R.O.K. A-OK In Iraq

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I suggested yesterday that the butchering of South Korean captive Kim Sun-il by Islamist terrorists would, like the murders of Daniel Pearl and Nick Berg, actually steel military resolve in Iraq. A number of commenters agreed that that was true for the U.S. but wondered whether the Republic of Korea's government would feel the same way.

It seems as if does. According to The Scotsman, the R.O.K. is standing firm about sending 3,000 troops to Iraq, supplementing its force of "several hundred" that are already there.

Shortly after the horrifying Nick Berg tape surfaced--effectively diminishing the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, which had just broken--Reason's Charles Paul Freund wrote this trenchant piece about how such atrocities backfire on their perpetrators.

NEXT: A Tuesday in Afghanistan

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  1. "I am not so sure that such tactics backfire, as they may be intended to escalate the situation. I think these guys know what they are doing. They need an angry coalition occupying Iraq."

    I made a similar suggestion in yesterday's thread. As I quipped then, if OSL was trying to provoke brutality with terrorism, then I imagine he must have been quite frustrated by Clinton's tepid responses to his early attacks. But predicting the ultimate effect of your actions is a tough gig, and the terrorists must know that. Indeed, I can also imagine a heated exchange between OSL and Sheik Omar after the Taliban was thrown from power in which Sheik Omar says to OSL, "What was the next step in this bright plan of yours?" Surely Sheik Omar wouldn't have given aid, shelter and support to OSL if he knew that bin Laden?s plans would eventually lead to his own fall from power.

    I've used this example before; I apologize to those of you who have already read it once. I once worked in the HIM department of a full lockdown insane asylum, and part of my job was to review the documentation of care and bring cases that needed something to the attention of the appropriate psychiatrist. There was one particularly talkative physician I worked with quite often, and I would ask him questions about why a particularly interesting patient would do this or that. If his explanation didn?t seem rational, I would argue with him. Hey, it?s in my nature! One day, he stopped me short and told me that if I ever saw a perfectly rational reason for insane behavior, I should seek care myself.

    We can argue about what the ultimate effect of these beheadings will be, but I?m having a hard time coming up with a rational reason to cut the head off of a South Korean unless they really thought this would somehow make it less likely that South Korea would send troops to join the fight. But, apparently, they were wrong about that. I have to confess that I too gave the mettle of the South Korean people much less credit than they are due; God bless them for having it. I think it?s still an open question as to whether or not sending troops is in the best interest of South Korea, but Nick may think that?s an open question too. Still, I was wrong about their reaction, and tonight after work, I?ll raise my glass to the good people of South Korea.

  2. OSL, what's that? Over the Speed Limit? Over the Side Line? Open Source Lunatic?

    You all know what I meant, right?

  3. How did the Korean government wind up committing to send troops to this nonsensical war anyway? Does the US government hold some taxpayer-financed leverage over them?

  4. Rick, by complaining about our military presence in Korea you're showing that you're racist against Asians! 🙂

  5. It is also important to recognize, however, that there are those in the pro-war camp that will silently give thanks for these atrocities, because it reinforces their view that more force is necessary, and more importantly that more "sacrifice" is necessary. The John McCains and William Kristols of the world want nothing more than to see a generation of young Americans terrified by the prospect of perpetual war--or as they call it "national greatness."

  6. I am not so sure that such tactics backfire, as they may be intended to escalate the situation. I think these guys know what they are doing. They need an angry coalition occupying Iraq.

  7. Skip-
    How did John McCain get dragged into this? You say he wants to terrify a generation over so called national greatness. What the hell does that mean? Anyway, it seems a lot of heads are rolling:
    "Namatullah Tokhi, commander of the Afghan government's 27th division in southern Zabul province, said on Tuesday that soldiers there beheaded four Taliban fighters a day earlier after guerrillas cut off the heads of an Afghan interpreter for U.S.-led forces and an Afghan government soldier."

  8. ...such atrocities backfire on their perpetrators.

    Depends on the background culture: The Weather Underground.

  9. thoreau,

    shhh... please don't give anyone a crazy notion. As you know; Stephen Fetchet, only a couple days ago, kindly admitted that I'm not a racist against Jews, despite my opposition to the Israeli government.

  10. "effectively diminishing the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, which had just broken"

    You wouldn't know it if you listen to various Rush Limbaugh wanna-bes up and down the AM dial. In their view the "Bush-hating" media has buried the Nick Berg and Paul Johnson stories and "won't shut up" about Abu Ghraib in order to claim that the "U.S. is no better than the terrorists."

    Of course, they don't offer any detailed proof of these accusations.

  11. Matt: Skip is referring to the growing notion among conservatives like McCain that "national greatness" and making sure the U.S. remains powerful and respected should be the primary focus of American government and society. Of course, think that big government programs and military adventurism will somehow make America a virtuous altruistic and civic-minded society.

  12. Whoops! Let me edit that last post.

    Matt: Skip is referring to the growing notion among conservatives like McCain that "national greatness" and making sure the U.S. remains powerful and respected should be the primary focus of American government and society. They think that big government programs and military adventurism will somehow make America a virtuous altruistic and civic-minded society.

  13. It seems like an obvious point to say that the U.S. should attempt to remain powerful and respected in the world. History has shown that we cannot trust other nations to be more powerful than us.

    To say that someone silently gives thanks for these attrocities is a horrible thing to say.

  14. It seems like an obvious point to say that the U.S. should attempt to remain powerful and respected in the world. History has shown that we cannot trust other nations to be more powerful than us.

    To say that someone silently gives thanks for these attrocities is a horrible thing to say.

  15. A thought on the "effectiveness" of atrocities: they work differently for different people. When the Abu Ghraib story broke, Americans seemed to range from disappointed to revolted. (Maybe there were a few troglodytes out there going "Yeah! Right on!" but they didn't get much press.) When Zarqawi cuts somebody's head off, how does the "Arab street" respond? Obviously, there are voices which condemn it, but they all seem to be very visible, public, establishment voices. If Joe Arab thinks it's way cool, then maybe Zarqawi et al. do know what they're doing. So Americans now hate them, think they're a bunch of ghouls, and want to see them dead? From their point of view, what else is new? If they get the locals to rally around them, that's what counts.

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