Monday, November 08, 2004


Fallujah Again?

[If you have been following the comments in the last post, you would have noticed that the debate was drifting towards the subject of Fallujah. It seems to be on everybody's mind. I thought I might just as well address the subject in a post to provide some background. My other agenda can wait.]

The American army seems poised to go after the "terrorists" in Fallujah. In preparation of the killing ground, older people, women and children are urged (allowed?) to leave the town. All others, including all males between 15 and 45 are apparently fair game and can be labeled as terrorists.

Problem: The official reason is that terrorists are taking refuge in that town and holding the people hostage. They are hiding among civilians.

Solution: Storm the place and "kill 'em all" in true Western movie cowboy tradition.


Why Fallujah? – Background:

Contrary to popular myth, Fallujah as a town was not on the best of terms with Saddam Hussein. Fallujans did not resist the American army during the invasion. In fact, the taking of Fallujah was quite orderly.

What happened then?
Much of the explanation is in the make-up of the town and its geographic location. A mixture of rural values carried over by first-generation immigrants, a reasonable level of education, closeness to metropolitan Baghdad, fierce patriotism, disillusionment with secularism, disappointment with secular pan-Arabism and some fear and contempt of Western "decadence" claiming to be civilization… to name a few factors.

Islam is the only thing many of these people know and trust to show them right from wrong. Already a conservative environment, Islamic revival began to take shape in the late 1980's. In the 1990's fundamental movements such as Wahabism and Salafism began to emerge in an anti-Saddam public mood. The previous regime fought those trends relentlessly and ruthlessly but in vain. Having been extending roots and operating underground during those oppressive years, operating under the American administration of the occupation was much less of a challenge.

Like much of the rest of Iraq, these people were beginning to be dismayed with the US obvious incompetence in running the country (Oh, those mistakes again!) and the US soldiers' disregard to their culture and sensitivities.

A few examples: forceful entry into homes – which is equivalent to murder in their social code; frisking of women by young male soldiers –almost unthinkable to some of them; searching of personal possessions in family quarters of their homes – actually seeing their women's under-ware being handled by strangers is regarded by some of them as something worse than being killed!; pushing, shoving and insulting the much-revered father or husband in front of his family; pointing guns at people with the finger close to the trigger when in patrols etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

[I can almost hear some of those people used to living in cultural bubbles gasping in amazement: are these people nuts? Well, these are their values and it's their country, isn't it? They may look at some of your values with equal disgust. I challenge anybody to bet that the USA or the rest of the world combined can change these beliefs in the next two decades!]

Many of those acts were naturally done by the US boys without any intent to insult or offend. They didn't know any better and it's not their fault that nobody told them anything different. There was no time! The liberation of Iraq, the toppling of Saddam and the seizure of those weapons of mass destruction could not wait! [I honestly don't know up to this minute why there was so much hurry – apart of course from "political" timing considerations.]

Regardless of what stereotype people in the west have of the mosque. In those chaotic times, many of those mosques (very much like in Sadr City) quickly turned into caring community centers. Philanthropists usually donated to mosque imams they trusted. Those people took care of the poor, of those in need and supported hospitals. Some of those people were fundamentalists, but none were terrorists (in the Al Qaeda sense), at least as far as the local population was concerned.

How did it all start?

In April 2003, schools were opening again in many parts of Iraq. It was purely on the initiative of parents and teachers, many of whom worked unpaid for several months. A school in Fallujah was used as army barracks; a delegation of locals went to have a word with the US army. They were ignored. People demonstrated. Soldiers claimed someone fired at them. They shot and killed 13 (some say 17) demonstrators.

Ordinary people were convinced so early that the Americans were actually invaders who didn't even care to evacuate a school to let their sons and daughters continue with their study… and were prepared to kill more than a dozen people in a peaceful demonstration without any accounting (that they saw) or even the pretence of one.

That was the origin of all the bad blood.

How did it escalate?

A year later, a gang of villains in Fallujah killed and mutilated four security contactors. Fallujah was put under siege. In what was widely regarded as a mass-punishment act of vindictiveness the city was shelled and bombarded for three weeks. More than 700 people were killed (including some 200 women and children). It was a massacre.

The US army could not take the town. They probably could, militarily speaking, but that would have been politically even more expensive. Most of Iraqis' hearts were with Fallujah. Remember that those incidents coincided with the outbreak of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

The end result was a massive loss of life with not a single positive result. It was a disgraceful performance both militarily and in human terms. Most people in Iraq regarded Fallujah's stand as a victory. The US failed to take it. My personal guess is that the Fallujah massacre and the stand of the people of that small town against the mightiest army in the world will be long remembered in the collective memory of Iraq.

Are there any terrorists in Fallujah?

Quite honestly, I don't know! I haven't met anyone who's met anyone who's seen any terrorist in Fallujah. I'm not saying that there aren't any. I don't know. Are there any terrorists, killers or bank robbers in your town?

But there are many resistance fighters (of the regular type) in Fallujah. From the account above, I hope that that is understandable. Many of these fighters are acting under or belong to some Islamist umbrella. They are not regarded as terrorists. They are supported by the general population as freedom fighters (and will still be regardless of the outcome of the intended campaign).

Now the terrorists that you have in mind don't ware special badges and do not advertise their acts of terrorism. These people can easily pass as religious people (especially in a predominantly conservative, religious, "redneck" Sunni area). Ordinary people do not necessarily know of their existence in their midst. It takes investigation and intelligence (of a higher caliber than that we have seen so far) to find them, not remote bombing or another invasion.

