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Thursday, May 13, 2004

By now, most everybody has seen or read about the video of Nick Berg, a freelance communications worker from Pennsylvania, speaking briefly before being beheaded by his masked captors in Iraq.

An al Qaeda-linked Web site, on which the video first appeared, said the killing was carried out by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a top ally of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

In a statement on the video, the Al-Zarqawi group claimed to be taking out revenge for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners held by the US military at Abu Ghraib.

Yeah, that makes sense. To avenge Iraqi prisoners abused by the U.S. military, they captured and butchered a civilian to death. That makes about as much sense as when, say, somebody shoots and kills a relative of mine so, "to get revenge", I go out and shoot a few innocent bystanders.

And not only was the reasoning, such as it was, flawed but so was the execution.

Case in point:

If you're going to read a prepared statement, keep it to half a page at most. If you go on and on for like five or six pages, you've lost the audience before the end of page one and anything else you might have to say won't be heard because, by that time, nobody cares! At that point, you have to pull out a real show-stopper to draw the audience back in and anything short of a beheading just won't cut it.

Always read your statement in the native tongue of your target audience. As a rule, the decadent Western World hates subtitles and most people won't even attend the showing of an award-winning foreign film at the local cinema if it hasn't been dubbed in English.

If you're planning to decapitate somebody on camera then, for god's sake, hire a crew member whose job it is specifically to sharpen the knife. The last thing you need is a dull knife when the camera is rolling. It makes the whole production look unprofessional and slows the pace of the entire scene. And who the hell wants to be fucking around with a dull knife when you're cutting somebody's head off?

There should be no cheering after the deed is done. It makes you look arrogant. Nobody likes a terrorist and that goes double for an arrogant terrorist.

And who's idea was this anyway? Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's? Yeah... brilliant plan, you idiot. Allah would be so proud. With the recent, and ongoing, release of prisoner abuse photos, support for the continuing U.S. presence in Iraq was waning domestically and further cemented opposition worldwide. If his plan was to bring his enemy's enemies together, Zarqawi couldn't have come up with a better way to do it. He's also done more to help Bush's re-election prospects than anybody currently in the Bush Administration.

In reaction to this despicable act, President Bush was quoted by CNN as saying, "The actions of the terrorists who executed this man remind us of the nature of a few people who want to stop the advance of freedom in Iraq. Their intention is to shake our will. Their intention is to shake our confidence. Yet by their actions they remind us of how desperately parts of the world need free societies and peaceful societies."

Nothing like a single visceral and emotionally-charged act to rally the troops and give the U.S. president both the justification and resolve to continue an already protracted battle.

In response to this savagely inhuman deed, one can imagine the U.S. retaliating in such a way that makes the WWII bombing of Dresden look like a Fourth of July fireworks celebration by comparison.

Berg had gone to Iraq to work on communication towers and had been missing since April 9. Friends and family members described him as smart, funny and enormously generous. Which makes this another example of a smart person getting screwed when a bunch of stupid people get together to do what they do best -- something barbarically stupid.

posted by Pete 12:58 AM
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