June 08, 2006

Zarqawi dies in Iraq

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5059494.stm

The BBC is reporting that Zarqawi, the leader of Al–Qaeda in Iraq has been killed. It's nice to see some good news coming out of Iraq for a change. As well as that they managed to get the remaining government positions filled – all in all a pretty good day. An informer reported the location and the Americans dropped two 500lb bombs on the location. The news got even better because they also killed other people at the top of his group of killers. Lets hope this represents a real turning point.

The US and UK were playing the strike down, though, but this is largely because they know that bombings will continue; but we can hope that without their head a power vacuum will cause internal power struggles and then they can kill themselves.


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  1. The real question is though, will it actually stop all the things Zarquawi was heading? I mean they thought by taking down the 'top man' in Iraq (Saddam Hussein) the regime would fall apart and peace would be upon all, but of course you've got all his supporters (and alas, other groups) so theres civil unrest and no peace
    .

    But bacl to my main point; just because Zarqawi is dead, it doesn't mean everything he supported will die out. We will get another Zarqawi in his place shortly. And there will be many attacks of revenge in the coming few days, so in the end, has something good come out of Iraq today?

    Unfortunately, not.

    But on a more personal note, I am happy the bastard is dead because he planned the attacks on the three hotels in Amman (if you haven't gathered, Im Jordanian). Not to mention all the other horrific things he's done.

    08 Jun 2006, 23:12

  2. Although Zarquari was a brutal, evil man, I simply can't bring myself round to rejoicing that somebody has died. Justice, not death, would have been more satisfactory.

    Also, why the air attack on the "isolated house". Surely Zarquari captured is a bigger prize than creating yet another false martyr for others to follow?

    George "Pussycat" Galloway was on question time tonight (the streaming video of which can be found here. One point he made was that Zarquari, as 'head' of al–qaeda in Iraq, was responsible for around 1% of the bombings/violence in Iraq. I can't verify the truth for this, so I'd take it with a pinch of salt. Unless he's grossly misleading, it verifies the fact that this will not make a blind bit of difference, and in the short term at least, will probably escalate violence through revenge attacks.

    Also, a quote from TB on the subject: "This is a blow to Al–Qaeda in Iraq, therefore a blow to Al–Qaeda EVERYWHERE"... ooook, as always, he's not afraid to challenge the existing system of logic in his quest for media soundbites..

    09 Jun 2006, 00:09

  3. John

    Finally, the monster has been killed. All they need now is bin–Laden.

    The real question is though, will it actually stop all the things Zarquawi was heading?

    Well, it depends on how much of a leader he actually was. If he was a key player in rallying his supporters etc., then his death could be a step forward. If he was just a figurehead out of a bunch of similar minded psychos then someone else will fill his shoes. I think these next few months will reveal just exactly the extent of his influence in Iraq was.

    Also, why the air attack on the "isolated house". Surely Zarquari captured is a bigger prize than creating yet another false martyr for others to follow?

    True but if they had caught him then his trial may have descended into the debacle similar to that which has happened with Saddam Hussain. At least with him dead he cannot try to make a mockery of justice and personally I feel that he got what he deserved.

    09 Jun 2006, 02:06

  4. I think psychologically it will be a bit of a blow for the terrorists. I do think it might make them rally round and do a lot of attacks over the next few weeks. When I think the real problem will set in (for them) is who will take over. If Bin Laden sends in someone personally he might be rejected because they don't like having someone imposed on them from above. If someone is "promoted" from within then there could be resentment from people who were at the same "level" as them – which is why I was saying that a power stuggle could result; and that it may lead to internal killings. I guess we'll have to wait and see on this one.

    It is also worth noting that it wasn't just Zarquawi who died; there was also a few people from the top and most notedly his "spiritual advisor"... these people like to claim to be Muslims (though they obviously aren't), and without what they might see as that "divine authority" given by that person making decisions could be harder.

    John, I have to agree with you about caputuring him, I was arguing that when they found Saddam they should have dragged him through the streets and let the people get their revenge… kind of like mussolini. It's hard to think that someone could ever come back and lead the country when he's hanging from a street light having people through shoes and rocks at him. But I guess that this view will be somewhat contoversial…

    09 Jun 2006, 09:41

  5. Jonathan, I know not what the customary procedure for replacing these sort of leaders is, but I am fairly confident that the decision will not be taken by Bin Laden.

    The emblematic 'spiritual father' of Al Qaeda possesses neither the logistics nor the legitimacy which are necessary. He is, much like Zarquawi, more of a mythical creature than anything else, a creation, a chimera in the sense that the image which we are given of him is in all probability infinitely exagerated when compared with reality.

    Creating such a figure presents many advantages from the perspective of the American government: against such an amorphous, anonymous, untraceable and potentially invincible phenomenom like international terrorism, what better than to create, piece by piece, a concrete enemy which it is possible to defeat?

