Unless I feel the need to list milestones or count successes, I think I’ll forget al-Zarqawi in a few days. But before he is tossed off onto the ash-heap of history, there are a few things worth looking at.

First, the media just can’t wait to report anything bad about the military. Here’s a bit from an NBC story:

An Iraqi man who was one of the first people on the scene after an air strike that led to the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi told Associated Press Television News that he saw American troops beating a man who had a beard like the al-Qaida leader.

The witness said he saw the man lying on the ground, badly wounded but still alive. He said U.S. troops arriving on the scene wrapped the man’s head in an Arab robe and began beating him. His account cannot be independently verified.

There’s a bit more detail in this Yahoo report of the story.

U.S. officials have altered their account of the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, saying he was alive and partly conscious after bombs destroyed his hideout, and an Iraqi man raised fresh questions about the events surrounding the end of Iraq’s most-wanted militant….

The Iraqi, identified only as Mohammed, said residents put a bearded man in an ambulance before U.S. forces arrived. He said the man was found lying next to an irrigation canal.

“He was still alive. We put him in the ambulance, but when the Americans arrived they took him out of the ambulance, they beat him on his stomach and wrapped his head with his dishdasha, then they stomped on his stomach and his chest until he died and blood came out of his nose,” Mohammed said, without saying how he knew the man was dead.

Notice the “cannot be independently verified” caveat on the story, but they have no problem running with it. Feel free to call up the Associated Press and tell them that you saw some Democrat Senator buggering sheep. I’m sure they’ll have no problem running with that news story even though it “cannot be independently verified.” *eye-roll* But let me go on the record that even if this is true, I don’t care. I just think it would have been more fitting if the first people on the scene had pulled out a dull blade and spent a few minutes cutting off his head to the accompanying chants of “Aloha Snackbar.”

And finally, from the pen of Cox and Forkum comes this great cartoon.

Message for al-Zarqawi

Here is a bit of truth for you: in any conflict, the aggressor sets the rules. Let me explain. If two men are fighting under Marquess of Queensberry rules, then their match will continue under those rules unless and until one of them decides to break the rules and pull out a knife. At that point, the idea of a “fair fight” goes right out the window. By pulling out a blade, the aggressor has upped the ante to include knives, so all the self-imposed rules about boxing gloves and no hitting below the belt vanish.

If a friendly karate sparring match becomes a full-contact fight, the opponent is fully justified to use full force to put down the aggressor and end the fight. This is true for nations as well. The Geneva Convention bans the use of poisonous gas in a conflict, and in a hypothetical conflict between the U.S. and France, both sides would be bound by that agreement as signatories. But if France were to fire off some mustard gas at U.S. troops, the U.S. would no longer be bound by the Geneva Convention.

The aggressor sets the rules, but the position of “aggressor” is not limited to just one side or the other, and it may flip back and forth during a conflict. One boxer may start hitting below the belt. The other may start biting and head-butting. The first could escalate to using a folding chair, and the second could respond by pulling out a knife. In each instance, the one who escalates the fight is the aggressor and has set the new level of acceptable violence.

And war is violence, pure and simple. But we don’t fight wars purely and simply. If we did, we wouldn’t bother with things like guided bombs or calling off strikes because civilians are around. We’d just carpet-bomb a city to rubble if it meant getting the one person we want, or using a wave of nuclear explosions to turn a country into a sea of glass. The U.S. military (and, by extension, the civilian leaders over the military) have shown an amazing amount of self-control. Our forces have been very careful to avoid unnecessary casualties. I saw a video of a helicopter pilot guiding a missile to a truck containing known terrorists brandishing weapons. As the missile streaked toward the truck, a car filled with innocent people pulled alongside the terrorists as both vehicles waited to pass over a bridge. The pilot could have taken out the terrorists, but he would have almost certainly killed or hurt the passengers in the other car, so he ditched the missile into the river. That is the level of professionalism under which our military men and women are expected to work.

