Fallujah news conference

Over at National Review Online, W. Thomas Smith Jr. has a transcript of a press conference in Fallujah. The participants: Iraqi Gen. Mohammed Latif, commander of the Fallujah Brigade, Fallujah Mayor Muhammed Ibrahim al-Juraissey, and Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis, commanding general of the 1st Marine Division. Near the end, Gen. Mattis addresses the supposed “wedding” that our forces attacked recently.

Fallujah’s quiet, but is it pacified?

I recently complained about the apparent SNAFU in Fallujah. Now, Citizen Smash is saying we just won the battle for the hearts and minds of Fallujah’s citizens, because an Iraqi general we sent there to take over a 1,500-man Iraqi brigade stood up in a town meeting and defended our troops.

On Sunday, Marines of the 1st Battalion, 5th Regiment provided security for the gathering in Kharma.
[Retired Maj. Gen. Mohammed] Abdul-Latif, 66, a native of Baghdad, urged the elders to talk freely, citing the Muslim holy book, the Quran.

“We can make them (Americans) use their rifles against us or we can make them build our country, it’s your choice,” Latif told a gathering of more than 40 sheiks, city council members and imams …

“Speak freely, Ali … and try not to stare at the nice men with guns.”
No disrespect to Smash, but it seems too early to claim victory.
I’m the furthest thing from an expert on counterinsurgency tactics, but couldn’t this just be a case of scared locals biting their tongues in the presence of a former Ba’athist general spouting off, while a cordon of Marines remains strung ’round the city?

Aftermath of the Nick Berg video

The Nick Berg tsunami is receding here. My traffic is back down in the neighborhood of 3,000 visits per day. Now what?
A few days ago, I speculated that the huge online demand for the Nick Berg video signaled that Americans have snapped out of their torpor and have remembered who we’re fighting and why it’s critical that we win. Looking back, I think I was being optimistic.
The big media continue to downplay the Nick Berg story (except for his father’s bizarre anti-Bush statements) in favor of the abuses at Abu Ghraib. The demand for the video has dropped sharply. I don’t hear politicians talking about Nick Berg. Conclusion: even though lots of people have seen or heard Nick’s murder by Islamists, not enough of us care enough to contact our politicians or our local newspapers to demand that our leaders wake up and start helping the war effort. Liberal politicians and their enablers in the major media will pounce on anything that paints George Bush in a bad light, but if a news item is likely to help Bush or support his policies and arguments, it doesn’t get covered.
Today, we have confirmation of Sarin and Mustard Gas in the hands of terrorists. Again. Will this be shunted aside in a day or two? I’m betting it will.

UPDATE: Sgt. Stryker thinks the Nick Berg traffic tsunami and the disappearance of the Nick Berg story from the mainstream media aren’t as significant as we right-wing bloggers think. The Nick Berg story’s over, you see, and the Abu Ghraib story continues with courts-martial and Congressional investigations. No bias here, folks, move along.
Uh huh.
Stryker also ascribes our interest in the differing coverage of the Abu Ghraib and Nick Berg stories to an overwhelming urge to view everything through the prism of “how it affects President Bush’s re-election”:

See, not everything is about Bush and the War, although like the “Anybody But Bush” crowd, the Right has lost the ability to perceive any information outside the context of Bush. Facts either hurt Bush or help him. The Left magnifies those things that they believe hurt Bush’s chance at re-election, and the Right does the opposite. The Abu Ghraib scandal is a prime example. Almost immediately, most on the Right began the type of equivocation common to the Left since 9/11. Now with the Nick Berg story, they can downplay Abu Ghraib and focus on something that they think supports Bush. This has nothing to do with principle, what’s right, or even what’s actually going on. It’s about politics. It’s about keeping Bush in office or trying to kick him out.

I’m not buying Stryker’s explanation. I might post something on this later, if his theory gets enough traction.
UPDATE 2: For information on the beheading of Paul Johnson … click.

