September 21, 2004

Juan Cole Is Shrill

Juan Cole is terrified that the U.S. military will level the al-Anbar cities after the first Tuesday in November:

Informed Comment : 09/01/2004 - 09/30/2004: There are bad characters in those al-Anbar cities, without any doubt. There are persons responsible for the massive bombs that killed Kurds last winter and Shiites during Muharram rituals last spring. There are old-time Baath fascists and there are Sunni fundamentalists with a mindset not much different from that of al-Qaeda.... I don't doubt that finding ways to combat them or convince them to turn to civil politics is crucial to the future of Iraq.

But for the US military to frontally invade those cities, inevitably killing large numbers of innocent civilians, and potentially pushing even more of their inhabitants into joining the guerrilla war will not be without a political cost. During the US siege of Fallujah last April, several key Iraqi politicians resigned or threatened to, and even the Shiites of Kazimiyah (who ordinarily despise Sunni fundamentalists) sent them truckloads of aid. Even Coalition Provisional Authority polling that May found that Iraqi politicians who opposed the US action and attempted to negotiate an end to it had become national figures with high favoribility ratings.... Razing Fallujah will not earn the US any good will with the Sunni Muslim clerics.

What does McCain think the election would look like, with Ramadi, Fallujah and other Sunni cities reduced to rubble? Does he think the sullen Sunni Arabs will actually just jump on a US bandwagon in the wake of such brutality? Does he have any idea of the sheer number of feuds that will have been incurred with the Sunni tribes? Some much more subtle and effective form of counter-insurgency strategy is necessary....

But what if there is no such "more subtle and effective form of counter-insurgency strategy"? What if McCain and others convince themselves that there is no way to convince Sunni fundamentalists to turn to civil politics? Then what? McCain would say that the "then what" is to make sure everybody knows that *if* your city shelters the likes of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, then there is a good chance that your relatives will die and your neighborhoods turned into rubble when the Marines come through to get Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi and company.

The people of Fallujah have, I believe, a much larger stake in figuring out how to get Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi and company out of Fallujah than the U.S. Marines do.

Posted by DeLong at September 21, 2004 05:35 PM | TrackBack
Comments

I don't know what planet you are on, but the problem isn't the people of Falluja, it's the US invasion of another country, which has precisely created the present conditions. Didn't you ever hear of cause and effect in grad school?

Posted by: Dick Fitzgerald at September 21, 2004 05:42 PM

One of the natural consequences of the Likudnikation of our War on Terror (see current TNR) - if you can't punish the pertrators, punish their friends and families, because there's only a finite number of terrorists.

aka we had to destroy the village to save it. Nope, no Vietnam parallels there. Move it along, folks...

Posted by: Adam at September 21, 2004 05:45 PM

OK, and if someone in the city of Oakland shelters Al-Zarqawi I should accept it as my penance for not smoking him out that my family will die and my neighborhood will be turned into rubble? What Franz Kafka world are we living in?

Posted by: ogmb at September 21, 2004 06:09 PM

43 days left.

The situation in Messopotamia - I mean Iraq ... is despicable - this war was and is illegal.

1000+ US DEAD
7000+ US INJURED
~20,000 IRAQIS DEAD
??? IRAQIS INJURED

Oh, and where are the WMDs?!

W = WORST PRESIDENT EVER

Posted by: Bing Bing at September 21, 2004 06:21 PM

Leaving aside the moral implications for now, what evidence in history is there that collective punishments work.

"They create a desolation and call it peace" is not an effective strategy in the age of Al Jazeera.

The international outrage and even, the evidence that Brad has drank the Kool-aid notwithstanding, the ability to get through the thick skulls in america will be reached before enough massacres occur to deter the resistance. A country where 90% of the population is resisting is not 'turnable'.

I recommend reading this interview.

Excerpt

On 21 August, 2004 you addressed the 14th gathering of Pan-Arab National Youth and said the religious background of neocons in the US make them very interested in the security of Israel, which constitutes one of the main reasons for the decision to invade Iraq. Can you elaborate further?


Iraq's military and economic potential were among the main threats to the Zionist entity (Israel), especially after the failure of all attempts to incorporate it in the negotiations with Israel.



.

Of homeland, identity and occupation
By Ahmed Janabi

Thursday 09 September 2004, 19:22 Makka Time, 16:22 GMT


Hasib: The targets were Iraq's military and economic potential

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He is known as the father of pan-Arab nationalism: Khair al-Din Hasib, Iraqi by birth but a citizen of 22 Arab countries. He was detained for two years in Iraq during Saddam Hussein's presidency.


Hasib links the future of Palestine to Iraq, saying if Iraqis eventually succeed in driving the US-led occupation out, the existing centres of power in the region may get reshaped.

Hasib was interviewed in Doha. Excerpts:

Aljazeera.net: What is your evaluation of political life in post-Saddam Iraq?

Khair al-Din Hasib: The political process is still operated by the US occupation. Paul Bremer (former US administrator of Iraq) created the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC), and most of its members were brought to Iraq with the occupation forces.


The IGC gave birth to a government similar to it in nature. Even the Iraqi National Council was created the same way - that is, a majority of its member are collaborators with the occupier.

We saw how it was boycotted by most Iraqi nationalist and Islamic movements. That means any decision that does not get the approval of the occupiers will not get the approval of the council.

But reports say many things are have improved in Iraq. So what is wrong with accepting the new status quo?