    Back to the question of leadership, I think that, rather than a "promotion" or designation, it is likely to be settled through the emergence of a natural leader. That, as you will recall, is how Zarquawi became leader in the first place.

    09 Jun 2006, 10:17

  6. Good lord, it is indeed Zar*qa*wi and not Zar*qua*wi.

    09 Jun 2006, 10:36

  7. I've been looking on wikipedia ( link ) and it suggests that Al–Qaeda lost faith in Zarqawi

    "Reports in The New York Times on June 9th are treating the betrayal by at least one fellow al–Qaeda member as fact, stating that an individual close to Zarqawi disclosed the identity and location of Sheik Abd al–Rahman to Jordanian and American intelligence"

    I can't confirm these reports but the New York Times seems fairly credible… even if the information is wrong it could still help to drive a wedge between the international Al–Qaeda and the local.

    Also scott, you mentioned that a trial would have been better; but he has already been sentenced to death in Jordan after a trial… so he was always going to die quickly

    09 Jun 2006, 10:39

  8. Oh yes! Go Bush!

    09 Jun 2006, 11:01

  9. He was sentenced to death by the Jordanian courts THRICE in absentia. (a very odd concept if i may add. I still can't get my head round it) But yes, I suppose Scott you are right. How can we punish people for killing people by death. Brings on the entire death penalty debate.

    09 Jun 2006, 12:56

  10. James

    First off, let me say that I think the invasion of Iraq was the wrong move. Not, I hasten to add, because I supported Saddam – he was appalling – but because I have the old fashioned view that Britain should take care of its own. In the war on Terror, Saddam was actually an ally, if only Bush/Blair could have brought themselves to see it. He ruthlessly crushed religious extremism and was solely concerned with staying in power. After Kuwait, he wasn't likely to risk his power either by another foreign adventure, nor was he going to give America the excuse to decapitate his regime by being implicated in a terrorist attack.

    After the invasion, there were too few boots on the ground and far too few with aany expertise in managing the situation (a notable exception being Co. Collins and his Irish guardsmen, with their lifelong experience of Belfast, but they were a couple of hundred in a country of 20 million) to prevent the insurgency and anarchy that has arisen.

    Notwithstanding all of that, we are stuck with Iraq and have to make the best of it. Obliterating the likes of Zaqawi is a good way of going about it, although it is too much to hope, I fear, that it will have a major and immediate impact. Over time, though, the removal of terrorist leaders will reduce the effectiveness of the resistance, one hopes.

    And while I've been rather negative, I would add that nation building takes time. It was the best part of a decade before Japan had democracy following WWII, and Germany took a while as well. There were not equivalent insurgencies, but the countries were in a worse condition than Iraq in many other respects. I was very scornful that Iraq would be up for democracy, but there has been a good turnout in every vote they've had, even in the midst of the insurgency, so who knows, in a decade or so the situation might be much improved. Whether it will have been worth all the death and destruction is something that will be better judged then.

    09 Jun 2006, 14:15

  11. I would rather see him rotting and forgotten in a cell but this will do I suppose.

    09 Jun 2006, 14:15

  12. James

    Yes I should have added that although it would be better to have him in jail – aside from anything else because it would prevent him being a martyr – these things are scarcely always feasible in a war zone.

    09 Jun 2006, 14:32

  13. It's a shame that the Americans couldn't have diverted 200 heavily armed marines so as to avoid the 'collateral' damage. Hey, I'm not squeamish about people getting killed in war but do the Americans have to make such a big event of it all? I mean, who's going to risk a firefight with that lot standing around? Apparently, there were six people in the house that was hit, of whom at least one was a woman and another a child. What about the husband/father (assuming it wasn't al–Zaqawi)... ?People who have nothing left to live for find it very easy to go around killing other people. On the other hand, if helicopters descend out of the twilight, kill/capture one man and then go again without any shots being fired, then the other members of the organisation have to start asking questions about their own safety/security. Dropping 500 pound bombs is just overkill.

    09 Jun 2006, 15:19

  14. pingu

    But what happened to osama bin laden? He's still at large isnt he. and so are a number of other most wanted terrorists. It won't be long until some bad news arrives.

    09 Jun 2006, 15:37

  15. The icelandic penguin has a point. If the 'war' on 'terror' is as a result of the massively well–organised, international blood thirsty Al–Qaeda, then Zarquawi is small–fry.

    09 Jun 2006, 15:44

  16. James

    Richard,

    A cynical answer would be that you're not one of the soldiers who'd potentially have to be deployed on such an operation, and while 200 marines would no doubt have prevailed, one or more might have been shot in the process. Better to inflict the odd collateral death on the Iraqis than lose another of your soldiers, if you're an American commander on the ground as it were.

