Fallujah

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  1. A few weeks ago, didn’t Reason post a story suggesting that Bush was planning a big assault of Fallujah right after the election? And wasn’t the story in turn dismissed as liberal propaganda?

    Yes to both question.

  2. Umm.. yay?

  3. How many military defeats have American forces dealt to Iraqi insurgents over the past year and a half?

    Has the insurgency ever gotten weaker as a result?

    But this time, it’s really going to work.

  4. Because insurgents only care about inflicting casualties, not holding onto territory, I don’t really see what is accomplished by grabbing a particular piece of real estate, at least for military and not PR purposes. At least where you don’t have sufficient forces to “grab” all the real estate. We’re playing wack-a-mole here.

    Oh well. I had a feeling that regardless of who was elected president we’d see Operation Declare Victory and Get Out in 2005. And we’d be blowing a lot of stuff up on the way out. The only difference being if Kerry did that it’d be a military defeat by a quisling liberal. Whereas when Bush does it it will be the logical end to the greatest triumph in the history of armed conflict.

  5. Does this operation have a name yet? Given the Pentagon’s recent track record of naming operations, may I humbly suggest “Operation Everlasting Peace and Security” ?

  6. WSJ had a great “FUCK YOU” to Kofi Annan today, re: Fallujah.

    Was Afghanistan easy? No. Did the Taliban roll over and play dead? No. Was their tactic to “inflict casualties, not hold territory”? Yes. Did they succeed? Yes. Are they marginalizing themselves as a result? Yes.

    Nothing about this except defeatist reactions seem crazy to me.

  7. and the alternative to killing insurgents is …?

    Falluja becomes, as a friend points out, a roach motel by being the only place we wouldn’t go. Yes, they do care about real estate. Yes, it matters strategically if many, many of them are killed. Yes, it matters that they backed out of a negotiated settlement numerous times.

  8. Joe,

    While it’s possible that you may be right that our efforts have not decreased the level of insurgency in Iraq, can you say with confidence that if we did not try to suppress the insurgency that it would not increase as a result? Treading water is better than than drowning. What Iraq needs is legitimacy – the current government is sorely lacking. Absent US muscle, Shite revolutionaries would surely take control of the government and insitute a repressive regime. Until the government is equipped to put down rebellions on it’s own, (Iraqi troops and police are currently to few and poorly trained) The US has little choice unless we accept anarchy and subsequent fundementalist rule. Note: this would be the situation at some point regardless if the US had invaded or not. Saddam would have died, his sons would have died, and maybe their sons – but some day it would have happened. Repressive monarchies would seem to have a short period of stability historically.

    You can see this as justification for the war, but I don’t mean it as such – simply my analysis of the current reality.

    Also, assuming Bush decided an assault was necessary months ago – could he have acted given the elections imminence? I doubt he could have done so without being pilloried, in addition he would have left Kerry a real mess if he lost.

  9. Guys, joe is totally right on this one. That’s why Moqtada’s still in charge of Najaf.

  10. Josh-
    No, Sistani is in charge of Najaf.

  11. Operation “Phantom Fury”

    Wow – that kicks ass in comparison with Operation Iraqi Freedom.

    Does that make Al-Zarqawi the Phatom Menace?

  12. I still like “Operation Infinite Justice”. Against the Taliban, launch every Zig!

    More seriously, good luck to our forces.

  13. Operation “Phantom Fury”

    This seems to imply that we are really furious, but it looks like we are …

  14. Actually, insurgengents DO need to take and hold ground… In Phase I operations they don’t, though have sanctuaries, but in Phase II they develop open sancuaries where government forces can not go, in Phase III operations they advance from these sanctuaries to defeat government forces. So yes, insurgents aren’t ghosts needing no land to call their own.

