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June 08, 2006


I'm busy plugging away at other things at the moment, but I've got e-mail asking me what I think of the US military killing al-Zarqawi in Iraq. My immediate reaction is: Good. I imagine I will have a more subtle reaction in the long-term ("good, and now..."), but until I get what I need to get done done and gather my thoughts on the subject, here, have a thread to discuss the event and its implications. I'll swing by when I'm caught up.

Posted by john at June 8, 2006 10:17 AM

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John H | June 8, 2006 10:28 AM

Yes, apparently the Delta Force was tasked with taking him out. Which begs the question, why haven't they been doing this with OBL?

CoolBlue | June 8, 2006 10:40 AM

John H

apparently the Delta Force was tasked with taking him out

Actually, Task Force 145 which is significantly different in makup from the Special Forces Detatchment Delta.

Which begs the question, why haven't they been doing this with OBL?

They have. But he stays protected in Pakistan.

Kero aka Kevin | June 8, 2006 10:57 AM

Well, not quite the birthday present I was hoping for but better than nothing.

I would imagine we did this to him as opposed to OBL because we don't know where OBL is, or is going to be in x minutes, where x is the amount of time to get steel on target.

Phillip J. Birmingham | June 8, 2006 10:59 AM

I would imagine we did this to him as opposed to OBL because we don't know where OBL is, or is going to be in x minutes, where x is the amount of time to get steel on target.


I don't think very highly of our President at all, but I don't doubt he'd push the button on OBL in a second if he knew where the guy was.

John Scalzi | June 8, 2006 11:12 AM

Yeah, blowing OBL to bits is something that transcends politics. Get him, George!

Jon Marcus | June 8, 2006 11:17 AM

Good news, definitely. Better late than never.


JonathanMoeller | June 8, 2006 11:18 AM

They actually GOT him?

Hope it doesn't turn out to be an error or a misreported bit of information. Iraq may or may not have been a long-term mistake, but people like Zarqawi deserve those 500-pounder bombs and much more.

Jon Marcus | June 8, 2006 11:22 AM

Seems pretty sure they got him. Even his own people say he's dead. (They say he's martyred of course...)

CoolBlue | June 8, 2006 11:32 AM

Kero aka Kevin

I would imagine we did this to him as opposed to OBL because we don't know where OBL is, or is going to be in x minutes, where x is the amount of time to get steel on target.

You're probably right.

But I'm also thinking they would really, really like to capture him alive.

Killing him would be a major boost for our side.

But having him show up in handcuffs like Saddam would be a major psychological deafeat for their side as well as a boost for our side.

cisko | June 8, 2006 11:37 AM

Psychological benefits aside, I figure they'd take either one (al-Zarqawi or Bin Laden) alive if possible for the intelligence value. It's probably a lot easier to roll up the whole network if you can grab top guys rather than grunts.

That said, they probably take the 'bird in the hand' approach, and kill the guy rather than gambling on a capture.

darren | June 8, 2006 12:22 PM

OK? So what now? The news (well Fox) is touting this as though we've just won the war on terror and nothing bad is ever going to happen again ever. What exactly has al-Zarqawi done to make anyone think that yet another #3 is going to move right into his place? The guy must be a cat because this is like the 5th time I've found out we've killed him.

Kero aka Kevin | June 8, 2006 12:25 PM

I haven't seen any news on this so it's all speculation. But if they killed Z with a bomb it's probably because they couldn't get folks to snatch him and probably don't get hard intel on his location enough to want to try again. I'm sure the decision tree goes capture first then kill. Hopefully something was learned from the Clinton administration who never pulled the trigger on OBL despite a couple of chances.

John H | June 8, 2006 12:26 PM

Yeah, we're pretty good at getting the number 2 guy, but not so good at getting the number 1...

