- Father of American contractor beheaded by radical Islamists in Iraq in 2004
- Green Party political candidate
Born in 1945, Michael Berg is the father of Nicholas Berg, the 26-year-old American contractor decapitated by Islamist terrorists in Iraq in 2004. (It is believed that the man who actually severed Berg's head was the late al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.) A high-school teacher by profession, Michael Berg is a self-proclaimed, committed pacifist and a veteran anti-war activist.
Although Islamist terrorists killed his son, Berg has always held the Bush administration responsible for his death. "My son died for the sins of George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld," Berg said in 2004. "This [Bush] administration did this." Similarly, in a 2004 address to an anti-war demonstration London, Berg said: "Even more than those murderers who took my son's life, I can't stand those [i.e., the Bush administration] who sit and make policies to end lives and break the lives of the still living."
Berg has acknowledged that his son was a supporter of President Bush and the Iraq War, and that "[h]e looked at [the war] as bringing democracy to a country that didn't have it." Berg has also said that he is "sure" that his son's murderers "came to admire him" prior to executing him and thus, "when they did the awful thing they did, they weren't quite as into it as they might have been."
Berg expressed no joy over the death of his son's killer in June of 2006, when American troops ended al-Zaqawi's life by bombing the house in which he was hiding. When asked on CNN about his reaction to al-Zarqawi's death, Berg responded: "Well, my reaction is I'm sorry whenever any human being dies. Zarqawi is a human being." "I think the news of the loss of any human being is a tragedy," he said on another occasion. "I think al-Zarqawi's death is a double tragedy. His death will incite a new wave of revenge. George Bush and al-Zarqawi are two men who believe in revenge."
Berg also said that President Bush was "more of a terrorist than Zarqawi." As Berg saw it, "Zarqawi felt my son's breath on his hand as held the knife against his throat. Zarqawi had to look in his eyes when he did it. George Bush sits there glassy-eyed in his office with pieces of paper and condemns people to death. That to me is a real terrorist." Berg on other occasions has questioned al-Zarqawi's role in his son's death, saying, "I'm not even certain that al-Zarqawi even killed my son."
When talk show host Michael Medved asked Berg if, in a hypothetical situation, he would have tried to kill Zarqawi as the terrorist was about to behead his son, Berg replied that he would instead have thrown his own body in front of the knife. Instead of death, Berg said that he would have favored "restorative justice" for Zarqawi, and expressed his belief that working in a hospital for injured children could have transformed Zarqawi into "a decent human being."
Berg has ties to several radical groups. In March 2004, he was a signatory to a statement by International ANSWER calling for an end to "colonial occupation from Iraq to Palestine and everywhere!" In August 2004, he was presented with the Courageous Resister Award by the New York University student chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, for "demanding an end to all violence in" Iraq "and around the world." Berg is also an outspoken backer of the anti-war group Voters for Peace and has urged his supporters to sign that organization's pledge, which calls for opposition to any "candidate for Congress or President who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq, and preventing any future war of aggression, a public position in his or her campaign."
Berg himself entered the world of politics in 2006. In January of that year, he secured the endorsement of Delaware's Green Party for the state's lone U.S. House seat after relocating from Pennsylvania. Berg's anti-war platform called for the immediate withdrawal of all American military forces from the Middle East and an end to "immoral efforts in Iraq." "Other than stopping this war, I have no political ambitions," Berg said of his campaign.
Berg's platform also advocated a "living wage to every man and woman" and universal, government-funded healthcare. On his campaign website, Berg, alluding to the policies of the Bush administration, pledged "to reverse some of the most repressive social policies since the British ruled us as colonies." Berg's candidacy was endorsed by Gold Star Families for Peace founder Cindy Sheehan and Global Exchange founder Medea Benjamin.