Amidst all of the commotion over the mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq the point is lost. The acts were disclosed months ago - the fact that pictures of the abuse existed was the only thing that was withheld. All of the calls for Rumsfeld's removal are just so much political grandstanding.
Of course we should (and we will) punish those responsible for the criminal behavior. If we find that more senior people were involved (i.e., that the abuse was done at the direction of superiors) then those individuals should be sanctioned as well. But it is hardly surprising that this sort of thing happens during war. In fact, the United States has done far worse things in the past to a chorus of cheers. What is worse, parading prostitutes in front of Islamist murderers to embarrass them or fire-bombing Tokyo and killing 100,000 people in one night?
Our enemies are not too concerned about embarrassing or humiliating or murdering us. To them young children and pregnant women are legitimate targets for random slaughter in order to achieve their ideological ends. In order to intimidate us the Islamists are willing to murder UN aid workers, desecrate the dead bodies of US soldiers in Mogadishu and civilian contractors in Falluja and behead an American journalist for the unforgivable sin of being Jewish.
Oh....and then there is the little issue of putting a bounty on Paul Bremmer's head...and Kofi Annan. So much for John Kerry's plan for improving things in Iraq by getting the UN involved.
The Japanese didn't surrender to the Americans at the end of the Second World War because we were respectful of their culture and they realized that they had been wrong to attack us at Pearl Harbor. They surrendered because they realized that they couldn't win and they realized that the United States was willing to do anything necessary, including destroying every Japanese city, in order to obtain unconditional surrender.
When we were attacking Falluja after the brutal murder and desecration of the four civilian contractors there many in the media asked if we were engaging in collective punishment against the residents of the city. Our troops acted like choirboys compared to what we did to the Japanese and the Germans. We DID punish the people of the Axis countries collectively for their support of the brutal dictators who ran their countries. We punished them until they lost the will to continue fighting...and THEN we rebuilt their societies and became their friends.
The Islamists believe that our generosity and self-criticisms are signs of our weakness. And they may very well be correct. We must steel ourselves for we will have to become far more ruthless and brutal in the conduct of this war if we are to win it. And we will win it...the question is whether the cost of winning will be an Arab holocaust.
There is still time to win the war with a minimum of bloodshed. But doing so requires that we convince our enemies that we are willing to employ all means within our disposal to insure our victory. If they remained unconvinced of our resolve they will be emboldened to attack the US mainland again. The consequences of future terrorist attacks on US soil will be much more dire for the Islamists than for Americans...and the retribution will be collective and devastating.
Democrats, if they truly are concerned about the safety of America and the prevention of unprecedented human suffering, should signal the Islamists that, regardless of their evaluation of the management of the war, they will be just as determined as the Bush Administration in its all out war against them - that no American will rest until our enemies have UNCONDITIONALLY surrendered. Unfortunately the Democrat party seems to believe that George W. Bush is an equal evil to Osama bin Laden.
There is no room for pacifism now...it will only make inevitable the holocaust.