Loose Canons

31 December

Finishing the job in Fallujah six months too late.

By 11.9.04

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That's the deadline the U.S. and Iraqi governments have set to establish sufficient security in Iraq sufficient to hold the January election. As this is written, the Marines, Army, Air Force and Iraqi troops are two days into an attack in Fallujah that will destroy a large part of the insurgency. And while we fight, the U.N. and the EUnuchs are doing their best to propagandize, prejudging the election illegitimate. The "world community" -- having been bribed into appeasement of Saddam -- still has no interest in fighting terrorism or building democracy where murderous despotism so recently reigned.

Fallujah, about 140 miles west of Baghdad on the southern baseline of the Sunni Triangle, has been in terrorist hands for more than six months. In late March, some of the soulless barbarians there ambushed four private security workers. The employees of the Blackwater USA firm were murdered and then mutilated, their bodies displayed to sicken the civilized world. The Marines had to shed blood to achieve a position where they had the city pretty well cordoned off. Then, to the leathernecks' disgust, they were ordered to pull back when their own general gave in to political advice and gambled on the locals to quell the insurgency. It quickly proved a bad bet.

About seven months have passed, and the terrorists have had a lot of time to train, dig in, build barriers and plant IEDs, the improvised explosive devices that have killed and maimed many of our soldiers. This attack will cost more American, Coalition, and free Iraqi lives than it would have last spring. Our forces have been working over Fallujah by air for more than a week. And some three companies of the "Iraqi Intervention" forces, as well as an Iraqi spec ops battalion, have been with them almost step by step.

Al-Jazeera (all jihad, all the time TV) had set itself up in a hospital in northwest Fallujah. It was preparing to broadcast the terrorists' fight against the advancing Coalition forces when it received a rather large shock. Part of the new Iraqi forces -- the 36th Commando battalion -- took the hospital last weekend in a pretty good operation. The 36th Commando was described by a senior DoD source as an outfit that "continues to mature." (Reportedly, it's made up largely of Kurdish Pesh Merga fighters who are, ah, not French.) Most importantly, the Allawi government, according to the same DoD source, has set no parameters for the operation other than to succeed. No artificial limits, no thought of quitting before it's done. But other thoughts pervade the "world community."

The ever-helpful Kofi Annan warned last week -- in logic only the U.N. could endorse --that any assault against the terrorists would jeopardize the credibility of the January election. Annan apparently wants to ensure that Iraq is safe enough for every terrorist to get to vote and for every terrorist ballot to be counted. The U.S., British, and Iraqi governments rejected Annan's admonition in terms too diplomatic to suit the occasion. But Annan was only following the lead his EUnuch masters have ordered.

Redundant proof of that came when EUnuch "High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy" Javier Solana said that the Fallujah assault only demonstrated that there was little prospect for the January elections, given the "deteriorating security" situation in Iraq. Both the U.N. and the EU want the world to ignore the fact that security improves in Iraq with the death or capture of each terrorist. For peace to break out in Iraq -- and, worse still, for a new government to be chosen democratically -- would be a disaster for both the U.N. and the EU. They are making the case now for rejection of the result. If the U.N. and the EU were to succeed, they would want the Iraqi "peace process" to be captured by a group like the so-called "Quartet" that is attempting unsuccessfully to control the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That will avail them of nothing, because the newly elected government will be recognized quickly by the U.S. and other Coalition nations. The U.N.'s influence will be reduced to zero, and the EU (thinking only of the sweetheart Iraqi oil contracts they lost when Saddam fell) may have a tough time.

THE ATTACK ON FALLUJAH, like the main campaign to oust Saddam, is based on tactics that have achieved tactical surprise. Having had half a year to prepare, the insurgents hadn't expected our forces to push through alleyways, avoiding the main roads and advancing quickly. They didn't expect us to attack at night with methods of destroying their barriers and explosive ambushes. And some -- proving yet again that these guys aren't descendants of Werner von Braun -- are still trying to use cars and pickup trucks with IEDs or other weapons to attack M-1A1 tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles, and in places where our aircraft have a clear shot (which is damned near everywhere).

Our attack is made easier by the fact that about 75% of the civilian population has fled. There is little reason to restrain the use of air power, heavy artillery, and tanks. The Fallujah fight, according to Lt. Gen. Tom Metz -- the III Corps Commander running this operation -- has seen us kill more bad guys than we thought we would, and our casualties are light. In a Pentagon briefing Tuesday, he declined to say exactly how many Americans have died there, though he said it was about a dozen so far. It may be several more days before the battle is over and the number of our casualties, as well as the enemy's, will certainly increase.

By Tuesday night, our men had pushed into the center of the city, literally blowing holes through the prepared defenses. It's pretty clear that the insurgents planned an outer ring of resistance designed to collapse toward the city's center where they will make a final stand. Gen. Casey, commander of the U.S. forces in Iraq, said on Monday that for the insurgents, "death is a promotion." If the insurgents don't surrender, and can be cornered in one small part of the city, air power -- delivered with the skill and accuracy our fly-guys have made their trademark -- will award these "promotions" in quick time. Some -- like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al Qaeda leader in Iraq -- have likely escaped. They will pop up somewhere else in Iraq, and try to force us to hopscotch around the country to attack their strongholds. They will do everything they can to disrupt the January election, and the functioning of the new government for some time to come. If we stick to our guns, they will fail.

The January election in Iraq will be even more significant than the election in Afghanistan because Iraq is a big part of the Arab world. It remains to be seen if democracy can be made to take root in any part of it. There is every reason to doubt that it can. But we have come so far, and sacrificed so much to make Iraq democratic, we at least have to try.

(Today, 10 November, is the 229th birthday of the U.S. Marines. Happy birthday to all leathernecks, and may God bless and protect every Marine, soldier, sailor, airman and coastie now in harm's way.)

TAS Contributing Editor Jed Babbin is the author of Inside the Asylum: Why the U.N. and Old Europe Are Worse Than You Think (Regnery Publishing).

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About the Author
Jed Babbin served as a Deputy Undersecretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush. He is the author of several bestselling books including Inside the Asylum and In the Words of Our Enemies. He is coauthor (with Herbert London) of the new book The BDS War Against Israel. You can follow him on Twitter@jedbabbin.