Hitchens on the Al-Zarqawi death...
This is a must-read. Christopher Hitchens explains why the death of Al-Zarqawi is important.
For the defeatists and pacifists, these are easy questions to answer. Colin Powell was wrong to identify Zarqawi, in his now-notorious U.N. address, as a link between the Saddam regime and the Bin-Ladenists. The man's power was created only by the coalition's intervention, and his connection to al Qaida was principally opportunistic. On this logic, the original mistake of the United States would have been to invade Afghanistan, thereby forcing Zarqawi to flee his camp outside Herat and repositioning him for a new combat elsewhere. Thus, fighting against al-Qaida is a mistake to begin with: It only encourages them.
I think that (for once) Colin Powell was on to something. I know that Kurdish intelligence had been warning the coalition for some time before the invasion that former Afghanistan combatants were making their way into Iraq, which they saw as the next best chance to take advantage of a state that was both "failed" and "rogue." One might add that Iraq under Saddam was not an easy country to enter or to leave, and that no decision on who was allowed in would be taken by a junior officer. Furthermore, the Zarqawi elements appear to have found it their duty to join with the Ansar al-Islam splinter group in Kurdistan, which for some reason thought it was the highest duty of jihad to murder Saddam Hussein's main enemies. But perhaps I have a suspicious mind.
We happen to know that the Baathist regime was recruiting and training foreign fighters and brigading them with the gruesome "Fedayeen Saddam." (This is incidentally a clue to what the successor regime in Iraq might have looked like as the Saddam-plus-sanctions state imploded and Baathism itself went into eclipse.) That bomb at the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, for example, was no improvised explosive device. It was a huge charge of military-grade ordnance. Are we to believe that a newly arrived Bedouin Jordanian thug could so swiftly have scraped acquaintance with senior-level former Baathists? (The charges that destroyed the golden dome of the Shiites in Samarra were likewise rigged and set by professional military demolitionists.)