You just saw the new tape of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the blood-drenched bomber and beheader of the modern Iraq.
In many ways, it's good that Zarqawi made this tape.
First, it shows that, despite rumors to the contrary, he appears fit and in good health. If anything, a little well fed, instead of a drawn and wan, cornered rat. So we know our work is cut out for us. Zarqawi remains formidable.
Second, the tape shows that the guy who personally cut the head of Nick Berg is as implacable and determined as ever.
What he actually said on the tape was largely the usual bellicose, jihadist rhetoric. He threatens America for its "arrogance and insolence" in rejecting a truce offered by "our prince and leader" — Usama bin Laden.
We should connect some dots here. Monday, a bombing in Egypt. Two days before that, a tape from Usama bin Laden which, like Zarqawi, talks about the crusade against Muslim states.
Zarqawi used almost exactly the same language as bin Laden, and Zarqawi promised that Muslims have stood firm against the crusaders.
"By God," he says according to a translation from the BBC, "your dreams will be defeated by our blood and by our bodies. What is coming is even worse."
So are we supposed to think that Zarqawi and bin Laden are making these ominous threats because they want to push the crusader army out of Iraq? And if the so-called crusader army were to leave Iraq, everything would be peachy again?
I don't believe that. Do you?
Zarqawi is fighting Americans in Iraq because that is the easiest place for him to find Americans to kill. If they were not in that place, he would move on the place he still find Americans: America itself.
Bin Laden has already done that, in spades, and Zarqawi of course wants to emulate, if not better, his "prince and leader."
For me, Tuesday's tape reminds us why we fight and why we will have to continue.
These are not people who will be satisfied if Howard Dean can bring the troops home. A retreating American army will just give bin Laden and Zarqawi a trail to follow to attack again.
Remember his words: "What is coming is even worse."
We have been warned.
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