We would be honored if you would join us tonight, if you would aid us as we join the fight against fear, and against terrorism. It's a small stand, but it's one we can make together-and it makes a difference in the here-and-now, the real world. It's not joining the army, but it's a damn sight better than taking your shoes off and shuffling through another goddamn metal detector.

My usual closing seems inappropriate in a battle between terrorists. In this case, those who are about to die most certainly do not salute you.

Instead, let me reiterate that it has been an absolute joy working on this show and taking this ride with you. This is our final episode of the season, and we'd like to make it count for something beyond education and entertainment. We've come this far together, and for that, we thank you. But we're venturing into new territory tonight.

We've taken the first step. All we ask is that you walk with us.

Be seeing you,
Max

 

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