Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi is dead. May he rot in Hell forever.
Perhaps that’s not as clinical and detached as most of the reporting and analysis regarding yesterday’s successful extermination of the gleeful decapitator, but that’s OK, because I make no claim to being a mainstream journalist.
I do not believe that it is the job of the chattering class to divorce itself from the society that has given it the right to chatter. I do not believe it makes a journalist or a commentator moral and righteous to coldly report on a war involving his own people as if he were filing scientific reports on the inconsequential battles between two different sorts of ants.
I believe in America. Occasionally, I even believe in right and wrong, and good and evil. And I believe in taking sides between them.
So a few things have really bugged me about the pseudo-lugubrious trash that has passed for "real" journalism in the last 24 hours.
One is the obsession with the "meaning" of Zarqawi’s death. Sure he’s dead, but what does that mean? Will it hurt the insurgency? Will he simply be replaced? Haven’t we just made him a martyr? How involved was he in the day-to-day planning? Was he over-hyped? Will it increase Bush’s approval ratings? One idiot actually asked if Zarqawi’s death would help the President’s plan to amnesty immigration criminals.
Well, I suppose the airstrike did reduce the number of aspiring illegal aliens in the world by about eight. But who cares? Suppose, in a worst case scenario, that Zarqawi’s death did not shorten or lengthen the war by one minute. Suppose it did not result in even one fewer suicide-bombing or beheading, or death, or did not affect one popularity poll or bill before Congress.
Wouldn’t it still be a good thing? Don’t some people just need killing?
Perhaps I am callous or impolite or just simple-minded, but aren’t there some people so loathsome and onerous that their death need not have a single consequence beyond their introduction to decomposition for that death to be a happy moment for the rest of us? Such happiness would have to be appropriately somber, of course, because the truly civilized man is so empathetic and thoughtful and concerned with others that he cannot even enjoy his own victories for sympathizing with the vermin he has just defeated.
That being the conventional wisdom, let me try to balance things out a little bit with my further meditations on the unfortunate death of my poor misguided fellow Earthling and human being, Mr. Zarqawi.
Not only do I hope he eternally rots, burns, re-corporealizes and then rots and burns again well within the lowest levels of Hell, I hope he did not die instantly. I hope there was a brief moment in which he realized he was dying, and that it was an American who had killed him, and an Iraqi that turned him in. I hope he was afraid and filled with doubt as to his place in the afterlife, if any. I hope, like all the men, women and children he purposely killed with lunatic suicide bombers and indiscriminate car bombs and dull knives and various other means, he was sad at the end and panicked about never seeing his family again. But I doubt that there was enough humanity in him to care even about his own family.
I do not begrudge Zarqawi those things he did as acts of war, even misguided war. But I do condemn him as evil, rather than simply an enemy of my nation, for his dehumanizing of all the world that he could not control, and most of that small portion he could control.
By the time of his death, Zarqawi had publicly declared that it was morally righteous to kill:
- Americans, Britons, Danes, Poles, Spaniards, Italians, and all other Westerners
- Other non-Muslims
- Shiite Muslims
- Sunni Muslim Kurds
- Sunni Muslims not of his personal beliefs
- Sunni Muslims of his personal beliefs, provided they were in the wrong place at the wrong time or carrying explosives when killing categories 1 through 9 above
For those of you keeping track, that’s all of us. Apparently, it was OK for Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi to kill anybody, so long as it gave meaning to his life, which was quite valuable and thus never sent on a "martyrdom operation." He had also sawn the heads of a number of screaming, bound human beings, blown up churches and mosques with their worshipers inside, killed children gathered to beg candy from soldiers, and killed thousands of ordinary people, all in the hope that he could start a Rwanda-style civil war and genocide in Iraq and afterwards rule the brutal impoverished survivors as an absolute Emir.
In short, Zarqawi was a psychopath who had the good fortune to find himself a war. He was Ted Bundy with a flag and prayer mat, videotaping his every atrocity so that it might serve as a sadistic pornography of violence for his cowardly blowhard fans on the internet. He was evil; and he deserved to die.
So why does the media fake somberness and gravity when speaking of his death, and demand that it be justified with some larger geopolitical meaning?
As it happens, it is very significant for our war effort. As I have said before, this is primarily a propaganda war we are in, and despite all the pessimistic talk of martyrdom, Zarqawi’s death is a powerful message.
But there is the distinct possibility that Zarqawi’s killing signals a major breakthrough has happened behind the scenes in Iraq. US and Iraqi forces have been in quiet negotiations with a number of nationalist insurgent groups for months. The object of these negotiations is to exploit a growing split between such homegrown groups and foreign jihadi nutjobs like Zarqawi and his Al-Qaeda in Iraq franchise. If the Sunni nationalists can be brought into the new government, in exchange for amnesty and power sharing, it will end the insurgency and allow American troops to withdraw.
Al-Qaeda, of course, wants no part of this and has even assassinated insurgent leaders for participating in these talks. It would thus be in both sides interests in the negotiation to be rid of Zarqawi and his followers once a deal is reached. His death could be just the result of improved intelligence and good soldiering on the part of our military and the Iraqi government. Or it could be a first concrete act in the reconciliation of the Iraqi people.
But most importantly, it’s just a good thing either way. Yippee.