While al-Zarqawi was alive, he was responsible for a wave of beheadings, including the gruesome death of Nick Berg–who died screaming while al-Zarqawi sawed at his neck. Clearly al-Zarqawi was the aggressor, but the U.S. has not changed its strategy to include beheadings. Our military has decided not to stoop to the level of these terrorist thugs. But I think there is one place where our response should change, based on the acts of the aggressors who are fighting us. These thugs have no problem using their religion as a tool to fight the U.S. and the West, so I think we ought to change our tactics to include using their religion as a weapon against them. Normally religion would be hands off, but as the aggressors, they changed the rules.

Now imagine this scene: several camera crews are brought to the morgue where al-Zarqawi’s body is housed. They take close-up pictures of his face and known identifying marks to establish his identity. Then al-Zarqawi’s naked body is rubbed down with pig fat, and liquid lard is pumped into his stomach. His head is cut off with a knife, his body is chopped up, and the remains are fed to pigs and wild dogs. When the animals have eaten all they can stand of him, they are slaughtered and their corpses, their filth, and any leftover thug-bits are gathered up and dumped far out at sea. Under Muslim belief, these actions would be sufficient to deny al-Zarqawi his 72 virgins in paradise, deny anyone access to a gruesome relic, and serve as a deterrent to thug-wannabes who don’t want to miss out on their paradisiacal pleasures.

Would that ever happen? No. Would we be justified in doing that to his corpse? I say yes. These thugs have changed the rules by bringing beheadings, mutilations, and religion into this conflict. The actions described above would be playing by their rules. I think that, at the very least, we should announce that we will bury the corpses of known terrorists with pig parts. And that includes any and all bits we can scrape up of the remains of a homicide bomber.

Call me evil and vindictive if you like, but I don’t care. The nutjobs have chosen to change the rules by bringing their religion into the fight.

The big news today is that the al-Qaida thug who has been leading the terrorists in Iraq has been killed by a U.S. air strike. Go Air Force! The body of Sheikh Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been identified by fingerprints and distinguishing body marks. And in even better news, this air strike was a two-fer as it killed Sheik Abdul Rahman at the same time.

I view the death of people with sadness, even the death killers like al-Zarqawi and Saddam’s sons, Odai and Qusai Hussein. The chance to turn their lives around is now gone, but so is the opportunity for additional murders and mayhem. And I can accept that. Michelle Malkin has a good round-up of the current news, and I fully expect this to be top news on all the talk and news shows today.

So, who will spot the first “Yeah, but where’s Osama?” sentence in any of the main stream media’s reporting today?

UPDATE (6/8/2006 9:46:25 AM): Little Green Footballs has the air strike video and my favorite post title for the day.

I spent this week at work in training. People from around the globe attended the training courses. One of them was Joe, a self-professed socialist from Massachusetts. While he was a fun guy, and we chatted about a number of wide-ranging subjects, our political ideologies were almost diametrically opposed. Yet we still got along fine. America is nice that way.

At one point, Joe mentioned some information he’d read about the yearly complaints received by the Federal Communications Commission. In 2000 and 2001 there were fewer than 350 complaints each year. In 2002 the number rose to about 14,000, and in 2003 it soared to more than 240,000 complaints. The stinger of this article was that 99.8% of the complaints in 2003 came from a single group: the Parents Television Council. Joe was incensed that this Christian group would spend its time and effort trying to change what was shown on TV, and he was shocked that they would be allowed such access to the FCC.

I try to avoid politics when in training, but at this point I had to chime in with a sarcastic comment: “Damn those Christians for exercising their freedom of speech!” This comment promptly shut Joe up; whether he suddenly recognized the hypocrisy of his comments or was simply irritated by my statement, I’m not sure. Perhaps it would be better for Joe to gather like-minded friends and make use of his own freedom of speech, rather than fuming over others using their freedom to express their opinions to the government. It is always a better idea to speak for yourself, rather than reflexively trying to stifle others.

