MIXED MESSAGES. It would seem that the U.S. military's new mockery campaign against Abu Musab al-Zarqawi cuts two ways. (See the outtakes the military released, showing Zarqawi looking all bumbling and incompetent trying to fire a gun, here.) They unrolled the new footage at a Baghdad press conference, and to the extent this is actually targeted for Iraqi consumption, trying to cut Zarqawi's mystique down by revealing him to be (in the Times' paraphrase) an "uninspiring poseur" makes some sense, I suppose. But for several years now, the administration's approach for domestic purposes has been to maximally exaggerate the power and centrality of "al-Qaeda's henchman in Iraq" to the difficulties besetting the American occupation. If Zarqawi's just a poseur, does that mean there's some broader and deeper difficulties associated with the occupation, difficulties that can't be addressed merely through killing this or that terrorist?

--Sam Rosenfeld