Saturday, November 13, 2004

Iraq News Roundup: An Insurgent Tet Offensive ?

Matters continue to proceed favorably in Fallujah, according to press reports this morning, and over the last couple of days. For El Jefe’s fellow order-of-battle junkies, one of the Marine units west of the Euphrates, probably the one that seized the crossings as the operation began, has been identified in today’s New York Times as the 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.
The rebels are stuck in an encirclement, apparently in the Shuhada District in the south of Fallujah, again according to this morning’s Times. They are trying to break out to the south, into the desert, but without much success. reports that a military spokesman claims the enemy is boxed into an area 1,000 by 500 meters. At least 1,000 enemy are dead, and about 200 prisoners are taken, according to multiple sources. The prisoners will no doubt provide lots of interesting intelligence on their rebel friends when turned over to the Iraqi government’s police and intelligence authorities.

Tons of documents and arms have been taken. Slaughterhouses, where hostages were held, have been found in northern Fallujah, along with personal effects and documents belonging to some of the deceased hostages. US troops, again according to today’s New York Times, have evidently rescued a Syrian taxi driver who had been kidnapped in August.
Males aged 15-55 are being prevented from leaving Fallujah by the US and allied forces, according to the AP yesterday, and the New York Times today. Only women and children can leave. Human Rights Watch thinks this is a war crime, says the New York Times. The lawyers at Human Rights Watch, of course, do not care that the Fallujah rebels are themselves not conforming to the laws of war, and really have no interest whatever in whether one of these precious individuals might get away from Fallujah and shoot a US Marine or soldier in the back as soon as possible.

Virtually the whole population of Fallujah has already fled anyway – anybody who is left almost certainly supports the rebels and ought to be behind barbed wire in some very uncomfortable place anyway. According to the Times piece today. Because “…the United States has refused to take part in the International Criminal Court”, it is unclear whether American troops could be held accountable” for the so-called war crimes. Thank God for small miracles.

Meanwhile, the rebels have launched an offensive in Mosul, in the north, and have overwhelmed the local police. Reinforcements have been brought up. 1/5th US Infantry (25th Inf. Div.) has pulled out of the Fallujah fight and been sent to Mosul. The Mosul governor says some of the police have defected. On the plus side, says that the Kurds (pro US) are setting up street patrols in Mosul. Clashes all over the Sunni triangle, in particular near Ramadi and Samarra.

A so-called insurgent “official,” one Saif al-Deen al-Baghdadi is quoted in the AP as saying that “ridding Iraq of the occupation will not be done by ballots...Allawi’s government …represents the fundamentalist right-wing of the White House and not the Iraqi people.” “Fundamentalist right-wing” eh ? Is this guy reading Democratic Party press releases ? Hopefully a fundamentalist right-wing US Marine or GI shuts Mr. Saif up with a 5.56 mm “ballot” as soon as possible.

People disposed to panic will see the surge of violence in Mosul and the fighting in Fallujah and elsewhere as a sign that we cannot hope to win. I draw the opposite conclusion. Recall the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, so many years ago. We now know that the decision of the Vietcong leadership to bring such a high proportion of its political cadre and underground military organization out of hiding and into the cities of South Vietnam finished the VC as a military threat to the US and its Vietnamese allies. After the initial surprise, US and South Vietnamese troops annihilated the exposed VC. When South Vietnam ultimately fell, after the Congress made us abandon (er, excuse me, withdraw from) South Vietnam, it was to the North Vietnamese Army, and not the VC.

However, the military disaster to the communists was not made apparent to most Americans, who soon began to agree (wrongly), with the major television media, that Tet had been a defeat for America and its allies, and that the war could not be won.

Now, over 30 years later, the Iraq terrorist rebels (who are nowhere nearly as well organized, or trained as the VC, and have nothing like their scale of popular support) – have taken a similar risk, and it should be the end of them. The Saddamite/pro al Qaeda rebels have chosen, foolishly, to stand and fight the US forces and their Iraqi and other allies in the cities. The rebels have stupidly presented themselves for destruction, and the military is obliging, helping them to martyrdom as rapidly and as efficiently as possible.

Our military is doing its part. Our Iraqi allies, still trying to put together their own military, are trying to do theirs. Within days, US forces in Fallujah will be available for use in Mosul, Ramadi and elsewhere in the rebellious Sunni triangle. If the Sunni population wants to find itself ruled completely by Kurds and Shiites, and wishes to see the complete devastation of its portion of the country, let it keep supporting the rebels.

The political leadership must now step up to the plate, and not allow the anti-war elements in the media, the foreign policy establishment and elsewhere to portray what is happening as a US defeat. President Bush and his administration need to get in front of the television cameras, and conduct some public education.

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