This morning, the world learned that al-Qaeda’s man in Iraq, Zarqawi’s murderous tenure as “Prince of Iraq” ended at the hands of a precision United States Air Force strike. For a moment, we breathe a sigh of relief that one of the most reviled terrorists our troops have had to face has been stricken from this earth.
However, his death, two hours later, does little to stem the violence.
The painful, familiar beat resumed just two hours after the announcement of Mr. Zarqawi’s death when five young women waiting outside a university were gunned down in a drive-by shooting, a witness said. Four bombs killed as many as 30 people in largely Shiite areas of Baghdad, The Associated Press reported.
Yet now comes the painful reminder, that Zarqawi is only a man. Men live and die, but ideas go on forever. The ideas that Zarqawi and his followers preached, ideas that have brought Iraq to its knees in civil war, devastated by a fierce insurgency that considers all but its followers to be enemies. These ideas live on, despite the death of Zarqawi. He now becomes immortalized and remembered as a martyr, stricken by the devil of America.
I am not saying, that we should not have killed him. I would have loved a chance to capture him, and have him executed before our armed forces in Iraq. However, his death is only the continued rallying cry for increased violence. Now, more than ever, it is important for the United States to consider how we are approaching this war.
For this post, I am going to leave arguments for or against withdraw out, despite one’s feelings on them, we can assume that at least for the time being our troops will continue to be in harms way. It is thus incumbent upon us to decide how America will act to destroy this enemy. For the right, the only way is to insist upon the inherent rightness of America, our superiority as a nation, and our ability to do no wrong. It is this attitude though, which most hampers our efforts battling against jihadism.
There is no question that the principles of democracy and freedom far outshine jihadism. It’s not a question of moral relativity, but of right and wrong. But this is why it is so important for us to behave in the true tradition of freedom and democracy. Only the most foolish think that America can never do any wrong. It is this insistence of such a foolish thought that allows more of our enemies to bring more young people to their side. In Iraq and the Middle East young, angry, impressionable men watch stories of Abu Gharib or the slaughter at Haditha, and they become enraged. Then, our government, instead of stepping forward and truly punishing those responsible in the chain of command dismiss many of the cases.
It is only by demonstrating the true measure of justice that we will be able to prevail in an ongoing war against jihadism. Failure to demonstrate our justice, while maintaining military force where necessary, Iraq not being necessary; will only result in ongoing battles with jihadism.
The death of Zarqawi provides a time for questions as to where America needs to move now in fighting off the insurgency and gaining any semblance of stability in Iraq, if such a thing is possible. Regardless, it also remains a chance to witness first hand the power of an idea created by an ordinary man who now lies dead. And should afford us the rare opportunity to examine how to win this war, a war that can only be one with justice. Inflicting justice upon those who have attacked us, those who would seek to destroy us, and executing justice upon our own who seek to undermine justice abroad.