We can long debate what the United States should do about the recent beheading of two of its citizens in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Most will agree the murderers should be captured and punished. But how can that be done? Will a police-style manhunt, orchestrated by the military, be enough? Or, as many in the U.S. are now saying, should the army start blowing up everyone in any areas the criminals are said to be hiding? The answer to the second question is no. Killing innocent civilians – and thousands have died in Iraq since the 1991 Gulf War – will make more enemies who will in turn kidnap more Americans and murder them in this most barbaric way designed to evoke maximum horror and generate worldwide publicity. The first plan is the one that must work. But it won’t without wholehearted support from the Iraqis and Saudis. It won’t work if the citizens of those countries approve of criminal behavior veiled as heroic defense of religion and homeland.
Authorities can only find the murderers if most people are concerned enough to cooperate. And I think they will. It’s in their interest to help eliminate the same knife-wielding men who someday could cut their throats if they seek progress. The same God-is-great chanting men who slice the necks of unarmed civilians are the ones who want to keep the Middle East mired in an old world that keeps failing in the modern. They’re the same self-serving reactionaries who want to oppress women and political opponents and anyone else who disagrees with them. They’re terrified of dissent. They’re horrified by change. And they’re repulsed by their own actions. That is why, like the KKK cretins who lynched so many blacks, they wear hoods over their hateful heads. They talk big under those hoods, but really they’re chicken shit. They don’t want the rest of the world to look them in the eye.
No matter what your position on the war in Iraq – I was against invading – the most fundamental issue now is whether the people of Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and throughout the Middle East, want to emerge from their dark world in the bright desert. Forget about George W. Bush and his administration’s lies about weapons of mass destruction and Iraq being a threat to U.S. security. We know why the United States is in Iraq. The purpose is to build a democracy. Yes, the U.S. occupation is painful, but it is temporary. Right now the people of the region must make a decision they’ll live with for decades. Do they want to embrace the brave new democratic politicians in Iraq, who despite great danger are proud to show who they are? Or do they want to cling to men in hoods who yearn to dominate everyone’s soul while cutting off as many heads as possible?