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Abu Musab Al-zarqawi Dead.

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neverborn
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Is the devil you don't know better than the devil you know?

It's not going to make a bit of difference, someone else just like him will just take his place.

By that logic, there's no point in punishing anybody who does anything wrong. Why execute a murderer? Someone else just like him will take his place. Why put a robber or rapist in jail? Someone else just like him will take his place. Why vote against a politician you dislike? Someone else just like him will take his place.

Al-Zarqawi deserved to die, based on his actions. He was responsible for the deliberate and brutal murder of thousands of innocent people, in pursuit of manifestly tyrannical aims. And now he is dead. Justice is done.

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It's not going to make a bit of difference, someone else just like him will just take his place.
Not necessarily. In general, leaders do matter. To understand whether this will have impact, one would need to understand the nature of his leadership role.

While philosophy shapes history, it cannot do so without an actor; it is the philosophy of its leaders that shapes a country's history: and leadership is not just philosophy. It's the same with many organizations: cut off a few top people and the organization becomes much less effective.

I don't know if this guy was one of the key people; but, if he was, it will matter.

It might "matter" for the bad rather than the good though. Just because he's been killed does not imply a pro-reason victory. It could even mean strengthening the position of the Sadr-like shia.

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There's also a reasonably good chance that his organization will turn on itself, or at least it's been my observation that when you cut off a charismatic leader, his sub-leaders spend a lot of time figuring out which one of them will be the new Leader.

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It's quite possible. The organization may fade away or a new leader may replace the old one. The new guy could be better or worse. Since Zarqawi was a pretty big pain, how much chance is there that a worse leader will take his place? I'd say it's small. So, his death is likely to be bad news for his organization.

In summary, it's a new opportunity for Iraqis to move toward peace. Whether they take it, or whether they'll drop the ball isn't clear.

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By that logic, there's no point in punishing anybody who does anything wrong. Why execute a murderer? Someone else just like him will take his place. Why put a robber or rapist in jail? Someone else just like him will take his place. Why vote against a politician you dislike? Someone else just like him will take his place.

Al-Zarqawi deserved to die, based on his actions. He was responsible for the deliberate and brutal murder of thousands of innocent people, in pursuit of manifestly tyrannical aims. And now he is dead. Justice is done.

The issue is structural. The structure is intact, so someone else will just take his place in the structure.

Let's take an unrealistic hypothetical, suppose we know X is a hitman. Now X is a pretty good hitman and he's only getting mafiosi, and he avoids getting bystanders, nevertheless he *is* murdering people. Maybe society ought to arrest him, but then maybe his boss hires a new hitman Y who maybe goes beyond mafiosi and maybe kills bystanders for kicks. Society might have been better off leaving X in place so long as he restricted himself the way I indicated.

Basically in my analogy above the choice is either to take out the whole mafia system that employs X as well as X himself, or just leave X in place as the least of many evils.

The US obviously isn't trying to win the War in Iraq, so it has to make sure the opposition is something that it can deal with politically, and killing off leaders doesn't promote that.

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Well structures don't exist without people. (Even killing off a mafiosi leader does not mean the next leader will be identical.)

Zarqawi wasn't open to potical deals. Perhaps he'll be replaced by someone as bad, in which case not much is lost. It is hard to see how he could be replaced by someone worse. However, there is a chance that he'll be replaced by someone who is more willing to do a deal. If a Sunni leader of a more secular bent (and most of them tend to be secular by midddle-east standards) can come to the fore with Zarqawi gone, it could mark a turning point.

The idea that nothing will change and that specific people do not matter reminds me of the thread on modern financial theory. Specific people matter, whether they're running Microsoft or an insurgency.

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The US obviously isn't trying to win the War in Iraq, so it has to make sure the opposition is something that it can deal with politically, and killing off leaders doesn't promote that.

Care to justify this assertion? Whatever you think about the methods by which the government is waging war, I don't understand how you can say they actually *don't* want to win. I don't see any evidence to suggest that the government wants to lose. Unless you can offer evidence to the contrary, such an accusation strikes me as an insult to the entire military establishment.

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I don't think this will have any effect in the long run. It is govts. of various Muslim countries which are promoting attacks against the free world. If one individual goes, he will be replaced by another. Sure, terrorism may abate in Iraq for a while but it will soon come back to its current levels unless we take out the countries responsible for terrorism.

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Let's take an unrealistic hypothetical, suppose we know X is a hitman. Now X is a pretty good hitman and he's only getting mafiosi, and he avoids getting bystanders

Is this supposed to an analogy for Zarqawi? Do you consider American soldiers to be like mafiosi?

nevertheless he *is* murdering people.

A hitman that only kills felons would qualify as a vigilante, but not as a murderer.