    On a wider note, that is a reflection on modern war. Since the Gulf War in 1990, accomplished with a level of allied casualties totally without historical paralllel (of more than 500,000 allied soldiers, there were fewer than 200 deaths – cf WWII, Vietnam or even the Falklands – 255 of about 20,000 British died), the expectation has been that wars can and must be fought with no allied casualties. Hence we refused to commit ground troops in Kosovo and required aircraft to fly at 30,000 ft. Ludicrous. And while it wasn't necessary to use numerous troops to depose the Taliban, cornering Bin Laden and its remnants near Tora Bora would have been much more achievable with substantial numbers of troops on the ground.

    More relevantly, any British colonial governor would have had Zaqawi's head in a giblet from the start. But though he was identified as hiding in Fallujah the marines backed off a major operation because of concerns about casualties. The insurgents got the message – America would back off. Hence they grew in numbers, forcing the marines ultimately to go into Fallujah in any event, with bloody results on both sides.

    09 Jun 2006, 15:54

  17. Re: Scott/ pingu – if the New York Times is right and he was removed because of orders from the top of Al–Qaeda then this isn't just a case of "small–fry"; this becomes an internal battle between supporters of either him of Bin Landen… so it does have real importance.

    Re: Luna – death is quite an effective punishment for any crime, it means that they can never do it again, and lets be honest, he wasn't going to reform his charcter, was never going to repent… the world is better off without him.

    Re: Richard – You're right; it is a shame that that woman and child got killed… but it can't be helped. There is little evidence to suggest that even 10,000 troops could have done this without a shot being fired. Zarqawi and his men would have been quite happy to fight to the death and it is highly possible that more than just 2 innocent people would have died… a GPMG bullet would go through the walls of buildings like the ones there with little to no effort. This way probably resulted in the least amount of death

    09 Jun 2006, 17:34

  18. Zarqawi, no doubt, rejoiced at the deaths of American and British civilians in terrorist attacks. If we rejoice at his death we're putting ourselves on the same level as him. Similarly I don't think it would achieve anything to execute Saddam.

    "On a wider note, that is a reflection on modern war. Since the Gulf War in 1990, accomplished with a level of allied casualties totally without historical paralllel (of more than 500,000 allied soldiers, there were fewer than 200 deaths – cf WWII, Vietnam or even the Falklands – 255 of about 20,000 British died), the expectation has been that wars can and must be fought with no allied casualties."

    That's also why the Americans preferred to kill 100,000+ Japanese civilians rather than risk attempting an invasion, although it's impossible to say whether that number might have been even higher had they done so.

    09 Jun 2006, 17:47

  19. David Wood

    Also, why the air attack on the "isolated house". Surely Zarquari captured is a bigger prize than creating yet another false martyr for others to follow?

    Yes, at first I thought it odd that they thought that the best way to get him was to drop two 500lb bombs from planes on top of him was a little over the top, but I'm sure that if they tried to close in on him on the ground he would have been gone by the time they reached the house. He must surely have had the whole area under close surveilance.

    Yes it would have been better to take him alive than dead, but better he's dead than alive and not captured.

    09 Jun 2006, 18:06

  20. "he was identified as hiding in Fallujah the marines backed off a major operation because of concerns about casualties"

    Since when has civilians casualties been important to the US when it comes to operations in Fallujah?

    09 Jun 2006, 19:18

  21. Gareth Herbert

    Michael:

    I'm not sure if I accept your equivocation. I believe that it is not life per se, but rather what we choose to do with it that gives it value, thus in my view rejoicing (if that's not to carnivalistic a word given the context) in the death of a fantatical butcherer like Zarqawi is not the same as rejoicing to the death of innocent civlians whose only crime was, perhaps, to get on the wrong bus that day.

    More generally:

    A lot of people have made the point that they would have rather Zarqawi been brought to justice rather than killed outright, yet in these circumstances I think justice and death are one and the same. Whilst I do not advocate the skipping of 'due process', the outcome of any trial in Iraq involving Zarqawi would have been the death penalty, make no mistake. Furthermore whilst it's possible to advocate some modicum of respect for the dead I would remind people of the acts he committed whilst he was alive and observe that his death does not alter the essence of who he was or what he has done.

    In strategic terms, I think this is of pretty sizeable importance. Whilst it remains true that he will be replaced as the senior Al–Qaeda figure in Iraq (in all likelihood by someone more responsible to the leadership) it is unlikely that their logistical capabilities or their sheer brutality (which was excessive even for Al–Qaeda) will match that of Zarqawi. Two of his most notorious bombings in Iraq – the destruction of the Samarra shrine and the U.N headquarters in Baghdad involved the use of military grade explosives which in all likelihood could not have been obtained without key contacts in the military. Furthermore the fact that he was responsible for an estimated 10% of the total number of attacks in Iraq and was able to orchestrate a planned attack on the Jordanian embassy (which would have been horrendous in scale) and the bombings in Amman seem demonstrative of the extent of his influence as a terrorist operative.

