Reflections on The Death of Terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

by | Jun 15, 2006

I am, of course, delighted by the death of terrorist ringleader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq. I’m glad that he apparently had a chance to suffer before actually dying. I have no illusions that al-Zarqawi’s death will have any major impact on terrorism in Iraq, and elsewhere. Many others stand in line to succeed him […]

I am, of course, delighted by the death of terrorist ringleader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq. I’m glad that he apparently had a chance to suffer before actually dying.

I have no illusions that al-Zarqawi’s death will have any major impact on terrorism in Iraq, and elsewhere.

Many others stand in line to succeed him and the only question is whether this will take hours, days or months. If there were such a thing as infinite hatred, the hatred underlying Islamic terrorism would be it. It has no limit, no boundary, no starting or ending point. It is hatred for the sheer sake of hatred. The only purpose for existing, under such a philosophy, is to destroy as much good as possible; and then end one’s own life. I know of no precedent for this mentality in human history, at least not on so systematized and relentless a scale.

None of our leaders seem to understand or appreciate this fact.

In the early days of the war against terrorism, President Bush, in his speeches, seemed to show at least some understanding about the epic scale of this battle. But he’s undercut by his own allegiance to religious fundamentalism. Sooner or later, he had to run up against his own contradictions: that you cannot fight terrorism fueled by fundamentalist religion when you subscribe to fundamentalist religion yourself.

No, George W. Bush does not advocate the initiation of violence, while our enemies do. I recognize this is a huge difference. Yet President Bush is learning that military power can only do so much. In order to use the full force of your military power, you must have equally strong moral certainty behind you. President Bush recognizes that the terrorist violence is evil. It’s to his credit that, unlike many of his opponents on the left, he’s willing to call evil evil. But he can only go so far because, in his own vision of the world, man lives to serve the Lord. Who is he, after all, to go after those who are fighting in the name of their own lord whom they call Allah?

I recall in an interview shortly before President Bush’s reelection, a reporter asked him if he believed in the concept of turn the other cheek. He replied that of course he did; he was a Christian. The reporter next asked how he applies this notion to Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. I recall President Bush’s reply was something to the effect of “Well, you have to draw the line somewhere.”

This, of course, is what a lot of people think. But you can’t fight a battle with Islamic terrorists by moral line drawing. You can only defeat them by knowing that the overwhelming use of every bit of power that you possess is absolutely justified. You have to be every bit as absolute as they are–except on the side of freedom and justice, not mysticism and totalitarian dictatorship. If you are even one percent less consistent than they are, you’ll lose. These aren’t the Communists. These aren’t the Nazis. They don’t want power and control. They only want death and destruction–first yours; then theirs. To them, this is glory. As evil and dangerous as the threats of Nazism and Communism were to the United States, nothing (not even those evils) are as polar opposite to the underlying values of the United States as is the threat of Islamic terrorism.

That’s why I’m only happy about al-Zarqawi’s death for a brief moment. The moment is already passing.

I’m really glad the soldiers over in Iraq, sent on a mission of ambivalence, have a victory. They need and deserve one. But I know that there’s no way terrorism can be defeated, not in Iraq or anywhere else, until we have leadership that recognizes, without ambivalence, that Islamic militancy has to be wiped off the face of the earth.

In practice, this doesn’t mean attempting the impossible: to impose a democratic republic on a hapless nation like Iraq. In practice, we have to be doing more of what wiped out Iraq’s main terrorist: bomb the living daylights out of all terrorist strongholds including, most especially, everything and everyone connected to the government of Iran, the chief state sponsor of terrorism today. I’m tired of sending soldiers into impossible battles.

We’re not in the Middle East to save souls or create republics for people who don’t seem to know how to want it. We’re in the Middle East to make the world safer for ourselves. I’m not ashamed to admit it; I wish our leaders weren’t ashamed, either.

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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