The retaliatory butchering of Kristian Menchaca and Thomas Tucker for the rape-murders were at the hands of followers of a religion that treats women as mere chattel and stones and even rapes them if they disobey religious law and bring dishonor on their husbands or families.Lawrence Kaplan provides a timely counterbalance in a (subscription only) New Republic blog post:
Do not Al Qaeda and other jihadists want Iraq to become a model Islamic republic where the harsh treatment of women would be codified?
Have not these terrorists inflicted horrors as unspeakable as those perpetrated on the Mahmudiyah family on many of their own people?
Even by the degraded standards of everyday life in Baghdad, this report from CNN's Nic Robertson comes as a shock:One international official told me of reports among his staff that a 15-year-old girl had been beheaded and a dog's head sewn on her body in its place; and of a young child who had had his hands drilled and bolted together before being killed.
From its gruesome particulars, the report goes on to describe the fear that has gripped even the most hardened Iraqis during this latest round of sectarian bloodletting. Robertson's dispatch points to a revolting truth about the war in Iraq -- one that American officers discovered long ago, but which has yet to penetrate fully the imaginations of theoreticians writing from a distant remove. The fact is, there is very little that we can do to dampen the sectarian rage and pathologies tearing Iraq apart at the seams. Did the Army make a mistake when it banished "counterinsurgency" from the lexicon of military affairs? Absolutely. Does it matter in Iraq? Probably not. How can you win over the heart and mind of someone who sews a dog's head on a girl? Would more U.S. troops alter Iraq's homicidal dynamic? Not really, given that, on the question of sectarian rage, America is now largely beside the point. True, U.S. troops can be--and have been--a vital buffer between Iraq's warring sects. But they cannot reprogram their coarsened and brittle cultures. Even if America had arrived in Iraq with a detailed post-war plan, twice the number of troops, and all the counterinsurgency expertise in the world, my guess is that we would have found ourselves in exactly the same spot. The Iraqis, after all, still would have had the final say.