Also, strategically speaking, Fallujah is at the edge of a desert. Coming and going between it and Syria, Jordan or Saudi Arabia is not much of a problem if you are not conspicuous-looking. On the other hand, it is so close to Baghdad – where a comparatively massive city would be an excellent place for losing oneself and where there are so many lucrative targets! I wouldn't be surprised if there were some.

Zarqawi? Well, the first time I personally heard of the name Zarqawi was a few weeks before the invasion. There were no terrorists of the Al Qaeda type in Fallujah before the US liberated us.

Again, a spiral and not a circle – it has a beginning. The invasion brings terrorists into the country. The Iraqi people get "collaterally" killed to rid them of the terrorists. America is again "proven" to be evil. More terrorists come into the country…

President Bush himself declared Iraq to have become a battlefront against world terrorism. Thank you very much!

What is likely to happen?

If the present plans go as scheduled, then we are likely to see siege and bombardment, resistance, death or melting away of insurgents and… naturally a lot of "collateral damage".

What about Ramadi, Kirkuk, Yousufeyyah, Latifeyyah, Haswah, Baquba, Baghdad etc. etc.? Will scores of Iraqi towns and cities be given the same treatment? Or do they all draw their violence from the terrorists in Fallujah?

Will the people of Fallujah and of Iraq be grateful to the US for ridding them of terrorists in this manner?

Will anyone in the US be blamed if things get worse after Fallujah is subdued? Probably not. "It would have taken God-like predictive skill to guess", wouldn't it?


Here goes my confusion again. Have you had a look at Sam's site at

He and posters like "truth" seem to suggest that Fallujah is the hotbed of "terrorists".

Who to believe.....

"Once again, we are being asked by citizens who have fled the city to go in and take the city back. They are willing for us to literally rubble the place in order to kill the terrorists within. Don't get me wrong, there are still many inside the town that support the terrorists and we cannot expect to be thanked publicly if we do take the city. There is a sense of de ja vu with the refugees telling us where their houses are and asking us to bomb them because the muj have taken them over. We heard the same thing in April only to end up letting the people down. Some no doubt have paid with their lives. The "good" people who may ultimately buy into a peaceful and prosperous Iraq are again asking us to do what we know must be done."

The Green Side

Please note: Your window of opportunity to affect US policy via the media is now closed. Bush is not even up for reelection in four more years. Thank you. Have a nice day.

Abu Khaleel:

Your assertion that the local fighters from Fallujah are seen as freedom fighters seems to have some merit with regard to Sunnis, generally, and some Baghdadis. From Zeyad's (of Healing Iraq) comments, there is not a whole lot of empathy, in the south of Iraq, for the political demands of the Al Anbar/Sunni resistance to defuse the Fallujah crisis. On the contrary, judging by Sam at Hammorabi's and Zeyad's comments, there now appears to be open hostility to the leadership of the Anbar/Sunni resistance among many Shia.

Have you also seen evidence of an emerging confessional or regional divide in perception of the Anbar/Sunni elements of the Iraqi resistance? Have you heard the same rumors concerning the demands of the Anbar/Sunni leadership listed by Zeyad? If so, do you believe the rumors are true?

Mark In Chi Town

From Circular

1) Stray thought re. Fallujah. Whether you call them terrorists, or fanatics, or insurgents, or patriots or freedom fighters, don’t we have to say that going or staying there to fight, knowing what the Marines have coming for you, takes a fair amount of courage?
2) Which prompts a question for readers: historical parallels have only a limited truth, because every war is different, but they are interesting. Is Fallujah a sort of Iraqi Alamo?
If the Fallujah battle spreads to an intensified uprising, are we seeing a sort of Iraqi Tet? Who ‘won’ Tet? In the short term? In the long term? Does anyone see any other historical parallels to what has happened in Iraq? The Ukraine in 1942? (Many Ukrainians initially greeted the Nazi troops with enthusiasm, because they resented Russian rule. But a few months of the S.S. and Nazi occupation changed their minds.)
3) For U.S. readers, in the spirit of dialogue, which Abu says he wants to see:
leaving aside the question of whether or not the invasion was justified, surely you have to agree that the conquest of a country, even if it’s not intended to be permanent, carries with it the responsibility to do it right? So, asking seriously and soberly, not looking for abuse or recriminations, what have you actually got right in Iraq so far? (hint: I don’t think Abu will agree that installation of a 30-year exile, with a dubious history to put it mildly, was actually the best choice for an Interim leader.)


As the U.S. has done so many things wrong in Iraq, it makes it easier to list the correct strategic moves.

1) Calling off the siege of Najaf prior to completion and bringing Al-Sadr, apparently, into the political process.

2) The recent weapons collection program in Sadr City.

3) The scheduling of national elections for January.

4) The promise to remove U.S. troop if requested by an elected Iraqi government.

5) Working to reduce or cancell Iraq's foreign debt.

6) The continued pursuit of negotiations with "resistance" leadership to end the political violence.

I have interpreted yor request as seeking appropriate post-invasion political or strategic moves. In doing so, I assumed you didn't want a list of each of the myriad infrastructure projects or charity work that has been undertaken with U.S. money or by U.S. troops.

Circular to Anonymous

"I assumed you didn't want a list of each of the myriad infrastructure projects or charity work that has been undertaken with U.S. money or by U.S. troops."

well I wouldn't mind something - I honestly haven't seen much. Wouldn't restoration of hospitals and power supply have been a help? Was it that hard for the mightiest power on earth to get the lights back on, as a number two priority?
Hospitals were number one, if you regard human suffering as undesirable.


The link below is the thirteenth in a series of good news round ups from Iraq. It is . Much of the collected "good news" isn't all that great, but the reports do show that some things, other than violence, are going on in Iraq. Some infrastructure projects are listed about 1/2 of the way down the rather lengthy round up.

