Editor’s Note: Mr. Coonts is the author of fifteen New York Times bestselling books. His latest novel “The Disciple,” explores what might happen if Iran gets to within weeks of having an operation nuclear weapon. It is now available online or at bookstores everywhere. He wrote this piece exclusively for glennbeck.com
I first heard the term “martyr nation” at a lecture by a retired U. S. naval officer who happened to be a Muslim. He believed it possible that the religious fanatics in Iran might decide to sacrifice the lives of every Iranian by initiating a nuclear war. Whether Iran could or would win such a war was not the point; the glory of giving their lives as soldiers of God would usher the Iranian people into Paradise.
Since the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1989, the Islamic fundamentalist government has spent billions of petro-dollars on their nuclear quest. The mullahs have built reactors, industrial sites for processing spent fuel into weapons-grade plutonium, and factories to manufacture cruise and ballistic missiles and warheads. They have dug tunnels deep inside the earth to house these facilities, and protect them from aerial observation and air attack. They have defied the United Nations, America and the nations of Europe, all of whom have expressed their concern and horror at the prospect of an Iran armed with nuclear weapons. All the while the Iranian economy has suffered from an international economic boycott, an exploding Iranian population, and severe inflation.
Over half the Iranian population has been born since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the Shah. These young people are educated, under-employed, and regard the fundamentalists with deep suspicion.
The Ahmadinejad regime is going in one direction and the bulk of the Iranian population seems to be going in another.
Predictably, when Ahmadinejad lost the June, 2009, election, his political allies, the mullahs, stole it on his behalf—keeping the Party of God in power and provoking wide-spread, strident protests. The reaction of the regime was to try to “re-Islamize” schools, tighten their grip on the media and internet, violently disburse protesters, and prosecute noisy critics. Secret police, storm troopers, political arrests, kangaroo trials, censorship of the media and universities, political education of the young, and wholesale murder are the classic control tactics of dictators and tyrants, who have used these methods since the dawn of civilization. The fascist and communist regimes of the 20th century perfected these techniques, all of which have been adopted by the Ahmadinejad regime.
This was the milieu I used as a setting for my new novel, The Disciple. This book was meant to be a thriller, so I needed good villains to go head to head with my studly heroes—and a threat that ratcheted the suspense tight as a violin string.
Exercising my First Amendment rights and novelist’s prerogative, I shamelessly mixed truth with fiction. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the Devil’s Disciple, a religious fanatic who sees himself as the Mahdi, the leader and prophet who will scourge the earth of God’s enemies and convert mankind to Islam. To accomplish this goal, he is willing to make Iran a martyr nation.
The martyr concept is not unique to Islam. The Japanese bushido code seems to echo the idea that there is more glory in sacrificing one’s self in a righteous, losing cause than there is in surviving and fighting on to victory. Martyrdom is the exact opposite of the western concept; General George Patton succinctly noted that a soldier’s duty is not to die for his country, but is to make the other bastard die for his.
As I noodled on subplots for The Disciple, I found myself searching for a way to dramatize the horror of religious fanaticism, a plague that has caused bloody atrocities throughout recorded history. Adherents of every major religion have indulged in the joys of torturing, burning and murdering heretics and non-believers in wholesale lots. Doing God’s work. Zealots and madmen seem quite unable to grasp the concept that God didn’t need their help to make the universe and probably doesn’t need it now.
So I invented Dr. Ishar Murad, a scholar of comparative religion who runs afoul of the Iranian religious police. His untimely demise under interrogation goads his grandson into espionage.
The main conflict in the tale, however, is Ahmadinejad’s single-minded drive to launch twelve nuclear weapons at American forces in the Middle East and at Israel. He expects the Americans to retaliate with nuclear weapons, but, just in case they don’t, he will martyr Iran and blame the atrocity on the infidels.
Jake Grafton and Tommy Carmellini are the guys on the spot who have to save civilization from the forces of evil. They can’t do it alone, of course, and enlist lots of help.
To be sure, The Disciple is fiction, a tale set in the near future—but make no mistake: fundamental Islam is the most virulent plague facing mankind. These ignorant, intolerant, xenophobic, homophobic, misogynist religious fanatics think any crime and atrocity is justified since they are doing God’s work. These are truly dangerous people. If we as a civilization refuse to face that fact head on we will pay a very severe price.