November 7th, 2004 – 8:40 pm
Tagged as: Uncategorized

The American attack on the city of Fallujah has begun, over the objections of the U.N. and many others. The attack is most likely a pointless show of brutality that will do little to actually deal with the insurgency.

Analysts say that rebels have already fanned out well beyond Fallujah to towns like Ramadi and Samarra, fueling a new wave of violence in areas the US thought it had previously pacified.

To this way of thinking there is no decisive battle to be won in Fallujah, and if the assault devastates that city – in the way the Vietnamese city of Hue was by Marines in 1968 – it could end up damaging the long-term interests of the US and Prime Minister Allawi. Elections could be more threatened by violence, not less so, and rebels will simply establish themselves in more broadly dispersed, harder to strike, locales.

As Juan Cole says:

As Annan implies, the argument that Fallujah has to be razed in order to prepare the way for elections makes no sense. The US attack on Fallujah may well push most Sunni Arabs, who identify with the Fallujans, into boycotting the January elections, thus profoundly weakening the legitimacy of the new elected government.

Many prominent Iraqi political figures are deeply critical of the US tendency to use massive force in Iraq.

Who will be next? And how many Americans will have to die to accomplish these increasingly brutal and absurd missions? Is it really hoped that the ghetto Shiites of Sadr City can be bombed into accepting Thomas Jefferson? And what exactly did the United States expect to find in Fallujah, if not Baathists and Sunni fundamentalists?

If the Kurds don’t get what they want, and start making trouble, will the Allawi government or its successor then argue that dozens of Marines must die fighting the Peshmerga, and must kill hundreds or thousands of Kurds?

Still, that’s not the sort of thing that dissuades the new Crusaders:

One spoke of their Old Testament hero, a shepherd who would become Israel’s king, battling the Philistines 3 000 years ago.

“Thus David prevailed over the Philistines,” the marine said, reading from scripture, and the marines shouted back “Hoorah, King David,” using their signature grunt of approval.

The marines drew parallels from the verse with their present situation, where they perceive themselves as warriors fighting barbaric men opposed to all that is good in the world.

“Victory belongs to the Lord,” another young marine read.

Their chaplain, named Horne, told the worshippers they were stationed outside Fallujah to bring the Iraqis “freedom from oppression, rape, torture and murder … We ask you God to bless us in that effort.”

Those who suffer the most, of course, will be the civilians whose city will be destroyed, all so that Bush and Allawi can try and make themselves look tough.

Way to win those hearts and minds.

EDIT: See also this excellent Lind essay on how the U.S. military really just doesn’t get it.

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