Sean L. | June 8, 2006 12:36 PM

Good is the first thing that comes to mind - but hopefully not the ending though. Even if it is the number two, it's better than absolutely nothing. As with any of these organizations, if you kill the leaders, the rest of the organization collapses. There can only be so many that have the intellect and the ability to lead a dissociate group such as the terrorists, and only a few that can dream up the plots. Without their leaders, they are a flailing mob that doesn't have its rage focused and directed - and thus the capture or kill of any of them is a significant victory for our side.

However, we must not allow this victoy to stand in the way of objectively observing what our forces are still doing in Iraq. for example, the recent massacre, proves that there is still wrong being done in Iraq, and by our forces nonetheless.

So so good, I say, but let not your sight be turned from the abominations that have occurred and may occur in the future. Otherwise, even if we capture Osama bin Laden, we may still lose Iraq.

John H | June 8, 2006 01:03 PM

Hopefully something was learned from the Clinton administration who never pulled the trigger on OBL despite a couple of chances.

Clinton lobbed cruise missiles at OBL and was blasted for what his critics said was an attempt to deflect attention from the Monica scandal.

It should also be pointed out that Bush had the chance to take out Zarqawi before the Iraq war started and didn't. And after that the Iraqis had him in custody but let him go.

darren | June 8, 2006 01:29 PM

Plus the one time he didn't pull the trigger when he knew OBL's wherabouts was because the Royal family of the UAB would have been in the kill zone. Now go ahead and think that they would just have been collateral damage, but don't you think we would have had a whole new can of worms as bad or worse than 9-11 if we had taken out a middle eastern royal family?

"As with any of these organizations, if you kill the leaders, the rest of the organization collapses."

I'm not so sure about that, which is why I'm not exactly popping the cork on the fine champers and putting on the party hats.(whom I've brought up with 4 different people while out and about today and have gotten the same reaction from all of them; "Who's that?")
It seems to me that these "organizations" are specifically able to operate independently so that they can shrug their shoulder's and tout another excuse to kill westerners when one of their leaders is taken out. They don't really need leadership beyond their basic training, they need loyalty to Allah. Their marching orders are pretty clear; kill western infidels.

Jon Marcus | June 8, 2006 01:32 PM

"As with any of these organizations, if you kill the leaders, the rest of the organization collapses."

Can you give me any examples of that working? I can think of quite a few examples where it didn't. Israel's taken out quite a few leaders. And while it's been a good thing tactically, Hezbollah and Hamas are still going strong.

And Zarqawi's group had their website updated within hours of his death, singing praises of his martrydom. Granted, any idiot can maintain a web page (no insult intended to the proprietor) but it suggests that even with him gone there's still a working organization.

Moreover, the idea that Al Qaida is a single organization with Zarqawi as OBL's #2 guy, is just wrong. Zarqawi's organization has similar name and propaganda to OBL's, but seems to be completely different in scope and theater and even goals, not to mention membership.

Kero aka Kevin | June 8, 2006 01:50 PM

Killing the head may not kill the snake all the time but hopefully the Peter Principle will kick in at some point and they will be crippled by a lack of vision at the top.

Bearpaw | June 8, 2006 02:04 PM

Killing the head may not kill the snake all the time but hopefully the Peter Principle will kick in at some point and they will be crippled by a lack of vision at the top.

Which we'll be able to detect when they change their priorities from kicking infidels out of the Middle-East to blocking same-sex marriages, banning flag-burning, and cutting taxes for the very wealthy.

Hal | June 8, 2006 02:14 PM

A better outcome would have been to make Zarqawi stand trial. But killing him is better than letting him run free.

Steve Brady | June 8, 2006 02:44 PM

I don't doubt he'd push the button on OBL in a second if he knew where the guy was.

My current wacky notion on this is they're afraid that Musharraf's govt would collapse if they did this. And then you have extremists with nukes.

Tripp | June 8, 2006 03:48 PM

What next?

Bring the troops home for the Mother of all 4th of July parades!

Bill Marcy | June 8, 2006 04:06 PM

I blame Bush for this killing, his hand is dripping with Zarqawi's blood.