    And since this is a Sunni rebellion, it occurs in the Sunni Triangle. The more the triangle falls under government control the less chance it has of succeeding. Thought experiment: since the “here” of the Web is anywhere, try running Reason H& R from NO physcial location. Not possible is it, or if it is the logistics become so cumbersome as to preclude effective operation. So too, with the insurgency in the Triangle area. I realize that will not sit well with the Joes of this board, but there it is.

  15. “Phantom Fury”

    Not much of a phantom considering everyone seemed to know that we were amassing troops for days if not weeks beforehand…

  16. Adam,

    Let me suggest that Afghanistan has proven to be an entirely different animal from Iraq. Indeed, trying to analogize between the two actions breaks down once one realizes just how popular the insurgency in Iraq has been as opposed to what has taken place in Afghanistan.

  17. Joe L. the Sophist,

    In this case all they need do is shift to another area of Iraq; and its not like they can’t recruit more people for the “cause.”

  18. A few weeks ago, didn’t Reason post a story suggesting that Bush was planning a big assault of Fallujah right after the election? And wasn’t the story in turn dismissed as liberal propaganda?

    I assume you’re referring to this post?

    The claim was that the attacks on Fallujah AND Ramadi were being delayed until after the election. The two posts that observed that the story was obviously false did so on the basis of the fact that we’d had, since the story was written, begun a major assault on Ramadi.

    So, to sum up: the rumor was wrong, and nobody claimed it was liberal propaganda.

  19. Be careful, one might get another Hue.

  20. “In this case all they need do is shift to another area of Iraq; and its not like they can’t recruit more people for the “cause.”

    Comment by: Jason Bourne at November 8, 2004 02:39 PM”- *SIGH* Jason, that is not true in this case. It’s a SUNNI insurgency, affecting about 20% of the population. They aren’t going to move North or South… those are the people that they killed, Kurds and Shi’i. And the foreign Jihadias are by-andlarge Sunni, not exactly the crew that will be welcomed by the Shi’i of Najaf or Karballah, or even Sadr City.

    And even an insurgendcy needs a sanctuary….somewhere. And getting shot up and kicked out of Fallujah and Ramadi make it more likely that the fish in this sea will not allow the insurgetns to operte in their cities.

  21. “Phantom Fury”– The US military kills even more Iraqis who are furious about a war based on phantom WMD.

  22. Joe L. the Sophist,

    You do realize that the Sunni triangle is a fairly large area, right? Indeed, its a large enough area that one could hop from community to community in search of succor. Thus, your argument concerning geography falls flat on its face.

    Furthermore, you ignore one of the cardinal advantages an insurgency tends to have; the ability to melt away and fight another day.

  23. Falluja is so yesterday. Haven’t you heard? Iran is where the real action is going to be! Here’s the latest from an AP propoganda piece:

    “We are not just talking about Iranians passively dealing with al-Qaida,” one former U.S. official who worked in Iraq said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We are talking about al-Qaida at Revolutionary Guard bases and safe houses. This is active assistance.”

    Hmmmm. Harbors terrorists. Hmmmm. Has WMD (for real this time!).

    Look, leaving Iraq to it’s own devices after these elections would only create an opening for the Mad Mullahs of Iran to exert influence.

    That option must be pre-empted.

  24. OK Jason… just examine my sugggestion. Run ANY organization on the move and how does it run? Not well… they can move on, heck the Indians did, but in the end the government wears you down. Where insurgency has succeeded it succeeded with safe sanctuaries.

    And trainwreck you’re solution to Iranian weapons would be, what?

  25. The US infantry fights at night now, taking advantage of IR technology. Perhaps that’s the motive behind labeling the mission’s handle.

    Anyway, I hope our soldiers return from this mission safely and thin the ranks of Islamist kooks on the way.

    And when they return, our soldiers might be wondering why their friends were killed and their own lives were jeopardized by a mission that could have been accomplished by an airstike with conventional ordinance. The ‘philosophy’ of Compasionate Conservatism might come to mind and with that consideration, a deep suspicion, that George W. Bush, their commander and chief, would have lost WWII or the Civil War.

