Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.

Freedom's Fidelity

Monday, April 05, 2004

Fallujah Fallout

My first reaction to the atrocities committed in Fallujah last week was that we should drop a few daisy cutters on that city. My second reaction was that we should pull out of Iraq and let them figure it out for themselves. Both are wrong. That is exactly what the perpetrators were hoping for. With Mogadishu in mind this seems like it was a made for TV event. That is why cameraman from Al-Jazeera were there to capture it on tape, and that is why the corpses were beaten, dragged through the streets and finally hung from a bridge. They were bait.

It was the early 90's that 18 U.S. soldiers in Somalia were killed and some dragged through the streets. It was enough to make us pullout and we are still paying for that decision. It was that experience in Mogadishu that discouraged us from intervening to stop genocide in Rwanda a few years later and gave further credence to the theory that, if a few casualties were inflicted, America would cut and run. These events, along with our lack of response to the USS Cole, African Embassy Bombing, and Khobar Towers attacks, were key ingredients to bin-Laden's (mis) calculation that our response to 9/11 would be to drop to our knees and try to understand "why they hate us."

As happened in Somalia, the beasts of Fallujah were hoping that U.S. forces would come rushing in to retrieve the bodies and exact retribution, where further ambushes set up by the enemy were waiting. Last months the Islamists tried stoking tensions between the Shiites and Sunnis, but the Shiites called for restraint. As Steven Den Beste has noted, the strategic goal of terrorism is to provoke reprisals. In this case, reprisals that lead to mass civilian casualties for Al-Jazeera to broadcast to the Arab world. Reprisals that would make the Sunnis of the area feel that they have no part in the new Iraq. Not taking the bait, there was again calls for restraint and patience:
"We are not going to do a pell-mell rush into the city," [Brig. Gen. Mark] Kimmitt said. "It will be at a time and a place of our choosing. It will be methodical. It will be precise and it will be overwhelming."

It looks like that time is now:
FALLUJAH, Iraq -- Hundreds of U.S. and Iraqi troops in tanks, trucks and other vehicles surrounded the turbulent city of Fallujah on Monday ahead of a major operation against insurgents following the grisly slayings of four American security contractors last week.

Explosions and gunfire could be heard coming from the center of the city. Streets on the outskirts were largely deserted.

A liberal democracy in Iraq would be a catastrophe for the Islamic fundamentalists. It's 90 days and counting until power is turned over to the Iraqis. When that happens it will be a lot harder for terrorist groups to stage attacks in Iraq that kill Iraqis and still hide under the guise of fighting the occupiers. This is a critical time for all involved.

Update:(via InstaPundit) Blackhawk Down author, Mark Bowden writes:
It is a mistake to conclude that those committing such acts represent a majority of the community. Just the opposite is true. Lynching is most often an effort to frighten and sway a more sensible, decent mainstream. In Marion it was the Ku Klux Klan, in Mogadishu it was Aidid loyalists, in Fallujah it is either diehard Saddamites or Islamo-fascists.

The worst answer the U.S. can make to such a message--which is precisely what we did in Mogadishu--is back down. By most indications, Aidid's supporters were decimated and demoralized the day after the Battle of Mogadishu. Some, appalled by the indecency of their countrymen, were certain the U.S. would violently respond to such an insult and challenge. They contacted U.N. authorities offering to negotiate, or simply packed their things and fled. These are the ones who miscalculated. Instead the U.S. did nothing, effectively abandoning the field to Aidid and his henchmen. Somalia today remains a nation struggling in anarchy, and the America-haters around the world learned what they thought was a essential truth about the United States: Kill a few Americans and the most powerful nation on Earth will run away. This, in a nutshell, is the strategy of Osama bin Laden.

...The response should not be to back away from the task, but to redouble our efforts.
Which means recognizing that the gory carnival on the streets of Fallujah is not evidence of the mission's futility, nor is it something to chalk up to foreign barbarity. It was deliberate and it must be answered deliberately. The lynching of African-Americans would have ended decades earlier if authorities had rounded up and punished those participating in crimes like the one in Marion. Somalia would be a vastly different place today if the U.S. and U.N. had not backed away in horror from the shocking display in Mogadishu.
Like his book, this article is well worth the read.


                                                                                                                                                                             Meter Weblog Commenting and Trackback by This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?