    I am very glad to see him dead, I hope it will serve as some consolation to all those whose lives have been devastated by this callous nihilist.

    10 Jun 2006, 06:08

  22. in these circumstances I think justice and death are one and the same

    I'm afraid that I cannot agree that justice is death in any circumstances. This was exactly the thought process of Zarquawi, and other such religious militants. It's this perverted logic that causes such atrocities in the first place.

    10 Jun 2006, 09:15

  23. Gareth Herbert

    I don't agree. I think that the wish to protect civilian life by killing a guilty person and protecting liberty is in no way comparable to killing an innocent person in the name of spreading a tyrannical theological doctrine. As motivational factors come, they are diametric opposites.

    If you're going to make that argument you could say that wanting to throw the man in a cell would be exactly the same peverted logic as the likes of Kim Jong Il or Bashar al Assad.

    10 Jun 2006, 10:40

  24. Haha Gaz this is becoming reminiscent of the argument we were having when I was supposed to be revising for two exams.

    The act of taking this guys life is not something that I feel particularly comfortable with; but it seems clear the consequences that his death brings is for the greater good in that this guy isn't going to be able to kill anymore either. The contradictory issue here is that there are those of us who don't feel comfortable "hailing" anyone's death, but at the same time can be happy that there is a window of optimism for Iraq now that he has died.

    Those who condemn terrorists – I'll use Gaz's word – as "scum" do so because of the total disregard they show for the value of human life. Now obviously this depends on how you want to go about measuring the value of a life – which is where I suspect the differences in opinion arise from – but I believe that no matter how evil a person has been in their lifetime, its a bit macabre to go and rejoice in their death. The difficult issue here is that there is a very fine line (but most importantly this line DOES exist) between doing that and rejoicng in the fact that there is new hope for Iraq.

    This is why I think it smells a lot like hypocrisy when i see headlines like "Iraq Allies hail Zarqawis Death" all over the BBC news website, rather than something like "Zarqawis Death Prompts New Hope For Iraq." Essentially they come down to saying exactly the same thing, except the former has an implicit disregard for his life whereas the latter is a tad more "respectful" if you like. I think if you want to take a moral high ground against the terrorists then you need to demonstrate that you are capable of showing regard for human life no matter who it is.

    10 Jun 2006, 11:40

  25. James

    Michael – The atom bomb was the fault of the Japanese for starting the war and prosecuting it with staggering brutality, including chemical warfare experiments on the Chinese, rape and murder of countless civilians, and barbaric treatment of POWs. It most certainly is possible to say that the level of casualties civilian and military would have exceeded the death toll from the atom bombs, if one considers Iwa Jima, Okinawa and everywhere else they fought the Japanese. Some Japanese soldiers were found fighting the war decades afterwards (including one called Onoda, 27 years after the event!) Worst of all, the Japanese still wouldn't surrender after Hiroshima! I wrote about this the other day and someone came up with a link which said that it was all the Americans' fault for not accepting anything short of total surrender including handing over of the Emperor (whom they later left in power anyway). Utter nonsense. They were entitled to demand complete surrender and the Emperor's head on a stick given the way the Japanese had fought. The game was up for the Japanese years before, when they failed to defeat the Americans at sea, yet surrender never crossed their minds until faced with annihilation. Would you have volunteered to be first on the beachhead in an invasion of Japan?

    Scott Harrison: As was obvious from my post, I meant American military casualties, not civilian casualties, though the Americans have made rather more care to avoid those than the likes of Zaqawi and the other insurgents. Had Michael's delightful Japanese soldiers occupied Iraq, there wouldn't be any insurgents left, you can bet your bottom dollar …

    10 Jun 2006, 12:04

  26. Tomas: "Those who condemn terrorists – I'll use Gaz's word – as "scum" do so because of the total disregard they show for the value of human life."

    That seems like a fair thing to say but I would qualify it. The reason I rejoice in his death is because he was showing a complete disregard for my life and for that of my friends/family. Obviously there is only one person in that list he would have ever had the chance to kill (because he's a soldier) but the point still stands – he would have killed all of us if he had the chance. So I'm not bothered that someone who disagreed with my way of life so strongly is dead – I think that it is perfectly ok for me to think that my life is more important than his.

    10 Jun 2006, 12:17

  27. This is the second thread that has evolved onto Hirshima and Nagasaki, so there must be an underlying interest in the topic. I'll leave the link that James referred to here, so people can make their own minds up about that one.

    But it all depends whether you think the 'need' for a complete and total surrender was worth all of those lives, especailly when the Japanese military were all but defeated by that point anyway. I know it's easy for me to 'moralise' when the Japanese fought the way they did, but that just gets onto the ethics of revenge and relishing in it, which in essence is what this topic is about.

