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What, Exactly, Is Joel Achenbach Saying?

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Joel Achenbach is the Washington Post’s most popular blogger. This is how he begins his morning blog on the death of Zarqawi:

The military briefing this morning featured footage of the bombing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s hideout. We’ve become familiar with this kind of image, the jet-fighter’s view of the terrain, the target in the middle of the screen, the flash of light, the erupting cloud of smoke and dust. American fighters hit Zarqawi’s lair with a 500-pound bomb, and then, after pondering the situation, sent in another 500-pounder to bounce the rubble. Six bodies were later found, including that of an unidentified child. One body definitely belonged to Zarqawi: American soliders identified him every which way, from scars to fingerprints.

But no human beings are visible in that jet-fighter footage. I actually couldn’t tell what I was looking at — it could have been a warehouse demolition in Tulsa. It was an impersonal obliteration. You could argue that it was the opposite of Zarqawi’s style of killing — he preferred to murder hostages by beheading them in front of a video camera.

My producer invited Mr. Achenbach to appear on today’s program, and he declined. I have already asked Mark Steyn and will ask Christopher Hitchens about these paragraphs. Their responses will be transcribed at

I don’t see how these paragraphs can easily be read as anything other than an assertion of moral equivalence between the American pilot who deliver the bombs and Zarqawi.

The Post accepts comments at Achenblog.
They make for interesting reading.

The Post needs a milblogger, one with as much opportunity to defend the military and the war as Achenbach has to sideswipe both. I suggest Austin Bay, Froggy, Smash or Blackfive as four very experienced, retired military men who are also excellent bloggers. I hope Jim Brady brings someone on soon to fill this glaring gap.

UPDATE: Here’s Steyn’s take on Achenbach’s commentary:

MS: Well, this man is disgusting. And to hell with him, frankly. I find it harder and harder as the days go by to take this kind of talk. You know, the Archbishop of Canterbury made this point. He said that the terrorists and the United States Air Force were both equivalent. They were only capable of viewing people at a distance. The guy in the plane, with all those anonymous buildings as little blips on the radar screen, on the GPS positioning thing way below him, he has more understanding of the humanity there. He knows which is the schoolhouse. He knows which is the hospital. He knows which is the restaurant. And he knows which is the one building he’s allowed to hit. What’s interesting to me about the people we’re up against is they look you in your eyes. Zarqawi can look American hostages, British hostages…poor Margaret Hassan, an Iraqi aid worker, he can look these people in the eye and he fails to recognize their common humanity, and he reaches for his scimitar, and he cuts their throat. The guys at the Beslan school massacre…they looked those kids in the eye, and then they killed them. And the guy in the plane dropping the 500 pound bomb has more understanding of the common humanity that links us and the Iraqis and all peoples on this Earth than Zarqawi does. So to hell with that twerp at the Washington Post. I’ve got no time for him on a day like this.


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