I gather many people would think that was a bad thing.

darren | June 8, 2006 04:51 PM

Tripp and Bill Marcy,

I'm not sure what you're points are. I don't think anyone would say that they're going to lose sleep over Zaquari's death. I am merely questioning the significance of it in the grand scheme of things. I mean I thought it was over when they knocked over that statue of Saddam? Then again when we killed Saddam's sons and made everybody look at photos of their dead bodies! After that, our last act in Iraq was when we yanked Saddam from that 'spider' hole and he looked all dirty and ungroomed! Now, al-Zarqawi's dead! I'm supposed to think We won! Terrorism has been defeated! We killed terrorism! YAAAHOOOO!!!

Even if its true and this brings a swift end to U.S. operations in the middle east within the month as all forces of evil that are against us stand down because a guy who's role in terrorism, or Iraq, or Afghanastan most american's couldn't explain or even pronounce his name, I don't understand how it could lead to the mother of all 4th of July parades. Let's not mix our iconic, symbolic dates please. The 4th of July is a date with specific significance. I don't like it when people try to assign other events to dates that don't need propped up by other things. Remember when (I think it was Rummy) wanted us all to celebrate Iraqi independence on July 4th 2003? No thanks.

Phillip J. Birmingham | June 8, 2006 04:53 PM

I gather many people would think that was a bad thing.


Bill Marcy | June 8, 2006 04:55 PM

Uh, I still blame Bush.

darren | June 8, 2006 04:56 PM

Man I must be tired. My grammar and word usage sucks today.

Bill Marcy | June 8, 2006 05:03 PM

Bit your word count is up, and we both know the magic is in the cutting anyway.

Dave Klecha | June 8, 2006 05:34 PM

What's really important, is not just Zarqawi, since as long as there's someone who claims to be in Al-Qaeda in Iraq, there'll be someone else in line to lead it...

... the important question is, what went down with him?

Sure, you can give an army an owie if you kill the general, but if you kill him by blowing up his command-and-control tent, and taking all that with him, then you've done a much better job of it than just by capping the lead guy. Guerilla forces, not having the depth or redundancy that a standing army does, can find such a blow to be much more devestating.

Of course, that assumes there is a command-and-control, with a cohesive strategy plan in mind, and not just a bunch of suicidal yahoos bent on chaos as an end goal.

Just saying, anyway, that the death of Zarqawi could be both a psychological and practical victory, though not necessarily for the same reasons.

Matt | June 8, 2006 06:56 PM

I think the fitting end for a brutal murderer such as this bastard Zarqawi is to severe his head and mix the body with pig entrails before dumping it in a pit. Before other people say it is brutal, remember that the English used to quarter their defeated opponents and display it to serve as a warning for others.

Jason Broander | June 8, 2006 08:35 PM

While I know things are far from over and done in Iraq and elsewhere in the war against terroristm, I have to say that when a very evil murderer gets the justice he deserves, a little bit of triumphilism is only human. And I think a little is in order today.


Celebrating the death of ones enemies is as old as man (Perhaps older, since God--in the Bible--seems to relish the destruction of his enemies as well. But, when you're the definition of good and evil, your enemies are naturally evil and your destroying them is naturally just. So, God certainly should relish his smiting;). Zarqawi, who has murdered thousands of Iraqis and hundreds of US servicemen, is certainly an enemy of all of us.

The smile I had for an hour early in the morning when the news broke keeps coming back. Especially when I see the flash of that bomb detonate in that video.

Bill Marcy | June 8, 2006 08:56 PM


Didn't the fall of Saddam deserve such merriment and festivities also?

Jason Broander | June 8, 2006 09:10 PM


Certainly. And when his sons got it too. While those events certainly didn't mark total victory, they certainly helped alot. Can you imagine what Iraq would be like if Saddam and his sons were still on the loose organizing Baathist attacks? It would be several orders of magnitude worse.