  26. OPERATION: ENDURING LEGACY.

  27. “…that George W. Bush, their commander and chief, would have lost WWII or the Civil War.
    “-Or not, as in lost those wars. Certainly he has more in common with FDR and Lincoln than Badnarik, Camejo, Nader or Kerry. All of whom were good bets to cut’n run.

  28. ‘cut’n run’ is not an option. The options are contain them or kill them. FWIW, I favor containment. It’s grizly either way. The Islamists are too irrational to even feed themselves. With containment, they will starve to death. I am compassionate though. The time it takes to starve will give then an opportunity to reconsider their irrational ways.

  29. Just in case there was any misperception here, I do hope that we succeed in Fallujah. I hope we suffer as few casualties as possible, I hope that Iraqi civilian casualties are kept to a minimum, and I hope that the insurgents are routed.

    Most importantly, I hope that when this battle is over the violence in Iraq is significantly diminished. But I’m not holding my breath.

  30. Jaime,

    “While it’s possible that you may be right that our efforts have not decreased the level of insurgency in Iraq, can you say with confidence that if we did not try to suppress the insurgency that it would not increase as a result?” Absolutely not. The insurgency is going to increase, regardless, so long as we are occupying the country.

    “What Iraq needs is legitimacy – the current government is sorely lacking.” And nothing builds legitmacy among the populace like collaborating with an occupying power, as it turns a large city into a war zone. Especially when the occupying power is providing all the firepower, the local Gunga Dins almost none, and the alleged C-in-C is an ornament.

    “Absent US muscle, Shite revolutionaries would surely take control of the government and insitute a repressive regime.” Shiite revolutionaries are going to institute a repressive regime. And they are going to use the insurgency to do it. THEY will have legitimacy among the public, at least in their part of the doomed country.

    And what’s this about Iraqi troops being poorly trained? The Iraqi military fought three large scale wars in the past 20 years, along with a regular series of massacres, counterinsurgencies, and troublmaking. They have enormous cadres of veteran officers and soldiers, with knowledge of every military and para-military task from policing to driving tanks to putting down plots. Iraq is lacking in many things, but men with the knowledge and guts to do bloody work is not one of them. But these people are all on the other side.

  31. thoreau,

    What does “succeed in Faluja” mean?

  32. MY solution, Joe L.?

    Don’t believe the hype.

  33. joe,

    Success means that American soldiers kill as many fJihadists and they can and return safely to their base, you amoral twit.

  34. JDOG-

    That’s short-term success, and certainly something worth hoping for. I certainly hope for it.

    I think joe is asking whether it will make a difference in the long-term. I don’t know, and I’m not optimistic, but as long as we’re in this I will hope for the best because I’m certainly not going to cheer for the other side.

  35. The insurgents need a sanctuary to succeed. A sanctuary is by definition a fairly stable geographic location. Right now the “Sunni” insurgents have two sanctuaries of any significance left – Ramadi and Fallujah.

    When they lose Ramadi and Falluajah, they will no longer have any sanctuaries. Its not like you can just load your insurgency into a UHaul and move it to the next town over.

    Their problem is made much worse because the insurgents are mostly not Iraqis, and don’t really have much local support. They can’t just vanish into the woodwork; they need a community that they have taken over because they don’t get much voluntary support and can’t just disappear.

    Kick them out of their sanctuaries, and they will have taken a major strategic hit.

  36. RC Dean: “Their problem is made much worse because the insurgents are mostly not Iraqis, and don’t really have much local support.”

