Monday, January 13, 2014

Fallujah — What were we fighting about again?

Upon reflection, I guess the whole idea of invading Iraq was to waste American money and lives, because it sure doesn't seem to have had anything to do with destroying any of our actual enemies. Actually, maybe it was done in order to create and organize new enemies for us. Yes, that must be it, because if so, it has succeeded with flying colors. Of course that's a politician thing and you really can't expect us common types to understand, especially the military ("I loathe 'em" — Slick Willy), who thought we were in it for American interests. At some point, the legions, as Jerry Pournelle puts it, are going to get really sick of all this, and even now you hear mutters about strangling the last liberal with the guts of the last neocon...  Well, Vox Day puts it in perspective, from his blog HERE.

A sacrifice for nothing

The fall of Fallujah, met with complete indifference in the very neocon circles that endlessly proclaimed the supreme importance of the Iraqi Adventure, sickens the Marines who fought there:
“I don’t think anyone had the grand illusion that Falluja or Ramadi was going to turn into Disneyland, but none of us thought it was going to fall back to a jihadist insurgency,” he said. “It made me sick to my stomach to have that thrown in our face, everything we fought for so blatantly taken away.”

The bloody mission to wrest Falluja from insurgents in November 2004 meant more to the Marines than almost any other battle in the 12 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many consider it the corps’ biggest and most iconic fight since Vietnam, with nearly 100 Marines and soldiers killed in action and hundreds more wounded.

“Lives were wasted, and now everyone back home sees that,” said James Cathcart. He fought as a private first class in the Marines in Falluja in 2004, and was discharged with post-traumatic stress disorder. For many veterans of that battle — most now working in jobs long removed from combat — watching insurgents running roughshod through the streets they once fought to secure, often in brutal close-quarters combat, has shaken their faith in what their mission achieved.
It shouldn't shake their faith in what their mission achieved, because one can't have faith in nothing. It should shake their faith in the US political system and the commanders-in-chief who are abusing the trust of the American military.

Let's hope they remember this the next time the usual suspects are beating the war drums for attacking Serbia Iraq Afghanistan Syria Iran.


  1. Genuine liberals, ie shining-city-on-the-hill neocons, are VERY upset about the development. It's the Obama-supporting media that has conspired to look the other way.

    In 2008, Obama inherited a winning hand in Iraq from Bush. Obama on Iraq, 2011: "Indeed, one of the broader lessons to be drawn from this period is that sectarian divides need not lead to conflict. In Iraq, we see the promise of a multiethnic, multisectarian democracy. The Iraqi people have rejected the perils of political violence in favor of a democratic process, even as they’ve taken full responsibility for their own security. Of course, like all new democracies, they will face setbacks. But Iraq is poised to play a key role in the region if it continues its peaceful progress. And as they do, we will be proud to stand with them as a steadfast partner."

    But Obama's feckless foreign affairs have squandered the hard-won gains he inherited from Bush - big-time. The proximate causes of the setback in Iraq are the premature exit of the US forces from Iraq due to the Obama administration's bungling of the SOFA negotiation and the obviously foreseeable spill-over into Iraq of the resurgence by al Qaeda due to the neighboring Syrian civil war. While the Syrian civil war isn't caused by Obama, weak US leadership throughout the 'Arab Spring' has been at least a non-preventive and non-limiting factor, if not a contributing factor to the harmful situation.

    Bush's Freedom Agenda should have been the guide for the US regional strategy, especially in the Arab Spring. Post-COIN, post-Saddam Iraq should have been a long-term difference-making regional strategic partner. As a historical comparison, imagine Eisenhower had withdrawn US forces from Europe and Asia in the early 1950s. If that had happened, the gains made under FDR and Truman would have been squandered, too. When Ike took the hand-off from Truman, the nations we occupied in Europe and Asia had progressed in the post-war, but were still fragile, like Iraq when we left, which was at about the same point in the occupation (7-8 year mark). More, we had fallen behind the Communists in the 1950s. But we stayed the course in Europe and Asia, our wards grew strong, and we won the peace after the war.

    We were on course to do the same with our peace-building in Iraq. But Obama is no Ike, and due to Obama's bungling, the US failed to stay the course in Iraq.

    The Countersinsurgency "surge" succeeded in Iraq. By the end of the Iraq mission, soldiers serving in Iraq were reporting the mission had become relatively routine, even boring. Iraq looked like it was firmly on a trajectory like South Korea's. But we left Iraq prematurely. In the end, we were only in Iraq for 8 years total, far short of what was needed of US presence to stand up the nations we occupied in Asia and Europe after WW2.

    From a liberal perspective, Bush got it right with Iraq in the tradition of FDR and Truman in WW2 and Korea. Obama inherited a winning hand in Iraq. He only needed to follow historical precedent and stay the course. Don't blame the neocons. What's happening in Iraq now is Obama's fault because he went against the neocons and thus squandered and wasted his presidential inheritance that had been hard won under Bush.

  2. Add:
    "Upon reflection, I guess the whole idea of invading Iraq was to waste American money and lives, because it sure doesn't seem to have had anything to do with destroying any of our actual enemies. Actually, maybe it was done in order to create and organize new enemies for us. Yes, that must be it, because if so, it has succeeded with flying colors."

    Operation Iraqi Freedom was a disaster for our enemies, Saddam and then al Qaeda. Iraq is where Sunni Muslims in Islam's heartland chose to side with the Americans and fight against the terrorists, which was pretty much the terrorists' nightmare scenario.

    The terrorists in Iraq were decimated by combined US-Iraqi forces. We defeated the terrorists in Iraq under Bush. With US leadership, the Arab Spring could and should have finished them off. But Obama ended Bush's US leadership in the region, and opened the way for the terrorists to retake the initiative in the Arab Spring, in Syria, and now Iraq.

    Obama's decision to change course from Bush was like fighting cancer successfully, yet stopping the therapy prematurely while the cancer is in remission, but not yet cured.

    As Richard Engel discussed in his article,, the key to defeating the terrorists in their home has been US presence on the ground, as employed under Bush. But Obama stopped that successful strategy and the enemy has resurged in the gap.

    Engel argues that wherever America has committed US forces on the ground in the War on Terror, such as Iraq, al Qaeda has been hurt and degraded. However, American absence allows openings for al Qaeda to make inroads with the anti-government forces, such as the tactics al Qaeda has employed in the Syrian civil war and expanded into Iraq.