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June 08, 2006

Zarqawi Eliminated. Good News, Right?

The latest casualty in the war in Iraq is a major one; the most wanted man in Iraq.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaida's leader in Iraq who led a bloody campaign of suicide bombings and kidnappings, has been killed in an air strike, U.S. and Iraqi officials said Thursday, adding that his identity was confirmed by fingerprints and a look at his face. It was a major victory in the U.S.-led war in Iraq and the broader war on terror.

It was rightly cheered by all present when it was announced.
Loud applause broke out among the reporters and soldiers as [Prime Minister Nouri] al-Maliki, flanked by U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and U.S. Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, told a news conference that "al-Zarqawi was eliminated."

This is an opportunity for Iraqi insurgents to re-evaluate their purpose and their means to that purpose.
Thamir Abdulhussein, a college student in Baghdad, said he hopes the killing of al-Zarqawi will promote reconciliation between Iraq's fractured ethnic and sectarian groups.

"If it's true al-Zarqawi was killed, that will be a big happiness for all the Iraqis," he said. "He was behind all the killings of Sunni and Shiites. Iraqis should now move toward reconciliation. They should stop the violence."

These may be the words of an idealistic college student, but the hope is there that such a thing could happen Depending on how much al-Zarqawi's death becomes a blow to their morale, it could represent the perfect chance for this to happen.

On the other hand, it may not.

Amir Muhammed Ali, a 45-year-old stock broker in Baghdad, was skeptical that al-Zarqawi's death would end the unrelenting violence in the country, saying he was a foreigner but the Iraqi resistance to U.S.-led forces would likely continue.

"He didn't represent the resistance, someone will replace him and the operations will go on," he said.

I'd guess that this outcome is more likely, but at least now the chances for decreased violence have been given a renewed possibility.

But the Left is still looking at the cloud instead of the silver lining, just as they did when Hussein was captured.

Hesiod at the Daily Kos, in his diary about Zarqawi, starts out with promise...

Finally, some genuine good news from Iraq. Abu Musab al Zarqawi was killed in an air raid last [n]ight in Northern Baghdad.

We can all analyze what this means for the Iraq occupation later. But, right now, we should all be happy that a man who was responsible for the murders of hundreds, if not thousands of men women and children in Iraq -- and for the demise and maiming of our troops -- has been taken out.

...yet he soon degenerates into back-handed slaps.
No matter whether you support, or oppose the war. No matter whether you believe Bush is doing the right thing, or is a lying snake who got us into this war for the most cynical of reasons and then screwed it up -- this is good news.

Yes, I know. Bush had a chance to take out Zarqawi BEFORE we ever invaded Iraq and "allowed him to escape" because he didn't want to eliminate one of his principle excuses for the invasion.

But, still -- this is good news!

And, yes, I know that the major problem in Iraq isn't so much the insurgency anymore, as it's the growing sectarian civil war that we are barely able to keep from exploding.

But, this is good news, right?

And, true...the Haditha killings are not exactly endearing us to the Iraqi population.

But...this is some good news!

So, tip your hats to Jordanian intelligence and our military forces. Everything is now hunky dory in Iraq, and we can all declare victory! And , more importantly, we can all expect our military forces to start coming home now because the war is over!


As the news story noted, Zarqawi was one of the essential elements in the sectarian violence, so this indeed does deal a blow to that situation. Hesiod can't manage to report good news without "balancing" it with 3 or 4 problems, real or perceived. There are always problems in war, always setbacks, created by ourselves or the enemy. This is not new, but Hesiod has to bring this up to keep his opinion of the war in Iraq consistent in his own mind. When Hussein was captured, Hesiod was the most positive of all the tier-A lefty sites. He's losing his objectivity.

The same goes for Steven Benen, guest blogging for Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly.

Iraqi and U.S. officials agreed that his death would not necessarily stem the violence and insurgency -- and as if to prove the point, an explosion ripped through a busy outdoor market in Baghdad just a few hours after Zarqawi's killing was announced. Regardless, when a dangerous terrorist can no longer wreak havoc, it's good news.

One relevant angle to this story, however, that has not been emphasized (or even mentioned) by most news outlets this morning is that Zarqawi could have been taken out years ago, on several occasions, but Bush decided not to strike.

Benen goes on to quote an NBC article that says the National Security Council couldn't decide how to proceed; no mention of Bush in that meeting. No mention of what the causes for concern were, but here's an idea; the intelligence they were acting on talked about Zarqawi making ricin and cyanide production. Yet we haven't really seen those chemicals used by the insurgency. As we all know, pre-war intelligence gave us some false positives on a number of fronts; perhaps this was one of them and the NSC was wary of it. Imagine if we'd sent in cruise missiles and wound up destroying, oh, say something like an asprin factory. Imagine the outrage by Democrats then. So here's Benen speculating that maybe, not knowing himself the nature of the intelligence, that we might have been able to take out Zarqawi before the war. He calls the intelligence "air-tight". Interesting he doesn't use the phrase "slam-dunk", a phrase used about other pre-war intelligence. Thus he has to form the wisp of a cloud just so he can try to tarnish any silver lining that appears during a Republican administration.

Atrios is "pleased".

Was never quite sure why we didn't go after him when we had the chance.

Anyway, I'm supposed to give the obligatory "YAY USA!" cheer here, but while it's good to get the bad guys I don't really think it's going to improve much. Hopefully I'm wrong.

Top al-Qaeda guy in Iraq out of the picture, and the best he can do is be curt and "obligatory".

Josh Marshall leaves us all wondering what he thinks, since he doesn't say.

