06/10/06 — Death of a terrorist: Al-Zarqawi’s demise might be a turning point in war

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Death of a terrorist: Al-Zarqawi’s demise might be a turning point in war

No one should ever celebrate the death of another human being. It just isn’t right, and it certainly isn’t in keeping with what Americans should be about when it comes to looking at their own consciences and the national policy of their nation.

But the announcement that terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi died after an airstrike by coalition forces at what was believed to be a safe house in Iraq is nothing short of good news.

And it might just be the turning point that many have been waiting for when it comes to the war on terror.

Eliminating al-Zarqawi won’t bring back the thousands of people who died in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001.

It won’t undo the hundreds of murders that have taken place in the name of Islam since then — or bring back the soldiers who have died in pursuit of al-Qaida and its leadership.

Even capturing or killing Osama bin Laden wouldn’t heal those wounds.

But Thursday’s announcement is a step forward in what will be a very long fight. This is an enemy that uses explosives, rhetoric and innocents — and wages war in hearts and minds, not just on battlefields. It has not been an easy war to fight — and it is a battle that will require skill and determination to win.

The war against terror has been riddled by criticism from those who seem not to understand the significance of the work that needs to be done in the Middle East. They do not seem to acknowledge that terrorism, left unchecked, could have devastating consequences for not only the Middle East, but for the rest of the world. Borders and an ocean are just not enough to protect anyone anymore.

There has been much finger-pointing about the process of waging the war and criticism of the decision to go to war. That is natural in a country that prides itself not only on its freedoms, but also on its conscience.

But as we look at the behavior of our troops and judge our leaders, we should also remember that this is a new world, a new type of warfare and a determined enemy. No one really knew what this war would bring — or the price we would pay if we had continued to ignore the threat.

Al-Zarqawi’s death will not stop the terrorists. There will be more deaths before this battle is won. There are more minds to change, more motives to prove. That is the nature of a war that could change the course of the future.

So, we should mark al-Zarqawi’s death somberly — acknowledging the hard work of our troops, yet remembering that this is but a stop on a very long journey.

One for which we will need to be strong, resolute and committed.

Published in Editorials on June 10, 2006 11:47 PM