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September 22, 2004

Comments

Factory

"American troops would still be in London waiting for the go-ahead as the US leadership indulged in Hamletesque exercises in indecision."
Verses
"a good chance that your relatives will die and your neighborhoods turned into rubble"
The question is, was the occupation always going to end in this, regardless of how it was conducted? If so the indescision starts looking a rather good option.

Phil Hunt

*if* your city shelters the likes of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, then there is a good chance that your relatives will die and your neighborhoods turned into rubble when the Marines come through to get Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi and company. The people of Fallujah have, I believe, a much larger stake in figuring out how to get Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi and company out of Fallujah than the U.S. Marines do.

The people of Germany in 1944 had a large motive to get rid of Hitler. They didn't, mostly because they couldn't. And I doubt if the people of Falluja have the ability to get rid of the Black Banners and other insurgent groups.

So thretening to kill them will do no good, since it won't achieve the desired effect. In fact it'll do the opposite. The more Iraqis the US Army kills, the less Iraqis will like Americans, and this'll be true of everyone from the Iraqi in the street to the government. Which means, once America leaves, an independent Iraq is likely to have an anti-USA politcal stance; and America will have to choose between that solution and the alternative of occupying the country forever, which isn't going to happen.

The only effective solution is to get an elected Iraqi government and to get Iraqi soldiers to deal with the insurgents. Unfortunately the number of trained Iraqi forces is still low. Why? Saddam was diposed 18 months ago, which is more than enough timer to train soldiers and police. That enough haven't been trained suggests to me that the people in charge (Bush, Rumsfeld, etc) have been incompetent. Obviously, training of Iraqi security forces should be accelerated. But it may be that there are no longer any good solutions (from the West's point of view) to the situation in Iraq.

Phil Hunt

My blog has an extended version of my comment: On liberalism, fibre, and doing what works.

Abiola Lapite

"The people of Germany in 1944 had a large motive to get rid of Hitler."

And what might that motive have been? Ah yes, they were losing the war, and getting tired of being mercilessly bombed to bits ...

"They didn't, mostly because they couldn't."

The few that really disliked him couldn't, you mean: you're talking about a chapter in history I happen to know intimately. Nazi Germany had far fewer Gestapo agents than the DDR had Stasi spies, and the regime lasted as long as it did because it was popular, surprisingly so till the very end. Nobody got rid of Hitler because few people wished to, and the few that tried were regarded as traitors by most Germans even at the close of 1944. Your analogy is completely unsound.

"And I doubt if the people of Falluja have the ability to get rid of the Black Banners and other insurgent groups."

Well they'd better try, as there's no way the likes of Zarqawi can be allowed to survive an American withdrawal. In any case, your argument is founded on nothing but speculation, and is unlikely to be true: how is it that a few thousand fanatics can force a city to support them against their will? Why are no Fallujans fleeing with information to help get rid of their supposedly unwelcome guests? Here's a possible reason: because they're popular with the locals.

"So thretening to kill them will do no good, since it won't achieve the desired effect. In fact it'll do the opposite. The more Iraqis the US Army kills, the less Iraqis will like Americans, and this'll be true of everyone from the Iraqi in the street to the government."

Pardon my language, but this is bullshit. If this argument held any water, the Germans, the Italians and the Japanese should still hate the US today, while all of Africa should have been thoroughly inflamed against the British and the French, and yet nothing of the sort is true. For goodness sake, even the ordinary Vietnamese don't "hate" America, despite what American forces put their country through.

To the extent your predictions hold true, it'll only be because there are people in the West actively working on justifying such a sense of resentment. If so many people weren't busy spinning such scenarios on CNN and in the NYT, the Sunnis would probably do what any other people who fight a stronger power and end up crushed eventually do: learn to swallow the defeat and move on. I have the entire written history of the last two millenia behind me, and you cannot say the same.

captainblak

i still maintain that it's a sad joke holding up africans as examples of how to feel abt invaders. nobody really considers africans as anything but a nuisance that could be silenced easily - due to pervasive defeatism and a feeling that whites cannot be opposed. the only african people generally respected in the west are the zulus for their show of fanatical resistance.

Factory

"how is it that a few thousand fanatics can force a city to support them against their will?"
Considering that Fallujah has a population of 285,000 odd, a few thousand troops should be enough to contain them, assume a soldier/civilian ratio of 100:1, compare that to what the US generals though was enough to contain Iraq which was ~62:1(25,000,000:400,000), it's not a too far out number.

"Why are no Fallujans fleeing with information to help get rid of their supposedly unwelcome guests?"
Erm, what information? Even if the local Joe on the street has some information that was useful (which is doubtful, the millitants are being fairly open about shooting at US forces), how would they know if it useful information or not?

"Here's a possible reason: because they're popular with the locals."
More likely it is because they don't want to get involved in the fighting, that's a commonality amoungst civilians I don't have to go to Iraq to find out.

Sebastian Holsclaw

"Even if the local Joe on the street has some information that was useful (which is doubtful, the millitants are being fairly open about shooting at US forces), how would they know if it useful information or not?"

I think quite a few things are obviously useful. They hole up in that building over there. They meet over there. They are storing mortar shells in that building. They have a weaponse cache under the bridge. Why do neighborhood watch programs add to security? Because Busybody Bert knows what normally happens in his neighborhood and knows what isn't normal.

Sebastian Holsclaw

For an interesting discussion on the theme of locals helping out (under threat) see this story on IntelDump.

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