And the final fact is this. The only exit from war's inhumanity is through the doorway of victory. For while it may be mitigated, controlled and reduced to a certain extent fundamentally "war is cruelty, and you cannot refine it", though victory can end it. While it continues, as many in the Left who long for a 21st century Vietnam hope, it will unleash unpredictable forces which no one can control. Those who delighted in discovering the photographs at Abu Ghraib little imagined Nick Berg's video. And while we can safely grant Andrew Sullivan's plea and publish both, for reasons the media imagine are laudable, it is what comes next that I am afraid of.
"This shows how base and vile those who wear the robe of Islam have become," said Abdullah Sahar, a political scientist at Kuwait University.
The video was released on the internet yesterday, but appeared too late for columnists in the Middle East to comment. But many Arabs said today that the grisly execution, attributed to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group, surpassed the US military's abuse of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison, which has been the top story for the past 10 days in the Middle East.
"We were winning international sympathy because of what happened at Abu Ghraib, but they come and waste it all," Mr Sahar said of the militants responsible.