- - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Human decency died in Pakistan. Islamic extremists wielding weapons of mass hatred had forfeited any shred of respect from decent men and women everywhere, but the massacre of children in Peshawar sets them apart from the merely evil. They are monsters, pure and simple, and any hand of peace should be withdrawn.

The seven Taliban militants armed in suicide vests and guns who crashed into a school chose Pakistan’s most vulnerable targets, children, to punish their parents who are members of the Pakistani military. More than 130 schoolchildren were killed, along with 10 of their teachers, one of whom was burned alive while the children were made to watch. Three soldiers died during the eight-hour siege and the counterassault, which ended only when all of the terrorists were killed. A Taliban spokesman defended the outrage as retaliation for Pakistani army strikes on their positions in the Khyber region between Peshawar and Afghanistan. Pakistan declared three days of mourning, which is of small solace for the parents of children killed in the name of Allah.

President Obama quickly issued the usual hollow words from the White House, condemning the attack. “By targeting students and teachers in this heinous attack, terrorists have once again shown their depravity,” he said. “Heinous” is a favorite term of after-the-fact American diplomacy when evil men do evil things, and carries little weight in the street. Such language barely suggests the revulsion all feel.

Pakistanis know very well that they can expect little more than words of sympathy in their battle with the Taliban, the Islamic fanatics intent on overthrowing the democratic republic in Iraq and the rule in neighboring Afghanistan. On Mr. Obama’s watch, the United States has thrown in the towel in the war against terrorism, and is now negotiating with the terrorists over the future of Afghanistan. The president has ordered an end to the U.S. combat mission there and beginning Jan. 1, American forces will maintain only a skeleton force of 13,000 men for training Afghan soldiers.

If anything positive can come from such a horrific tragedy, it could be that the slow-witted in Pakistan and Afghanistan show signs of awakening to the need to ally themselves against a common foe. Better a late education than no education at all. The Wall Street Journal reports that Pakistani army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif flew to Kabul on Wednesday to consult with Afghan and U.S. counterparts on ways to improve joint security in the wake of the school attack. The Taliban has used the porous border between the two nations to infiltrate fighters in raids on military and civilian targets alike, leading to charges and countercharges of collaboration with extremists.

The Taliban organization is a malevolent freak of human nature, so purged of humanity by its interpretation of Islam that it rationalizes the massacre of children of its own religion to terrify and demoralize their parents. It carries the mark of Cain writ large. Taliban followers, feeding on gall, bile and resentment, have identified themselves as a curse on the region of the world they inhabit. Yet sheltered in their mountain redoubts, neither local tribal powers nor mentors from the outside have succeeded in ending their rapine reign of terrorism and plunder.

The seasonal wish of “peace on earth, and good will toward men” does not apply to them. Decent men are entitled to regard them as beyond capable of reform. Since they cannot be reformed, they must be dispatched without mercy to whatever places the Creator has put aside for his unredeemed refuse.

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