Zarqawi dead. Juliette Kayyem explains what it means. Ivo Daalder explains that one thing it doesn't mean is an end to the violence in Iraq.

For the deeper background, just out from The Atlantic: Mary Anne Weaver's The Short, Violent Life of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

That's the sum total of his response; curt and not even obligatory.

As I said before, the view of the Left, as it was for the Hussein capture, is "This is good news, but let us remind you of all the bad news and our dire predictions." Some don't even say much at all about the good news. Nope, there's a Republican in the White House, you see, and we can't bee seen as cheering for anything. I'll close this blog post as I did the one for Hussein.

You gotta wonder what these folks said when Milosevic was captured. Ah, but you see, that was a non-UN-sanctioned war run by a Democrat. Therein lies the whole story. Leftists are showing their true, extreme partisan colors all over the blogosphere.

Posted by Doug at June 8, 2006 12:48 PM

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Based on this article by Jim
(and perhaps others like it, excerpts below) liberals are arguing that we coulda/shoulda taken out Zarqawi before the war (as though they would have approved? But I digress.).

Here’s what I don’t understand – their story confirms that WMD were being produced in Iraq. Their story confirms that terrorists were operating freely, if not in allegiance with, Saddam Hussein. Their story confirms that terrorists in Iraq were planning to use WMD made in Iraq on targets in western cities.

Isn’t this exactly why President Bush told us that Saddam had to be forced to comply with the UN resolutions or be removed from power? Aren’t they invalidating the very argument they’ve used since the beginning of the war; that the existence of WMD in Iraq was uncertain? They are in fact claiming the opposite!

As to the “why not”, my best guess is that, lo and behold, George Bush was trying to negotiate a peaceful end to the stand-off with Iraq. If he had bombed the facility, it would have been a “pre-emptive” attack on Iraq and, IMVUO, would have stood a very good chance of derailing any possible chance of either a) maintaining the already weak UNSC resolve, and b) bringing Saddam into compliance with the UN resolutions and his cease fire agreement peacefully.


(begin excerpts)

In June 2002, U.S. officials say intelligence had revealed that Zarqawi and members of al-Qaida had set up a weapons lab at Kirma, in northern Iraq, producing deadly ricin and cyanide.

Four months later, intelligence showed Zarqawi was planning to use ricin in terrorist attacks in Europe.

The Pentagon drew up a second strike plan, and the White House again killed it. By then the administration had set its course for war with Iraq. (Opinion)

In January 2003, the threat turned real. Police in London arrested six terror suspects and discovered a ricin lab connected to the camp in Iraq.

The Pentagon drew up still another attack plan, and for the third time, the National Security Council killed it.

Military officials insist their case for attacking Zarqawi’s operation was airtight, but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.

The United States did attack the camp at Kirma at the beginning of the war, but it was too late — Zarqawi and many of his followers were gone. “Here’s a case where they waited, they waited too long and now we’re suffering as a result inside Iraq,” Cressey added.

Posted by: NewEnglandDevil at June 9, 2006 09:16 AM

Very good observation. If Zarqawi's presence was a product of the war, as some have contended, what was he doing making chemical weapons in Iraq in the middle of 2002? And if there were never any WMDs at all in Iraq, then either that contention is wrong (a big loss for the anti-war crowd) or the story is wrong and we couldn't have gotten Zarqawi then (a big loss for the anti-war crowd). And as you noted, this wasn't happening in a vacuum; there were, in fact, diplomatic channels and allies to consider.

Good eye, sir.

Posted by: Doug Payton at June 9, 2006 09:45 AM

LOL!! I always enjoy reading, occassionally, all the trimphant gotchas the rightwingers threw at me over Iraq a couple years ago.

Everything they crowed about then turned out to be 100% wrong, of course.

Just as, 3-4 weeks after Zarqawi was killed, I was proven right again (and you -- wrong).

Why don't I ever see a post fom you guys apologizing to me?

Posted by: Hesiod at July 3, 2006 11:14 PM

You mean you proved me wrong be being unabashedly and unreservedly upbeat that Zarqawi got what was coming to him? And it only took you 3-4 weeks for that to happen? I guess that's progress.

Honestly, Hesiod, it was simply the Left's classic "that's good, BUT" angle you folks parade out whenever there's good news in the war that I was noting. You wanna take credit for something unrelated to the post, fine, but it doesn't change how y'all insist in talking down advances in the war on terror.

I can almost hear it now: "You got bin Laden? Great. BUT he was just a figurehead. BUT, what about Zawahiri? BUT does that mean we can all go home now? Hmmmm?"

Posted by: Doug Payton at July 3, 2006 11:45 PM

I guess you have to take your insiginficant, pissant victories where you can find them. Zarqawi was mostly an overhyped media and Bush administration creation. He was only a small part of a much larger and more intractable problem in Iraq.

You folks crowing about his death is like crowing about how your team struck out Manny Ramirez in the world series, even though the Red Sox won it anyway.

I'm happy Zarqawi is dead because Zarqawi was a murdering thug. But extrapolating that to "progress" in Iraq is utterly stupid, as recent events there have amply demonstrated.

And, again, Bush had the chance to kill the guy, THREE TIMES before we even invaded Iraq, but turned down our military planners every time.

If he killed him then, what would Colin Powell have used in his famous UN boondoggle to concoct a bullshit operational relationship between Saddam and Al Qaeda?

I gotta hand it to you delusional moonbats, however. You do have Chutzpah.

Posted by: Hesiod at July 6, 2006 11:40 PM