    It all reminds me of a quote from Ghandi (which I can't quite remember, so I paraphrase),"If we all keep taking eyes for eyes, and teeth for teeth, they'll be no more eyes and teeth for us to take"

    10 Jun 2006, 12:35

  28. Scott, have you ever thought that it might not be the idea of an eye for an eye which is wrong; more human nature. Maybe we deserve not have have any eyes or teeth…

    10 Jun 2006, 12:56

  29. ..deep..

    10 Jun 2006, 12:58

  30. James

    I just read the link. I'm sorry, and I usually like to keep my blog entries within the bounds of scholarly debate, but I am driven to say that that article is a staggering piece of bien pensant self flagellating rubbish. What is that journal anyway? Some sort of successor to the Morning Star or some other communist nonsense?

    Here's a quote: If the United States had been willing to wait, said Admiral Ernest King, US Chief of Naval Operations, "the effective naval blockade would, in the course of time, have starved the Japanese into submission through lack of oil, rice, medicines, and other essential materials."

    Ok great so millions die through starvation over the course of – how long? – years.

    Not one word, let alone a sentence, about how the Japanese fought, nor in particular a mention of the mentality of Japanese soldiers.

    If they'd wanted to surrender so badly it would have been simple – an order to all Japanese soldiers in the field to surrender. There was none. Nothing of the sort. Not even from the Mayor of Hiroshima following the first bomb.

    For the uninitiated, try reading Hell in the Pacific by Jonathan Lewis & Ben Steele, and the TV series on which it was based, for a general overview of the war. Provides many examples of Japanese lunacy – sacrificing civilians and anyone or anything else to fight the Americans. Many examples too of how the Americans weren't angels either. But much better, read Requium for Battleship Yamato, by a survivor of the biggest suicide mission in history – the Yamato, a giant battleship, was ordered with her escorts (a task force with about 10,000 men on board) to steam at the American fleet and do their best. No air cover could be spared and every man on board would have known he was sailing to his death. They all did it, though, and some tied themselves to the vessel as she was sinking in order to make sure they didn't suffer the ignominy of surviving a kamakazi mission. Such was the mentality of those whom the Americans would have faced in a conventional attack.

    10 Jun 2006, 13:03

  31. Well I've been trying to stay on topic and haven't really commentted about WW2 but I figure I might as well do…

    I'm on the side of James here. The a–bombs were the quickest and most humane way of ending a war against people who didn't care about their own or anyone elses lives. They would not have given in to any amount of starvation because only the emporer could have given the order to stop the war, and whilst he thought he could stay in charge there would be no movement. Stalin is the obvious example here of a "leader" who was quite happy to let millions of people die just because he wouldn't change the situation to his own detriment. (there are others too, but I went with the "classic" choice). America needed to show that they could take out an entire city with little effort but also needed the leadership in place so someone could order the stand down.

    The bombing was the only sensible choice.

    10 Jun 2006, 13:22

  32. nick

    I have to say that I was sickened by the man's death, since it was a bad day for democracy. Yes, he is likely to be the head of a terrorist organisation, but does that mean that he shouldn't have the right to a full and fair trial?

    I dont believe that the Americans explored all options and feel that it would have been possible to storm the house and take him out that way; they had the place under surveillance for weeks so would have had a good idea about the comings and goings.

    10 Jun 2006, 13:36

  33. Nick, he already had a trial. He was found guilty and sentenced to death. He was killed.

    It all sounds like he got what was coming to him. The only thing that worries me is that death is too good for him – but because i'm struggling to figure out what is worse – death will do.

    10 Jun 2006, 13:51

  34. The interesting issue for me in this context is that targeted killings seem now to have become a widely accepted technique. It used to be a much more controversial issue in particular with respect to the Israel–Palestine conflict. Even the US were not always happy about it ( BBC 2002 ):

    The United States has said it still opposes Israel's policy of targeted assassinations, despite its apparent use of the same tactic to kill six al–Qaeda suspects in Yemen on Sunday.

    As far as I know international law only allows targeted assassinations in a war situation, which might be given in Iraq, though also that is not clear.

    But a reasoning for a generalisation to the prosecution of terrorists is certainly highly questionable.

    10 Jun 2006, 13:53

  35. Ulrich, your point is interesting as if we believe Bush and co the war ended a long time ago with the words "mission accomplished". However if we believe what the Iraqs are saying then the war isn't over, it's changed and become something more servere, more sectarian, and more vicious. Therefore I think it was probably a reasonable action to kill a combatant who regarded himself as a soldier, and whose enemies regarded the situation as a warzone.

    The upshot of this is that the US government needs to realise (or accept, as I'm sure it's been shown the evidence enough) that Iraq has slid back into war, and all sides except the US/UK top brass seem to see it in this way. This isn't an attempt to bash the US/UK, but to point out that the best way to tackle a situation is to recognise what it is and react accordingly, not react to how you want the situation to be.

