Thursday, April 01, 2004

What must be done


The world is used to bad news and always has been, but now and then there occurs something so brutal, so outside the normal limits of what used to be called man's inhumanity to man, that you have to look away. Then you force yourself to look and see and only one thought is possible: This must stop now. You wonder, how can we do it? And your mind says, immediately: Whatever it takes.
With these words, Peggy Noonan lays out what must be done in the wake of the Fallujah abush and subsequent atrocities.

It is possible that the atrocity in Fallujah was spontaneous or not fully thought through, but it doesn't look like it. It seems likely to have been at least to some degree, and perhaps a high degree, well planned and calculated. The brutalizing of the bodies was done in a way that seemed imitative, as all have noted, of the incident in Mogadishu, Somalia, where in 1993 a frenzied mob dragged the dead body of a U.S. Army Ranger through the streets. The civilized world was horrified, and everyone knows what followed: a quick American retreat.

It is not a stretch to imagine the young murderers of Fallujah had this on their minds: Do it again to America, kill them and string up their corpses, because when you do this America leaves.
I cannot help but agree with Ms. Noonan's assertions. As I've mentioned before in this Blog, the last thing we should do here is to repeat what we did in Mogahishu. Cuttign and running is what emboldened Osamma Bin Laden in the very first place. No, the answer is all too clear.

And so this time the response must be the opposite of the response in Mogadishu.

We know what the men and boys who did the atrocity of Fallujah look like; they posed for the cameras. We know exactly what they did--again, the cameras. We know they massed on a bridge and raised their guns triumphantly. It's all there on film. It would be good not only for elemental justice but for Iraq and its future if a large force of coalition troops led by U.S. Marines would go into Fallujah, find the young men, arrest them or kill them, and, to make sure the point isn't lost on them, blow up the bridge.
We need to take a stand, as does every nation - in the vast coalition we've assemebled as well as those few who've turned away - and condem this vicious act in no uncertain terms. And echoing Ms. Noonan again, the United Nations must also join in, and voice their condemnation.

The terrible pictures of the charred bodies on the bridge cannot be erased, and no one who saw them is going to forget them. But they can in time come to be accompanied by other pictures--of determined U.S. Marines, for instance, rounding up the men who massed on the bridge under the bodies, and brandished their weapons, and laughed.
Perhaps there will come a day, in the not too distant future, when a video such as she describes here will make the cowards who would do this kind of heinous act will make them think twice before doing it again.



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