    And what little birdie told you that? The overwhelming majority of accounts citing U.S. officials indicate that foreign fighters make up a small part of the overally resistance:

    http://www.iht.com/articles/124988.html (generally describing insurgency: foreign fighters are no more than 10%; “couple hundred to a couple thousand” [attributed to U.S. military officials])

    http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/resist/2004/0503fighters.htm (“In Fallujah, U.S. military leaders say around 90 percent of the 1,000 or more fighters battling the Marines are Iraqis. To date, there have been no confirmed U.S. captures of foreign fighters in Fallujah…”)

    http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/resist/2004/0319extremists.htm
    (“Military officials said evidence and intelligence from informers and interrogations suggest that foreign fighters still constitute a relatively small component of the insurgency. [Brig. Gen. Martin] Dempsey said he estimated there were only about 100 ‘foreign terrorists” in Baghdad, organized into about six cells. In Anbar province, which stretches across western Iraq and includes the strife-torn cities of Ramadi and Fallujah, Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr. of the 82nd Airborne Division said he believed there were a total of 50 to 80 foreign fighters in eight to 10 cells.”)

    Third parties agree with those estimates:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/22/international/middleeast/22insurgents.html?ex=1100062800&en=fe2658def0740131&ei=5070&oref=login&kn (citing IISS report that “perhaps” as many as 1000 foreign fighters have entered the country, out of an estimated insurgency of 8000 to 12,000)

  37. “I think joe is asking whether it will make a difference in the long-term”

    Yes, it does.

    Any long-term goal is built upon the realization of many short-term goals. The Islamists understand this, why don’t we ? The outcome at Fallujah matters. A President who really understood this principle would have bombed Fallujah into the stone age a few months ago.

    Just out of curiosity, what is long-term goal to which you think joe aspires ?

  38. RC Dean:
    “the insurgents are mostly not Iraqis,”

    And you know this how? Or you are just making shit up hoping nobody notices.

    “Insurgents Are Mostly Iraqis, U.S. Military Says”
    http://news.orb6.com/stories/latimests/20040928/insurgentsaremostlyiraqisusmilitarysays.php

  39. Just out of curiosity, what is long-term goal to which you think joe aspires?

    Well, according to the Onion, since he’s a liberal his goal must be sodomy and welfare fraud:

    Liberals Return To Sodomy, Welfare Fraud
    BERKELEY, CA?No longer occupied by the 2004 election, liberals across the country have returned to the activities they enjoy most: anal sex and cheating the welfare system. “I’ve been so busy canvassing for the Democratic Party, I haven’t had a single moment for suckling at the government’s teat or no-holds-barred ass ramming,” said Jason Carvelli, an unemployed pro-hemp activist. “Now, my friends and I can finally get back to warming our hands over burning American flags and turning kids gay.” Carvelli added that his “number-one priority” is undermining the efforts of freedom-loving patriots everywhere.

    But seriously, I would assume he wants peace in Iraq.

  40. Be careful, one might get another Hue.

    Unless a massively overwhelming attack very quickly crushes the insurgents’ will to fight on. Otherwise, where there’s a will, there’s a Hue.

    OK, my dumb-ass one-liners aside, my understanding was that the 1968 Tet offensive in Hue all but destroyed the Viet Cong (the guerillas, not the regular army of North Vietnam) and was at least a tactical victory for the U.S. forces. However, U.S. casualties were seen as unacceptably high, and the U.S. media portrayed it as a defeat — leading the U.S. to back away the tactical victory and eventually withdraw. From that point of view, I can certainly view the Fallujah assault as turning into “another Hue.” Especially since the 1,000 American soldiers killed before the assault were already being described as unacceptably high.

    BTW, info about casualties of major wars here:

    http://www.rationalrevolution.net/articles/casualties_of_war.htm

  41. Have we won their hearts and minds yet? Have they started throwing flowers?

  42. Joe L. the Sophist,

    I did examine and I found it wanting for the reasons I described.

    Stevo Threadkiller,

    There is evidence that Tet, etc., did exactly what the North Vietnamese government wanted it to do; create a hell of a lot of chaos and bad press while singificantly degrading the organizational and military strength of the Viet Cong (who the North Vietnamese did not want to have to wrestle control with after a re-unification).

  43. Thoreau,

    Sodomize at will and kill the Islamists too. Is there a problem here?

