If a river isn’t flooding you’ll never see a journalist reporting live saying, “Things are fine here.” But let that river creep over its banks and you’ll suddenly have journalists with full rain gear to update viewers inch-by-inch.
But good news deserves to be news, too. Just last week, the U.S. military dropped two 500-pound bombs on a hideout in Iraq, killing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. In one strike we eliminated a top al Qaeda leader, a man the U.S. government considered so vile it had put a $25 million bounty on his head.
Yet before the ink was even dry on the Zarqawi death story, “realists” were throwing cold water on the military’s achievement.
“I’m glad we finally killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi,” reader Ilya Shlyakhter of Princeton, N.J. wrote to USA Today, “but before we celebrate, let’s remember that we ourselves created this monster. Who had heard of Zarqawi before we invaded Iraq?”
How about the family of American diplomat Laurence Foley? Zarqawi masterminded the attack on Foley, who was gunned down outside his home in Jordan, in October 2002. That’s five months before the U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq.
Others insisted that Zarqawi would be easily replaced. Michael Berg, the father of Nicholas Berg, a man Zarqawi murdered in cold blood, told CNN the terrorist’s death, “will re-ignite yet another wave of revenge.” Indeed, he insisted, “every time we kill anyone, we are creating a large number of people who are going to want vengeance.” That’s the same lazy thinking Steven Spielberg has his characters spout in his movie Munich -- for every terrorist we kill, another five will step up to take his place.
But martyrdom isn’t a growth business. When a driver sees an accident on the highway he’ll slow down and drive carefully, not speed up and become reckless. And when potential terrorists see their colleagues killed, that must give them pause.
As national security expert James Robbins wrote in National Review Online, if Berg is correct, “our best move would be to never kill a leader, or else face an exponential terrorist explosion. But surely it does not take the death of someone like Zarqawi to swell the ranks of the bad guys -- after all, a living leader can recruit an endless number of followers. Potential terrorists don’t wait to sign up only after someone dies.”