See, the thing about the death of Zarqawi is that there is no down side. He was hated by Iraqis as much as us, so there won't be some sort of popular backlash in his behalf (in fact, popular hatred probably helped is in locating him so we could 'splode his safehouse).

Also, you have to enjoy the good when it comes around, for it doesn't come around often in war. If you don't, you won't have the will to make it through the bad and trying times that'll inevitably come. Celebrate now, and harden your hearts for the resolve to keep pushing towards victory.

Jason Broander | June 8, 2006 09:19 PM


I now notice that you said the "fall of Saddam". I interpreted that as his capture in the spider hole, but you could have meant instead the US occupying the country in April 2003 and Saddam's retreat into hiding. Both events deserved merriment (though not reckless merriment, which one may argue did to a limited extent occur), I'd say. In the case of the invasion, because we'd managed to achieve our goal and conquer Iraq with so little bloodshed. In the case of Sadaam's capture, see above.

As far as celebration today has gone, I'd say there hasn't been enough (and not even close to reckless celebration either here or in Iraq), especially in the media and certain left-leaning members of the political class.

Bill the Splut | June 8, 2006 09:31 PM

This is a full-fledged civil war. His death will change nothing.

Jason Broander | June 8, 2006 09:39 PM

@Bill the Splut:

Turmoil and terrorism are just descriptions of the current situation (but so is reconstruction and a-return-to-normalcy, if one doesn't confine one's view of Iraq to the two provinces that are wracked with the most violence). Civil war is not, unless one uses a definition of civil war that is overly broad and far beyond what 'civil war' means in common usage, a just or accurate description of Iraq today.

Also, I was tempted to question your repeating of inane Kossak and MSM talking points, but I suspect doing so won't do any good. So instead I'll let the mention of my suspicions suffice for now.

Jason Broander | June 8, 2006 09:50 PM

One last thing. If you're not that excited about Zarqawi's death, this might help you remember why his death is such a GOOD THING:


Tim | June 8, 2006 10:38 PM

Zarqawi death is a great thing.

As Jason said, "there's no down side".

In the details of the reporting today, there is even additional upside. In the bombing that killed Zarqawi, we also killed seven of his lieutenants. At such a high level meeting there was probably a good intelligence "take" left over in the rubble. Additionally, this hit was only one of 17 operations that they executed against suspected terrorists.

Not that everything is wine and roses. Al-Qaeda is organized around the model of a cell network. Cell networks are extremely fault tolerant, mostly for security reasons, but it still makes them resilient. For a good understanding of cell networks you can read Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", and you get a good sci-fi read at the same time.

darren | June 9, 2006 01:58 AM

"See, the thing about the death of Zarqawi is that there is no down side."
Particularly if you're an administration trying to divert attention from other things. But I would venture a guess not if you're going to be the target of vengeance such as oh I don't know.....a U.S. soldier. I'll bet a U.S. soldier in the middle of escalating violence might see a down side.

I'm sure folks will just brush this aside the way they do Cindy Sheehan or how Ann Coulter did with the 9-11 widows, but;

"I think al-Zarqawi's death is a double tragedy," Michael Berg told The Associated Press after learning a U.S. airstrike had killed the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq. "His death will incite a new wave of revenge. George Bush and al-Zarqawi are two men who believe in revenge."

Al-Zarqawi is believed to have beheaded two American civilians in 2004: Nicholas Berg, a 26-year-old businessman from West Chester, Pa., and Eugene Armstrong, a 52-year-old contractor from Hillsdale, Mich. Jack Hensley, a 48-year-old engineer from Marietta, Ga., was abducted at the same time as Armstrong and also killed.

Armstrong's family did not want to discuss al-Zarqawi.

"An evil man is dead, and what more can you say?" said family spokeswoman Cyndi Armstrong, the wife of the slain contractor's cousin.

Michael Berg, a pacifist who is running for Delaware's lone House seat on the Green Party ticket, said al-Zarqawi's death is likely to foster anti-American resentment among al-Qaida members who feel they have nothing left to lose.

