Thursday, June 08, 2006

Every Party Needs A Pooper, That's Why They Invited Me

From CNN.com:

Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the coalition's most wanted man in Iraq, was killed in an airstrike near Baquba, jubilant U.S. and Iraqi authorities announced Thursday...."The ideology of terror has lost one of its most visible and aggressive leaders," Bush said. "Zarqawi's death is a severe blow to al Qaeda."

"Special Operations forces, acting on tips and intelligence from Iraqis, confirmed Zarqawi's location and delivered justice to the most wanted terrorist in Iraq," Bush said. "Zarqawi personally beheaded American hostages and other civilians in Iraq," Bush said. "Now Zarqawi has met his end and this violent man will never murder again."


Which is inarguably a good thing.

What worries me about this? The fact that what we're trying to fight a war against isn't a country or a region, but a philosophy and ideology.

Martyrs tend to play well with crazy folks, and Zarqawi's a martyr to his cause now:
A Web site used by Al Qaeda in Iraq confirmed al-Zarqawi's death and urged its followers to continue the insurgent fight.

Another Web site used by the group issued a statement: "People of Islam, God will not let our enemies celebrate and spread corruption in the ground. Expect the right that was stolen to come back to us and destroy the Crusaders" -- an apparent reference to U.S. troops in Iraq.

If this war on terror is ever going to be won, we've got to put our attentions in two places: tracking down and bringing people like Zarqawi to justice (my version of justice includes courts, and trials, and law, not two 500 lb. bombs, but in Zarqawi's case, hauling him into court was realistically not happening), and combating the radical ideology that the Zarqawi's of the world use to manipulate people into doing their dirty work.

Without emphasis on both, I'm afraid that the war on terror will become a never-ending battle. Because you can't kill a belief. You can only change it.

That said, it's my hope that Zarqawi's death has the desired effect on his followers - namely, to deflate their spirits and to convince them of the futility of their actions.

3 Comments:

At 10:06 AM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

Agree with the post, but for two points and the general tone:

1) Zarqawi as martyr. The thinking here, that "Martyrs tend to play well with the crazy folks, and Zarqawi's a martyr for his cause now" plays right into the hands of the twisted logic that Zarqawi Al Qaeda has created. The last refuge of a losing cause is to celebrate death. Zarqawi (and his followers) seek to inflict death on their opponents, while celebrating death in "martyrdom" in the event that they are killed. It's, in effect, I kill you, I win. You kill me, I win. By acceding to this philosophy, you've granted Zarqawi the point (not that he'll be arguing much). The bottom line is this, he would have caused much more death and destruction alive than dead. He's dead. You don't have to make their arguments for them.

2) Regarding this point: "If this war on terror is ever going to be won, we've got to...[t]rack[] down and bringing people like Zarqawi to justice (my version of justice includes courts, and trials, and law, not two 500 lb. bombs, but in Zarqawi's case, hauling him into court was realistically not happening)."

I cannot say with enough conviction how vigorously I disagree with this premise. To turn the War on Terrorism into a courtroom battle is both impossibly impracticable and hopelessly futile for more reasons than can be crammed into a post that won't take until next week to finish. For the purposes of brevity, I'll focus on one. Criminal law is reactive. Ordinarily, there is no legal cause to incarcerate someone unless they've done something. And how do you expect to incarcerate someone that's blown themselves up? What deterrent effect do you think a jail cell will have on that person?

I personally think that it would be a mistake not to use legal means of attacking terrorists in conjunction with military means, but the focus on the courts is fundamentally too ineffective to be considered a primary means. We don't have to let them blow us up to be humane. Our morality should not be a suicide pact.

 
At 11:47 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

Allow me to clarify, because I think my tone may have been somewhat misleading.

1) Zarqawi as martyr. The thinking here, that "Martyrs tend to play well with the crazy folks, and Zarqawi's a martyr for his cause now" plays right into the hands of the twisted logic that Zarqawi Al Qaeda has created. The last refuge of a losing cause is to celebrate death. Zarqawi (and his followers) seek to inflict death on their opponents, while celebrating death in "martyrdom" in the event that they are killed. It's, in effect, I kill you, I win. You kill me, I win. By acceding to this philosophy, you've granted Zarqawi the point (not that he'll be arguing much). The bottom line is this, he would have caused much more death and destruction alive than dead. He's dead. You don't have to make their arguments for them.

I don't believe that I'm "acceding to this philosophy" here. I'm saying that Martyr-dom worries me. I think that's a justifiable and reasonable statement, regardless of context.

The problem of Martyrs is one that's especially glaring in this conflict we're embroiled in. That's something I think we can both agree on. It's something that, militarily, philosophically and politically demands thought and consideration. Because it compounds the difficulty of the conflict. Thus, the worry.

What I'm not saying is that it was a mistake to kill him because of the possibility of Martyr-dom.

2) Regarding this point: "If this war on terror is ever going to be won, we've got to...[t]rack[] down and bringing people like Zarqawi to justice (my version of justice includes courts, and trials, and law, not two 500 lb. bombs, but in Zarqawi's case, hauling him into court was realistically not happening)."

I cannot say with enough conviction how vigorously I disagree with this premise. To turn the War on Terrorism into a courtroom battle is both impossibly impracticable and hopelessly futile for more reasons than can be crammed into a post that won't take until next week to finish. For the purposes of brevity, I'll focus on one. Criminal law is reactive. Ordinarily, there is no legal cause to incarcerate someone unless they've done something. And how do you expect to incarcerate someone that's blown themselves up? What deterrent effect do you think a jail cell will have on that person?

I personally think that it would be a mistake not to use legal means of attacking terrorists in conjunction with military means, but the focus on the courts is fundamentally too ineffective to be considered a primary means. We don't have to let them blow us up to be humane. Our morality should not be a suicide pact.


If I understand correctly, what you're saying is you agree that legal and military means should be used together, but that the military supercedes the legal?

I agree. To an extent.

I agree in the case of men like Zarqawi - a point I tried to highlight by saying that in this instance, the legal side wasn't realistic.

I disagree, in the case of instances like Abu-Gharib (sp?), where we knowingly jailed small-time offenders with terrorist suspects and treated them all as the same.

I'm a realist, in the sense that I understand mistakes are made in any human endeavor, much less one as heated as war. But I'm an optimist, in that I believe our zeal for justice should not eclipse our awareness of what that word is supposed to mean.

Long story, short: It's unrealistic to think that men like Zarqawi can be brought to justice through the courts in a war-time state. It's more realistic to argue that in the face of necessary violence like this, we should not lose sight of the causes we're fighting on behalf of.

Is that shorter? Not really.

 
At 2:09 PM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

In that we are fundamentally in agreement.

 

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