"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

Friday, June 09, 2006

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi: KIA, RIH

Rest in Hell, Abu.

Yesterday, a man who made brutality, torture, oppression, intimidation, destruction, and death the focus of his life was dispatched by two 500-pound bombs dropped by our fighters. According to reports, he survived the initial explosion but died soon thereafter on a stretcher while in American custody.

I hope those last few minutes of his life hurt. A lot.

I hope he felt the same kind of pain he inflicted on American men and women who were trying to rebuild Iraq from the ashes when his IEDs cut their promising lives short. I hope he writhed in the agony that the survivors of his barbaric acts endured as they lay in military hospitals, missing arms and legs. I hope every last nerve ending in his body burned with the searing flame that scorched so many innocent Iraqis as his car bombs blew them apart in marketplaces, schools, and police stations.

I hope those last few breaths were the most miserable of his life.

There's no way to know. But what I do know is that a man who slaked his thirst for fanaticism with the blood of innocents can no longer wage his vile campaign against humanity. This is not to say that there won't be others - after all, orchestrating a drive-by or random bombing is not difficult - but al-Zarqawi had a singular taste for violence and chaos, and I pray that the pool of similar candidates cut from his cloth is small. His death does not make Iraq completely safe, but the death of this key player provides an opportunity, a tipping point, to accelerate the development of Iraq into a peaceful country.

Zarqawi's death happened the same day that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki appointed men to fill two crucial government posts that were long vacant: the minister of defense and minister of the interior. With Iraq's top terrorist dead and its first permanent government finally rounded out, American and Iraqi leaders should focus on accomplishing a mission that is long overdue:
securing Baghdad. 37 Iraqis died in attacks around the nation's capital yesterday, and violence has been a sad fact of life there ever since the invasion. Peace and stability will never be achieved if Iraqis believe that their government can't project its power beyond the Green Zone. Would such a mission entail higher American casualties? Yes, at least in the short term. But the message it would send to the Iraqi people would be invaluable. (More on Zarqawi's death here and here).


In other countries: the Royal Canadian Mounted Police recently thwarted an attempt by 17 "homegrown terrorists" to use three times the amount of explosives detonated in Oklahoma City against various targets in Toronto, and storm the Parliament buildings and behead the prime minister. Perhaps this turn of events will give smug, American-hating Canucks pause to consider just whose side they're on, and whose on their side. Canadians like to draw all kinds of moral distinctions between the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan; perhaps this will help them realize that Muslim radicals draw no such distinctions. They should consider themselves lucky that no one had to die to make that message abundantly clear.

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