Thursday, June 08, 2006


I have to say I'm bewildered by Michael Berg's response to the news Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is finally where he deserves to be: dead in the dust from which he sprang. Here are some excerpts from his interview with CNN's Soledad O'Brien:
Well, my reaction is I'm sorry whenever any human being dies. Zarqawi is a human being. He has a family who are reacting just as my family reacted when Nick was killed, and I feel bad for that.

I feel doubly bad, though, because Zarqawi is also a political figure, and his death will re-ignite yet another wave of revenge, and revenge is something that I do not follow, that I do want ask for, that I do not wish for against anybody. And it can't end the cycle. As long as people use violence to combat violence, we will always have violence.
Democracy? Come on, you can't really believe that that's a democracy there when the people who are running the elections are holding guns. That's not democracy.
Michael Berg is a sincere and empathetic man and I'm empathetic to his plight, but I do believe he represents the bankrupt ideology of pacifism. There are things worth fighting and dying violently for. This is doubly bewildering considering Mr. Berg is Jewish. I know its a standard rebuke to pacifists, especially Jewish ones, but I'd like to know what Mr. Berg thinks of those valiant Jews that fought in the International Brigades against Nazism and fascism during the Spanish Civil War or those brave Jews that gave their lives in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Today the Jewish community faces a parallel ideology that seeks their destruction for their ethnicity and religion. Jihadis like Zarqawi, Bin Laden and Sheikh Khalid Muhammad have shown they cannot be deterred. They believe their fight is interminable. The only response to this ideology is to destroy it. Certainly this is not solely a violent struggle and Mr. Berg is right to argue the conduct of some coalition troops has the effect of a molotov cocktail. But when faced with an opportunity to wipe out those responsible for the most dastardly attacks against civilians -- who by the way are their co-religionists -- there is only one course of action and the U.S. military strike was correct.

And I for one do not know what historical record Mr. Berg is referring to when he says arms and democracy do not mix. The question is: Why does the military and police need to guard polling stations when Iraqis go to vote? I agree this is not the ideal atmosphere for democracy, but this is the problem with most of what Mr. Berg says: He lives in an ideal realm and not the real world where democracy is staggered toward. It's rarely, if ever, a linear procession. Often, the initial step toward democracy is violent. The quinessential examples of being the American Revolution and the French Revolution.

It's hard for me to understand much of Mr. Berg's criticism. If we do not fight against the Hitlers, the Milosevics, and the Zarqawis then we allow ourselves to be at the mercy of those who use violence as a political weapon to retain a stragglehold on society. Throughout history peoples have risen up against their oppressors and demonstrated that the iron heel of totalitarianism of any stripe will not crush their desire to live free.

I ask pacifists like Mr. Berg: What historical epoch would we live in today if those of yesterday did nothing?