"Five others died in the airstrike, including Sheikh Abd-al-Rahman, al-Zarqawi's spiritual adviser, who died of head wounds and a massive skull fracture, Caldwell said Saturday. The total casualties included three males and three females; one of the females was a child between the ages of 5 and 7, he said." -- CNN June 11, 2006

What kind of human being is this, that the world is made better and not diminished by his death? What a horror is this, that a little girl were killed alongside him-- but the menace you pose to other women, other children was so great that the cost of collateral damage was not considered too high?

This has me thinking about that scene in "Night of the Shooting Stars" (La Notte di San Lorenzo), when the villagers are trying to decide what to do about the schoolboy son of the town fascist, a pretty blonde child in a tiny black uniform who practically froths at the mouth with the poison bred by his father in his fangs. Then one of the men makes a decision for the sake of all the children of the town, and does what has to be done. "Who Must Do the Terrible Things?" asks a Japanese proverb; "He Who Can", comes the answer.

And the mad pain of the father, chewing at his own flesh and crawling like an animal in the dirt to see his child killed, a grotesqe, demonic, almost comic display. Then someone remembers that for ten years this pitiable creature felt not a drop of pity for thousands of pretty little children being sent to their death by the carload, and they end the animal's torture with a bullet.

Did Zarqawi had a moment of regret for the death of his own child, or was he still calculating his options and thinking about how to escape this attack?

Evidently Zarqawi spent the wonder years in and out of Jordanian prison for a variety of crimes, then found God and politics in jail. This is an old story, this prison recruitment of stone killers. Sure, you like killing folks in horrible ways, but you're not to blame-- "they" are, they ones who who locked you up in here. The King of Jordan, the Jews in Palestine, the Americans, the Saudi paarty boys. My brother, I offer redemption. You can still kill people in horrible ways, but now you're killing for the Cause, killing for God, and can saw away at infidel necks with a righteous glow.

I wish I could say that this kind of bug only rises to the top in fanatical Islam, but we've heard enough smug boasting from G. Gordon Liddy, from Oliver North and his Contras, from Bill Casey and his Phoenix Program in Vietnam-- to know that this kind of useful sociopath is always going to be around waiting for someone to give them permission to hurt their fellow human beings. Tim McVeigh and his war on day care centers could have had a sterling career at CIA if he'd had just a little more discipline. Gangsters used to call them "bugs", meaning a useful but not terribly reliable tool for setting fires or committing murders. You gotta wonder if Oswald, Sirhan Sirhan, Arthur Bremer-- or Lindsey Englund-- were such as these.

And now as an example to the children, we have Barbara and Jenna Bush's Daddy; an affable stooge who has arsfardled his way into spending 2,500 American lives, billions of dollars and thousands of people dead that I never even knew existed. But Daddy's not a monster, because his road to Hell was paved with words like Freedom, Liberty, Democracy and "Patience" that he doesn't understand.

I have no conclusions about any of this; just idly doing some dark math, one of those silly little mental games demonologists play.

No wonder the girls drink.

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