Yesterday, an American airstrike in Baqouba, Iraq, killed al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
And it is a good thing that he is dead. Zarqawi was a murdering monster who won't be mourned by anyone except for a handful of fanatics. It is also a good thing that they captured computer hard drives in the house that contain lists of al-Qaeda members in Iraq including where they are, and maybe including information about how they are getting into Iraq, and about al-Qaeda in other countries (killing all the people in the house without damaging the computer-- now that's precision bombing.) Of course this 'fixes' a mistake that the President made before the war in Iraq even began.
The second news story that heaves more burdens on the president comes from an NBC News broadcast by Jim Miklaszewski on March 2. Apparently, Bush had three opportunities, long before the war, to destroy a terrorist camp in northern Iraq run by Abu Musab Zarqawi, the al-Qaida associate who recently cut off the head of Nicholas Berg. But the White House decided not to carry out the attack because, as the story puts it:
[T]he administration feared [that] destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.
All of which should make it abundantly clear, if it ever was not, that the reason the President wanted to invade Iraq had nothing to do with Zarqawi or al-Qaeda (the terrorist camp noted, as I have pointed out many times, was in fact behind Kurdish lines, a long way from anywhere that Saddam's army controlled.) However, today's news is at least something of an erasure of the big error that the administration committed in not going after Zarqawi when they had the opportunity to do so before the war.
The question becomes whether our President will take the opportunity that this presents and take the opportunity to announce a withdrawal from Iraq. What is left as soon as we (as I'm sure we are doing now) take action on the information contained in the computer drive is essentially a sectarian war between Shias (who pretty much control the government) and Sunnis (who are primarily the insurgents). For us to remain in the middle of that is pointless, so this will be a great opportunity to leave.
Some conservatives have also objected to leaving Iraq because they claim that if we announced a withdrawal, there would be some who claimed we were 'chased' out by terrorists. But if we announced it this week, that claim would ring hollow, if anyone tried to make it. So, this is the ideal time for President Bush to declare victory with the end of Zarqawi, and announce a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.
UPDATE: It turns out that Zarqawi was actually barely alive but died shortly after the bombing (not significant). Also, in case any of you encounter a conservative who listened to Rush this morning, he 'took on' this whole argument by creating a couple of straw men, together with at least one outright matter of speculation stated as truth, and one important omission of information. He claims that we on the left are contradicting our position that 'there were no terrorists in Iraq pre-invasion.' No, it has been public knowlege that the Ansar al-Islam camp existed. Rush then said that Saddam's agents were up there working with Zarqawi. In fact, there is no evidence at all that this is true. Rush also omitted the fact that the camp was in Kurdish occupied Iraq, so Saddam had nothing to do with it (couldn't have, even if he wanted to). It was in a part of Iraq that he had no control over whatsoever. Further, the argument that we on the left are contradicting ourselves is a strawman (if you're not familiar with debate terms, it is rephrasing something differently and with a different meaning, in order to set up a rebuttal). What we have pointed out is that unlike pre-invasion Iraq, when al-Qaeda (except for a few individual members like Zarqawi, and their camp in Kurdish occupied Iraq) didn't exist there, since we invaded, they have flooded into the country to fight us. Hopefully this will make a dent in that, but ultimately al-Qaeda entered Iraq in large numbers for one reason: to kill Americans. Clearly Limbaugh is worried that the truth on this will get out, which is why he is so desperate to rebut it that he has resorted to cheap debate tricks (then again, it's not the first time I've heard him resort to them.)