Friday, November 12, 2004

The next stage

According to early reports coming out of Fallujah, 600 insurgents have been killed at the loss of 18 U.S. troops and five Iraqi soldiers. Although each of our bravely fallen is a terrible loss, the kill ratio here stands as a testament to the unmatched skill and bravado of our armed forces.

American and Iraqi troops have marched into the heart of the enemy resistance in an urban backdrop perfectly suited to the guerilla tactics of the enemy. The enemy has had months to prepare for this showdown, to stockpile weapons in needed areas, set up sniper holes, and pick perfect zones of fire. Despite this, we have killed 26 of the enemy for every one Iraqi or American troop slain. Our troops have confronted an enemy dedicated to dying and given them their wish.

But wait, I forgot, these aren’t the “enemy.” These are freedom fighters in the Iraqi national liberation movement determined to expell the American Imperialist and his Halliburton cronies. Oh, except for:

"I was there in Fallujah earlier this year. It doesn't look like Iraq; it looks like Taliban Afghanistan. I didn't see a woman's face the whole time I was there. They are all hidden behind those dehumanising shrouds." The resistance fighters he met there believed in either Sunni supremacy or endless jihad. "It wasn't surprising. You only have to look at who they are killing to find out their philosophy. They don't want democracy and peaceful co-existence. If there was any way to negotiate with them, I'd support it. But how can you talk people like this down from their ledge? What can you offer them?"
Fallujah is the third stage in the war on Iraq. The first stage, the initial defeat of the Baathist regulars and the casting off of the old regime, was, ironically, the easiest stage. In the second stage we saw a steadily degenerating security situation as foreign fighters poured in and former regime elements regrouped, and many normal Iraqi’s became disillusioned by the day-to-day wear of the American presence on their national pride.

This third stage is vitally important, not only as a precursor to widespread and fair elections, but to win back the respect of Iraqis and allow a window for US troops to exit. Not as a retreat, but simply because the exit of American troops, with Iraqi troops replacing them, will cause any civilian support for the insurgency to wither. It’s one thing when the insurgents are targeting American troops, and entirely another when they are targeting the troops of a democratic and sovereign Iraq.

In the meanwhile, you will be bombarded with howls of American destruction and pillage. Simply put, do not believe them. Or, rather, take them with a shaker of salt. Any journalist in Fallujah that is snapping pictures of the insurgents loading rocket launchers, or is able to interview them, is in the pocket of these madmen. People aren’t allowed to wander around insurgent areas without getting their heads chopped off, and journalists are no different. The only way that a journalist would travel freely and get choice quotes from the insurgents is if the insurgents know that these reporters will report only what they want.

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