While the abuse of prisoners in the Abu Graib prison in Iraq was despicable--and I hope the people responsible for it get court-martialed up one side and down the other, and their CO's, too--I do not believe that Nick Berg's murder was an act of retaliation for it.
No, I believe Nick Berg's murder was simply the act of terrorists taking advantage of a convenient excuse:
A small, aberrant group of American military people abused Iraqi prisoners, so the terrorists decided to use this fact as license to murder and torture as they please.
I'm not buying the retaliation defense, at all. People kill others because they choose to--and they restrain themselves from killing others because they choose to. No one forces a person to pick up an implement and commit murder with it. Retaliation is no excuse. It is, in fact, one of the least conscionable reasons for killing someone that I can think of.
President Bush has stated that this 'War on Terror' is going to be a long, hard row to hoe, and he's correct. However, I believe it cannot be won by Americans. We can go in there and do our best, but in the end, it's going to fall to the people of the Middle East to not only decide that they won't tolerate the nurturing of terrorists in their countries anymore, but to make a public and decisive move--not a statement, but a move--against them.
I believe that they have long been weary of their children being slaughtered by their own people, of their young men and children being recruited by their own people to blow themselves and others up, of their homes and property being bombed by their own people, of and being forced to live in fear by their own people.
But even if the United States were able to garner the support of ten gazillion nations and the entire UN in a coalition--it wouldn't do a lick of good unless the people of the Middle East themselves stand up en masse and act on a decision not to take it, anymore.
They can do it. Every man who becomes a police officer in Baghdad shows some of the greatest courage I have ever seen in human beings. The same goes for their wives, who face almost certain widowhood. These men know they're marked for death, yet they still train and then go out to help protect their people. I have incredible, incredible respect for them.
I hope that someday soon in the Middle East there will arise a strong, moral leader who will turn the general tide of public opinion against these thugs, once and for all.
The deepest change can only come from within.