OK, what gives? Yesterday, the news is something along the lines of “Marines withdraw from Fallujah, former Republican Guard general takes over.” One story had things deteriorating thusly:
Cries of “victory over the Americans” echoed from minarets and guerrilla gunmen celebrated in the streets under the green banner of Islam and Saddam-era Iraqi flags. Thousands who had fled a month of heavy fighting streamed back to their homes after U.S. Marines pulled back from their siege positions.
“The city’s defenders are celebrating,” yelled one man as a group of gunmen in civilian clothes raised green banners and rifles aloft on a street to acclaim the “defeat” of the Marines.
“God has given this town victory over the Americans,” wailed a message from one mosque. “This victory came by the acts of the brave Mujahideen of Falluja who vanquished the American troops.”
Today, we have senior American generals saying “Nope, we’re not retreating … and by the way, that Republican Guard fella ain’t in charge o’ nuthin’!” Here’s some of what General Myers said:
Myers said, “We want Iraqis to do this work, and this is a microcosm of what we want to happen all over Iraq.”
He said the original objectives in Fallujah remained:
— “Deal with the extremists, the foreign fighters.”
— “Get rid of the heavy weapons out of Fallujah.”
— “Find the folks who perpetrated the Blackwater atrocities.”
“The reports that the Marines have pulled back, not true. The Marines are still where they’ve been,” Myers said. “The Marines are prepared to follow through on this action if they have to.”
But, he said, “We think this is far preferable than the U.S. going in there in a very major combat operation to achieve those objectives. If we can do it with Iraqis, that is preferable.”
Alright then, which is it? Are the Marines pulling back, or not? Are we rounding up the thugs in Fallujah, or not? Are wobbly politicians and their advisors holding back our forces, or not? Are we going to trust our local “allies” to do our work for us, or not? Is this battle the “whatever it takes” fulcrum of our war in Iraq (like Stalingrad), or not?
One thing’s certain: we don’t look decisive, unified, focused, and in control. Over in Islamofascist Kookburgerland, that gets interpreted as weakness (think of Osama’s “strong horse/weak horse” quote), which encourages more attacks. Flattening Fallujah now may very well save lives in the long run by convincing our enemies not to turn every other town into a Fallujah-like fortress. I prefer one Fallujah now over twenty Fallujahs next year.
Somebody get a grip on what we’re doing, and get it quick.