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The Death of al-Zarqawi

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Message Larry Sakin
Welcome back from inter-planetary travel if you haven’t heard about the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, terrorist leader who roiled things up in Iraq for the last two and half years. Virtually every news medium has trumpeted the murder of the man who seemingly was second only in the effort to tear Iraq apart to President George W. Bush. Perhaps this subtle gloating is an appropriate response to the former leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq. Yet, considering the upcoming Senate investigation into the Haditha massacre and a crisis in faith by the American people over Bush’s handling of the war, al-Zarqawi’s death seems awfully convenient.

I’ve got no evidence to back up what’s written here. It’s just a gut feeling. But it seems difficult that al-Zarqawi’s body could have survived pretty much intact after being hit by two 500 lb. bombs dropped from coalition air forces. I don’t doubt he’s actually dead—I just wonder if he might have been killed sometime before the raid on Wednesday, and it’s being announced now to distract attention away from Haditha and make it look like the tide of violence may be turning in Iraq.

al-Zarqawi’s role in the insurgency was always conflated by Bush and the military. Terror experts generally agree that Al Qaeda in Iraq was one small army among thousands who’ve been fighting against the American occupation of the country. But most Americans don’t understand how factionalized the Iraqi insurgency and Al Qaeda is. In a way, the insurgency and Al Qaeda are like little franchises of terrorism. All have similar goals and are fighting for basically the same things. It’s just some may be more local in scope while others are more regional or national. al-Zarqawi’s significance has been played up by the media, and he became the “face” of the Iraqi insurgency. So while his role in the insurgency wasn’t that big, his name recognition among Americans makes it seem like his death has brought Iraq to a crucial juncture.

Many commentators have warned that al-Zarqawi’s death will do little to quell the situation in Iraq, and the President has acknowledged that the insurgency will carry on without al-Zarqawi. However, Bush knows that the death of a high profile terrorist will win him big points among his base, if only temporarily. Those big points could translate into better numbers for Republican leaders overall and have an effect on upcoming elections and in how America views the Senate investigations on Haditha. Should the Republican base embrace Bush’s Iraq policy again, the Senate investigations may have to be postponed until after the elections.

So al-Zarqawi’s death couldn’t have come at a more propitious time. Still, it may be a coincidence but I strongly doubt it. If we’ve learned anything over the last four years, the Bush Administration knows how to manipulate situations and obfuscate damaging inquiries into their actions. Could the circumstances surrounding al-Zarqawi’s death be another manipulation? We’ll never know, because no one with any power to find out is going to look into the matter. Congressional democrats have been blustering all day what a major victory al-Zarqawi’s death is in the war effort.

Maybe I’m just too suspicious of Bush and his motives. It would be great to write that al-Zarqawi’s death will hasten the endeavors to create a peaceful Iraq. But I believe the American people will discover that this terrorists’ demise will not change this horrid war one iota.
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Larry Sakin is a former non-profit medical organization executive and music producer. His writing can be found on, Blogcritics, OpEd News, The People's Voice, Craig's List and The Progressive magazine. He also advocates for literacy and (more...)
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