It is not surprising that you were unaware of many of these "good news" stories since they are not widely reported in the mainstream western press.

USAID has weekly reconstruction updates at

Though, admittedly, USAID does not cover all reconstruction work.

To Barry:

You are asking we to believe in a well known blog of USA propaganda. There are many real USA soldier's blogs, of course, but this one is owned by a staff-major who sent "letters" to home only in order to make some propaganda about Fallujah. This particular one is not a soldier's blog, but a USA public relation's blog.

I think Riverbend's blog is more reliable. She posts, in her Bagdah Burning an excelent new post: Some Terrorists... about a Fallujian refugee:

“Well, at least everyone is safe… you were very wise to come here.” My mother offered. “Your children are fine- and that’s what’s important.”

This phrase didn’t have quite the effect we expected. Umm Ahmed’s eyes suddenly flowed over and in a moment, she was crying freely. Sama frowned and gently took the baby from her mother’s arms, rising to walk him around in the hallway. My aunt quickly poured a glass of water out for Umm Ahmed and handed it to her, explaining to us, “Ahmed, her fourteen-year-old son, is with his father, still in Falloojeh.”

“I didn’t want to leave him…” The glass of water shook in her hands. “But he refused to leave without his father and we got separated last minute as the cars were leaving the city…” My aunt rushed to pat her back and hand her some tissues.

“Umm Ahmed’s husband, God protect him, is working with one of the mosques to help get some of the families out.” My aunt explained, sitting down next to Umm Ahmed and reaching to pull a teary Harith onto her lap. “I’m sure they’ll both be fine- maybe they’re already in Baghdad…” My aunt added with more confidence than any of us felt. Umm Ahmed nodded her head mechanically and stared vaguely at the rug on the ground. Harith rubbed at his eyes and clung to a corner of his mother’s shawl. “I promised her,” my aunt explained, “That if we don’t hear from them in two more days, Abu S. will drive out to Falloojeh, and he can and look for them. We’ve already left word with that mosque where all the refugees go in Baghdad.”



I didn't ask you to "believe" anything. I merely posted it for reference. I know of Riverbend and have read her posts often. I get the impression that she had it made under Saddam and is now pissed because sugar daddy is gone. (OK, that was a little cold, my apologies). However, she has been proven wrong on several occasions by other bloggers. One of which I can think of was when she was complaining about her electricity bill.

Anyway, my point was that who the hell knows who to believe anymore. There is as much dis-information flying around these days as there is information.

I'll be the first to admit that I tend to gravitate towards the more "pro-US" blogs because I want to believe that what we are trying to do is the "right thing". I do, however, read anti-US blogs often but a good many of them are so full of blind, illogical hatred that it makes it hard to read.

OK, enough rambling...

Alvaro the propogandist complains about the opposition propoganda...LOL The irony!

Falluja needed to cast votes not RPGs. Their peace settlement demands were not feasible, in fact could be said to lack sincerity. They were most likely offered a "deal" similar to Al-Sadr's and refused. Comparisons to Alamo are uncalled for as the Spanish were bent on conquest, we are there to give Iraq a free goverment of their own.

The Fallujan Baathists are the ones that have lost their political power and that is the true motive for their resistance as their "peace plan" plainly demonstrates. Fears of Shia reprisal are unfounded as the US forces would not allow that either.

To act as though the US has no intelligence coming from inside the city is disingenuous, unrealistic at best. Saddams redoubt strategy, run by Al-Douri, is not going to succeed. Syrias signing of the border agreement tells of double-crossing.

They should have accepted Allawi's deal. It's too late now.

Circular to Anonymous
O.K. I had a look at the link. It’s a curious mixture of "feelgood" stories (toys for kiddies), "ain’t freedom great" propaganda, and what appear to be some genuine major developments which seem to be at odds with what is generally reported. Although USAID sounds good, perhaps the overall impression is of a lot of private initiative without as much central direction as might be desirable. Or perhaps that should be "might have been desirable from the start" - the fact still remains, if media reports are to be believed, that no "Westerner" is safe on the street anywhere in the country? In Baghdad anyway. The reports about police recruitment seem to be at odds with, say, RoseinBaghdad, an ordinary Baghdad housewife who can’t even put the garbage out in safety.
So what’s winning, belated improvement or mistake-generated hatred?
To ask a very nasty and unfair question: if the British had not gone in with you, would Basra now be in the same state as Baghdad?

Hello Abu Khaleel,
My problem is that when the idea comes up.."let's attack Fallujah and end terrorism", I get the 'big picture'--yeah, happy Iraqis living in peace, no more car bombs, etc. I 'know' there has to be an ugly[!] political process, that Sunnis have to have their say, there would be angry words and meetings and threats and headlines. Really can't we just go from here to there, like on TV? Some people will say "In the real world, you have to beat the enemy down, crush him" I just don't buy it.

If you get the chance, please take a look at the letter and the link posted on Iraq The ModelStill confused...

The influence of the oil lobby on the US economy is to be terminated and replaced by a diversified and comprehensive energy policy. The only question is how much economic and other pain will be inflicted and on which generation. The longer we wait, the higher the costs.*

Can the USA seize the day? To be rid of the domineering influence of the oil lobby on its economy, to show the world's other insatiable consumers of this non-renewable resource that they will be left far behind? The peace dividend attained by waging the Cold War (on the home front - by an all-out expansion of the oil-based economy in the 1950's; the idea was that a mobile, mechanized society would be dispersed over a large number of urban centres and thus be more able to withstand a nuclear attack; this was the strategy pursued by the Eisenhauer Republicans in the 1950's) is the basis for developing a non-oil based economy. For instance, by insulating commercial and multi-residential buildings the US could greatly reduce its oil imports.

