A whirl of hope, despair and confusion
Posted by aogSaturday, 01 May 2004 at 20:43 TrackBack Ping URL

Tacitus is very distraught over what’s going on in Fallujah. It’s a good post, if pessimistic, about how the facts on the ground seem to be that the Coalition surrendered and the jihadis won.

I must say, I’m more than a little bummed out over this as well. The only theory I’ve seen that makes this not a disaster is that the Marine Corps is conducting psy-ops as much as fighting the jihadis. The real fact is that militarily, the Marines layed down the smackie on the jihadis. It’s also the case that if the Marines are retreating, it’s because they were ordered to do so, not because they were going to lose the fight. That the jihadis believe differently doesn’t change these facts.

The psy-op scenario is that the Marine Corp is deliberately looking weak in certain ways and creating cease fires as a technique to

  • draw out the jihadis where they can be terminated
  • to wear them out through irregular tempo
  • wear them down with false climaxes (i.e, they think they’ve won but the Marines will be fragging ‘em again real soon)

I’m not sure I buy this myself. I have noted that these alledged cease fires don’t seem to involve much actual ceasing of fire, not to mention that jihadi casualties seem to be actually more than during normal combat.

It could be that the Marine Corps is doing this because it’s the only politically feasible mechanism. And as someone noted in the comments at Tacitus, ultimately war is politics by other means and victory is always, ultimately, a political one.

Of course, this is another reason to get on with the transfer. That would create a larger range of politically feasible military responses. I agree with Tacitus that this shows that for political reasons (whether this are well judged or not is a different question) we cannot follow through with a thoroughly military action, even though there’s little doubt Coalition forces could crush the jihadis. It’s time to deal with that fact and hand this problem over to the Iraqis. Even if Tacitus’ worst speculations come true, it would still be best to get on with it. Bad news doesn’t get better for being put off.

P.S. I noticed that Belmont Club has a write up on this scenario which goes in to more depth than I do.