Friday, October 01, 2004


Another day in Baghdad. Large crowds were gathered to celebrate the opening of a new sewage plant, another step along the road of reconstruction. American troops were handing out candy to Iraqi children when a suicide car bomber ploughed into the crowd. As more soldiers and civilians were rushing to the scene to aid the wounded, another suicide bomber detonated among the rescuers. 35 children were killed and many more wounded.

Roger Simon wonder whether this latest Al Zarqawi outrage was designed to coincide with the first presidential debate in the US: "It's hard to know, but it's far from impossible. We do know, the terror mongers have tried to influence elections before, in the very recent past and with regrettable success." Glenn Reynolds tends to agree.

If it is - and if as the common wisdom suggests it's designed to energize the anti-war crowd and thus help Kerry across the line - it might be a risky tactic for the terrorists. I can just imagine this exchange between the two contenders tonight:

John Kerry: Meanwhile, earlier on today in Baghdad another two suicide bombings caused carnage and destruction among our servicemen and Iraqi civilians. Yet at the same time the President insist with maintaining his fiction - which is not shared by many in his own administration, his own intelligence advisers, his commanders on the ground and in fact anyone who has had any direct experience of Iraq recently - the President is maintaining his fiction that things are going well in Iraq, and we are on the right track. This, as security situation deteriorates from day to day, our troops face increasing attacks and take increasing casualties, with no prospect of improvement and no end in sight. Mr President, if this is what you describe as winning the war, then what do you describe as failure?

George Bush: We are fighting against people who murder children in cold blood. We won't abandon Iraqi people to these monsters.

I think I know which line might have just a bit more appeal than the other.

Not that we didn't know it before, but the terrorists in Iraq don't care for the lives of the Coalition soldiers, just as much as they also don't give a damn for the lives of ordinary Iraqi people and for the reconstruction of the country. John Kerry has hell of a job ahead of him trying to convince the voters that his plan will keep these people from taking control over Iraq.

And just to pre-empt somebody's possible comment that the Coalition has killed a lot more Iraqis than the terrorists, I'm genuinely sorry for all the loss of life. I accept that the pain and grief for the relatives and friends is the same whether your loved one is killed by an American bullet or a terrorist bomb. What I don't accept - and will never accept - is that there is moral equivalence between accidentally killing civilians during a battle and purposefully killing civilians to achieve political ends. Neither will I accept the argument that there is no difference whether a life is lost as a result of struggle for freedom and democracy or as a result of struggle for tyranny and oppression. This argument was repugnant in the past, when promoted by the critics of the Cold War, and it is still repugnant today, when hawked around often by the same people now in support of a new case.


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