By taking bold initiatives such as these, the US would regain its economic independence. There would also be less need for so-called strategic materials (rare metals, catalytic agents, etc.) deemed vital for an oil-based society and often available only overseas. Existing stocks of these non-renewable resources could be saved for a 'rainy day' or allotted to R & D at lesser cost.

Chinese oil production peaked in 2000 and Russian oil production in 2002 exceeded that of Saudi Arabia. Aren't these benchmarks indicators of how far consuming countries have fallen behind? Canada's reserves (in the Alberta Tar Sands) are said to exceed those of the Saudis'. But the true economic purpose of bringing oil to market is to manufacture oil-derived products that we cannot otherwise produce (e.g. space age and consumer plastics such as insulating materials, medical bandages, etc.).

In the USA, a highly guarded patent has been applied for many years to recycle virtually all materials found in scrap vehicles. This is an example of an existing process that could be shared with many countries. The Americans have recently referred disparagingly to "Old Europe". Instead, they could regain the higher ground by rebuilding their economic infrastructure (a process the Europeans have already begun - developing the critical masses of skills and ideas necessary for alternative energy sources and a resulting sustainable economy (that would treat non-reproducible resources such as oil for what they are)).

When the Japanese invaded Indonesia during WWII and cut off America's rubber supply, within six months a government-mandated research effort resulted in synthetic rubber. This was of enormous significance to the war effort.

For other ideas, I refer you to:

where we are informed that
"..The Plan makes it clear that—even if we didn't go in for the oil—we certainly won't leave without it.”

Isn't it interesting that today in the news Iraqi troops found hostage slaughterhouses in Fallujah? Please note, it was Iraqi troops that found the houses. Please note the plural usage of "houses".

'Troops found CDs and documents of people taken captive in houses in the northern part of Fallujah, Maj. Gen. Abdul Qader Mohammed Jassem Mohan told reporters.'

"We have found hostage slaughterhouses in Fallujah that were used by these people and the black clothing that they used to wear to identify themselves, hundreds of CDs and whole records with names of hostages," the general said at a military camp near Fallujah.

So, for the naysayers, perhaps there is an ounce of truth to what our military has been saying? Perhaps we are not just bloodthirsty mongrels who need to butcher innocents???

Perhaps people should give us just a little bit of the benefit of doubt.

Yes, I do believe it's terrible when innocents are killed in battle. But I also know we don't plan huge massive operations just for the sake of destroying people.

Finding these slaughterhouses where foreign hostages were taken and killed is evidence that terrorist are operating in Falllujah. Terrorists need a large support network to operate successfully. It takes planning, logistics and a command center. Perhaps some of you who doubt there is a real threat within Fallujah should do some basic research on how terrorist groups operate. Educate yourself before you start badmouthing our troops and charging them with heinous accusations simply because you disagree with the war to begin with.



Come on, face it, your Zionist CIA masters planted that stuff there so we could kill more innocents!!


Abu Khaleel:

There are Iraqis that believe that negotiations with the Fallujah insurgents were doomed to failure. According to them, the jihadi elements in the Fallujah resistance had not intention or allowing any kind of pluralistic society or democratic institutions.

A pertinent quotes from one Iraqi, "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. . . . 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?"

The link is . Your take on his observations?

Mark In Chi Town

Hello Barry and Mark in Chi Town,

What's alarming about these 'forward-looking' and self-described 'right-wing' types is their amnesia. Iraq fought a proxy war for the West against Iran, whose losses were immense. Then the Iraqi leadership was exterminating half-a-million of its own people a year, gassing the Kurds (apparently not true, but the gas was supplied by the West), all the while providing a level of education unsurpassed by any Middle East power. Kuwait begins cross-drilling for oil into Iraqi territory and Sadaam attempts an invasion.

Where is the truth in all of this? The only constant is the oil, I'm afraid to say. If we reduce its importance, than maybe some of the truth will emerge.

Oh yes oh yes oh yes, that's just Zarqawi's fault, & of his 'slaughterhouses'! Oh yes indeed! So, every time any bloody Iraqi dares to resist us, to oppose our 'granny knows better' occupation, it's more than obvious that it is due to al Zarqawi being there, or having been there! So, lets bomb the effing place to the ground, & kill all those aiding & abetting 'al Zarqawi (it's not just Fallujah, it's Baghdad & most of Iraq, BTW). Then, we'll create a wonderful democracy... (oh, wonderful indeed!).
An Italian.

Oh no, no, no Italian, it's the Jooz fault. The Zionists and their American puppets are at fault for all the ills of this world..


Please brush up on your middle east history. Saddam invaded Iran because he feared that Iran was in the process of fomenting a religious revolution among the Iraqi Shia. His plan was to teach the Iranian leadership to keep their fingers out of Iraqi politics and, while he was at it, to take some key pieces of Iranian real estate. (See the following links and It was no proxy war.

The U.S. was largely neutral in the conflict helping both sides at different times. This policy was undertaken because the U.S. did not wish to see either side greatly strengthened through a decisive victory.

As to your comments concering my political affiliation, I am a registered Independent. For those of you oustide the U.S., it means that am neither a Republican nor Democrat and vote on a candidate by candidate basis, which typically means that I support centrist politicians from both parties. I am certainly not a conservative or Neo-con.