    And as far as I can see, the celebration of Zarqawi's death was, for civilians, mostly in Iraq and Jordan, which considering their history with him is quite reasonable. It's not like it's spilled over onto the streets here.

    10 Jun 2006, 16:13

  36. a staggering piece of bien pensant self flagellating rubbish

    It's alright James you don't have to hold anything back (!). I accept you points, perhaps I need to learn more about the Pacific war. Though, you'll excuse my ignorance being translated into scepticism when we consider it was such an epic event.

    10 Jun 2006, 17:06

  37. James

    That's ok, it pays to be sceptical, about both pro–American diatribes as well as anti. Try reading Requiem for Battleship Yamato, it is very moving as well as very illuminating. So moving, in fact, that the Americans banned it for a while during the occupation, because they thought it would induce dangerous sentiment for the kamakazi spirit …

    The author is Yoshida Mitsuru

    10 Jun 2006, 22:31

  38. Hamid Sirhan

    Such was the mentality of those whom the Americans would have faced in a conventional attack.

    Yes, yes. If the Americans attacked we'd have seen 700,000 American soldiers die and millions of Japanese as every single Japanese person fought to the death! Of course, the Americans didn't care so much about the Japanese civilians but more about:

    1) American soldiers
    2) Ending the war as quickly as possible.

    So in order to limit the number of deaths of American soldiers, it was more than acceptable to the American military to target (indiscriminately so) Japanese civilian population centres. It is worthy to note that the Japanese, despite their hideous warcrimes, did not ever in any meaningful way, target American civilian population centres (distance of course being a problem). Therefore, in combating a diehard military machine and in order to limit the number of military deaths occuring, the Americans were capable of levelling Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki etc.

    It seems that you are defending this decision. Would you be so willing to defend, for example, a suicide bombing whose aim is to combine with others and lift an occupation?

    19 Jun 2006, 14:46

  39. Hamid Sirhan

    Oh and before I forget there seems to be some small discussion on Zarqawi vs Zarquawi.

    Well neither is correct and neither is incorrect. Arabic doesn't have a unified, official transliteration system like Chinese Pinyin, which makes transliterating Arabic very difficult. Taking my name, for example, you might write it:

    Hamid Sirhan
    Hameed Sirhan
    4ameed Sir4an
    Hamid Sirhaan (etc.)

    And all would be correct. So with Zarqawi – Zarquawi is also acceptable.

    19 Jun 2006, 14:49

  40. James

    Hamid of course the Americans were more concerned about their own casualties than those of the Japanese – that's what one does during war. It's certainly what the Japanese were doing.

    You have defeated your own argument about the Japanese and civilians – they didn't kill American ones because they lacked the capacity, not the will. They treated the civilians of the territories which they did occupy absolutely diabolically.

    Japan was beaten irrefutably by about 1944. They could and should have negotiated a surrender then. Having still some military strength left, they'd have had a chance of getting a better deal than what they ended up with (though the American occupation doesn't seem to have done them any harm, nor the Germans). But their fanaticism lead them to fight to the bitter end. Would you as an American soldier have opposed the use of the bomb?

    I didn't support the Iraq war, though I'm driven to concede that now we're there we have to make the best of it for ourselves and the Iraqis. But don't for a minute compare the (admittedly ham–fisted) Americans with the utterly fanatical and brutal lunacy of the Japanese during WWII, with their chemical experimentation on the Chinese, rape of Nanking (put that in google and see what you find), Burma railway, etc etc. If the Japanese occupied Iraq in 1940, there would have been no insurgency (and very little Iraq).

    As to Palestine, I support a two–state solution and have sympathy with the Palestinians. But I don't support suicide bombing. There are other ways. At the end of the day Iraq is an occupation and Palestine a border dispute. There are plenty of both going on round the world, with no–one targeting civilians with suicide attacks. Something else is involved in those: religious fanaticism.

    Thanks for the clarification re Zarqawi's name.

    19 Jun 2006, 15:19

  41. James

    Incidentally those who are forever anti–American, they might like to consider what the position of Islam would have been had it not been for American intervention in WWII – no Islamic immigration would have been permitted into Europe by the Nazis, and the several hundred million Muslims in south east Asia would have been slaves of the Japanese. And in 1999, America went to war against Serbia as a response to Serbian persecution of Muslims, despite great reluctance in America to get involved in another European war.

    19 Jun 2006, 15:57

  42. Hamid Sirhan

    You have defeated your own argument about the Japanese and civilians – they didn't kill American ones because they lacked the capacity, not the will. They treated the civilians of the territories which they did occupy absolutely diabolically.

