Death of a Murderer--Successor a Foreigner
I suppose the first question to enter the mind of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi was, "Where the heck are the virgins, and who the heck is this guy poking me with a pitchfork?" He is dead, the result of tips from courageous locals, good planning by Iraqis and Americans, and an excellent execution by two pilots dropping the ordinance that allowed the terrorist to directly learn God's real feelings about his life's work.
Even better is the fact that Fox News is now reporting that Zarqawi was alive, conscious, and aware of the fact that he had fallen into Iraqi/U.S. hands just before he died of the injuries caused by the bombing, given the fact that he tried to roll off the gurney in a hopeless attempt at escape. And there is something very satisfying about that. He didn't die oblivious to his plight. He died knowing that he was captured.
A few points though. The strike couldn't have happened but for Iraqis who turned Zarqawi in. Meaning that the terrorist movement in Iraq is not a grass roots thing, but rather something imposed upon the people which survives because the locals are too afraid of reprisals to turn them in. It also shows that the Iraqis are in this fight for themselves. They have tired of jackboot politics and thugishness. They have tasted freedom and they want more of it.
Also, these terrorists are not rationalists, but rather are a group of zealots. Their business is not the kind that allows them to eventually close up shop and put up their feet at a Mediterranean resort when they get tired of it all. They will be hunted men for the rest of their lives, and therefore have no motivation to stop, slow down, relax, or let up in any way, as doing so means the end of all for which they have worked. So the loss of their leader will likely not bring them to immediate ruin, and there will be more in the way of violence in Iraq until this movement and all of its directors are extirpated.
And the new successor to Zarqawi is believed to be Abu Al-Masri, an Egyptian--further lending to the inconvenient appearance that the U.S. is trumpeting--that this is a foreign-based, foreign-imposed effort to put down the Iraqi people under a Wahabist government who desperately need to force their will on the Iraqi people if their cause is to have any practical hope of surviving.
But the value of the death of Zarqawi cannot be understated either.
Put simply, the world is a better place without him. Iraq is a better nation without him. And replacing the effectiveness of his leadership in maintaining terror operations will not be easy for al-Qaida. It will be quite the task for his successor to continue his work with the same cohesiveness and operational effectiveness. But the political value of his death is immense. And absent a superior leader to replace him, the movement will likely lose steam.
So in that regard, yesterday was likely the beginning of the end of this insurgency. Much like D-Day was not the end of World War II, but rather the begin of its decline, this is much the same. There is more fighting to come. Things will still seem nasty--as not even the final day of war is bloodless or pleasant--but this is the path to peace. It began with the death of that devil.