Time to Choose

The leader in today’s Times is right on target about the ethics of choosing sides in Iraq:

The issue now, regardless of the debate over the original decision to depose the Baathist regime, is whether democracy in Iraq is a cause deemed worthy of support, one to be treated with indifference, or even despised as an exercise in “liberal imperialism”. The stakes, which were already very high, have been raised by the public declaration of the terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his “al-Qaeda in Iraq” that they intend to conduct an “all-out war ” against the Shia majority (and by implication the Kurdish minority as well). This sadistic boast has been followed by a savage and shameless campaign of suicide bombings.

Al-Zarqawi’s vow should render the ethical and political debate about Iraq more straightforward. Those who insisted that the Iraqi “insurgency” was home-grown can hardly maintain that stance when it is being championed by a Jordanian national in the name of a group established by a Saudi-born fanatic. Those who contend that these extremists are best seen as nationalists aggrieved by the Western presence in Iraq cannot truly sustain that claim when they explicitly call for civil war. Those who cling to the notion that the zealots have somehow been alienated from the political process and have to be appeased cannot, surely, fail to observe their glorification of violence.