Larry Elder

After the brutal beheading of Nicholas Berg, his father, Michael, promptly blamed the Bush administration for his son's death. "Nicholas Berg died for the sins of George Bush and (Defense Secretary) Donald Rumsfeld," said Michael Berg. "The al Qaeda people are probably just as bad as they are, but this administration did this."

In the gruesome videotaped execution, al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi, flanked by four other terrorists, first read a statement in Arabic: "For the mothers and wives of American soldiers, we tell you that we offered the U.S. administration to exchange this hostage for some of the detainees in Abu Ghraib, and they refused."

Michael Berg implied that the Bush administration should have considered this prisoner-exchange offer, "I would like to ask (Bush) if it is true that al Qaeda offered to trade my son's life for the life of another person. And if that is true, well, I need that information . . . and I think the people of the United States of America need to know what the fate of their sons and daughters might be in the hands of the Bush administration." Does Michael Berg truly mean that, when an enemy in a war zone captures an unauthorized American civilian, policy requires that we trade him for captured terrorists?

Now one certainly wants to give wide latitude to the grieving Berg family. Imagine their pain and suffering. How does one cope with such a brutal, sub-human execution? In time, hopefully, Mr. Berg can achieve at least some perspective.

For, consider the following:

Nicholas Berg traveled alone, with neither a bodyguard nor a translator, carried a passport with an Israeli stamp on it, had a Jewish surname, spoke no Arabic, and the Iraqi police apparently picked Nick up after a night of drunken mischief.

People with whom Nick associated in Iraq describe him as oblivious to the danger around him. According to one account, Andy Duke, an American businessman staying at the same hotel as Nick Berg, said, "I would call him adventurous. He was very comfortable that the political risks here weren't any greater than the physical risks of being up on a tower." Another hotel resident, Chilean journalist Hugo Infante, said, "He was always concerned about his business. He never talked about the war. . . . He was never worried about his safety here, never worried about the bombings."


Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com.