Friday, April 02, 2004

The lessons of Fallujah 

A very good article from Robert Alt, who reports from Iraq in the aftermath of the bloody incident in Fallujah, where four American civilian contractors were killed by the Iraqi insurgents.

Writes Alt: “The difficulty in solving the problem in Fallujah is profound. Those who commit violent acts must be dealt with in the most serious manner. I fear that the Western media is already showing squeamishness about the use of force by Marines, but they would do well to remember that Iraqis generally subscribe to a philosophy that respects strength, and not weakness. Failing to respond to the violence therefore would invite still more violence, not less.”

And: “Because of turbulent areas such as Fallujah and the random acts of terrorism throughout the country, Iraq is still a very dangerous place. But these dangers, though serious, are not statistically representative of the views of the Iraqi people. A major goal of the terrorists and the small enclaves of Saddam supporters is to use dramatic attacks such as the one in Fallujah to garner media attention, and thereby to skew public perception concerning Iraqi sentiment and the progress of the transition. But the view on the street — the view of the average Iraqi enjoying his first taste of freedom — is one of hope and promise.”

Let us continue to bear in mind that good news is no – or at least very rarely – news, and as Alt notes, we should not allow the tragedies like the one in Fallujah, or indeed the continuing casualties suffered by the US military, to overshadow the progress being made every day and in every way in Iraq (I’ll write more about that soon).

Similarly, let us remember that – just like flying planes into skyscrapers or strapping barely pubescent teenagers with explosives and sending them off into pizzerias –actions in Fallujah are designed to give the terrorists the biggest bang for their buck. Burning, mutilating and finally hanging corpses from bridges is precisely meant to cause the maximum jitters and second thoughts. If the war on terror has any lesson so far, it is that it cannot; we must not allow the leftover Saddamite scum in the Sunni Triangle to make their own “Black Hawk Down” sequel.

Speaking of history and lessons of the war on terror, you can always trust Ann Coulter not to hold any punches.

But for now, I’m starting a collection to raise money for enough barbed wire to completely surround Fallujah. You might have seen in the papers the photo of a local insurgent sympathiser proudly holding up a piece of paper that reads “Fallujah – the cemetery of the Americans.” Mate, I’ve been to American military cemeteries – they’re beautiful, peaceful and well maintained. You should be so lucky if your town was anything like that.


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