Islamists love to chop heads

Nick Berg’s slaughter by decapitation was not unusual for the Religion of Peace™:

Berg is, of course, not the first to be murdered in such a gruesome manner. Nor, alas, is he likely to be the last. For the cutting of heads (in Arabic, qata al-raas) has been the favorite form of Islamist execution for more than 14 centuries.
In the famous battles of early Islam, with the Prophet personally in command of the army of believers, the heads of enemy generals and soldiers were often cut off and put on sticks to be shown around villages and towns as a warning to potential adversaries.

UPDATE: Here’s a case in point.

Nick Berg video: a wake-up call

As news of Nick Berg’s horrifying decapitation by Islamists reaches more and more Americans, I detect a shift in attitude. Radio commentators like Rush Limbaugh, Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Prager, Sean Hannity, and others have been quietly irate today, and their callers are voicing fury at the entire Middle East. Newspapers are joining the call. For the first time in my memory, ordinary people are mentioning nuclear weapons as a possible response to the Islamist cancer infecting the world … and they’re not throwing in many caveats about protecting civilians and avoiding collateral damage.
That’s sobering.
I don’t think for a minute that President Bush is anywhere near considering the use of nukes in this war, thank God. But I think America is getting her back up again, with a seriousness not seen since 9/11. Average Americans have just seen an innocent countryman get his head sawed off by hooded Islamist goons, despite our media’s reluctance to show any footage that paints Islam in an unflattering light. Combine that with our media’s eagerness to splash pictures of the abuses at Abu Ghraib committed by a small segment of our soldiers, and the Democrats’ and leftists’ grandstanding accusations about our moral shortcomings being equivalent to the enemy’s calculated evil … well, the average American is quickly getting fed up.
Fed up with our delay in finishing this fight.
Americans are awake again. We’re again reminded of who we’re fighting and why, and we’re again getting a grip on what’s at stake. Lileks sums it up nicely:

Hugh Hewitt asked the big question tonight: of the world’s billion-plus Muslims, how many support the butchers who hacked the head off the Pennsylvania contractor? One percent? Ten? Either number stands for a lot of people. I was walking Jasper Dog while listening to the show, and a few thoughts popped up.
There are five reactions one could have to such acts, committed by a coreligionist: Endorsement, Indifference, Denial, Rejection, Participation.
Denial: I’m sure you’ve heard this before: “Islam is a religion of peace.” But those people committed horrible violence in the name of Islam. “Then they are not true Muslims. No Muslim could do this.” Rinse, repeat. It’s the theological equivalent of putting your hands over your ears and humming loudly.
Rejection: This would be speaking out singly or in concert with fellow Muslims, denouncing the acts without making the entire peroration an elaborate plinth on which to place the word “BUT.”
Indifference: I’m a Muslim in Indonesia. I work in a bank. I’m not particularly devout. I like a beer on a hot day, and you know what? They’re all hot days. Some guys slit someone’s throat in Iraq. I think that’s wrong and I think that’s stupid. And what do you expect me to do about it?
Endorsement: I’m not sure what constitutes endorsement — silent pleasure among others not of the faith, chortling delight when you’re with friends. Or perhaps nothing more than thanking Allah when you hear certain things have been done in Allah’s name, and never acting or speaking a way that supports the jihadist’s cause.
Participation. It’s obvious what this means.
Here’s the crux: of these five aspects, four assist the jihadists in one form or another, and the fifth — Rejection — all too often takes a passive form. Hugh had a Somali Muslim on his show from Minneapolis; they spoke for almost 40 minutes, and the guy’s heart was in the right place. He sounded like a decent fellow. He said the Imam of his mosque regularly preached against the nutball Islamists. One hundred million more like him, please. But where are the rallies and marches outside the Saudi embassies demanding an end to funding extremism?

The Islamists have made a terrible mistake. They’ve again begun to unite us in revulsion for their savage and primitive aims, and they’ve underestimated the West’s will to respond with terrifying violence. Some on the other side are beginning to realize they’ve overreached, but I’m starting to think it’s too late to extinguish our anger.
The Islamists stuck their necks out by gambling on our reputation for self-restraint, and it’s high time we decapitate them.

UPDATE: For information on the beheading of Paul Johnson … click.

