Thursday, June 08, 2006

Say Goodnight To The Bad Guy

And the timing couldn't be better. "Al-Qaeda In Iraq" leader Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi was apparently killed yesterday in a targetted airstrike on a farmhouse north of Baghdad. Apparently.

Maybe I'm just an incorrigible cynic, but my reaction when I first saw this news was "How convenient." Just when -- gas prices are expected to spike this summer, oil prices are through the roof, Bush's approval ratings are in the toilet, the American public's support for the war in Iraq is at an all-time low, US troops are being investigated for the slaughter of Iraqi civilians, and Iran's quest for nukes continues. The Bush Administration desperately needed some kind of good news, and what better than the elimination of The Bad Guy?

I don't doubt this guy Zarqawi is dead, and he certainly needed killing. What doesn't ring true to me is the significance of the event, and the importance of Zarqawi himself. All this talk about having "cut the head off the snake of terrorism in Iraq" is pretty naive. Zarqawi's group is nowhere near the largest of the insurgent groups in Iraq. In fact, his demise is probably the result of infighting among different factions of the insurgency; the intelligence that led to him most likely originated with a rival insurgent group. The way it's being played in the media, that this is a major blow to the insurgency, is foolish. But the Bush Administration knows its audience, and knows that the elimination of a Bad Guy will always get the attention of the American people. It worked when they staged the toppling of the statue of Saddam, and it'll probably work this time too.

It's been said before and it's still true: "If information is the oxygen of democracy, the United States has just been gassed. Not with weapons of mass destruction, but weapons of mass distraction."