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Media's Take on the News: 10-10-03 to 10-31-03

  • Killing for Killing's Sake

  • The Boy Scouts Are in Charge

  • It Will Only Matter that Bush Told Lies If Iraq Turns Out Badly

  • Why Do Liberals Hate George W. Bush?

  • The End of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

  • Death from Friendly Fire--Again

  • Editorial: Anti-Semitism and Ford

  • Suharto Era Continues to Cloud Indonesia's Political Life

  • More Regimes are Pledging to Democratize, but All They Really Want is Security

  • George F. Will: Why Legislators Make Bad Candidates for President

  • "Under God"--Whence this Phrase?

  • Why Jews Vote Democratic

  • The Pope's Mixed Legacy

  • Fred Kaplan: Iraq's Not the Philippines Either

  • Fred Kaplan: Iraq's Not Germany

  • The Smithsonian Expands

  • Bush Goes Over the Heads of the National Media

  • The Troops' Morale

  • PETA: Exploiting the Holocaust

  • Robert J. Samuelson: Bush II and Nixon

  • Was Germany a Victim, too?

  • Arnold’s Victory—Turning Point?

  • Israel's Nuclear History

  • Are Jews Who Fled Arab Countries Refugees?

  • Leaks Through History

  • Our Next President Should Be a General

  • Truman an Inspiration for Senator Seeking to Stop War Profiteering and Waste

  • Interview with the Man in Charge of Recovering Lost Pieces from the Iraq Museum

  • California Dreamin' ?

  • The Ancient Origins of Biological Warfare

  • The Liberty Bell Is Located Next to Slave Quarters

  • Old Europe Is Depressed ... Fearful of Asia's Rise?

  • America's Seven Lucky Breaks

  • Leaks and the Leakers Who Leaked Through History

  • The Liberty Bell's Contested History

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    Killing for Killing's Sake (posted 10-31-03)

    James Pinkerton, writing in Newsday (Oct. 30, 2003):

    Our word of the day is ecpyrosis. To the ancient Greeks, it meant destruction by fire. The "pyr" root gives us the modern word "pyromaniac."

    But the Greeks also used ecpyrosis as a word for extreme combat, as in to be so consumed with fighting that one disappears, as it were, in a ball of flame. There's some of that now, and there's more coming.

    President George W. Bush had a point on Monday when he said of Iraqi suicide bombers and rocket-attackers, "They don't care who they kill. They just want to kill." At one level, the terrorist resistance has the clear goal of driving out all foreigners, regardless of their nationality or purpose for being there. But at another level the killing has no goal whatsoever, since it's spread far and wide across the whole of lawless Iraq, where street crime and vengeance killings aren't even reported, let alone investigated. That's ecpyrosis, the fire that's consuming Iraq.

    Men have been consumed by their violent passions since the beginning of time. This is from Homer's Iliad: "Achilles then sprang upon the Trojans with a terrible cry ... as a fire raging in some mountain glen after long drought ... even so furiously did Achilles rage, wielding his spear as though he were a god, and giving chase to those whom he would slay, till the dark earth ran with blood ... and his hands were bedrabbled with gore." Sometimes, ecpyrosis has a terrible poetic beauty to it.

    And there are other reasons for some to love ecpyrosis, too. Sigmund Freud was no warmonger, but he observed pessimistically that combat "lays bare the primal man" in each of us. And in that raw mental state, "We are, like primitive man, simply a gang of murderers." The military historian Martin Van Creveld put it even more simply: "However unpalatable the fact, the real reason why we have wars is that men like fighting."

    It would be nice to believe that Americans are im