US officials are very proud to say they have established some schools in Iraq. But were there no schools in Iraq before the occupation? Iraq was honoured by UNESCO in 1981 for being the first developing country to eliminate illiteracy.

Facts File

-Born on 1 August 1929
-BA (Economics and Commerce) Baghdad University, 1959
-PhD (National Income), Cambridge University
-1961-1965 Lecturer at Baghdad University
-1963-1965 Governor of Central Bank of Iraq
-1974-1975 chief of programme and coordination Unit of UN's economic commission for West Asia
-1981 to date Director-General of Arab Unity Studies Centre
-Publications: The National Income of Iraq 1961; Worker's participation in Managment in Arab countries 1971; and many more.

If we are going to talk about this, let me make this point; in 1991 US-led forces bombed Iraq for 42 days.

The level of destruction suffered by the infrastructure was three times the destruction done in 2003.

Yet everything was back to normal in just months. Why are Iraqis still suffering from shortage of electricity and pure drinking water after 18 moths of occupation?

On 21 August, 2004 you addressed the 14th gathering of Pan-Arab National Youth and said the religious background of neocons in the US make them very interested in the security of Israel, which constitutes one of the main reasons for the decision to invade Iraq. Can you elaborate further?


Iraq's military and economic potential were among the main threats to the Zionist entity (Israel), especially after the failure of all attempts to incorporate it in the negotiations with Israel.



Saadun Hammadi: Iraq's chief
diplomat in 1970s and early '80s

In 1975 the Iraqi ambassador to Paris hosted a secret meeting between Henry Kissinger and the then Iraqi Foreign Minister Saadun Hammadi. After some discussion Hammadi told Kissinger, "There is a deep problem between you and us (US and Iraq), which is the recognition of Israel. It is an unthinkable position for us."


I think that is why the US was keen not to only remove the Iraqi government from power, but to wipe out the Iraqi state and the Iraqi army, which fought all the Arab-Israeli wars (1948, 1967 and 1973) although Iraq has no borders with Israel.


The claim that oil was the motivation for the war on Iraq has been controversial. Do you think oil had anything to do with it?

The US is importing 55-60% of its oil needs, and the percentage is expected to reach 70% in 10 years. That means the US needs oil for its own use and as an economic card.

We should not forget that Europe does not follow the US as many think. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Europe is no longer in need of the US, and the US realises that.

In the eastern hemisphere we have China whose GDP (gross domestic product) is expected to overtake America's in the future.

Knowing that Europe and other big players are trying to book a place for themselves in tomorrow's world, the US is interested in disrupting oil flow to such huge competitive blocs.

I think it is vital for any power to control the world's most important resource - oil.


In the 20th century, Arab nationalists rallied around the idea of a pan-Arab state. Is that vision relevant today?

Obviously, the international scene has changed dramatically in the last 20 years.

The world is no longer comprised of two magnets as it was a few decades ago. It is heading towards massive strategic blocs - that is, European Union (EU) and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

I can say that individual states will not have a place in the future. Blocs of population less than 300 million people will not be accounted for, Arabs must realise that.


An anti-US demonstration in the
Sunni Muslim town of Falluja

How do you evaluate the ongoing resistance operations against the US-led forces in Iraq?

Wherever, whenever there is occupation, there will be resistance.

Iraqi resistance is very well organised, and part of it was planned by Saddam Hussein's government long before the war on Iraq.

Iraqi resistance includes all Iraqi parties and reports show they have a high evel of coordination.


As a veteran politician and thinker, what would you like to tell the people of Iraq?


I would like to say to them that they should differentiate between a government and a national homeland, and would like to tell them my story.

The Saddam government imprisoned me for more than two years, during which I suffered a lot. But when I was released I went to Beirut and undertook a psychological journey to get rid of all bad memories and feelings towards my country.

I have thus succeeded in preventing my painful experiences from affecting my nationalist sentiments.

link

Posted by: ed_finnerty at September 21, 2004 06:33 PM

Brad, remember Warsaw? The Nazis fought the Jews there for weeks and weeks and finally destroyed them and shipped the survivors to concentration camps to be "processed".

Then the next Warsaw uprising: again, the Nazis finally reduced it to ashes.

Then the Soviets did this to the Nazis.

Now, there are no Soviet military to turn the tables on us but just remember: history is a bitch and the people who live in empires always end up with rotted brains and corrupt morals.

So it is here. You can't help it. KILL ALL PEOPLE. Sieg heil.

Posted by: Elaine Supkis at September 21, 2004 06:51 PM

If the US abandons Iraq, it will likely have a terrible civil war and a lot of innocent people will perish. Even if the US stays there could still be a civil war. What would Juan Cole have us do? His vague statement: ”Some much more subtle and effective form of counter-insurgency strategy is necessary . . .” is not much of a prescription for action. One possibility is to let the country fly apart into three pieces, but this policy too is fraught with danger and uncertainty and will kill a lot of people. Remember the partition of the Indian subcontinent killed about a million people. Would he like to reinstall Saddam to power?

Posted by: A. Zarkov at September 21, 2004 07:05 PM

So what do you think the chances are that we will get the electricity working in Fallujah, then get the TV stations and internet service providers working and the radio stations and the newspapers. Then, maybe we'll have the outlets to disseminate the information to those who are about to die.