From Circular

Since its obviously going to be some time yet before Abu can draw any conclusions from what’s happening in Fallujah, could I comment on some posts above?
It seems to me that, just as Abu’s Letter to America is actually addressed to several different Americas, so the American comments seem to be about several different wars.
1) The biggie, of course, is the War on Terror, which was started by 9/11. The posts from Mark and MB above, expressing delight at the discovery of supposed proof of the existence of your genuine beady-eyed Islamic Fundamentalist terrorist, seem to indicate that they think the Fallujah campaign is primarily about this. Iraq is just the battleground where this war is currently being fought.
2) But there’s also still the War ON Iraq, originally to get rid of the WMD and ties etc, then to get rid of Saddam’s regime anyway, WMD or not, now to get rid of, or beat down, the supposed remnants of that regime, i.e. the beady-eyed Baathist/Sunni extremists.
3) This is slightly different from the War IN Iraq, which is being fought, apparently, to teach the benefits of Freedom, Democracy and Prosperity to the beady-eyed natives, who are unfortunately proving to be rather slow or reluctant learners. Realistically, it seems to recall Rummy’s recent ramblings about "tipping" - Iraq’s a bit like a see-saw at present, with chaos and instability on one end, and F,D and P on the other. My guess is that it will very likely tip the wrong way, but I’d like to be wrong.
4) One aspect of which is that there seems to be also an unstated War on Islam in many minds, exemplified by Mark’s quotation about women in Fallujah being forced to wear veils. (No beady eyes.) I don’t myself believe that extreme Islamic attitudes towards women can actually co-exist easily with a one-world 21st century mindset, but shooting their menfolk in droves doesn’t seem the ideal solution to changing their customs. And the ones to shoot seem to be mostly in Saudi Arabia, which is the heart of this sort of thing?
5) And from the more lunatic posters, there’s still the neo-con’s American Century, the War on the World for American hegemony. Iran next? Just been looking at Lonely Planet - it’s four times the size of Iraq, with three times the population, ALL beady-eyed. Which Army exactly would you use? The present one doesn’t seem to be doing too well in Iraq.
Barry, Mark and all - any comments?


Nope no comment. You are absolutely correct. This is nothing more than a right-wing fundamentalist Christian war being driven by the Zionists to eradicate Muslims..


You are really not too quick on the uptake so I will try to keep this simple. I take no glee in proof of anything concerning Fallujah. I posted the questions to Abu Khaleel out of genuine curiosity concerning whether he had heard similar reports from Fallujah or whether he had contrary information.

As you may imagine, there is more than one opinion in Iraq concerning many issues, including Fallujah. It is enlightening to hear different opinions and reactions to those of others. That is the essence of a civil discussion.

As to your comments concerning five alleged wars, in my view, the War on Terror ("WoT") doesn't have much to do with Iraq. There are certainly some uncompromising foreign and home grown Jihadis in Iraq. If the foreigners won't go home and the Iraqis Jihadis decline to put down there guns to enter the political process, they will have to be dealt with by force. Unfortunately, there is no other option to deal with people that wish to rule others through the barrel of a gun. Preferably, if force is needed to deal with this relatively small group of Jihadis, it can be done by Iraqis forces after the country is relatively stable and U.S. forces have left the country.

Let me make something quite clear since you don't seem to be picking up much in the way of nuance. I don't advocate more violence in Iraq by anyone. I want a peaceful, stable Iraq and the most rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops possible. This means political negotiations and compromise by all Iraqi factions, including any non-militant, Iraqi Islamists. They are just as entitled to peacefully vie for political power in Iraq as any other Iraqi group.

My real problem is with the resort to political violence by all sides. It is both immoral and counterproductive since, in the end, it will only radicalize the people of Iraq, thereby making it much harder to make the political compromises necessary for peace.

Unfortunately, the answer isn't to suddenly withdraw all U.S. troops since the resulting power vacuum could result in a regional war and/or a civil war. This would make the prsent situation look like child's play with an all out war between Kurdish peshmerga and the Turks in the north and a simultaneous Iranian invasion in the south.

One frequently mentioned solution to the power vacuum problem is to bring in U.N. forces. This solution is not feasible for two reasons: (1) the U.N. member states with any real military power are not interested in bailing the U.S. out from a mess that it created, and (2) the U.N. is so conflict adverse it can't even deliver elections monitors in quantity.

Accordingly, the only logical conlusion is that the U.S. is stuck in Iraq until it is reasonably stable and has a functioning military to defend itself from external and internal threats. No amount of wishing is going to change that.

Last one is mine.

Mark in Chi Town

From Circular

Barry seems to have chickened out.

Mark: "...the only logical conclusion is that the U.S. is stuck in Iraq until it is reasonably stable and has a functioning military to defend itself from external and internal threats."

This may be logical, but is it practical?

Early days yet, but (a) the insurgents seems sufficiently organised to put up enough resistance in Fallujah to seriously embarrass the U.S. but also to redeploy enough force to carry on the fight elsewhere - Mosul, Samarrah etc. According to Riverbend and Dahr Jamail Baghdad is more-or-less shut down. And (b) according to Juan Cole the Shiite silence over Fallujah is ominous, and could be pointing towards elections which are simply not accepted by the Sunni, which seems to point to virtual civil war with the U.S. clearly identified with one side.

(And one thing is surely becoming clear - these dudes do not give up easily.)

I don’t think I’ve actually posted anything advocating "a sudden U.S. withdrawal." This has always seemed to me a recipe for instant civil war (though I believe Abu might disagree with this.)
I’ve taken a "you broke it, you fix it" position - with a fair amount of contempt for the criminally ignorant Administration that broke it in the first place. But now I’m not so sure - if civil war is inevitable anyway, and the only way to prevent it is for someone to put in half a million troops or more, which won’t happen, then isn’t retention of your present force just prolonging the agony?

Or to put it another way, after 18 months of Occupation you seem to have stuffed the place up more than Saddam managed to do in 30 years of insane dictatorship? Maybe you're just not very good at this?

