Friday, October 22, 2004

Ex-hostage clarifies his comments 

Two days ago I wrote about Australian freelance journalist John Martinkus who was taken hostage in Iraq by neo-Baathist insurgents and released 24 hours later when his political tendencies became apparent to his kidnappers. Martinkus was quoted as saying this about the insurgents:

"These guys ... (are) not stupid... They're fighting a war but they're not savages... They're not actually just killing people willy-nilly... They talk to you, they think about things... There was a reason to kill (British hostage Ken) Bigley, there was a reason to kill the Americans; there was not a reason to kill me (and) luckily I managed to convince them of that."
Now, Martinkus has been forced to clarify his statements:

"They're trying to end the occupation, they're trying to get the Americans to leave and that's why they're doing this... Of course like any sane human being I deplore some of their methods and I wasn't in any way implying that Ken Bigley or the American hostages taken with him deserve their fate." [emphasis added]
So presumably Martinkus "deplores" beheading of hostages, but not some other "methods". I think we need a further clarification - just exactly which of the following are the non-deplorable methods of "ending the occupation"?

a) suicide bombings - against the Coalition personnel, Iraqi security forces, or whoever's unlucky to be in a vicinity of a blast;

b) mortar and RPG attacks - as above;

c) assassinations of Iraqi government officials, army and police personnel, doctors, academics and intellectuals - like shooting up a bus with female employees of Iraqi Airways;

d) kidnappings - as above, plus foreign workers and contractors;

e) sabotage of oil facilities - which so far costed Iraq $7 billion in losses - that's $7 billion less for schools, hospitals, power generation and other such trifles;

f) sabotage of vital infrastructure - electricity lines, water supply;

g) bombing Christian churches.
I've got a feeling that I know the answer, even if Martinkus might never come out and admit it in the open: women and children and accidental passers-by should be off-limits; everyone else is a fair game - after all they are either occupiers or collaborators, and it's all about ending the occupation, isn't it?. Never mind that the occupation-free Iraq that the insurgents are fighting for is either a re-run of the Baathist nightmare or a Taliban-style theocracy. But that's alright - as long as the Americans are out it doesn't matter.


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