Forced evolution in the war of ideas

Hat tip: Whomping Willow
Bill at INDC Journal understands the stakes in our battle with the Islamofascists:

The mid-term survival of the United States is dependent upon pressing our advantage and changing the world while we still have overwhelming economic and military dominance, which takes more than a few years’ patience. This paradigm will shift drastically within this century, perhaps within a generation or two, as innovation lowers the boundaries to terribly destructive technology. At that point, it’s likely that the world may be doomed anyway, but literally our only hope may be the previously forced evolution of most corners of the earth towards pluralistic, democratic societies that will naturally marginalize extreme elements.
If you were horrified by what that small group of men did with a knife and a video camera, ponder what they yearn to do with highly efficient chemical agents, nuclear material or future nanotechnology. There is no exit strategy in Iraq, merely victory or defeat in the first or second round of a lifelong, messy epic battle — civilization vs. those that wish to destroy it. It’s going to be ugly, it’s going to involve defeats and it will not be politically expedient. Pick sides and fight, feel free to examine and question tactics, but don’t for a second think that ignoring the war or withdrawing from individual battles will make its consequences disappear. Our political leadership needs to refocus the American electorate on the gravity of this struggle and the sacrifice that it demands, for the only thing that can defeat us at this stage of the game is flagging political will.

The forced evolution of the Middle East is exactly what we must achieve to survive. I’ve said before that it’s too late to tuck tail and run, even if we wanted to. If we pull back and put our trust in anyone but ourselves, the Islamofascists will get their hands on technology that will level the military playing field. They’ve already plotted a chemical attack in Jordan that could have killed 80,000 people if they had not been found out. We have the military advantage now, and we must exploit it while it lasts. We are nearly out of time to keep this a conventional, non-WMD fight.
From the point of view of these savages, the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib is a wonderful propaganda tool, a handy excuse that they know they can use to hoodwink the western leftists in the media and in the Democrat Party (led by Teddy Kennedy). The enemy can’t defeat us; only we can defeat ourselves. They are counting on that to give them the time they so desperately need.
The abuse at Abu Ghraib was a great moral wrong, so we’ve admitted it, apologized, and we’re working to prevent a repeat. We are not a perfect country, but we’re still the last best hope of civilization. We can’t allow our dismay over our faults to weaken our resolve in the face of a brutal horde intent on slaughtering us.
Face the facts. The Islamists will not stop until we kill them all. They’ve been coming after us for decades now, and they don’t respond to negotiation and goodwill and warm fuzzy thoughts. They. Want. Us. DEAD.
Now’s not the time to go wobbly. It’s time for us to buck up and get back to fighting the enemy, not ourselves.

Fallujahgrad, or just a skirmish?

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.

VDH on the War: “Finish It Or Forget It”

All I can say to this

But there is a law and a way to war over the ages that are unfortunately immutable, given that human nature is constant across time and space: namely that peace follows only from the defeat and humiliation of the culpable, not from magnanimity granted to impotent but still proud enemies.

A general rule then: once armed combatants enter mosques for sanctuary, the United States military must declare that such shrines are immediately no longer holy sites, and then allow 48 hours for Islamic clergy to remove such killers before it does it for them.

Apparently someone in the present administration thinks by waging war-Lite that it can split the difference with Mr. Kerry and win the election. That is fallacious in terms of military strategy, politics, and morality. We can defeat our enemies only by articulating what we stand for and why we are going to win the war. We have the force and imagination to succeed on the battlefield and the American people will accept sacrifices for victory. But they will�and should�turn on any leader who doesn’t fight to win and thereby ensures that we will all pay a far higher price for defeat than we would have for victory.
So let us marshal the troops and will to take Fallujah, clean up the Sunni Triangle, eliminate the militias of Mr. Sadr, demonstrate to the Iranians and Syrians that a number of their sites they don’t want touched may soon go up in smoke, and begin to fight this war as if we wished to win�or simply quit and unleash instead Mssrs Kerry, Kennedy, Clinton, Dean, Gore, and Carter to bring us home and apologize to the Middle East.

… is “Amen.”