    Sure, I'm not denying this. The point is, the Japanese did not target any American civilians, whether or not this was through ability or choice. Whereas, even before Pearl harbour, the Americans had been targetting Japanese civilians (at least indirectly through the blockades). The point being, in morally justifying this for whatever reason, you are accepting and even promoting the idea that civilians can be justifiable targets during a period of war.

    Would you as an American soldier have opposed the use of the bomb?

    Ah – a wonderful question.

    But don't for a minute compare the (admittedly ham–fisted) Americans with the utterly fanatical and brutal lunacy of the Japanese during WWII, with their chemical experimentation on the Chinese, rape of Nanking (put that in google and see what you find), Burma railway, etc etc.

    There's no need to be patronising. You don't study modern Chinese history at BA level without at least a cursory glance at what happened during the second Sino–Japanese war with ManZhou Guo, Nanjing etc. Particularly not if it becomes a feature of one of your extended essays, or if you go on to major in Modern Chinese history during your MA in Chinese Studies.

    The point is not whether or not the Japanese were brutal towards civilians. The point is if you can accept and indeed morally support the deliberate targetting of civilians in this case, then it can be applied to cases within the modern context. If the fire/carpet–bombing of major Japanese civilian centres, followed by the atomic bombing of nakasaki and hiroshima were morally acceptable for the purpose of ending the Second World War or saving 700,000 American lives and because, let's face it, the Japanese had an atrocious record of targetting civilians, then you must also accept that if your general logic is followed, ie:

    1) The targeting of civilians must be used in order to (aim to) achieve a beneficial result for the targeting nation/group.

    2) The targetted group must have hit civilians/have been cruel.

    In which case, this can be applied to numerous current conflicts.

    19 Jun 2006, 19:54

  43. Hamid Sirhan

    As to Palestine, I support a two–state solution and have sympathy with the Palestinians. But I don't support suicide bombing. There are other ways. At the end of the day Iraq is an occupation and Palestine a border dispute.

    The issue with Palestine is not a border dispute. Aksai Chin was a border dispute. The Hala'ib Triangle is a border dispute. We are not talking about a small patch of land being juggled between two nation states with standing armies who have (generally) clear and fixed borders. The West Bank and Ghaza strip, including East Jerusalem were occupied in 1967. The Palestinians do not have a standing army. The only standing army on Palestinian soil is the Israeli army. The Palestinians do not have an air force, nor do they have any air sovereignty. The Palestinians do not exercise sovereignty over their land, nor do they exercise sovereignty over their ports and sea areas. Nor do they exercise sovereignty over their own land–based water resources, nor their aquifers. Nor do they have the right to use all the roads within their land.

    Border issues are a problem over obtaining a Palestinian state. Why? Because Israel currently wants to exercise sovereignty over all of modern Jerusalem (including East (ie historic) Jerusalem) and huge swathes of the West Bank, including the entirity of the Jordan Corridor and most of the West Bank's most fertile land and water resources. The current land seizure will not provide permanent borders but merely seek to continue "voluntary transfer" and the ghettoisation of Palestinian society.

    In fact, Iraq and Palestine are very different issues. Whilst the US have invaded and occupied Iraq, the US has never claimed that it wanted to maintain a permanent occupation force in Iraq. It may have imposed a puppet government upon Iraq, but it has never desired to settle millions of Americans in Iraq, nor to carve out parts of Iraq to annex for American (or specifically white–American) settlement in Iraq. Therefore Iraq is going suffer a very temporary American/International occupation.

    Whereas with Palestine, the occupation army has been there for 39 years and will likely continue to be there. There has been massive foreign settlement in the occupied land. There has been massive destruction of native farmland and other resources. There has been no concrete willingness to lift the military occupation. Indeed the West Bank and Ghaza situation are now less about occupation and more a case of annexation. Except the annexation process procludes the Palestinians being given racial and democratic equality.

    19 Jun 2006, 19:55

  44. You don't study modern Chinese history at BA level without at least a cursory glance at what happened during the second Sino–Japanese war with ManZhou Guo, Nanjing etc. Particularly not if it becomes a feature of one of your extended essays, or if you go on to major in Modern Chinese history during your MA in Chinese Studies.

    hmm, get you!.. sorry.. very drunk, but anyhow, you make good points, ones which I will tend to agree (or at least cannot summon the mental capacity to comment critically).

    I wish I could 'degree–drop' to back up my arguments, but statisitiics only gets you so far in political discussions…

    20 Jun 2006, 00:22

  45. James

    Hamid, I had no wish to be patronising. I didn't know what degree(s) you have done/are doing. Actually we seem to be in agreement on the fact of Japanese atrocities.

    You are quite right that Palestine and Iraq are very different situations. Funnily enough if the insurgents were only concerned with driving out the Americans there would be a lot less sectarian attacks between Iraqis. What they could do is have a ceasefire and in the next election vote in an anti–US government (as sceptical as I was about the whole thing, Iraqis have seemed to appreciate having a say in their own government by turning out to elections). Or simply resume the fighting once the Americans had left.