  44. Have we won their hearts and minds yet? Have they started throwing flowers?

    Now, now, let’s not argue and bicker over who used car bombs against whom. This is supposed to be a happy occasion! Just think of the large…tracts of land!

  45. JDOG-
    If you ever took a logic class you may have learned this example:

    “All poodles are dogs, but all dogs are not poodles.”

    Likewise, all (current) terrorists are Muslims, but not all Muslims are terrorists. The Iraqis didn’t have a damn thing to do with 9-11, and they didn’t start killing Americans until AFTER we invaded and started dropping bombs on them.

    Here’s a grimly humorous tale I heard on NPR a couple of days ago: Before we invaded Fallujah, the Army was dropping leaflets and talking through loudspeakers, advising all civilians to leave the area. They ALSO said that any males below the age of 45 trying to enter OR LEAVE the city would be detained.

    I’ll bet THAT went over well: “From the folks who brought you Abu Ghraib, we offer the fine choice of satying here and getting killed, or leaving and getting arrested and turned over to the tender mercies of the U.S. ‘Fuck the Geneva Convention’ Army.”

  46. “Likewise, all (current) terrorists are Muslims, but not all Muslims are terrorists. ”

    Jennifer,

    I specifically and carefully used the terms ‘Jihadists’ and ‘Islamists’ in my posts. I never use the term ‘Muslim’. Read my posts again and base your objection on what I wrote, not on what you though I wrote.

    Sincerely Yours,

    JDOG

  47. Not even all Islamists are terrorists, for that matter. Fuckheads, maybe, but not terrorists. And the fact is: they wouldn’t be attacking us in Iraq if we hadn’t invaded their country and killed who-knows-how-many of them.

    Before you assume I’m completely anti-war, let me say that I supported the war in Afghanistan and would have supported a war against Saudi Arabia, if Bush hadn’t decided that the best way to fight Islamic terrorism was to bring down one of the most secular governments in the Muslim world.

  48. Jennifer the Army didn’t say fuck the geneva.

    In fact that type of a policy decision would never be made by folks in uniform.

    It was a decision made by civilian administrators. For what its worth.

  49. With whom do you argue?

    I never used the term ‘terrorism’.

    You are not following me. But try to go this far, if Islamists are terrorists, so are fundamentalist Christians. What would the correct term for the executioner of an abortionist, sanctioned by fundamentalist Christions be, if not terrorist?

    Can you cull a shared principle from that ?

  50. Trainwreck-
    Yes, I was being a bit flippant.

    JDOG-
    What would I call a fundie Christian who kills an abortionist? Well, that depends on the situation. Pro-choice though I be, if the abortionist were a member of an invading army who had just bombed the bejesus out of the fundies’ home town, I’d call that fundie “perfectly justified.”

  51. JDOG-
    Bear in mind, I am NOT making excuses for the 9-11 hijackers, but for the Iraqi insurgents.

  52. JDOG-
    “What would I call a fundie Christian who kills an abortionist? Well, that depends on the situation. ”

    It’s called murder. The ‘situation’ would lead the DA to charge the culprit with either first-degree or second-degree murder, but murder none the less. And the killer will swing sooner in a redhat state than he will in bluehat one.

  53. JDOG-
    Uh, did you even read the rest of my post? I’m talking about killing members of an army that has invaded your country. Here, I’ll cut’n’paste the significant phrase:

    if the abortionist were a member of an invading army who had just bombed the bejesus out of the fundies’ home town, I’d call that fundie “perfectly justified.”

  54. Joe,

    You didn’t really answer my question: Is it your opinion that our efforts to suppress the insurgency are 100% ineffective – or even counter productive? If so, fine, but I think you’re wrong unless you can say why. Plenty of rebellions have been put down over the years, and most Iraqis are not behind this one. It can be beaten. You can’t seriously believe the insurgents would unilaterally quit in response to a US withdrawal. “Oh, were not being occupied by a *foreign* power anymore – time to put down my AK-47 and get out the vote” I wish it were that easy.

