But have you ever noticed how suicide bombers are always people you've never heard of? In the East as in the West, political leaders are the people who encourage making the ultimate sacrifice, not the people who actually make it.
I'm glad that Lowry has acknowledged, at least implicitly, what the Bush administration has yet to acknowledge: People who believed in nuclear deterrence during the Cold War but say it won't work with "rogue states" must posit some truly relevant difference between the Cold War and the current situation, such as a qualitative difference between current rogue dictators and past Soviet dictators.
Still, now that Lowry and I are engaged in this friendly dialogue, I'd ask him to be clearer about this difference: Is he indeed saying that European people can be counted on to comply with Western notions of rationality, but people from Asian or Islamic cultures can't be? If he's not saying that, then why is he not willing to attribute to Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong-il the generically human intense aversion to death that we attributed to a series of Soviet leaders, whether or not we knew much about their inner lives?
While Lowry is pondering this question, I'll go ahead and start my next column, which will address two other substantive points raised in Lowry's critique: the familiar "missiles for bluffing" argument and the somewhat fresher "Is mutual destruction truly assured?" question.