About those "slaughterhouses" :

Assuming that it was not a set up, that all that the US military says is true ... how come the war pimps are not rushing to qualify their statements by saying that it was probably "only just a few bad apples" amongst the insurgency that were responsible? Given, of course, the frictions amongst native and foreign insurgents.

Funny, that.

I've chickened out? No man, I am just speaking the truth! :-)

Who is it that you think we are supporting, the Shia?? We certainly get no love from Sistani even though I certainly respect him more than Sadr.

So the "slaughterhouses" are OK, innocent Iraqi's shot in the back of the heads by the "insurgents" are OK. "Insurgents" driving car bombs into crowded plaza's are OK? WTF is wrong with you people? This is NOT a war on Iraqi's. This is NOT a war on Muslims. It is a GLOBAL war on sick people that get off on killing people.

I suppose you are one that thinks Arafat was a national hero too right? Even though he stole billions from his own people, has set his wife up with a $22 million per year trust fund. Paid off suicide bombers. Directly ordered the murder of two American diplomats... ad finitum, ad nauseum..

BTW, your French heros are doing an excellent job in their "illegal" war in the Ivory Coast too...


You fail to take into consideration a crtical political issue in this country. Aftr 9/11, no American politician will leave Iraq until it is stable. This is because they will simply not take the risk that any part of Iraq will become a "new Afghanistan," that is, a welcoming training and logisitical base for international Jihadi groups to launch terror attacks against the U.S.

This is where the WOT intersects with the Iraq war, if only from an American political perspective. This is why those commentators that assert Bush will, soon after the elections, declare victory and pull troops our of Iraq without stability or the rebuilding of a functioning Iraqi army are mistaken. It is much more likely that Bush will increase troop levels if asked to by an elected Shia government which is faced with an entrenched Sunni resistance (assuming, for the sake of argument, your scenario of a Sunni election boycott).

Accordingly, your assertion that civil war may be inevitable and that the U.S. might be better off to just allow it to happen is not politically realistic. Of course, if over the course of time, the threat of Jihadi terror recedes, it will change the political dynamic in this country. However, I believe such a change would take a number of years with little or no international Jihadi terrorism. This seems unlikely to me.

Putting all of this aside, there are may serious people in this country, such as Colin Powell, who genuinely believe that abandoning Iraq to civil war or regional war would be irresponsible. I know such an attitude can sound condescending and paternalistic to Iraqi ears, but those attitudes are a reality in this country.

All of this leads me back to my earlier conclusion that the U.S. is stuck in Iraq until it is stable and able to defend itself.

Mark In Chi Town

Circular to Mark
But isn't this the whole point of the "wrong war," message, the fact that there were no active Jihadi terrorists in Iraq before the invasion?
(In terms of my post above, you confused War 1 with Wars 2 and 3?)
It's the question of how you win a war against a tactic, not a state. Colin Powell, I think it was? has been predicting that the U.S. might be in Iraq for another 3 to 5 years. You can almost bet that in that time there will be more attacks in the US and/or the West, but not from Iraq - they'll come from somewhere unexpected, Indonesia or Egypt or Pakistan etc? Even if there really are a few "maximum leaders" like Osama and Zarhqwi, they don't hang around to get caught, when conventional forces get close they just bug out and pop up elsewhere.

Who cares where they were before the war? If they are coming into Iraq to kill American forces (and apparently a lot of Iraqi's too) then they need to be taken out.

This whole notion of "creating terrorists" is bunk. If you are an Iraqi nationalist fighting the "American occupation" that is one thing but how does blowing up a market support your cause? How does destroying Iraqi infrastructure that we try to rebuild supporting your cause?

Because, Barry, creating instability to make the job of an occupying force as difficult as possible is classic guerilla tactics, right out of the Manual - refer French Vietnam and Algeria.
Actually I think I'm right in saying that the first successful post WW2 use of "terrorism" was by the Irgun and Stern Gang in Palestine, 1945 to 1947? They made the British Mandate forces's job impossible (King David Hotel)and achieved their aim - creation of the state of Israel.

OK. So how do we end the guerilla tactics then? By pulling out?


Please do not play the semantic game of asserting that the "WOT" is a war against a tactic. It is not, and you know it.

We both know that it is code for a war on International Jihadi terror. The Jihadis will be drawn wherever there is political instability. It is Iraq's great misfortune that they have been drawn there.

Of course, the U.S. is largely responsible for creating a suitably chaotic environment for them to thrive in Iraq. However, the "Iraqi Nationalist resistance" is at least partially to blame for the presence of foreign Jihadis, after all they initially welcomed them, and are still, at least partially, allied with them. Further, by attempting to enhance the chaos to undermine Iraqi IG, the "Iraqi Nationalist resistance" are creating conditions that will both attract more foreign Jihadis and make it difficult to eject or capture them.

Please bear in mind that the Nationalists may, in the end, be defeated or coopted by the Jihadi faction of the resistance. This would the worst possible fate for Iraq. It is very hard to predict the path an insurgency will take, after all, not many predicted that Mao's rag tag insurgents could win immediately after WW II. Of course, now the Chinese Communists are the world's most dynamic capitalists. The Irony.

Your point about wars 2 and 3 are really just anti-war propaganda. Those points assume evil intentions on the part of the U.S. I suspect that you and I will have to agree to disagree on those intentions. This is where these conversations typically start to bog down, since assessing intent always involves subjective judgements, but at least we have identified the main areas of disagreement.

Also, you are wrong about the Jihadi groups being inactive in Iraq. Ansar Al Islam had been active in northern Iraq for several years prior to the U.S. invasion, although in much smaller numbers and to a lesser extent.