    “And nothing builds legitmacy among the populace like collaborating with an occupying power, as it turns a large city into a war zone.” You’re close, but you neglect a key factor. Many more Iraqi’s (police and military) are being killed than Americans. This will alienate the populace – those people have families.

    “Shiite revolutionaries are going to institute a repressive regime. ” “have legitimacy” etc. Not if freedom loving Iraqi’s can help it. The revolutionaries are not a majority. BTW, I may have confused the issue by indicating a Shia uprising. The Sunni’s control Fallujah, the Shiite’s are linked with Iran’s revolutionaries.

    “They have enormous cadres of veteran officers and soldiers, with knowledge of every military and para-military task from policing to driving tanks to putting down plots. ” I meant poorly trained compared to Americans. They are not trained in urban warefare. They know outdated soviet style tactics and are ill-equipped. This is true for the insurgents as well. They may have the home court advantage, but green beret’s/US Marines they are not. Anyway, a ten year stalemate (after we helped them) with another third rate power is hardly a resume of military success.

  55. Jennifer,

    Easy on the red meat, grrrl… Don’t forget, they’re killing Iraqi police by the dozen, too. Not just American’s. I don’t much like cops, but I wouldn’t execute my own countryman just because they wanted to volunteer to serve as police. Sneeze on their donuts, maybe…

  56. Jamie-
    The sad fact is, whenever there’s an invading army, natives who work with the invaders are branded collaborators and considered fair game by those who fight. We have no goddam business being in Iraq, and the families of the injured and the dead don’t buy the line “But we’re doing this for YOU! Be happy.”

  57. another 10, 20 , 50 americian casualties…
    another 1000, 2000, 5000 civilian casualties..

    when are you dumb fucks going to learn.

  58. Jennifer,

    I can’t really argue with you: that’s indeed what the insurgents think – the collaborators are fair game. My point is simply that a lot of Iraqis are going to object to that point of view when their policeman relatives get killed.

    My opinion is that we should be in Iraq – but I’m not going to convince you of that. What’s more, that opinion is not central to the arguments I laid out above.

    Civilian casualties are unavoidable – even if we had done nothing, many Iraqis would have died as a result. Having said that, we are not doing even close to as well as we could. On the other side of *that* we are not doing nearly as bad as some people claim.

  59. “‘cut’n run’ is not an option”

    Sure it is, because it means cutting our loss of life and limb. From this point on, what likely end for Iraq could possibly justify any further American deaths and injuries?

  60. Before you assume I’m completely anti-war, let me say that I supported the war in Afghanistan and would have supported a war against Saudi Arabia

    Did you fall out of the bad idea tree and hit every branch? You’re saying that Iraq was a public relations disaster for the United States’ relationship with the Islamic world and your brilliant alternative plan is to invade the nation MECCA is located in? What do you do for an encore? Print up a bunch of flyers saying “Mohammed was a big fag” and airdrop them throughout the Middle East?

  61. “Cut and run” is an option. It may be an option that you find unwise, etc., but it is an option.

  62. I’d just like to concur with Dan here: Invading Saudi Arabia would be a disaster, and hence should be avoided if at all possible. Granted, if a devastating attack occurred and the smoking gun had fingerprints from Saudi officials, we might have no choice. Even then, the Saudi government is not a very stable apparatus, and it might be possible to get another faction to deal with the culprits.

    Between ticking off uncounted numbers of Muslims with an invasion of the land of Mecca, plus the economic consequences of invading the linchpin of OPEC, an invasion of Saudi Arabia should be considered the very last resort. And I do mean VERY LAST!

    Although, one might pacify a lot of Muslims by ceding control of Mecca to some neutral group of clerics and declaring it a sovereign nation akin to Vatican City. Even so, not the sort of thing I’d want to play around with.

