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The Flag of the World

-G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

This here blog is a glimpse or two or three at the condition of the 'fortress of our family' through the eyes Timothy Goddard, a Christian writer with an unhealthy interest in politics living in the Puget Sound area.

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Thursday, May 06, 2004

 

Remembering the goal in Falluja
When I first read about the plan for US Marines to pull back from Falluja and to be replaced by a new Iraqi force, I considered the move spectacularly brilliant--Marines would stop getting killed, it would remove any impetus to fight from the insurgents, and it would speed the process of turning Iraq over to Iraqis--which is, as I recall, the goal. But I was unclear on specifics of the plan, though, so I held off commenting. Then came waves of criticism from the right side of the punditosphere, and much obviously overwrought wailing and gnashing of teeth. This, from Tacitus, for example:
We are beaten, and we are beaten because our President has ordered us beaten. As you read this, United States Marines, undefeated in actual combat, are quitting the field of battle in the face of an enemy that celebrates, gloats, and kills them still. As you read this, a Ba'athist general in a Ba'athist uniform reigns over a city rife with Ba'athist killers in the Sunni heartland. As you read this, rebellious Fallujah is "policed" by men from rebellious Fallujah. As you read this, the murderers and mutilators of Fallujah go definitively unfound and unpunished. As you read this, General Abizaid sheepishly acknowledges that yes, they'll still find all the jihadis in Fallujah -- they just might not find them in Fallujah.
So, I held off for a while longer, wondering what would happen. As Orrin Judd notes,
One function of the 24-hour news cycle is that pretty much every day offers an opportunity for the labile to make fools of themselves by declaring that an isolated incident or situation portends the sky's fall.
He points to this article, which paints a much rosier picture of Falluja than we are used to seeing:
As this Iraqi front line quiets down - there hasn't been any shooting in Fallujah in days - the payout is part of a concerted American strategy to shift away from war, and to resume the campaign to win hearts and minds. Indeed, perceptions that Iraq is a nation spiraling out of US control began to change this week...in Fallujah, the Iraqi general entrusted with pacifying the city said Thursday that US Marines must withdraw quickly so that stability can be restored. "If they stay it will hurt the confidence, and we have built confidence. They should leave so that there will be more calm," General Muhammad Latif told Reuters.
Sounds good to me. And the Christian Science Monitor is not the only news organization taking note: even the BBC is pointing out the order being restored:
A new Iraqi military force taking control of the restive city of Falluja is beginning to restore order, a senior US marine officer has said.
The all-Iraqi force has begun moving into positions vacated by withdrawing US marines.

The move comes under an agreement reached after a month-long US siege of the predominantly Sunni Muslim city.

US Marine Col John Coleman said: "There is a percentage of the city where normalcy has returned."
I don't understand the arguments that this is a fiasco, and I didn't even before things started turning around. What's the goal of "pacifying" Falluja? Near as I can tell, to ensure that it will be under Iraqi control once the new government comes to power. We're not doing this to "win," to get revenge or anything like that. We're doing this to ensure that Iraq is peaceful onec we leave. If we can get this by installing a miniature version of the Iraqi army in Falluja, then all the better. We're not "giving up." We're completing the mission. We came to Iraq to give it back to Iraqis, and that's exactly what we're doing. But what about the argument that we're handing the city over to a Baathist? After all, he was one of Saddam's generals, right?

Well, yes. And no. As the BBC article gets around to mentioning halfway through the article, Latif was imprisoned by Saddam.

We'll see how things turn out, but so far the strategy seems to be working. Remember, the goal is a stable, democratic Iraq. Anything that gets us closer to that is a good thing, even if our enemies seem to think that it's working in their favor.
Agree, disagree, have more information on the topic? Please, feel free to leave a comment. No profanity!
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