The Lessons of Zarqawi

I returned home last week in time to celebrate a great day for freedom: the death of the terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi thanks to the skill and diligence of coalition forces — and two 500-pound precision guided bombs. But, welcome as it was, Zarqawi’s death is also a sobering event. It should serve as a reminder for all Americans of three big truths:

First, Zarqawi was the true face of evil in Iraq. As Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld noted, no one is responsible for killing more innocent Iraqi men, women and children than Zarqawi. Remember, everyone who wanted to cut and run from Iraq was arguing for the position that would have allowed Zarqawi to escape justice. His death should remind everyone — especially the anti-American left and the anti-military elite — that there are truly evil people killing innocent civilians in Iraq and that these people, not our military, are our enemies.

The greatest, most dangerous mistake we could make right now would be to allow the allegations of misconduct by our soldiers in the Iraqi town of Haditha to become the defining moment of the war in Iraq. That would cripple our military, not just in Iraq, but in all of our efforts in the long war against the irreconcilable wing of Islam.

Second, Zarqawi was part of a threat aimed at us. The news of Zarqawi’s death came just after two events that showed the ongoing, global danger posed by terrorists like him. In Canada, officials arrested 17 "homegrown" terrorists for plotting, among other things, to behead Prime Minister Stephen Harper. And in Britain, security officials announced that they have uncovered 20 "major conspiracies" by Islamic terrorists and that as many as 1,200 potential terrorists may now be living in Britain. Taken together, these events should send this message to the world: We are engaged in a long war against an enemy who, given the opportunity, would be glad to inflict the same level of violence in our cities and towns that they are inflicting on the Iraqi people. You need only look to London and Madrid and the hundreds of people who were murdered there or the foiled terrorist plot in Canada to understand the scope of the threat.

And third, Zarqawi’s death underscores the importance of victory in Iraq. Last week, I promised to report to you on the Asian security summit I attended in Singapore. It was a fascinating, wide-ranging discussion of the long war against the irreconcilable wing of Islam. But a quote from Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stood out. We tend to believe the mainstream media’s reporting that the whole world wants us out of Iraq. But leaders like Prime Minister Lee understand the vital role the United States is playing there. He said, "If the U.S. leaves Iraq under conditions that can be portrayed as defeat, its enemies everywhere will be emboldened, and we will all be at greater risk." Well timed and well said, Mr. Prime Minister.

A Dead-of-the-Night Tax Increase

Here’s something else from my trip that I didn’t get a chance to report last week: While I was overseas, I ran into a lot of very angry Americans who had discovered that Congress had substantially raised their taxes with no notice and no opportunity to object.

A law signed by President Bush last month that is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2006, raises tax rates for many Americans working abroad. It promises to hurt American competitiveness, but the real scandal is the way the law was passed. In a House-Senate conference committee to cut taxes overall, some staff and some senior members agreed to raise taxes on Americans working overseas. This proposal had been defeated every other time it became public. But this time it was quietly inserted into the conference committee report, even though it was in neither the original House nor Senate bill. Not only is this bad legislative procedure, it is even worse tax policy. It unnecessarily undercuts our ability to compete and win in the global economy. This dead-of-the-night tax increase on Americans overseas should be repealed.

More Bad News for a Bad Immigration Bill

Speaking of taxes, as my Human Events colleague Robert Novak reported, there was yet another stealth tax increase — this time in the Senate immigration bill — that could be the nail in the coffin for that amnesty legislation.

In yet another example of a dysfunctional Senate, senators debating and voting on the immigration bill apparently forgot about the Constitution. Without a word of opposition, they added an amendment that would make workers here illegally pay back taxes before applying for citizenship. Fair enough, right? But there is a problem. The Constitution prohibits revenue-raising legislation from originating in the Senate. Even if it were Constitutional, which it is not, do you really believe that all of these workers and their employers who broke the law would get together to figure out how much they owe the government?

In any event, the Senate most likely will be forced to re-pass the immigration bill without the revenue-raising component. But what are the chances of that, given the fact that Americans are learning more everyday about its failure to secure our borders? First we learned that the bill would increase legal immigration by 60 million people over the next 20 years and grant amnesty to an estimated eight to 10 million who are already here illegally. Second, we learned that it raids Social Security to ensure benefits for people who have been working here illegally. Then we discovered that the bill requires consultation with officials of Mexico’s government before any fence construction can take place. And now we learn that it’s plain old unconstitutional. What will we — and the senators who passed the legislation — learn next about the Senate immigration bill?

P.S. – If you didn’t see my thoughts on the outcome of the San Diego special election, you can read them here. The bottom line is that the Democrats lost an election that many thought they would win, and the big loser of the week wasn’t just Democrat Francine Busby but Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.). The winner, Republican Brian Bilbray, ran as the candidate of change who would control spending, change Washington and secure our border. His victory took away what Emanuel most wanted: the opportunity to appear on television the morning after the election and declare that the Democrats’ victory in California was a preview of more victories to come in the fall elections.

And there was another big loser last week: the Senate amnesty bill. Francine Busby’s slip-of-the-tongue revelation late in the campaign that it was okay with her for someone who is in the United States illegally to be active in an American election was a significant factor in her defeat. Even the out-of-touch elites in Washington, D.C., are now starting to understand that in a contest between a liberal who supports amnesty and a conservative who supports securing our borders as the No. 1 priority, conservatives will win every time. Let’s remember that in the fall.