In April, 73 A.D., the Roman legions ended the two-year siege of Masada by storming the mountaintop fortress, only to find that the 1,000 men, women and children, led by the forceful Eleazar ben Jair, had committed mass suicide.
David Koresh chose to imitate his Zealot predecessor, driven by his conviction that the end of history was imminent and that God was about to establish his 1,000-year reign on Earth. Millenial behavior increased around the year 1000, and we are seeing more of it as the year 2000 approaches.
The behavior of the Jewish Zealots and the Waco Davidians is not logical, but mythological, and we cannot understand it by calling Koresh a "con man" and treating his beliefs as nonsense. Con men do not immolate themselves. His beliefs were familiar biblical prophecies; unlike us, he interpreted them as current history.
We cannot discourse with a David Koresh in the same manner as we would negotiate with a felon. Even though mythological behavior is non-rational, it is characterized by patterns, and one can predict outcomes. To minimize loss of life in the future, instead of treating cult behavior as criminal, we should treat cults as small theocracies that obey different laws and authority.