Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Another Killer Sent to Allah

It took twenty five years but another terrorist leader and vicious killer has been dispatched to Allah to receive whatever reward Allah dispenses to bloodthirsty thugs:

Imad Mughniyeh, a senior but shadowy Hezbollah commander accused by the United States and Israel of masterminding suicide bombings, hijackings and hostage-taking that spanned 25 years, was killed by a car bomb in the Syrian capital of Damascus, the Shiite Muslim group and other officials said Wednesday.

Hezbollah accused Israel of carrying out the attack on Mughniyeh. A spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Mark Regev, said Olmert's office had no comment.

The elusiveness of Mughniyeh, the target of several assassination attempts and kidnappings by the United States and Israel, rivaled only that of Osama bin Laden and stretched over many more years. Until Sept. 11, 2001, the attacks for which the United States blamed him represented some of the deadliest strikes against Americans. Along with bin Laden, he was included on the list of 22 "most wanted terrorists" released by President Bush a month after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Although Hezbollah has always denied a role, the United States said he orchestrated two bombings of the U.S. embassy in Beirut -- in 1983 and 1984 -- killing 72 people, including the CIA's then top Middle East expert, Robert Ames. Even more devastating were the suicide truck bombings organized against U.S. Marines and French paratroopers in Beirut in October 1983. Together, those attacks killed 300 men.

Israel accused Mughniyeh, 45, of masterminding the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires that killed 87 people and of a role in a 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in the Argentine capital that killed 28. He was wanted by the authorities there.

See Hot Air for more on Mughniyeh. Some think his killing was an inside job.


Of Pro Bowls and Nematodes

Mike Metzger at The Clapham Commentary asks why no one really watches the NFL's Pro Bowl. He suggests that it's because it's not a competitive event and therefore there's little interest in it. He uses this as context for stitching a silver lining into the dark cloud of the exclusion of religious ideas from university campuses. Putting the best face on this sad phenomenon he suggests that it may be a good thing that universities are attempting to create a monopoly for materialist explanations of life and the world by banishing all competitors. Monopolies, Metzger notes, are not competitive and, like the Pro Bowl, there's little interest generated by them.

I think there's merit to this view, but I'd like to look at his idea from a slightly different angle. The Pro Bowl is not competitive because it doesn't mean anything. Nothing comes of it. This I think is the fundamental problem for the materialist hegemony on campus.

Materialism, the belief that matter is all there is, strips life of any real meaning. Nothing comes of it. If all we are is a pile of atoms then death is the complete and utter end of our existence, and there's nothing about life that makes it in any way purposeful. When people realize this, when they realize that only through the categories of traditional religion can there be any real meaning to their lives, then it won't matter whether materialism is the only metaphysics on offer on campus. It will be rejected root and branch by those looking for something to make their existence, their work, and their loves significant. And perhaps they will then see that significance can only be achieved if physical death is not the end of our being. If it were, then, sub specie aeternitatis (as Spinoza would say), our lives really would be no more meaningful than the life of a nematode.

Thanks to Byron for the tip on Metzger's essay.


Quitters Never Win

A diary belonging to a top al Qaeda leader was recently seized by US forces in Balad and a communiqu� from al Qaeda in Iraq's leader was intercepted by US intelligence. Together they paint a bleak picture of the terror groups' ability to conduct operations in former strongholds.

The diary was found during a raid on a safe house in Balad in early November. It was written by Abu Tariq, the emir, or leader, of the region near the city of Balad in northern Salahadin province. Tariq's diary meticulously documents the terror group's decline, the desertion of its fighters, and logistical problems incurred in the wake of the surge. The diary is also an intelligence coup for US forces, as Tariq names current members of the groups and companies and individuals used in al Qaeda's support network in the region.

You can read some of what was in the diary at The Fourth Rail.

There's a lesson in the way things have gone in Iraq since last summer. When things looked bad last spring a lot of people were calling for us to pull out, including some Republicans. A withdrawal then would have been a calamity. The lesson is that quitters never win, and winnners never quit. It's a lesson many of our politicians could learn from our military and our President.