June 08, 2006

ZARQAWI IS DEAD: Good. Unlike previous reports this one seems very likely to be true. I hope his end wasn't entirely painless, though it seems likely that it was swift. Austin Bay has a roundup and some thoughts.

Excerpt: "The new Iraqi government is building a political process. Removing Zarqawi forwards that process. Maliki has also promised the Iraqi people he will improve the internal security situation. Maliki can use Zarqawi’s death to help heal sectarian (Sunni-Shia) rifts in Iraq."

Bush's statement is here. And there is much rejoicing at Iraq the Model.

UPDATE: Here's a big Zarqawi death roundup from Pajamas Media -- and featuring a podcast interview with Omar from Iraq the Model on what it means for Iraq.

The Media Blog is rounding up -- and rating -- press coverage.

Video here, plus a report that oil prices are dropping in response.

Tim Blair looks at the Robert Fisk angle.

Samizdata: "This is brilliant news."


It's sad that within minutes of announcing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's death, the network morning shows were already carrying criticism of the Bush administration. Not only did NBC invite Sen. Joe Biden so he could attack Bush incompetence (funny day for that!), ABC's Bill Weir reminded the audience that Zarqawi beheaded American Nicholas Berg, and then replayed Berg's left-wing dad saying at the time that he had no desire for his son's killers to be killed. Weir then reported that he spoke to Berg's father this morning, and he condemned the Zarqawi killing as part of an endless cycle of retribution.

It's transparent stuff like this, of course, that gets them accused of spinning war news to make things look worse than they are, and to hurt Bush. Because, you know, that's what they do, every day. It's just more noticeable at times like this.

Meanwhile, in a development that, along with the PJM instant podcast, should worry Big Media, Tim Worstall posts a blog report from Baghdad on reactions. My favorite bit:

A Shia friend may have said it best, “Zarqawi would not listen to ballots, today there is no mistaking that he listened to the bombs.”

Observers will note three elements which are combining to make today’s feeling of hope different from the numerous other times here in Iraq; the death of al Zarqawi, the confirmation of new Ministers of Defence and Interior, and the strong possibility of a political breakthrough with the Sunni insurgency are combining.

Read the whole thing. Of course, as the Texas Rainmaker notes, not everyone is happy.

STILL MORE: Bad news for the press, though. Howard Kurtz goes out of his way to note that "Loud applause broke out among the reporters" when Zarqawi's death was announced. That should be a dog-bites-man story, but Howard seems to know better. (Would it have been news if reporters had cheered the death of Heinrich Himmler in 1943? I doubt it.)

Unfortunately, it appears that there's even less to this story, as NBC's Richard Engel reported that it was Iraqi reporters who were doing the cheering. That really is a case of dog bites man.

EVEN MORE: Jim Wooten writes:

This has always been the way that the war on terrorism would be won. One bad guy or one small group of them at a time, just as President Bush explained to the nation after Sept. 11th.

Patience. Patience in supporting the men and women of the free world who are taking the Al-Zarqawis out. That’s all that’s ever been required of us. It’s been clear all along. The war will be won on the ground; if it’s lost — if our great grandchildren still live under threat of the al-Qaida offsprings — it will be because we lost our will at home.

Yes. And of course it's true -- as Austin Bay notes in the post linked above -- that no single event like this is decisive. It's all part of a long process of ups and downs. But, of course, that's also true of the bad news. Funny that when something bad happens, the press doesn't hedge it with qualifiers and contrary views the way they do when something good does. And it's too bad that I have to spend so much of a post on a Zarqawi's death talking about the misconduct of the American press. But terrorism is an information war for the most part, and the press is, in various ways, empowering the terrorists. I wish it would show as much awareness of nuance, and the tendency of people to manipulate the media, where the enemy is concerned as it does in some other settings where, I think it's fair to say, it cares more about the impact of its behavior.

Some people who feel they have more at stake seem to get it, though. Laura Lee Donoho of The Wide Awake Cafe emails:

Hi Glenn, As I was just up drinking coffee, and reading the great news that Zarqawi is dead my son called. He is training at Camp McCoy for his deployment to Iraq later this summer. He wasn't anywhere near internet access but had his cellphone and wanted to learn the details. He told me that one of the guys in his unit learned the news from his cellphone. They were all tremendously excited. My son said it is a big moral victory.

Yes, and unlike some other "moral victories" I can think of, it's also, you know, an actual victory.

FINALLY: William Arkin has it right:

What are we to make of the death of terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi?

The hopeful view is that the death of this important commander and inspirational figure will deflate the terrorist influence in Iraq.

The cynical view is that this it is just another announcement of progress from the administration at a time when it is down and out.

Then there is the anti-everything view, the one that cannot recognize that Zarqawi was a real foreign terrorist in Iraq, there to foment chaos and death. The anti-everything view cannot see beyond loathing for the war and for all things Bush to recognize an achievement, even if it is only a little step. . . .

There is no denying, nonetheless, that an Iraqi national military, government and people are slowly moving in the direction of some semblance of normalcy and security. This is good news, because it is imperative that the United States leave Iraq and leave its security to its own people -- and that can only happen when Baghdad has assumed enough responsibility to allow an exit. . . .

Looking at the ages of the American special forces veterans who have died in the hunt, it is clear that these are not kids, nor amateurs. That should both tell us how difficult the fight has been and also the sacrifices others are making to fight a ruthless and anarchic foe. In a climate where Haditha suggests only American murder and lawlessness, even the cynical should be able to see that.