Friday, June 09, 2006

And he can no longer implement

The Pentagon is now admitting that Zarqawi was still alive when they reached the scene of the bombing, a fact they’ve kept to themselves until now. And that they cleaned up the corpse before taking those pictures. Says Gen. William Caldwell: “we made a conscious decision that if we were going to take photographs of him and make them available publicly that we were going to clean him up. Despite the fact that this person actually had no regard for human life, we were not going to treat him in the same manner.” Dude, you killed him, blew up everyone around him, including women and maybe a child, and then showed off framed pictures of his body: don’t pretend that cleaning off the blood before taking your victory snaps shows a morally superior regard for human life.

It’s so hard to take Zarqawi’s death at face value (yesterday I was muttering to myself that the US had had all these old photos of Zarqawi but had for years been using an artist’s rendering which had the eyebrows all wrong) because Zarqawi’s been such a convenient tool of Bushite propaganda for so long. Before the invasion, he was the sole piece of “proof” of a Saddam-Al Qaeda nexus, although he was not then connected to Al Qaeda and was operating in Kurdish- rather than Saddam-controlled Iraq, under the protection of the no-fly zone. He was more convenient alive than dead, so he was left to operate his bioweapons lab unmolested. Later, Fallujah was ordered to surrender Zarqawi; he had already fled, and the city was turned into smoking rubble. Then there was the Zawahiri-Zarqawi letter, cited by Bush in speech after speech months after it was discredited as a fake. So you can’t help but wonder when the timing of the man’s death is so symbolically convenient, as Bush admitted today:
The problem we have in this war is that all they’ve got to do is kill some innocent people by a car bomb, and it looks like they’re winning, see. It takes a major event like an election or the death of Zarqawi to understand that we’re making progress.
If it looks like they’re winning, it’s not because of “a” car bomb, but several hundred car bombs. Zarqawi you can presumably only kill once, so when it’s announced on the same day as the cabinet is completed, hopefully obscuring the preceding six months of sordid horse-trading, that’s just jolly symbolic. And... convenient.

Bush – and this is never a good idea – explains: “the upper management of al Qaeda was counting on Zarqawi to help implement their vision beyond Iraq... They want to have their view of the world. I call it totalitarian, Islamo-fascism. Whatever you want to call it, it is extreme and it’s real. And Zarqawi was the implementer of that strategy. And he can no longer implement.”

(Update: Geov Parrish makes all of my points, and more. Bastard.)

(Updater: and Patrick Cockburn: “He was an enemy to America’s liking.”)

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