Jewish World Review June 12, 2006 / 16 Sivan, 5766

Paul Greenberg

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One more down | A cheer went through the ranks and indeed throughout the Allied world April 18, 1943, as the news spread that American fighter planes had blown Japan's Admiral Yamamoto out of the skies over the Pacific.

The military mastermind who conceived, designed, promoted and commanded the attack on Pearl Harbor had met justice. The commander who had come to symbolize the Japanese empire's long reach and crushing power, which had once seemed unstoppable, could not escape the long arm of American intelligence. Not even when he was in friendly skies some 500 miles away from the nearest American base at Henderson Field on Guadalcanal.

It was a dramatic blow, especially to the enemy's morale. But the war would go for more than two years, and the bloodiest battles still lay ahead. One dramatic blow does not a war make.

Another couple of American fighter planes, F-16 jets by now, descended Wednesday evening on an isolated, "safe" house at Bakuba in strife-torn Iraq and dropped one 500-pound bomb after another. The air strike would end the bloody career and life of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, head of al-Qaida in Iraq, along with a number of his aides, including his "spiritual" adviser, Sheik Abdul Rahman. In an act of poetic justice, the al-Qaida network in Iraq had been decapitated.

Just how it all fell into place may not be revealed for some time, any more than the details of Admiral Yamamoto's mysterious death didn't come out till after that war was over. This strange new kind of war is still a long, long trail a-windin', too, and many sacrifices still lie ahead. The struggle of wills that is every war will continue. But Wednesday evening, June 7, 2006, another milestone was passed. Once again the armed forces of the United States have sent a powerful message to a ruthless enemy.

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This time the blow was coordinated with our Iraqi allies, who in the end must determine their country's fate. At the same time, news came that Iraq's struggling new government had finally found ministers of defense, police and interior - key posts if that government and a free Iraq are to survive. That development may in the long run prove even more significant than Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's welcome end.

Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden still lives, if you could call it living, cowering at the sound of every plane overhead, wondering if he can trust his closest associates. His time is coming. Nothing is sure in this struggle except more blood, toil, tears and sweat - but this terrorist-in-chief must know, wherever he is, that for him, too, there is no such thing as a safe house. Not as long as the will of those who still remember September 11, 2001, holds.

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JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

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