The death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is certainly reason for celebration for those who were disgusted and horrified by his relentless bloodlust. This is the man who masterminded some of the most atrocious bombing attacks in Iraq of the last three years. He's also on video personally beheading hostages. This is an awful person and I'm not shedding any tears at his passing.
But I'm also not ready to run into the streets kissing random nurses in celebration of the war's end. Ok, I am ready to kiss random nurses, but not for that reason.
Zarqawi's removal from the equation is a victory for the military commanders and the soldiers in the field who made it happen. No question. But the killing of insurgents in Iraq has never been a problem. Our troops have no problem killing enemy combatants and if we learned anything from Vietnam it's that body counts are not an accurate measure of the war's progress. When President Bush uttered his now famous (and since, somewhat regretted) "Bring 'em on" taunt to insurgents three years ago, I was afraid that vital lesson of the war he opted out of would be lost on the war he opted US troops into.
The President and his advisors love to remind us that this is not like any other war. I'm not sure they understand how different this war is though. Removal of an insurgent "leader" is not removal of the head from the snake. Yes, Zarqawi was influential, but he was not any sort of supreme leader. The insurgency is specifically designed to survive removal of its leaders. We're not talking about an army commanded by a general who is fighting for the salvation of his nation state. The enemy in Iraq is a hodge podge of Islamists, nationalists, Baathists, and criminals who, for now, have one goal: kill American troops. If that means they also kill each other in order to bring civil war and further engage US troops in combat; so be it. This is exactly what the elder Bush understood and why he decided NOT to occupy Iraq in 1991. Somehow, the lesson was lost on Junior.
And so Zarqawi is no longer of this earth. He has passed into martyrdom, but this movement is built on martyrdom. While he is no longer directing actions in Iraq, he will have a long influence in the fight. Martyrdom doesn't fade easily, just ask an Israeli or anyone who lives in Northern Ireland.
Case in point that some of our civilian leadership does not understand the nature of the enemy, Ohio Republican Rep. John Boehner said, "With regard to the insurgency in Iraq, the military has chopped off the head of this snake, and I think we're all going to be safer as a result."
And the father of one of Zarqawi's video taped beheadings finds little relief that his son's murder is dead.
In a telephone interview with Reuters from his home in Wilmington, Delaware, Ron Berg said: "I have no sense of relief, just sadness that another human being had to die."
Berg is running for Congress as a Green Party candidate and has leveled some toguh talk on the President.
"I don't think that Zarqawi is himself responsible for the killings of hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq," Berg said in a combative television interview with the U.S. Fox News network. "I think George Bush is.
"George Bush is the one that invaded this country, George Bush is the one that destabilized it so that Zarqawi could get in, so that Zarqawi had a need to get in, to defend his region of the country from American invaders."