    But the Palestine and WWII in the Pacific are also very different situations, therefore we need to be very careful before saying it is ok for suicide attacks on Israeli citizens, or attacks on any other citizens in any other conflict, because the nuclear bomb was the correct option in the circumstances of Japan. The US itself did not target civilians in Kosovo, for example, though it could have crushed Serbia in one morning had it chosen to do so.

    The point about civilian attacks on Japan was that Japan had been waging, as you well know, total war. The statistics for the battle for Okinawa – the closest thing to a battle on Japanese soil – show what the world would have been in for if there had been a conventional attack on the Japanese mainland. Japanese civilian casualties would in all probability have been much higher than what actually happened. Their willingness to sacrifice their own civilians can be no better illustrated than by the fact they were willing to fight on even after Hiroshima.

    Back to Palestine. It really needs a blog of its own (I am sure there are many). As you point out, the Palestinians have suffered at the hands of the Israelis. But their own leadership haven't helped. Nor have their Arab "allies", who held all the occupied territories before 1967 and did nothing to create a Palestinian state in that time. King Hussein of Jordan expelled tens of thousands of them from Jordan. And by starting four separate wars with the intention of obliterating Israel, they hardly created a climate of peace.

    20 Jun 2006, 10:05

  46. Jane

    It was a great day for the Iraqies when he was killed.

    20 Jun 2006, 14:07

  47. Anonymous

    People are getting far to excited about Zarquawi's death. I think its a mere attempt to gain popularity around the world … heck, one person dies, so what? The americans are specialists at killing, so are the Israelis and all those other western bumchums. I will tell you what happens … nothing but more terrorism, why? Because terrorits dont cause terror for the sake of terror, terrorists do the things they do to give the world a wake up slap that things dont run the same way everywhere. The bombs, the terror, everything that the terrorists do … has a message. One person dead doesnt mean this message has been deleted! The message is now more known than it was before amongst the people crying for something to happen – and with that I come to my final point: As Luna Fadayel has already hinted, behind every man stands another (unless its UK–US politics) … so thank the soldiers of the west for just having killed thousands more.

    Does anyone do economics here? any policy has a multiplier? Just think of the multiplier in regard to the upcoming death tolls in the uk after the killing of a useless loudmouth like zarquawi.

    22 Jun 2006, 20:18

  48. Re: 47.

    Part of the reason I thought that this might be good was that it could easily cause in–fighting which is good from the anti–Al Qaeda stand. I also think that terrorists cause terror at least in part for the sake of terror; infact mostly for that reason. I wrote a paper on this subject not too long ago and to cut a long story short; Terrorism is used because it causes terror, if it didn't it wouldn't be terrorism.

    You seem to have a very anti–US/UK/Israel bias which is leading to some very strange conclusions. Killing Zarqawi will not have meant that the soldiers have "killed thousands more". If terrorists in Iraq decide to carry on killings the blood will be on their hands. I honestly don't think that this has caused an upswing in violence anyway, the number of deaths has been pretty much constant since then. I know Zarqawi was a fool who was incapable of leading effectively as a comander but he was an effective figure head who could bring new people into the terrorist "fold". His death will be an important psychological blow, which has to be good.

    I would also hope that there will be no more deaths in the UK because of terrorism… you say "upcoming" like you have an idea of something which might happen – if that is the case you should contact the police or MI5 who will be able to assist you.

    22 Jun 2006, 21:49

  49. I don't really like anonymous posting, especially when the views displayed are so contentious. If anybody else has views this strong, please put your name to it. If anything, it gives you more legitamacy.

    Plus, if you're that concerned about anonymity, bear in mind this site records IP addresses..

    But, to the actual post..

    Because terrorits[sic] dont[sic] cause terror for the sake of terror, terrorists do the things they do to give the world a wake up slap that things dont run the same way everywhere. The bombs, the terror, everything that the terrorists do…has a message.

    …which is..err…what? Is it simply to say, "things don't run the same way everywhere"? Perhaps clarify your point.. it just seems a pretty weak message for a man (or woman) to blow himself up for.

    Also, it would be nice for you to clarify that you do not support any such "upcoming" attack in the UK. You don't want people assuming you're a sadisitic nutcase, which is heavily implied (without the clarification) in your post.

    23 Jun 2006, 00:28

  50. James

    One thing you always notice with the terrorists themselves is that they never put their views on the intellectual table, so to speak. Aside from screeching rhetoric about killing the infidels etc, they never seek to present a coherent case about why they find it necessary or desirable to blow themselves and others up. Draw your own conclusions. Post 47 is a good example (though no doubt not put by someone willing to joint the cause) – there isn't anything there that constitutes a meaningful argument.

    23 Jun 2006, 09:41


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