See, I'm sitting here safely in my electrically powered home/community/nation reading about how George W Lush plans to slaughter a bunch of people who somehow are supposed to know that it's their fault for 'harboring' a fanatic (who some might actually think is fighting FOR their best interests in driving out an unwanted invader intent on stealing their nation, their culture, their future, and their natural resources). So I KNOW what's coming.

Wouldn't it be just a little bit fair to give them an equal chance to acquire this special knowledge? Then all they have to do is evacuate their homes and go out into the waterless desert while we flatten their city. Then maybe we'll go the fuck home. While they die of exposure, disease, and thirst. Man, it's great to be a GODDAMN AMERICAN!

Posted by: bushwahd at September 21, 2004 07:24 PM

The subtle and effective form of counter insurgency is to not invade and occupy other people's countries.

Posted by: Emma Anne at September 21, 2004 07:28 PM

Brad> The people of Fallujah have, I believe, a much larger stake in figuring out how to get Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi and company out of Fallujah than the U.S. Marines do.

Oh come on, Brad— tell us what you really think! Why not go all out and observe that even the U.S.M.C. a bigger stake in figuring it out than the Strategic Air Command does? I have a friend who advocates launching what he calls "unrestricted submarine warfare" against Fallujah to crush the insurgents in al-Anbar province. He's not talking about SSN's. He's talking about SSBN's.

I'd have a lot more respect for people who advocate collective punishment of whole cities for harboring people like al-Zarqawi if they would be honest with me and say it with a straight face that what they really want to see is a warm glow from a mushroom cloud.

Posted by: s9 at September 21, 2004 07:47 PM

Brad has a point. The US Marines don't realise they have a stake in avoiding the destruction of iraqi cities. They naturally think of it as practice, and they want to learn how to destroy cities more effectively.

It's not that they're stupid, exactly. Focused. That's it. They're focused on accomplishing their missions. If you want the Marines not to destroy a city you need to tell them not to, don't depend on their political judgement.

We want the iraqi National Guard to participate when we destroy iraqi cities, but we have very few units we can trust to do that. In theory we should use kurdish troops to destroy sunni or shia cities, and sunni troops to destroy kurdish or shia cities, and shia troops to destroy kurdish or sunni cities. But the last I heard we tried to mix up the units so they wouldn't have sectarian loyalties. Maybe that's changed. And the cities often aren't all one sort of people either.

Why have the elections so quick? Here's one possibility. Once there's an elected government, that government can tell the US military to go away. Then we have a perfect excuse to cut and run. We aren't being cowards, Bush promised we'd leave if they asked us to and we're just keeping our word.

Why crush the resisting cities before we go? Because it would be harder to do it later. The more insurgents we kill the fewer the iraqi government will have to negotiate with later. Never mind about the cities, killing the people is the goal. Let insurgents slip away and they can take over a new city. Kill them all and it's all easier for Allawi -- assuming he can take the flak for not telling us to stop, or for telling us to stop and being ignored.

It doesn't much matter if we look like really bad guys in iraq if we're leaving. And when we're gone the iraqi army won't be taking our orders. They don't want to kill iraqis for us, but maybe they'd be just fine about killing iraqis for iraq.

As for our international standing, it's understood we have the most powerful army in the world when it comes to destroying armies. And we can destroy cities too. But what use is a destructive army if you never use it? The more brutal we are in iraq the more we show the world that we have no qualms about being brutal. That will get us a kind of respect everywhere.

If the people of Fallujah want to survive it makes sense they'd better do something. At a minimum get some of the women and children out of the city so somebody will be left.

This could be an opportunity for members of the GC. Say somebody asks the powers-that-be in Fallujah to provide safe-passage for election workers. Sure, they think it isn't legitimate but why not vote anyway? Get your own guy in, he can talk to the press about how it isn't legitimate. He can vote to send the US troops away. What do they have to lose, except the guys who go to Baghdad to join the puppet government?

So then if the IG agrees to let Fallujah have elections without conquering it first, what will the USA do?

Posted by: J Thomas at September 21, 2004 07:58 PM

But then, maybe this is just an election ploy for Bush.

Look at it this way: With the US military hunkered down not doing much, waiting for the elections to be over, we look weak. Bush looks weak. Casualty rates are going up even though we're trying to keep them down. It looks bad.

But if we get a lot of whispers about the awful things we're about to do after the election, then that makes Bush look strong. He isn't weak, he's just waiting for the election to be over. Then he'll do decisive things, strong things, things that really show the iraqis who's boss. Never mind that it's really stupid stuff that's being discussed. At least he can look strong and stupid instead of weak and stupid.

And he doesn't have to carry through. He hasn't promised to do it. It doesn't matter as much how strong he looks after the election, provided he looks strong and manly enough to win before it.

Posted by: J Thomas at September 21, 2004 08:04 PM

Putting aside the glib warning of annihilation in the good doctor’s post, is it not possible that unit commanders of U.S. ground and air forces will refuse to obey orders that they fear would result in war crimes? The U.S. military is not a Praetorian Guard loyal only to the president. Does Washington understand that if assigned the task of leveling Falluja and Ramadi, at least some fraction of the officers and troops will balk?

Posted by: MTC at September 21, 2004 08:12 PM

MTC:

Please cite precedents.

Posted by: ogmb at September 21, 2004 08:24 PM

If the US abandons Iraq, it will likely have a terrible civil war and a lot of innocent people will perish. Even if the US stays there could still be a civil war.

Yup - which is why the first Bush didn't invade Iraq after it was kicked out of Kuwait. There's a motto relevant here - "you broke it, you bought it".

