Its Origin and Purpose Still a Total Mystery

Before reaching his hilariously predictable conclusion -- the thing to do in Iraq is make sure the Palestinians remain subjected to foreign military occupation for as long as possible -- New Republic editor-in-chief Martin Peretz offers up this striking aperçu:

Give George W. Bush his due. He took down the Taliban. And he also took down the savage Caesar. These are achievements. What he did not grasp--and what, for that matter, Baker and those for whom he speaks also do not grasp--is the sheer and relentless butchery of which both Sunni and Shia are capable. The fiendish barbarism of decapitated heads and mutilated bodies is now a reflex of the warriors and nothing exceptional, a commonplace. Even the bare rudiments of civilization will not soon come back to the banks of the Tigris and the Euphrates.

The bare rudiments of civilization, eh? No al-Qaeda recruiting videos -- or, for that matter, written language -- to worry about then. As one wit whose name I'll withhold to protect the innocent observed, the civil war shouldn't get too out of hand since the participants won't have any wheels. Just two sides trying to slug it out with rocks and so forth. Eventually, either Sunni or Shiite will figure out how to crack the stones so as to reveal sharp edges and they'll have an upper hand against their stick-tossing adversaries. Fortunately, in civilized parts of the world there's no history of ethnically motivated killing and mutilation so we can all rest secure in our easy sense of innate moral superiority to the towel heads.