Berg said the blame for most deaths in Iraq should be placed on President Bush, who he said is "more of a terrorist than Zarqawi."

"Zarqawi felt my son's breath on his hand as held the knife against his throat. Zarqawi had to look in his eyes when he did it," Berg added, pausing to collect himself. "George Bush sits there glassy-eyed in his office with pieces of paper and condemns people to death. That to me is a real terrorist."


Chris | June 9, 2006 04:34 AM

"In the bombing that killed Zarqawi, we also killed seven of his lieutenants."

The BBC said a total of 6 were killed - Zarqawi, his 'spiritual advisor', 2 unidentified men & a woman and child.

I think Zarqawi's death is a good thing, but I'm not going to feel triumph since the manner of his execution included the death of a child.

Zarqawi had a bitter hatred of Shia muslims, hence the focus on civilian bombings. The new leader may choose to redirect the insurgency against the security forces, which would presumably increase the support from Iraqi civilians.

Smurf | June 9, 2006 07:47 AM

A-Z, when dead, looks a lot like B Real from Cypress Hill.

I, for one, enjoyed the irony. AZ was in a nice safe house, not (at the moment, anyway) doing anything to anyone... when, out of nowhere.... Death From The Skies.

I'm actually hoping that the building fell on him while he was still alive so that he could appreciate Allah's subtle sense of humor.

Josh Jasper | June 9, 2006 08:50 AM

Refering to "the insurgency" in Iraq as if al-Zarqawi was the "head" of it is a nifty little trick Bush and company are playing. Anyone who's been paying attention to events over there will realize that there are several organizations doing what al-Zarqawi did, others devited to different goals, and still more who're basically just criminals.

Claiming that al-Zarqawi's death is going to change things is like claiming that Nixon getting the boot ended corruption in the federal government.

Rhiannon_s | June 9, 2006 09:12 AM

Without making moral judgements about this guy's death, one thing a few people on other boards havve been picking up on is the broadcasting of his corpse. It seems a few people are having some problems squaring reports of two five hundred pound bombs dropped on him and leaving, apparently, nothing but rubble and a crater except for his perfectly preserved face.

It does seem odd. Whether or not it's one of those freak effects of explosions or something more sinister is open to debate though. What does anyone else think?

Chris Gerrib | June 9, 2006 09:58 AM

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that al-Zarqawi was alive when US troops got to the house (quoting a US news conference) but died shortly thereafter.

darren | June 9, 2006 10:11 AM

I'm not a tinfoil hat guy, but I've had the same thoughts regarding there being so much of him left and identifiable considering the type of trauma that supposedly killed him. The other thing that gives me pause are reports from elsewhere in the world reporting him dead as far back as May 2005 coupled with the timing of U.S. news reports.
I have been called a conpiracy theorist before, but I think it's a valid arguement that it isn't conspiracy when they're doing shit right in front of you out in the open.

Dean | June 9, 2006 12:17 PM

It didn't take long for the conspiracy theorists to grab onto this, did it? Wow.

High explosives are chancy things. If he'd been real close, they wouldn't have found anything but his shoes. He was probably killed by falling rubble or the loss of a leg or something.

There's no conspiracy here. Zarqawi was a fanatic thug, a vicious, heartless man. In spite of what some news sources have been saying for months now, he was at best a fringe player in the current situation in Iraq, and his death, while thoroughly deserved, will probably mean little.

The only benefit I can see is if AQ Iraq is crippled enough to stop their attacks on the Shia. It seems likely to me that Zarqawi and his little band of fanatics were the ones who really got the current civil war rolling earlier this year. Not that it wouldn't have happened anyway, but they really turned up the heat.

The situation in Iraq is now beyond the control of any one group.

darren | June 9, 2006 01:28 PM

"It didn't take long for the conspiracy theorists to grab onto this, did it? Wow."


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