Of course, Bush Jrs answer to this problem will probably be to invade Iran...

Posted by: Phoenician in a time of Romans at September 21, 2004 08:46 PM

What a bunch of bull shit, destruction of cities for harboring, etc, etc and blah, blah ,blah.

Who among the commentors here would even have the cajones to turn in the neighborhood drug dealer if some sort of tete a tete with the dealer (or his pals) might result?

And you even know the drug dealer is a bad guy - selling to children - and not of your background and all that, right?

But the people of Fallujah are going to give up Al Zarqawi because a bunch of pink faced crusading infidels are threatening their lives if they don't.

Yes really, Brad, what planet do you live on?

Obviously one where honor, nationalism, and principle have been replaced by the methane released from so many bantering academics.

Get real.

Posted by: avedis at September 21, 2004 09:00 PM


Prof. de Long....thought you were among the more sensible bloggers....the egregious nature of this post disappoints me....are you seriously approving of a policy of mass reprisal?

Posted by: venky at September 21, 2004 09:51 PM

Follow the logic of deterrence and nuke the entire city. That'll teach 'em for being invaded.

Posted by: withheld at September 21, 2004 09:58 PM

ogmb writes:

“MTC

Please cite precedents”


A reasonable request…in a more just and fearless world. Boggle the mind it would that anyone in the DOD would or could produce a “Complete List of Unlawful and Potentially Unlawful Orders Refused by Active Duty Service Members, National Guard and Reserves, in Accordance with Article 92 of the Universal Code of Military Justice and Section 801 of the Manual for Courts-Martial, with Statistical Analyses.”

Posted by: MTC at September 21, 2004 10:23 PM

Yeah. And the people of Fallujah could fail just like the people of Warsaw failed before them. Too bad for such failures but it's really their fault for being irresponsible.

Posted by: kaleidescope at September 21, 2004 10:34 PM

Is killing the innocent civilians of Fallujah for harboring terrorist Al-Zarqawi really any different from killing the innocent civilians of New York City because they are in a country that supports state terrorism in Palestine?

Just asking

Posted by: CalDem at September 21, 2004 11:00 PM

Just replying...
And so that action of killing innocent civilians in New York City should serve as a model for our conduct in Iraq?

Posted by: calmo at September 22, 2004 12:48 AM

"The people of Fallujah have, I believe, a much larger stake in figuring out how to get Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi and company out of Fallujah than the U.S. Marines do."

Do you really mean this or has your site been hacked by Freepers? What about the souls of the Marines and their commanders?

I knew Trasymachus featured a lot in your dialogues but the implicit belief that "might is right" is still shocking.

Posted by: Jack at September 22, 2004 01:28 AM

Brad, did you eat something bad today??? You seem to imply that threatening people is the best way to make sure they comply with US demands. I don't think this is the best way to win hearts and minds, so to speak.
Re: options for military intervention in Falluja and other Iraqi cities, there is an excellent article (unfortunately in Italian) on Italy's leading daily by the former NATO chief in Kosovo, General Fabio Mini (http://www.corriere.it/edicola/index.jsp?path=PRIMA_PAGINA&doc=MINI)
In summary the articles reads:
1)the Doctrine for Joint Urban Operations which is the tactical guide for military operations in urban areas developed by the US military is not applicable in Iraq as it has among its pre-conditions the support of the local population and local Government with its troops and information services, as well as access to enough intelligence to be able to individuate clearly who is an enemy combatant and who is not. In Iraq all these conditions are not met so urban operations are v. v. risky at best, a nighmare at worst, even without considering the political implications.
2) General Mini also notes that currently the line between moderates and fanatics in Iraq is blurred and most of the time the formers are the fathers of the latters, so killing the fanatics simply pushes more moderates into the wrong camp.
3) The solutions suggested by the general are not fast nor easy, they entail rebuilding credibility with the locals and regaing all the political capital that was wasted since Sadddam's fall. Without these two any military victory will be hard won and short lasting, creating even more resentment among the locals.

Unfortunately, I may add, the US administration is looking for quick solutions that neatly fit into their electoral schedule but that is no way to run a war, let alone a civil one.

Posted by: Manfredi at September 22, 2004 01:54 AM

The people of Fallujah have, I believe, a much larger stake in figuring out how to get Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi and company out of Fallujah than the U.S. Marines do.

In the short term, and if the 'wisdom' of saving a village by destroying it becomes widely accepted, yes. But in the long term, I think the people of the US have a much larger stake in the issue than even the people of Fallujah. If it is this simple to argue that the people of Fallujah bear a responsibility for a terrorist hiding out in their city, then it is even easier to argue that the people of the US bear a responsibility for electing such a blood-thirsty government.

And how are you ever going to figure out a 'more subtle and effective form of counter-insurgency strategy' if you have already started placing the responsibility for the mass reprisal on the citizens of Fallujah? You ask what if McCain and the others convince themselves that this is the only way. Well, the answer is that we expect Delong and others to convince them that the idea is not only morally wrong but politically ruinous. At least if the US is still serious about combating terrorism and making itself safer.

Posted by: Ritu at September 22, 2004 02:14 AM

One thing none of you even questions is the notion that Zarqawi is the heart of our Falluja problem.

In fact, while there probably are foreign fighters there, family and tribal issues are probably more important. 10 people were killed by US troops during a protest there way back in April 2003, and more than a thousand have died since April of this year. There is no shortage of Fallujans looking for revenge.

