The successful elimination of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is not only one of the biggest victories that we have seen in the five years since the War on Terror began, but the ripple effects of this will yield dividends for months to come.
Zarqawi was a terrorist target of just as much importance as Osama bin Laden. This is attributed to the fact that the reward placed on his head ($25 million) matches that of Bin Laden, yet avoided capture in a country that the US already occupies, for 3 years. Zarqawi is directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of nearly 1000 US troops in the last 3 years, while Bin Laden has not managed to kill any Americans during that period (except for being an inspirational figurehead to terrorists in Iraq). Furthermore, Zarqawi beheaded multiple hostages personally, indicating a greater personal bloodthirstiness than Osama bin Laden has demonstrated a capacity for.
At the very least :
1) The Expertise Vaccum : More than half of Zarqawi's lieutenants were already captured and killed before, and with the top leader gone, Zarqawi's successor is bound to be less experienced and capable. A terrorist who can evade both the US military in addition to civilians seeking the $25 million bounty on his head, for 3 years, is not easily replaced.
2) The Domino Effect : The recovery of Zarqawi's laptop provided a rich bounty of intelligence, and the US promptly conducted another 40 raids throughout Iraq in less than 24 hours since recovering the laptop. Dozens of low-level terrorists have been captured and killed, yielding further intelligence.
3) The Psychological Effect : Terrorist leaders will continue to have the perpertual fear that a missile or laser-guided bomb can descend from the sky upon them at any time. The strike that killed Zarqawi (just like the one that Ayman al-Zawahiri narrowly missed in Pakistan a few months ago) was from a precision guided weapon deployed from planes that were miles away less than a minute earlier.
4) Iraqi Morale : The removal of a terrorist that has directly or indirectly killed over 20,000 Iraqi civilians in the same week that Iraq has formed their cabinet is a double-boost to morale. Local tips were instrumental in locating Zarqawi, and that the net closed on him after two years of evasion is symbolic of how the Iraqi people are increasingly rejecting his ideology in favor of one of freedom and aspiration.
Indeed, my earlier prediction of why we will be able to demonstrate full success in our mission in Iraq by 2008 is even more ascertained now.
Predictably, the 8-10% of the US adult population that constitutes an anti-American fifth column went to great lengths to downplay the news, discredit claims of Zarqawi's importance, or spin it in a way that attempts to make America appear as the villain. Here are some selections of their words.
The father of a man beheaded by Zarqawi (after voluntarily going to Iraq as a contractor), defends Zarqawi and makes Bush out to be far worse. Also here. Still more on the moral idiocy of this from Dennis Prager.
A sampling of quotes from other socialist blogs. Interestingly, some criticize Bush for not killing Zarqawi when he had the chance in 2002 and 2003. But that conflicts with their claim that the invasion of Iraq was unjustifiable and Saddam had no ties to Zarqawi-type terrorists. The only common theme is a the end-goal of fanatical Bush-hate (also known as Bush Derangement Syndrome).
Further explanation at Protein Wisdom about why Zarqawi's death is a blow to anti-Americans.
There was a time when openly rooting for an enemy that deliberately targets civilians, and uses gruesome shock tactics such as televised beheadings, would have been considered shocking sedition. There was a time when it would have been considered treason to claim that the elected President is more evil than such an enemy. There was a time when it would have been considered strange for some people to openly oppose measures that may prevent themselves from getting killed by terrorists.
As a wise man once said, a society is decadent when apathy is dominant, and the absurd seems normal. A decadent society has to make a conscious effort to improve, or otherwise decline.
I have been giving some thought as to why 8-10% of the human population is so bent on self-destruction, and perhaps the answer is Darwinian. In nature, many species have natural predators to weed out the weak or defective members. Since humans have no natural predators, nature had to adapt in order to continue the filtering process. Nature responded by programming some members of the human species to weed themselves out voluntarily, by taking active action. This manifests itself in the behavior described above, as well as in suicide bombings, etc. Perhaps Darwinian natural selection has become natural self-selection.
Perhaps this is the true key to understanding the threats we face.