Incidentally, complaints to the FCC rose to over one million in 2004. While the Parents Television Council was extremely active during that year, half of the complaints came from individuals angered over Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” at the Super Bowl halftime show. Perhaps if Joe had read the entire article, he might have noticed his fellow Americans individually exercising their freedom of speech.

Exercising his own freedom of speech, Senator Byrd (D-WV) recently spoke out against the nomination of Dr. Condoleezza Rice for the position of Secretary of State. During his long rant against Dr. Rice, Senator Byrd missed the point multiple times:

Dr. Rice is responsible for some of the most overblown rhetoric that the Administration used to scare the American people into believing that there was an imminent threat from Iraq. On September 8, 2002, Dr. Rice conjured visions of American cities being consumed by mushroom clouds. On an appearance on CNN, she warned: “The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he [Saddam] can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

May I politely remind the Senator from the State of West Virginia that President Bush never claimed that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat? I may? Spiffy! Here’s the salient bit from the State of the Union address in 2003:

Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.

Senator Byrd’s long oration before the Senate continued in the same vein. Numerous times he made inaccurate statements, or mischaracterized the statements or actions of others. I find it highly ironic that one of the loudest voices of dissent against the nomination of America’s first black female Secretary of State was raised by a former Grand Kleagle of the Ku Klux Klan. But Senator Byrd was most certainly free to voice his objections to the now confirmed and sworn in Secretary Rice. He was simply exercising one of many freedoms we enjoy in this country.

Another freedom U.S. citizens enjoy is the freedom to vote for our government leaders. Iraqis around the world are also enjoying this freedom today; while the actual election day in Iraq is set for January 30, Iraqis living in other nations have already gathered to cast their vote in a three-day window. It has been many decades since the Iraqi people had a free election. Though there were elections under Saddam Hussein, they were far from free. To quote a classic video game, “When there’s only one candidate, there’s only one choice.”

Exercising his freedom of speech, Senator Kennedy (D-MA) stated yesterday that the U.S. should pull its troops out of Iraq. “It will not be easy to extricate ourselves from Iraq, but we must begin.” Since I have already reminded one Senator of the facts, here’s a historical reminder for you, Senator Kennedy: U.S. troops never left Germany after it was defeated in World War II. Here we are, 60 years after the end of World War II, and we still have American soldiers stationed in Germany. But they are not seen as “part of the problem,” as Senator Kennedy views the troops in Iraq.

Why is it that the senior Senator from Massachusetts feels such a pressing need to compare Iraq to Vietnam? “We lost our national purpose in Vietnam. We abandoned the truth. We failed our ideals. The words of our leaders could no longer be trusted,” he said. Well, there is a real similarity between the two wars. The Vietnam War was lost largely because Leftists in the United States turned public opinion against the war, and they are attempting to do exactly the same thing with the war in Iraq.

In fact, the Central Intelligence Agency’s top official in Baghdad warned recently that the security situation is deteriorating and is likely to worsen, with escalating violence and more sectarian clashes. How could any President have let this happen?

It’s quite simple, Senator. When you bloviate about how the war in Iraq was a fraud made up in Texas, you undermine our soldiers and their jobs. When you criticize everything the President says and does, you are giving aid and comfort to the enemy. And when you call for a quick withdrawal, you spread the word to the murderous thugs converging on Iraq that they need only to wait us out, and they’ll be back in power.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has announced that he will fight against the coming elections: “We have declared a fierce war on this evil principle of democracy and those who follow this wrong ideology.” Congratulations, Senator Kennedy; you have just aligned yourself with a head-chopping murderer who wants Americans dead. Not just out of Iraq, but dead.

Regardless of his political stance, however, Senator Kennedy is free to speak out as he sees fit. That is a blessing of living in this great nation. President Bush has explained our national goal further: “So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.” In a few days, Iraq will join Afghanistan in casting free elections.

Fifty million people to date have escaped the oppressive control of tyrants because of President Bush’s vision. Let freedom ring!