They already believe that we were forced out this spring, and are unlikely to be impressed by threats this time around. And why should they? Even assuming that the Marines are willing to pursue Hama/Grozny tactics, the inevitable result would be to lose the rest of Iraq in the process.

Zarkov asks "What would Juan Cole have us do"? 'Not invade Iraq' is the only possible answer. It's too late for that, and it's far too late for any non-catastrophic outcome.

Oh, and Brad... -You weren't serious, were you?

Posted by: Dave L at September 22, 2004 04:24 AM

And when Zarqawi, smiling, flees the rubble of Fallujah?

And what about the thousands of yet unradicalized Iraqis and other Muslims who will subsequently decide to spill American blood? Al-Qaeda cells will become as ubiquitous as boy scout troops if we pursue a policy of collective punishment.

And not to be rude, but is it correct to assume you haven't personally killed anybody in your lifetime, Mr. DeLong? Let's not forget the psychological devastation of many soldiers who will have committed gratuitous, counterproductive and immoral mass murder at their government's command. May I suggest we all take a moment to pray for them and their future tortured memories.

___

Guerrilla wars are unwinnable with frontal assaults from foreign occupiers, period. Indiscriminate retaliation is the road to hell, massacres and the multiplication of committed guerrillas.

Osama must be ecstatic. He's pimped Bush perfectly. And, apparently, he's even seducing intelligent Americans into thinking that a policy of massive collective punishment will advance our goals, rather than his. Remarkable.

Posted by: Tim B. at September 22, 2004 04:29 AM

I was gonna jump in Brad's shit for a lapse in moral thinking, but that, I see now, would be piling on. Then there's the lapse in strategic thinking, but that would be piling on, too. Thank you all for saving me the trouble.

Let us consider the possibility, that what Brad has done is to engage in poor writing, to confound what he wants to propose may be McCain's view with his own. But it doesn't sound that way.

It's true that this may be in insoluble mess, that there may be no "more subtle and effective form of counter-insurgency strategy." We are, however, morally obliged to try and one. Cole doesn't tell us what such a strategy would look like, but not knowing how to fix a problem that you manage to identify is not as big a fault as critics of critics sometimes pretend it is. A gadfly makes a valuable contribution, just not always a welcomed one.

There is one very serious flaw in arguing that the residents of Fallujah have the greatest interest in getting rid of the bad guys. As Avedis argues, there are risks to siding against the bad guys (let's not forget who was responsible to keep the cities free of bad guys once we dismantled Iraq's security apparatus during and after the war). There is also a good chance that Iraqis doubt the value of helping the US. What evidence do they have to guide their behavior in the direction that Brad suggests? Just because we (Brad? McCain?) see things a certain way does not mean Iraqis do. It is just silly to predicate our on actions on the requirement that Iraqis see things through our eyes and behave accordingly.

Posted by: kharris at September 22, 2004 05:42 AM

Make that "...try and find one..."

Posted by: kharris at September 22, 2004 05:57 AM

You're a wonder Adrian! What do you have to be arrogant about? Extreme humility would be more plausible.

Posted by: zizka / John Emerson at September 22, 2004 06:48 AM

Imagine my defending the good Professor! He's not only right, he's blindingly obviously right; it's a matter of incentives.

However, yesterday he thought otherwise:

http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/2004-2_archives/000218.html

STUPIDITY IS NOT A PLAN

"At some point the Iraqis will get tired of getting killed and we’ll have enough of the Iraqi security forces that they can take over responsibility for governing that country and we’ll be able to pare down the coalition security forces in the country."

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan at September 22, 2004 09:03 AM

"Tom Sowell and Michelle my belle explain why we need RACIAL PROFILING in today's world."

Well I suppose this wouldn't be too bad if it led to Clarence Thomas getting his head knocked around by racially profiling cops every once in a while.

Posted by: Ken at September 22, 2004 09:05 AM

There's a profound gap between "the people of Falluja have, I believe, a much larger stake in figuring out how to get Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi and company out of Fallujah than the U.S. Marines do" and "collective punishment."

A battle waged completely within the norms of the Geneva convention is still something you want to happen as far away from you as is humanly possible, especially if one side is prone to using civilians as "protection". The U.S. would have been perfectly within their legal rights to flatten the Imam Ali Shrine once al-Sadr's forces holed up there. If a guy with an RPG intentionally hides in a crowd and some of them get killed along with him, the legal onus is on his side, not those that killed him.

Is "legal" equivalent to "morally right"? Nope. Would the Iraqis see it this way? Certainly not all of them, probably not even most of them. Would it make things better? Almost certainly not. But it's still something that Iraqi leadership has to continue, because at the end of the day the Americans can still declare victory and go home, while the people of Iraq have no such option.

Posted by: Jake McGuire at September 22, 2004 09:09 AM

Wow, RoseFeeder, your reading ability
(or honesty) is still right where it was. No improvement at all! Keep up the quality (rose food producing) effort.

Posted by: Barry at September 22, 2004 09:41 AM

Just for the record, the "more subtle and effective counter-insurgency strategy" is precisely what the Marine Corps started out using in Fallujah. I think it was gonna work, and that's why the contractors were murdered back in April. The local Marine commander, General Conway, has said that he didn't intend to change his strategy until he was ordered, presumably by Washington, to roll in with a full scale attack. This attack was the "second-best" approach, but it was called off, again from above, in midstream, and we were left with the Fallujah we have now.