  63. thoreau,

    If “infidels” were to enter Mecca, that would likely create the jihad nightmare that at least some dream of, since that would defile the place, and presumably a vast swath of the world’s Muslim population would feel the need to exact revenge.

  64. Thoreau-
    A devastating attack DID occur, and the smoking gun DID have Saudi Arabia’s fingerprints all over it, until the Bush Administration wiped them off. Remember the State Department report with all mentions of Saudi Arabia blacked out of it?

    To fight Islamofascism we’ll have to piss off Muslims regardless of what we do–I’m just saying we should try to limit ourselves to pissing off the Muslims who were actually RESPONSIBLE for what happened.

  65. “Plenty of rebellions have been put down over the years, and most Iraqis are not behind this one. It can be beaten.” Many local governments have put down rebellions inside their own borders. I’m having trouble thinking of a single case in which a foreign power successfully pacified a Middle Eastern country in which a widespread rebellion took place.

    “You can’t seriously believe the insurgents would unilaterally quit in response to a US withdrawal.” No, as I said, the insurgency is going to grow regardless of what we do.

    Our choices are cut and run, or destroy the country in order to save it. I wonder how many more years of slaughter it’s going to take before this reality dawns on policymakers.

  66. Update: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6403689/

    Note, that most of the US casualties appear to be happening outside Falluja proper. Not quite sure what that means. It could be that the insurgents are hitting “soft targets” that cannot be adequately protected while the U.S. is engaged in Falluja (if true, its very Sun Tzu of them). It could mean that the insurgents have largely left Falluja and are seeking “game” elsewhere. Or it could mean nothing.

  67. I notice RC hasn’t come back to this thread since we utterly pwned him…

  68. SR,

    You can bet that R.C. Dean will repeat his claim sometime in the future, and we’ll have to fisk him again.

  69. Jason: My first instinct would be to state that most casulaties occured “outside Fallujah” because most of the fighting is occuring there.

    Looks like they’re playing hit and run. Pretty standard guerilla stuff for urban warfare. I’m not sure “reaching the center of Fallujah” is quite the military victory it’s implied (depends on where the fighting is, really. Insurgents have no need to defend city centers).

    Prediction: We’ll “pacify” Fallujah and have to do this damn thing again in Samarra or Ramdi. During which time, the insurgents will magically pop back up in Fallujah. Too bad they don’t wear uniforms, eh?

  70. Jennifer-

    If the Saudi government were a monolithic entity and the smoking gun were traced to the top I might agree that there’d really be no choice but invasion. Even then, I wouldn’t want US troops anywhere near Mecca, and I’d say the Imams there should be given free reign over their domain, just to avoid a global jihad nightmare scenario. (Hell, I might even encourage them to declare themselves a neutral city-state like Vatican City.)

    However, the Saudi government is divided. Although one of the princes has the title “Crown Prince”, we’ll see how much weight that carries when his father finally croaks. Even if he is allowed to wear the crown after his father dies, it’s by no means clear how much power he’ll have. The Crown Prince is supposedly pro-western and mostly in charge of oil and foreign policy. His brother, who runs the secret police and more domestic policy, is the one who’s said to have Islamist leanings. The rational calculation may be that the more Western-friendly guy will win out in the long run because he has the ties to the people who buy the oil, i.e. he’s in charge of money.

    Then again, this may be completely wrong. In any event, hoping that that the more reasonable prince will get things under control is a rational course of action when the alternative is to invade the country that contains Mecca and is the linchpin of OPEC.

  71. Thoreau:

    “Even if he is allowed to wear the crown after his father dies”

    just a minor correction. The crown prince is the brother of the current king, not his son.

  72. I pray for the men who shall enter into battle. While I am mostly anti-war, and do not agree with this attempt at nation building, I pray for these brave patriots who will do battle with a fanatical and determined enemy. Doubtless, men will die. I simply pray for their souls, that they will fine a peaceful, and true warrior’s end.

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