Mark In Chi Town


Maybe I was wrong, but it seems to me the defection in Fallujah will be soon. I meant the American defection, of course. The entirely maneuver will be known in the future military manuals as a "self-stalingration of an occupier by political reasons".

As I said, maybe I war wrong, but all the information we got at Iraq-War do indicate this conclusion.

What you think about this?

Best Regards

From Circular

1) To Barry: " ... how do we end the guerilla tactics then? By pulling out?"

I dunno. The key factor seems to be the likely degree of animosity between Sunni and Shia if left to themselves. I believe Abu is going to give us a view on this (that’s not a question, Abu.)
It does appear to me, however, that with their limited weaponry, mainly rusty AK47’s and RPG’s, it’s possible that they may do each other less harm than letting the Marines loose again to do another dozen Fallujahs with cluster bombs, DU shells, etc. Perhaps it all comes down to what "withdrawal strategy" will produce the fewest maimed Iraqi kids?
(Sort of a sensitive issue here - because it was an unpopular war, it’s taken 30 years for our Vietnam Vets, who were soaked in Agent Orange, to get any compensation for their deformed and handicapped kids. Nothing for the Vets themselves as yet. And these are the sons of the troops who Rommel described as the best soldiers he had ever seen, including his own. I’m not aware of any instances of Kiwi atrocities against civilians, ever.)
Perhaps you’ve got to hang in there for these elections everyone’s pinning so much hope on. But for the record, I don’t believe that elections produce democracy. Democracy produces elections, they’re just a by-product of a general agreement to run a country by consensus rather than force. Are the Sunni fighting mainly to maintain their former superiority, or mainly to get rid of the invader?

To Mark: Please don’t admonish me in professorial tones, you’ll frighten me.
The terrorist base in Northern Iraq was completely outside Iraqi influence, as I understand it - it was in Kurdish territory.
I remain convinced that the WOT is indeed a war on a tactic (so there! Nyah, nyah!) The International Jihadis as you call them are a fact of life for the whole of the West, but they are basically the lunatic fringe, the Timothy McVeighs of Islam. The whole world co-operated very well (just as it did in Gulf 1) to deprive them of a base in Afghanistan, and may have to do it again somewhere one day. But we’ll never get every last one of them, it’s basically a matter of strategies for deterrence and containment, and developing good intelligence. But if a couple of terrorists are spotted in say, Ar Solistan, it’s a matter of winkling them out, not bombing the whole country flat and sending in the Big Red One. (I mean, the thing that Osama was always most upset about, what really got his turban in a twist, was the presence of INFIDEL troops in his HOLY LAND. No amount of bombing Ar Solistan is going to change his mind about that.)
I don’t assume evil intentions on the part of the U.S. - I think the neo-cons are also a lunatic fringe. Unfortunately they got the ear of the Lunatic-in-Chief.


You said, "I don’t believe that elections produce democracy. Democracy produces elections, they’re just a by-product of a general agreement to run a country by consensus rather than force. Are the Sunni fighting mainly to maintain their former superiority, or mainly to get rid of the invader?"

I couldn't agree more. A critical issue in finding a way toward peace is how much of the Sunni component of the "Iraqi reistance" is motivated by and attempt to regain their old influence, priviledges, jobs, etc? If the answer is a sizeable component and they utterly reject consensus government, it is likely to be a long war and to turn more sectarian in nature over time. These are questions for Abu Khaleel to address, not you or I.

At some point, one would think the Sunni resistance leadership, assuming they realized the fight would be long and bloody with uncertain prospects, would accept some sort of compromise. That compromise would undoubtedly include built in protection for minority rights in a concensus based system.

Your point about a Sunni/Shia war being less bloody than an American occupation is not well grounded in fact. The Hutu/Tutsi conflict in Rwanda was exceptionally bloody and largely conducted without sophisticated weapons. I see no indication that a Sunni/Shia conflict would be any less so if the Shia population became convinced that a victory by a "Sunnis resistance" faction would mean the Shia were to be oppressed once more.

Also, the Ansar Al Islam group was located in the Kurdish north, but primarily targeted, Saddam's enemies, the Kurdish political leadership. Accordingly, it is quite likely that it had at least the tacit approval, if not active support of Saddam's regime. Please understand that I am not arguing that the invasion of Iraq can be justified based on any connection with the WOT or the activities of Ansar Al Islam. It cannot.

As to your WOT remark, if you wish to maintain an illogical view, it is your right. I too have many serious disagreement with the NeoCons, but that doesn't mean I feel the need to mischaracterize their position in order to attack it. Their impulse to impose military first solutions on nearly all international problems is easy to deflate on moral, legal and efficacy grounds. Accordingly, there is no need for distortion.

As to the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia, if you really believe it was Bin Laden's principal beef, you are really very naive. His true goals are more political than religous. His primary goal, which he has repeatedly emphasized, is the restoration of the Muslim Caliphate. He certainly does object to American troops in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the middle eaast on religious and Arab nationalist grounds, but the main reason is that they may prevent him from achieveing his goal of toppling the governments of the region by force to impose his order.

I am not saying Bin Laden has the means of accomplishing these audacious political goals, but neither did Hitler when he wrote Mein Kampf. We know how that one turned out.

As to U.S. tactics in the WOT, it depends upon the situation. A country, like Afghanistan, that rolls out the red carpet for numerous large armed camps filled with terrorists should expect more serious consequences than law enforcement and dipolmacy. On the other hand, a few jihadis certainly don't require an invasion.