Terrorism is a political act. The terrorists have got the better of Bush, time and time again. Because he's weak, and a coward.

The incidents in Najaf were handled somewhat better, to my mind. The Sadrites who wanted to fight were killed, and the rest of them, and the population decided they had other business to attend to.

Posted by: Jay Gischer at September 22, 2004 09:44 AM

Brad, that was a disgusting post. The US has no right to coerce innocent civilians by threatening their lives. That sort of thing went out with the siege of Drogheda.

Posted by: No Preference at September 22, 2004 09:53 AM

Patrick, Jake (Brad?) Are the insurgents terrorists or freedom fighters? If the former then the whole issue of what we should be doing in the first place. If they are terrorists, both the morality and the efficacy of holding a city to ransome would seem doubtful. It didn't work for the Germans in Yugoslavia, it didn't work in Vietnam. Why would it work now?

Taking such views seriously would make hostage situations easier to handle though: "We had to kill the bank customres to kill the bankrobbers but that's OK because it was their fault". We wouldn't accept that attitude from our police and we shouldn't accept in Iraq.

It is worth remembering that the main point of terrorism is to provoke the enemy into overreaction with the aim of radicalising those theoretically on your side.

Relying on legality is not a strong card either. Not only was the invasion illegal (no there hasn't been a Security Council resolution but the US and UK have vetoes on those anyway) but the US has done its best to claim that the Geneva Convention shouldn't apply to it many of these situations. So, legal in whose eyes?

What reason are we in Iraq this week?

Posted by: Jack at September 22, 2004 10:04 AM

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"Are the insurgents terrorists or freedom fighters?"

Do you REALLY need to ask this after however many beheadings? Is it REALLY up for doubt in your mind as to what Abu-Musab al Zarqawi is?


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Posted by: Abiola Lapite at September 22, 2004 10:40 AM

On top of everything else, Brad is assuming that the folks in Falluja would rather turn over Zarqawi than see their families killed. If their ethos is literally death before dishonor (this is the land of the blood feud and honor killings), and they see turning over Zarqawi as dishonorable, they might well knowingly opt for the massacre...

Posted by: Charles Dodgson at September 22, 2004 10:54 AM

I'm not relying on legality at all. Brad pointed out that if the U.S. becomes frustrated and decides to go after al-Zarqawi rather than protect Iraqi sensibilities, it's Iraqi civilians that lose. This provoked lots of "collective punishment illegal blah blah blah" in the comments, to which I said "nope, not illegal."

If the Marines decide that they're going to make a concerted push to attack, capture, and/or kill the "freedom fighters" in Fallujah, innocent bystanders are going to get killed by both sides. Would you prefer that no one point this out beforehand?

And Charles: I'll offer the example of the Israelis and Hamas leadership. Even with the prevalence of summary execution of collaborators, the IDF didn't have huge difficulties getting people to dime out Hamas leaders so that they could be killed with minimal collateral damage. There's been a reduction in the number of civilians killed on both sides as a result. Might not work in Iraq, but then again it might.

Posted by: Jake McGuire at September 22, 2004 11:09 AM

What are the differing force ratios involved, between Israel/Palestinians and the US/Iraqis?

Posted by: Barry at September 22, 2004 11:50 AM

Abiola, I was not aware that the only anti-USA fighters in Iraq were those of Zarqawi. Is it because yourself would never fight against the guys that killed your wife and sons with a 50mm gun at a checkpoint, etc.?

DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume at September 22, 2004 11:54 AM

Abiola,
as far as I know Zarqawi is a vicious nihilist murderer although I don't have that much reliable information about him.

I raised the question because not all resistance is coming from Zarqawi and to exhaust possibilities. If Zarqawi were an expression of popular Iraqi opinon and not a terrorist and agent provocateur, there might indeed be some legitimacy in holding the populace responsible for his actions.

However as you point out, that does not seem to be the case in which the situation is much closer to my bankrobber example.

Jake,
would that the marines did get to decide what they were going to do. I think everyone here realises that marines attacking Fallujah is going to lead to civilian deaths, indeed that is what the fuss is about.

The legal issue is a straw man and you were the first to bring it up. In any case by what law is it legal and who will think the action is OK, or even not quite as bad, as a result?

I'm somewhat dismayed by the use of "protect Iraqi sensibilities" as a euphemism for avoiding killing civilians and not destroing shrines. It seems worng on so many levels. First of all it is not only Iraqi sensibilities that would be offended by destroying the Imam Ali mosque and those Iraqi sensibilities that would be most offended are the majority so there are practical consequences to consider. Secondly we came in to protect these people not kill them. Finally Iraqis are people too and not killing them isn't just some political version of playing someone left handed to even up the odds, it's the reason we are there in the first place.

Posted by: Jack at September 22, 2004 11:58 AM

Look at comments from MTC regarding "war crimes". I didn't bring it up. I also believe, but can't prove, that the numerous uses of the phrase "collective punishment" are because collective punishment is banned by the Geneva conventions, while accidentally killing civilians in the course of military action is not.

Posted by: Jake McGuire at September 22, 2004 12:08 PM

Jake,
You have a point about MTC's second post but I think most of the outrage is moral rather than legal or prcedural. Even if there is a genuine distinction to be drawn, the kind of action that would bring Brad's words to fruition would definition be pretty close to the edge and I refer you to my example of the bankrobbers.

