Things have settled down some, with the on-again/off-again cease-fire in Fallujah apparently on again. Here’s some links, with some quotes, and my inevitable opinions:
Airborne Combat Engineer: Iraq on Easter Sunday, 2004
In insisting that the new Iraqi democratic government will not be run by religious leaders, we may have created a situation which is as intractable as Israel/Palestine. If so, our options are to turn the country back over to some body and get out, or brace ourselves for an extended stay and a gradually growing casualty number. I sincerely hope and pray I’ll be documenting MUCH BETTER NEWS next Easter.
ACE posts the latest map by Debka and thinks out loud about the relationships between religion, war, and the situation in Iraq. Plus, he blames John Lennon for not doing anything about all that stuff he Imagined. Well, sort of.
All Agitprop, All The Time: Canadian Media Perspectives
CTV News with Lloyd Robertson on the kidnapping of those three Japanese civilians:
Our man Llloyd described the kidnappings in Iraq today as done by “daring rebels”. Thanks Lloyd.
Yeah, calling them “kidnappers”, “terrorists” (or “miserable criminal scum”, for that matter) just wouldn’t have been Canadian.
It’s not as though referring to them as “daring rebels” makes them sound Errol Flynn-esque at all or anything…
Self-mocking statement by CTV News. No commentary needed.
Washington Post: Iraqi Battalion Refuses to ‘Fight Iraqis’
The 620-man 2nd Battalion of the Iraqi Armed Forces refused to fight Monday after members of the unit were shot at in a Shiite Muslim neighborhood in Baghdad while en route to Fallujah, a Sunni Muslim stronghold, said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, who is overseeing the development of Iraqi security forces. The convoy then turned around and returned to the battalion’s post on a former Republican Guard base in Taji, a town north of the capital.
Eaton said members of the battalion insisted during the ensuing discussions: “We did not sign up to fight Iraqis.”
This link was forwarded to me by a reader, and it is very troubling indeed. Apparently the Iraqis thought they were going to spearhead the attack on Fallujah, not provide security and perimeter duty (as I wrote). Still, US officials more or less apologizing for Iraqi soldiers not following orders is scary stuff. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Iraqi Security Force personnel from the Facilities Protective Services and the Iraqi Police, as well as Soldiers from 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team) killed 13 and detained 12 anti-Coalition forces in northern Iraq during operations conducted today and Friday.
SBN provides links to releases detailing successful operations involving US troops and Iraqi personnel. Combined with news of Iraqi civilians and Shiite militiamen HELPING retake Kut from other Shiite militiamen, it’s clear that the status of Iraqi cooperation with US forces is pretty unclear at this time.
Belmont Club: Good News, Bad News
The crisis has created a sense, evident to Iraqis like Sistani and Zeyad, and perhaps the Governing Council, that they are staring catastrophe in the face. One of the tasks for the Coalition is to exploit the Iraqi urge to take things in hand and use it to mold the new nation. In one sense, we are seeing Iraq — post Saddam Iraq — born before our eyes. All of the unaddressed issues, the simmering hatreds, the lack of leadership, the musterings in no-occupation zones which were never controlled by US forces, have come to the fore demanding a resolution. Objectively speaking, this moment would have come anyway. It is George Bush’s great good fortune that it arrived in April and not in September.
Good fortune? Or did we maybe egg it on a bit? Like when we shut down that Sadr newspaper?
This has to happen. I guess now’s as good a time as any, with a temporary rise in deployed US units as the big rotation gets underway. Funny how that worked out, isn’t it? There’s really too much good stuff in this post to summarize. Go read entire.
Andrew Olmsted: Perspective
On the other hand, it remains an open question whether or not we can really change Iraq sufficiently to leave them with some semblance of freedom and democracy when we go. Whether the attacks on Coalition forces succeed in getting us out or not, they may well succeed in riling more of the Iraqi population against us, which is a net victory for them in any case. And as long as there is a critical mass of people in Iraq willing to fight us rather than accept the forward movement of the political process, it will difficult or impossible for us to get out of the country.
We need Iraq to begin fighting for Iraq. These uprisings aren’t about the nation of Iraq. They’re about the struggle between factions within Iraq. And they’re about the influence of outside parties, like Hizbolla and Iran. We cannot nation-build. We can help Iraqi nation-builders get a foundation laid, and we can help keep the snipers off their back while they work, but it’s up to them. If they can’t, they’ll remain an occupied land and not a fledgling nation. We aren’t leaving any time soon, regardless of the uprisings.
USS Clueless: On the “fog” of war
If you peer through the fog and deliberate obfuscation, and put all the pieces together, it turns out that what really happened in Falluja was that the Marine commander halted offensive operations there for 24 hours, in part to let certain panicked members of the Governing Council try to talk sense into the militants, in part to let a third battalion of Marines come up in support, but mostly in order to let a lot of civilians leave the city. The offer that got delivered to the insurgents was a surrender demand: All insurgents, and especially all foreign jihadis, would have to peacefully yield themselves to the Marines and go into custody.
Based on this, it doesn’t seem likely that the insurgents will surrender. My expectation is that the Marines will go back on the offensive soon and will complete the process of crushing the insurgency there.
America wasn’t begging for mercy from the insurgents; it was offering them mercy. They were given a chance to surrender. If they don’t take it, the Marines will kill most of them and take the rest prisoner.
The battalions of Marines in Fallujah had been fighting for two days straight when we starting offering cease-fires. They’d retaken a significant portion of the city. Moving reinforcements up makes sense, as the fresh guys can press on while the original force gets a breather and secures the lines. No bad guys are going anywhere, so what’s the rush? If the “good cop” Iraq negotiators can reach a surrender agreement with the insurgents, good for Iraq. If they can’t, and the “bad cop” Marines have to kill more of them, good for Iraq. The only bad thing to do would be to keep pushing on if the initial force is overextended from days of combat and additional city territory to guard. Just like it would have been a bad thing to rush into Fallujah immediately after those contractors were killed and mutilated. We are doing this the safe, methodical way. It’s working. No one’s really mentioned that a couple of Marine battalions are conquering a city of over 200,000 people, by the way. Well, besides, Belmont Club. Oorah.