Maybe society ought to arrest him

No, the government ought to arrest him. Not maybe, but certainly.

but then maybe his boss hires a new hitman Y who maybe goes beyond mafiosi and maybe kills bystanders for kicks.

In that case, the government ought to execute him.

Society might have been better off

Would you like to get banned?

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I don't think this will have any effect in the long run. It is govts. of various Muslim countries which are promoting attacks against the free world. If one individual goes, he will be replaced by another. Sure, terrorism may abate in Iraq for a while but it will soon come back to its current levels unless we take out the countries responsible for terrorism.
When I first read stories about old battles where the king was killed and the army bolted, I was quite confused. I couldn't make any sense of it: why would the death of a single man change anything? It does, however; leadership is not a "nothing"... it does make a world of a difference.

There is some possibility that Zarqawi's organisation has depth to it, and that it can recover from the death of the leader. It is also quite possible that this will make them waver. The way things are in Iraq, a one-time ally (perhaps some Sunni groups in a marriage of convenience), seeing a group waver, can easily change alliances.

If terrorism does abate for a certain amount of time in Iraq, it might act as a tipping point. As long as the new regime is not a suporter of global terrorism, things will be much better.

Iran remains as the fountainhead of problems, but it will be easier to focus on Iran is one did not have to subdue the bad-guys in Iraq.

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Zarqawi's death is a moral victory for our troops and will either temporarily dishearten his comrades or it will piss them off even more. While I'm glad he's gone, I'd rather have had him captured...he would have been worth more alive than dead. Even then, there would only be a limited amount of usefulness, since his organization would immediately change such that he couldn't provide any useful information.

And I think many people here are overestimating his strategic importance. Not only was he demoted recently (as in, he was no longer the political leader...only the military commander), much of his celebrity was manufactured in the media. He was certainly important, but not as important as the media has made him seem over the past 3 years.

I have no doubt that he has already been replaced and that his death will have little, if any, strategic importance. Terrorist groups are extraordinarily resilient to the deaths of their leaders. If you want to know why, watch The Battle of Algiers, as long as you can bear to read subtitles for 3 hours. Excellent movie about the French occupation of Algeria, and it provides a good basis on the understanding of how cellular terrorist groups are structured, how they function, and how NOT to defeat them.

P.S.

To anyone wondering where I've been, I'm in Ohio at my fiancee's house for the summer and will probably not be posting much for a while.

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While I take no happiness in the death of anyone, I am happy that a major victory like this has been scored. As a vocal proponent of the war in Iraq, I get disheartened and depressed when the media is always depicting it as the evil imperialistic Americans in a country that doesn't want them fighting a losing battle. It's stuff like this that shows we are doing a good job and we're doing it right. ^^ Further, I love how in the Fox News link it states that Al-Qaeda released a statement about the "joyous martyrdom of Zarqawi." ^^ :D Only the crazy terrorist people could spin the death of their leader as something great to the press.

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I don't think enough is known about the personalities of potential Zarqawi replacements to make any kind of judgment as to the benefit (or lack thereof) of his death. However, one minor detail that I found irresponsible was the manner in which images of his body were presented to the media. The U.S. government has strongly objected to images of dead U.S. soldiers and yet we present an enlarged image of Zarqawi's head sitting in his own blood, outlined in a thick, brass picture frame. I realize the soldiers deserve more respect than Zarqawi (who may deserve no respect at all) and that proving his death occured was completely necessary, but I wish we could have done it with a little more tact.

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The personality of his replacement really doesn't matter that much. The leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq is just a face to show the media. As long as they look good on camera, that's all that matters.

As for showing his dead body...if you want his death to have any psychological impact at all, you should show it as much as possible to as many audiences as possible.

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As for showing his dead body...if you want his death to have any psychological impact at all, you should show it as much as possible to as many audiences as possible.

Do you object to televised beheadings or video footage of soldiers bodies being dragged through the streets of Fallujah?

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I object to the beheading and draggings. Televising them is a small, and relatively insignificant detail.

I feel the same way - I guess I incorrectly addressed my question.

My point is that the military should hold itself to far better standards than terrorists and the manner in which they released the images of Zarqawi to the press, in my opinion, lacked tact. It's not a big deal, but our international reputation has been damaged enough.

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Perhaps I haven't seen the images you have. There's the B&W film from the plane, blowing up the house. And, then there is Zarqawi's face. Those are the one's that are all over the press and TV. As far as I know, there are no widely published ones that could be shown on pre-8pm TV without any accusation of distaste.

Zarqawi is different from some run-of-the-mill terrorist. It is important for the U.S. to clearly demonstrate that he is dead.

As for the U.S.'s international reputation. The US has a reputation of being rather soft. There are few countries that could be expected to act in a softer manner if they had the means - perhaps France and Germany. If anything, the U.S. needs to change it's reputation to be viewed as having more backbone.

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