Posted by: Jack at September 22, 2004 12:22 PM

'If the Marines decide that they're going to make a concerted push to attack, capture, and/or kill the "freedom fighters" in Fallujah, innocent bystanders are going to get killed'

That's true. The reaction was to Brad's post, which was in the nature of a strongly implied threat against the civilians. Killing civilians "accidentally on purpose" IS illegal.

Posted by: No Preference at September 22, 2004 12:58 PM

"Killing civilians "accidentally on purpose" IS illegal."

Engaging in acts of warfare that you know will result in civilian deaths is *not* illegal, as long as you make reasonable efforts to avoid and minimize such deaths and are trying to attack legitimate military targets. The Geneva Conventions are clear on this.

Are you arguing that they require that we not warn the populations of areas around military targets of impending action as they may interpret this as a threat against them?

Posted by: Jake McGuire at September 22, 2004 01:25 PM

A Zarkov asks:

If the US abandons Iraq, it will likely have a terrible civil war and a lot of innocent people will perish. Even if the US stays there could still be a civil war. What would Juan Cole have us do? His vague statement: ”Some much more subtle and effective form of counter-insurgency strategy is necessary . . .” is not much of a prescription for action. One possibility is to let the country fly apart into three pieces, but this policy too is fraught with danger and uncertainty and will kill a lot of people. Remember the partition of the Indian subcontinent killed about a million people. Would he like to reinstall Saddam to power?
=====end of quote====
Juan Cole has answered his question weeks ago: pretty much what Kerry says. For more detail see, e.g. http://www.juancole.com/2004_07_01_juancole_archive.html
(scroll to The Kerry Plan on Iraq:
How it Could Work if the UN were Brought In)

Posted by: anatol at September 22, 2004 01:27 PM

"Are you arguing that they require that we not warn the populations of areas around military targets of impending action as they may interpret this as a threat against them?"

Probably not, dont you think?

Posted by: Jack at September 22, 2004 02:21 PM

Are you arguing that they require that we not warn the populations of areas around military targets of impending action as they may interpret this as a threat against them?

Brad's comment WAS a threat. The threat was the point. Give up Al-Zarqawi or else. Threatening the lives of civilians is a violation of the Geneva Convention.

Posted by: No Preference at September 22, 2004 02:35 PM

"Are you arguing that they require that we not warn the populations of areas around military targets of impending action as they may interpret this as a threat against them?"

Brad's comment WAS a threat. The threat was the point. Give up Al-Zarqawi or else. Threatening the lives of civilians is a violation of the Geneva Convention.

Posted by: No Preference at September 22, 2004 02:36 PM

But the deaths of civilians in the course of military operations is not (always) against the Geneva Convention. If Al-Zarqawi holes up with a bunch of troops in Fallujah, the Marines attack him, and civilians die, the Geneva Conventions are not necessarily being violated by either side. They might be, but there's certainly a level of fighting in cities that is very bad for the city and the residents thereof, but not in violation of the rules of war.

If you accept this point, it seems that there must be some way to communicate your intent to attack forces in said city to the residents of that city, to give them an opportunity to get the hell out of town, if nothing else. Do you have any ideas what that might be?

Posted by: Jake McGuire at September 22, 2004 03:06 PM

The question that Brad asked is a very dangerous one because it is very close to a way to justify everything. Look closely: "what if X is not possible if we do not do Y"? Assume it is true, and that we wish X. Does it follow that we should proceed with Y?

No, it does not. What if X, however desirable, is not possible? Then we can put any stupidity, any atrocity in position Y and it will seem justified. Say, "without destroying World Trade Center with tens of thousands of occupants USA will not change its imperialist infidel meddling in the Holy Lands of Mekka, Medina and Jerusalem", "Without reducing North Vietnamese cities, irrigation systems and bridges to rubble we will not convince them to abandon South Vietnam", "Without creating free fire zones, we will not convince South Vietnamese villagers to give up Viet Cong".

With good intentions, a lot of fire power and slighly faulty logic (and politicised inteligence) there is no limit on the resulting mayhem.

Economists are probably weary of arguments "Unless we double our investment, this venture will never show a profit". When we are to spend our morality, similar caution is required. Sometime you have to spend couragiously, sometimes it is a folly.

Posted by: piotr at September 22, 2004 03:34 PM

"If you accept this point, it seems that there must be some way to communicate your intent to attack forces in said city to the residents of that city, to give them an opportunity to get the hell out of town, if nothing else."

As I remember it, the last time we attacked Fallujah we had the place surrounded and we let refugees escape -- provided they were women or children or old men. No fighting-age men were allowed to leave. And given the general level of chaos on the roads, a lot of families decided to stay together rather than entrust the women and children to the kindness of random strangers.

Our assumption that all fighting-age men were combatants was probably self-fulfilling prophecy. If some foreign army insisted that you stay in a kill-zone where they apparently planned to kill everybody, wouldn't you do what you could to help stop them?

Posted by: J Thomas at September 22, 2004 05:29 PM

anatol:

I read Cole’s more detailed plan for Iraq, and to quote the Nero character in Mel Brooks movie: “Nice, nice, not thrilling, but nice” (History of the World Part I). The reason I don’t find it thrilling is that Cole relies on a number of assumptions that might be shaky. First I’m not confident that the UN could manage such a thing, it does not have a very good track record. Like most large bureaucratic organizations it has trouble making decisions and tends towards risk aversion in the extreme. In the past the US has done the heavy lifting with the UN acting as a fig leaf. I don’t understand why the insurgents wouldn’t attack UN troops. After all they blew up a UN office building last year. Defeating fanatical and suicidal insurgents is no easy task, and I suspect no one can really handle this situation. Even extreme toughness fails. Look at the brutal war Russia wages against the Chechnya insurgents and they still won’t give up. Perhaps this is why the ancients practiced total annihilation.

