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Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Cutthroats in the Hood: If a terror suspect in a black hood standing on a box at Abu Ghraib is a face of the war, the terrorist in a black hood ritually slaughtering an American hostage on video is the face of the war.
After Daniel Pearl and Fallujah, the murder of Nick Berg makes if difficult to weep overly long over Iraqi prisoners with panties on the head or glow sticks in the rear.
Brian Wise at Intellectual Conservative writes on Abu Ghraib in the wake of Nick Berg:
But until and unless that material proves so horrible, you’ll have to forgive me for not having the desire to dismantle the entire military establishment for the actions of a very small number of soldiers (and probably some in the chain of command), or to fire Rumsfeld, or to impeach Bush. I have seen the Nick Berg video; I have seen the Daniel Pearl video; I have seen the video of the four Americans massacred, their body parts hung from a bridge to burn. I have watched them not because they’re enjoyable, but because they remind me we are fighting a battle for humanity more than for “democracy in the Middle East.” It’s nearly impossible to give a damn about the nude pyramid and the guy on the leash when you’ve seen a man scream until the exact moment his head is removed from his body.
[T]he Berg beheading does a grim but salutary service. In the midst of our own deserved self-criticism, we are suddenly reminded of the larger stakes, the wider war, why we are in Iraq in the first place. Most Americans do not in any way excuse Abu Ghraib, but also see that any sort of moral equivalence between our flawed democracy and Islamism's pathological hatred is obscene. In a purely strategic sense, stiffening American resolve and inflaming American outrage at this juncture is exactly what a smart al Qaeda would avoid. But there is no such thing as a smart al Qaeda. Evil can sometimes be stupid, and often is.
This is al Qaeda. They beheaded Daniel Pearl long before the war in Iraq. They murdered thousands in New York City long before Saddam was removed from power. And they are as stupid as they are evil. Iraqis now have contrasting images. Do they want to be run by people who cut innocent people's throats at will or by people who have removed a dictator and are investigating unethical abuse of prison inmates? Zarqawi has now done something for our morale as well as his. He has reminded us of the real enemy; and he has reminded the Iraqis.
ROME - The scandal of prisoner abuses by U.S. soldiers in Iraq has dealt a bigger blow to the United States than the Sept. 11 attacks, the Vatican foreign minister told an Italian newspaper.
In an interview published Wednesday in the Rome daily La Repubblica, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo described the abuses as “a tragic episode in the relationship with Islam” and said the scandal would fuel hatred for the West and for Christianity.
“The torture? A more serious blow to the United States than Sept. 11. Except that the blow was not inflicted by terrorists but by Americans against themselves,” Lajolo was quoted as saying in La Repubblica.
In a report on Nick Berg, Reuters, ever impartial, wheels out the violent bicycle metaphor, so useful in the objective reporting of unalloyed barbarism by sadistic death cultists.
Flying jet planes into skyscrapers? Beheading Jews on camera? Blowing up commuter trains in Spain, setting off car bombs among fellow Arabs in Saudi Arabia, or planning a huge chemical bomb attack on fellow Arabs in Jordan? Gunning down a pregnant Israeli woman and her children and videotaping them as they bleed to death? It's that cycle of violence to blame.
Personally, I think the illustrator of this propaganda poster from the Great War caught in his "Hun" the likeness of today's Islamist monster, missing only the hood with the motto "Allahu Akbar."
We are in a war, one that has been declared on us, and would do well to remember it.