WASHINGTON — “All we are saaaaying is give peace a chance” — have the charmed crowds that turn out to hear Senator Jean-François Kerry, the peace candidate, begun singing this old ditty from peace movements of yore? Frankly, I am somewhat surprised to see how rapidly the cranks and nostalgists who initially opposed our military action in Iraq found themselves in the company of a large chunk of the Democratic Party. Yet here we go again, and this year the Democrats’ peace candidate does not even have the eloquence or the ideological rigor of yesteryear’s Gene McCarthy or George McGovern. There is another difference. The Cold War’s peace movement could claim the Soviet Union was “on the right side of history.” The peace movement today can hardly claim that Washington’s adversaries are on the right side of history, unless history is headed in reverse.
The Middle-Eastern thugs who slaughter their countrymen, kidnap and behead foreigners, and display their victims in cages have more in common with the Emir of Bokhara of 250 years ago than with modern Communist despots. Even the grisly Fidel Castro has never publicly bragged about his torture cells, and he has always had the public relations savvy to keep public executions to a minimum. The Emir of Bokhara might actually have served as a role model for the brute killers now at large in Iraq, for instance, Abu Musab Zarqawi. He is the bespectacled Islamofascist who personally beheaded Nicholas Berg in May and more recently Eugene Armstrong and Jack Hensley, all three being non-combatants merely going about the business of rebuilding of Iraq.
Behind the mud walls of the Khanate of Bokhara in Central Asia, the Emir maintained a strictly Islamic state. He gained international renown by maintaining his “Bug Pit,” a verminous subterranean cell into which he would thrust foreign visitors, allowing the pit’s assorted vermin and reptiles to gnaw on them before their public beheading. He is also remembered for his secret police, his brutality even towards his own citizenry, and certain light-hearted moments. One recalls with amusement the time in 1845 when in a fit of “uncontrollable laughter” he released the Rev. Joseph Wolff, a Church of England clergyman, who appeared in the Emir’s court wearing full canonical dress and admitting that, yes, he did indeed like his pork chops. The Emir apparently found the consumption of pork very funny, and I have to admit I agree with him when it comes to an old German recipe that I once read for pig’s feet.
Actually, compared to Zarqawi the corpulent Emir is a more sympathetic fellow. For one thing he was probably better educated, for another, he had no police record, and at least when he sexually molested people it was legal. After all, he was the emir. Zarqawi may appear in photographs as a bright young graduate student, one of those thirtysomething Arab graduate students who so often turn up at an American cow college and become such pests at sorority houses. But, truth be known, Zarqawi is a high school drop out from a squalid Jordanian town where from an early age he was a public nuisance. Today he might portray himself as a pious Muslim, but in his youth he was jailed for sexual assault. He was an alcoholic and possibly a drug addict. My guess is he still has a yen for the hooch. Moreover I suspect that his famous beheadings have less to do with religious inspirations or even with xenophobia than with his simple innate hatreds.
Like most of the other terrorists in the Middle East Zarqawi is simply an evil man. There is no negotiating with him, nor can he be placated in any way. That today in America a peace movement is growing and contemplating some sort of peaceful give-and-take with the likes of Zarqawi is astounding, though there were millions who in the 1930s believed they could deal politically with Hitler.
Actually there is no negotiating with such killers no matter what high office they might attain. Unreason and murder are in their DNA. Commenting on the death of another Middle Eastern terrorist recently, an Afghan security official got to the heart of the matter. The terrorist, one Abdul Ghaffar, had been released months, perhaps years, ago from our Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo to begin his life anew. He returned to the Taliban and died in a battle with Afghan security forces. “People like Ghaffar even on being released from prison return to violence and terror,” commented the Afghan official, Rozi Khan, “It is their nature.” From the Emir of Bokhara to Abu Musab Zarqawi, this Afghan official understands the war we are in.
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