Posted by: A. Zarkov at September 22, 2004 08:07 PM

Agreeing with Zarkov and disagreeing with Brad in the same thread. Gosh!

An international force would have had some legitimacy and might have been large enough to police Iraq effectively. Now it would have a tougher ob and the issues Zarkov identifies.

Its also true that extreme brutality is not enough either. The Chechen problem is so old that there is Tolsoy novel about it (Hadji Murat).

At what point will our intervention be worse than nothing?

Posted by: Jack at September 22, 2004 11:32 PM

In Iran, there was an earthquake that destroyed a city. It was a humanitarian disaster. Having the US Army destroy a city would be a man-made disaster, not as bad as Darfur, but bad. With likely excellent other consequences: that the USA is SERIOUS about getting the terrorists. And, likely, more Iraqis will inform on more terrorists. Some softening up bombing; large tear gas dumps; on a schedule of escalation that includes “ample” time for evacuation, it could be a winner.

But I don’t believe the US will do this, yet; unfortunately. And, in the meantime, the terrorists are winning. They are successfully targeting less important people on the fringes, and making the rebuilding job harder. I just read that 5 cleaning women were murdered, and the heads of two translators were found. (? no Link)

So it’s clear the terrorists don’t believe in massive US retaliation, either. But WHO will rule Iraq? Iraq needs elections, sooner, in those places it can. And get the US forces OUT of those places where elections result in Iraqis getting power. Who among the Iraqis will rule is still a big open question – it will be somebody who is “against” the US occupation, but willing to accept US help. Or somebody who favors temporary US occupation. Or somebody who wants US out now, no more help, either. Neither I, nor anybody, seems to know.

http://www.hughhewitt.com/#postid927
But Sullivan links Hewitt’s publishing of a Marine email:
“You may not have even heard about the city of Samarra. Two weeks ago, that Sunni Triangle city was a "No-go" area for US troops. But guess what? The locals got sick of living in fear from the insurgents and foreign fighters that were there and let them know they weren't welcome. They stopped hosting them in their houses and the mayor of the town brokered a deal with the US commander to return Iraqi government sovereignty to the city without a fight. The people saw what was on the horizon and decided they didn't want their city looking like Fallujah in April or Najaf in August.
Boom, boom, just like that two major "hot spots" cool down in rapid succession. Does that mean that those towns are completely pacified? No. What it does mean is that we are learning how to do this the right way.”

*** Is there a right way? ***

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at September 23, 2004 04:14 AM

On a more optimistic note here is an article to appear in the New Republic.

http://www.isranet.org/isranetbriefings/briefing%20description.htm#today

It describes the progress Israel has made in dealing with terror attacks. Note the one of the authors is Michael Oren who wrote “Six Days of War.”

Posted by: A. Zarkov at September 23, 2004 05:47 AM

"Brad's comment WAS a threat."

To do what, delete their comments?

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan at September 23, 2004 07:03 AM

Tom Grey trolled, "Having the US Army destroy a city would be a man-made disaster, not as bad as Darfur, but bad. With likely excellent other consequences: that the USA is SERIOUS about getting the terrorists. And, likely, more Iraqis will inform on more terrorists. Some softening up bombing; large tear gas dumps; on a schedule of escalation that includes “ample” time for evacuation, it could be a winner."

OK, let's figure it for Fallujah. We persuade a quarter-million people to become refugees, and then we destroy their homes. How do we catch the terrorists who leave the city with them? Maybe we herd them all into big camps in the desert circled by razor-wire, and we strip-search them and let them out one at a time?

I can sort of see it if the Fallujans are supporting the terrorists. If they're helping terrorists why should we care about them? Blow up their houses and let them walk out unarmed with whatever they can carry on their backs. It serves them right. Destroy every city in Anbar, it isn't like they contribute much to the economy. The economy can handle 3 million refugees just fine, and if it can't, well, they're bad guys anyway.

But our side has been saying all along that 90% of Fallujah is on our side except they're too scared of the terrorists to do anything for us. If we blow up their houses and schools and mosques will they think we're on their side? I guess you could argue that if they're too scared to help us then they don't deserve any consideration, they might as well get just as scared of us.

But frankly I don't see any good coming of this. Sure, eye-for-an-eye, if-you-aren't-for-me-you're-against-me and all that, but to me it just doesn't look like a good use of my deficit dollars.

Posted by: J Thomas at September 23, 2004 10:03 AM

A. Zarkov,

The main thrust of Cole's (and Kerry's) plan is that UN provides a cover for getting large contingent of professional Sunni Moslem soldiers to keep order among their own. As Cole points out, Egyptian and Pakistani armies hold down Sunni militant fanatics at home for decades, which is why the current regimes in their countries are still there. That would not defeat insurgency, but might control it. Americans levelling cities and killing many thousands will not - just look at Chechnya.

As for thrilling options - forget it. We are put in such a deep shit by our Fearless Leaders, that any nice, or even somewhat nicer solution would be a huge improvement. It should be plainly obvious (to everyone including potential allies) that with the current US leadership in place things can only get worse.

Posted by: anatol at September 23, 2004 11:51 AM