Mark In Chi Town

Circular to Mark

Thanks for your long reply. It actually seems that we are in agreement over most major issues, and it’s not worth quibbling over minor ones - e.g. at the time Saddam invaded Kuwait, Bin Laden offered to defend Saudi with his few Holy Warriors, rather than have it defiled by infidels. Lunatic fringe, in other words.
I suggest that drawing a comparison with Rwanda is stretching rather a long bow - I gather that, while the Baathists may have ambitions to restore their former position, they are not necessarily representative of main-stream Sunni feeling, and that the degree of Shia/Sunni animosity is not really comparable with ancient (and let’s face it, primitive) African tribal differences.
As you say, we don’t know enough - but (as I gather you would also admit, and the main point of what Abu has been saying throughout his blog) the real problem in Iraq now is the hatred, nihilism and anarchy generated by what is probably the most thoroughly botched conquest and occupation in history. Refer Abu’s "U.S. Mistakes in Iraq.")
Seems to me Shakespeare may have had a hand in all this - remember MacBeth? Now MacBush.

I am in blood stepped in so far, that should I wade no more
Returning were as tedious as cross over.

Things bad begun make good themselves by ill.

In other words, after Fallujah (where according to Rumsfeld no civilians have been killed, now that’s really "Fact-free") its likely to keep on getting worse before it gets better. Has your present administration got any of the wisdom or insight needed to find the way out of such a mess? Or are they only capable of repeating fact-free slogans?

P.s. If you want to respond to this, could I suggest moving up to the most recent blog (Slaughterhouse)?


You said, "Shia/Sunni animosity is not really comparable with ancient (and let’s face it, primitive) African tribal differences." It is really elitist and racist to assert the Iraqis are incapable of the violent fratricide on the scale seen in Rawanda. The potential for such violence is part of the human condition; it has manifested itself across the span of history and throughout many diverse cultures.

Unleashing it, in modern times seems to require little other than mass communication, distinct population segments (ethnic, ideological or religious), disinformation and demagoguary. Once the violence is unleashed, there does seems to be a kind of centrifugal force which leads to a spiral of retaliation, escalation and increased radicalization. It could happen in Iraq since superior cultural achievement is no guarantee against human nature. No country, including my own, is immune to the lethal mix that can lead to mass fratricide.

I do not say this to justify an American military presence in Iraq since I believe the external threats to Iraq are more important than the internal ones. It is why all people of good conscience need to be vigilant, both locally and globally. Establishing traditions of political compromise and consensus building are the best way to avoid the spiral, but even they are not fool proof.

Mark In Chi Town

Circular to Mark
Well, O.K., maybe it was racist in the sense, I guess, that what happened in the former Yugoslavia demonstrates that no country is immune to ethnic/religious/ideological violence - they all hold the potential. But elitist? Haven’t the former Communist states of Eastern Europe by and large managed the transition to "freedom" pretty well? And isn’t this probably due to a cultural heritage (not a racial one) which was lacking in the former African colonies?
And isn’t it a bit elitist to assume automatically that the Iraqis would have been incapable of such a transition? I think Abu has been trying to say that they are a good deal more "civilised" than many in the West give them credit for.
I guess we’ll never know now, since a few more Fallujahs, as far as I can see, will only accelerate the disintegration of the country. Was this the agenda all along - create a power vacuum in the heart of the Middle East to justify a continuing U.S. military presence?
I don’t believe so myself. I prefer the "stupid white men" theory.


I am not saying that Iraq can't manage a peaceful transition or that it is any less civilized than any other country, just that this is a very dangerous time in its history. It is my fervent hope that they can manage the transition.

The transition to a just peace in Iraq requires that those who currently reject compromise and consensus accept those concepts. Unfortunately, I don't see "the resistance" accepting that anytime soon, whether U.S. troops are in Iraq or not.

For a good summary of "pro-resistance" sentiments, visit Abbas Kadhim's comments section. It is where a number of allegedly Iraqi commentators advocate targeting all of the "Iraqi collaborators," which is defined broadly to include anyone that has cooperated in any way with the IG or U.S. troops. The hatred and blood lust expressed in such comments make me quite pessimistic that the political will necessary for peaceful compromises in near at hand.

On another matter, we appear to disagree whether any society can be truly considered to be more "civilized" than another. To my mind, the veneer of civilization in every country is really quite thin. Accordingly, the labels of "civilized," "less-civilized," or "uncivilized" are irrelevant.

Circular to Mark
Boy, and I thought I was cynical and pessimistic! I’m a little ray of sunshine compared to you.
Don’t like your "veneer" metaphor for civilisation - prefer to think of coats of paint.
Here in N.Z., which was once known as "Godzone," God’s Own Country, i.e. the most favoured spot on earth, I still like to believe in my sunshiny way that the paint is quite thick at present. Maybe a world-wide natural disaster would scrub it off, but short of that I think its pretty well applied. (The longest running T.V. program here, been going for 30+ years, is a little local item called "Fair Go," from "Give us a fair go, mate." Just investigates consumer rip-offs and cock-ups by Government departments. Reminds me of an old novel in which the war-weary mercenary hero says something like, "democracy isn’t about parties and elections, its just millions of people saying "Hang on a minute, they can’t do THAT!"")
And actually more and more of the world seems to be getting coats of liberal centre-left paint slapped on. Even South America, now that the CIA is self-destructing.
I agree that it’s going to be very hard, however, to get any paint at all to stick to Iraq, especially under present circumstances. At what point do you just have to accept that you’re using the wrong brush, or the wrong paint?
Apropos of which, and changing topics, with the overwhelming lurch to the right that you have just performed in America, it seems to me quite possible that the next step could be suppression of dissent, on the grounds that it is "unpatriotic."
Or am I being too cynical and pessimistic?
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