Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Thoughts on Zarqawi's Demise (Conclusion)

Okay, to recap: In Part I of this post, I outlined why history suggests we should not overstate the importance of killing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. In Part II, I emphasized why we should not understate the window of opportunity that his death offers to Iraq. In this concluding post, I argue that killing Zarqawi was a good thing in and of itself regardless of its consequences for Iraq.

Whether or not one supports the Bush administration's decision to liberate Iraq, the following is factually indisputable:
-- Zarqawi operated a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan with the blessing of the Taliban and, at minimum, the tacit approval of Al Qaeda;
-- After the liberation of Afghanistan, Zarqawi moved to Northern Iraq, and directed a plot to disperse ricin in European subway systems;
-- Zarqawi was responsible for the 2002 murder of U.S. diplomat Lawrence Foley in Jordan;
-- Whatever his previous link to Al Qaeda, he swore fealty to Osama bin Laden and sought his guidance, support, and blessing for terrorist operations in Iraq;
-- Zarqawi was responsible for the bombings of the UN Headquarters in Iraq in August 2003 that killed Sergio Vieira de Mello; the bombing at the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf (Shi'a Islam's holiest site) that killed Grand Ayatollah Muhammed al-Hakim and a hundred other worshippers; and the bombing of the Al-Askariya Mosque in Samarra (another extremely important shrine for Shi'a) that killed hundreds of worshippers.
-- Zarqawi personally beheaded two Western hostages and disseminated the videotape for propaganda purposes, an act that even Al Qaeda's #2 Ayman al-Zawahiri found too extreme; and
-- Zarqawi was responsible for the bombing of three hotels in Amman that killed more than 70 members of a Jordanian wedding party.

This short list actually understates the thousands of Iraqi civilians killed by his network's suicide bombers as he attempted to provoke a civil war between Iraq's Sunni and Shi'a.

Zarqawi also said the following (again, a short list because I don't have time for further research):
-- "We have declared a bitter war against the principle of democracy and all those who seek to enact it."
-- "We will either achieve victory over the human race or we will pass to the eternal life."
-- "Anyone who stands in the way of our struggle is our enemy and target of the swords."

In other words, Zarqawi had declared himself to be irrevocably at war with the United States, all democratic countries, and any Muslims who he (without any religious standing whatsoever) deemed to be insufficiently devout. He showed zero compunction about slaughtering women and children to achieve his desired ends, and personally reveled in killing his "enemies" as sadistically as possible. His stated objective was a living hell of mass murder between all of the communities of Iraq, the broader Islamic world, and eventually the entire world.

It is fashionable in certain corners to argue that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter;" that American imperialism created and deserved to targeted by murderers such as Zarqawi; or to think that Zarqawi was merely the result of the Bush administration's simplistic propaganda to frighten people into accepting fascism at home.

But in a less cynical age, there was a word to describe a man like Zarqawi: evil.

The bottom line is that Zarqawi believed he was justified in killing every person reading this page right now, whether you support the war or not. And everyday he was actively seeking the means to do so. With such a barbarous fanatic as Zarqawi, there is no question of root causes, no hope for deterrence, no salvation in compromise or negotiation. With men such as Zarqawi (and Bin Laden, Zawahiri, and others whose names we don't know yet), there is only one option for Western Civilization: kill or be killed.

This is why, regardless of any other consequences for Iraq, it is a good thing that Zarqawi is dead. And it is worth remembering that had we withdrawn from Iraq months ago, as some U.S. politicians demanded, this amoral monster would still be sewing death and destruction today.