Tuesday, April 15, 2008

In the former capital of the former Islamic Caliphate

Michael Totten tells the story of the bad-boy city of Fallujah, a place so mean even Saddam was afraid of it; where for decades travelers were urged to stay away. Fallujah along with Ramadi was to be heart of AQI's caliphate.

The insurgency arose in Fallujah before spreading to the rest of the country. Perhaps it is fitting, then, that the insurgents—now on the run elsewhere in Iraq—were first beaten here in the City of Mosques.

Totten describes how it happened. Here are some excerpts, but read the whole thing.

When Petraeus surged additional troops to Iraq in January 2007, the light footprint model was replaced with aggressive counterinsurgency operations that, perhaps counterintuitively, prioritized the protection of local civilians over American forces. ...

The barriers also divide each section of the city into intimately patrollable precincts. Inside these precincts, U.S. Marines and Iraqi police have forged a straightforward agreement with civilians: we’ll keep you safe if you identify insurgents and lead us to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and weapons caches. Americans no longer patrol in Humvees, as they did at the peak of the insurgency. Instead, the Marines have embedded themselves, so to speak, in Fallujah’s communities. They have transformed large rented houses into Joint Security Stations that look and feel like low-budget university co-ops, where they share sleeping quarters, eating areas, movie rooms, and makeshift gyms with Iraqi police. They live together, work together, study Arabic and English together, and, above all, patrol their own neighborhoods together. ...

“The al-Qaida leadership outside dumped huge amounts of money and people and arms into Anbar Province,” says Lieutenant Colonel Mike Silverman, who oversees an area just north of Ramadi. “They poured everything they had into this place. The battle against Americans in Anbar became their most important fight in the world. And they lost.”




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25 Comments:

Blogger Habu said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4/15/2008 04:30:00 AM  
Blogger Habu said...

The Marine Corps allowed this to be voice by a resident of Fallujah, a comment that would have been deemed insane two years ago.

“I feel the sincerity in the American support for the Iraqi civilians here,” one Fallujah resident tells me. “I am not going to say any bad words about Americans. I can feel that they really are eager to accomplish that mission.” Another Fallujan, who works as a money changer, says, “It will be a shame on all of us if the terrorists ever come back.” “Security is good now because the coalition, Iraqi army, and Iraqi police all work together,” says a third, the owner of a fruit stand. “One hand does not clap.”

The pencil neck geek Senator Harry Reid's comment "The war is lost" now looks like exactly what it was...top level Democratic thinking on the war effort and their desire for an American defeat...too bad Harry. We're winning so now you talk about the expense instead. Next you'll be in a tutu leading Code Pink demonstrations in Berkeley against Marine Corps recruiting. Well Harry, Marines kick ass. You on the other hand simply sit on yours.

4/15/2008 04:35:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

I have thought for some time now that a major - but secret - reason that the Left opposes the war in Iraq is what it implies about their general approach to things.

First, it shows that their beloved multiculturalism is sheer insanity. We are winning in Iraq because we are acting like Americans, not like British, or French, or Germans or Africans, or the U.N. And we are winning in Iraq by making Iraqis more like us, even as we learn more about their culture and attitudes.

Second, the Left always proposes grand, symbolic fixes to problems. Laws get passed, regulations enforced, boxcars of money shipped off to various destinations, - but no one ever has to get their hands dirty, ever has to wade down into the muck and mire and unplug the stopped drain, ever has to pick up a gun and use it. And their fixes never work. But they had the right attitude, and hey, nobody had to get their hands dirty, and that’s what counts in their world.

But in Iraq we waded into “the Big Muddy”, unstopped the drain, and got rid of the alligators. We got our hands dirty and it worked.

Then, of course, there is the U.S. Military, the focus of Evil in the world – except the only people who think so in Iraq are those who are demonstrably, irrevocably Evil themselves

The Left looks at Iraq, closes their eyes, puts their fingers in their ears and hums “We shall overcome” or “Imagine.” They have to; the conclusions they would reach otherwise would mean the dissolution of their entire word view.

4/15/2008 05:52:00 AM  
Blogger Aenea said...

rwe: Second, the Left always proposes grand, symbolic fixes to problems. Laws get passed, regulations enforced, boxcars of money shipped off to various destinations, - but no one ever has to get their hands dirty, ever has to wade down into the muck and mire and unplug the stopped drain, ever has to pick up a gun and use it.

The Right proposed a War Against Terror. The Patriot Act was passed, grandma Doris Baker had to get strip searched at the airport for possible lipstick bombs while Mohammad Hassim Jamal ibn al-Fayed got waved through, shipping containers full of tax money got shipped to Iraq to pay off insurgents while no one in America had to ration their sugar, turn in their tires, plant Victory Gardens, or even have to look at returning coffins draped in flags.

4/15/2008 06:32:00 AM  
Blogger mark said...

RWE--thanks for your very thoughtful post, and humor. Alligators, indeed!

Aenea--hmmm, since you are just listing talking points, I guess I can say thank you for the thoughtless and humorless post.

4/15/2008 06:40:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

I sure hope somebody is shooting miles of footage over there.

Not that it will persuade anybody who doesn't want to be persuaded. It'd just be nice to have, should we find opportunity to use it.

I wonder whether it's even possible to reshape the narrative for a majority of Americans. My gut tells me that yes, a majority of Americans still want to believe in our virtue -- the odd American blend of simple decency, rugged determination, and manifest destiny; I believe at least a majority still holds out hope for an honorable discharge of our responsibilities to the Iraqi people, responsibilities that, however one characterizes their genesis, we surely incurred by invading Iraq.

This I believe, without much proof: a possibility exists to use the gravitational pull of the election to reshape the public perception of "America in Iraq"; if it's indeed true that we have huge stocks of footage of success stories and interviews, and if it's true that the quantity of data consumed directly correlates with one's certainty that America is doing the right thing in Iraq, then someone needs to finance and release an incendiary, controversial teaser that hangs the Democrats with their own words by juxtaposing them with the strongest minute-long rebuttal to defeat we can create. Attack their patriotism, even; whatever it is, make sure they squeal long and loud, and fill the airways with complaints of unfairness and slander (which they always do). This will create a story our media can understand and arbitrate: a controversial attack, an indignant response, and now "we" have to unpack the issue step by step to see who wins.

Should we then be ready with a massive amount of video evidence, of both Iraqi success and the greatest hits of the Democrats over the years, then we make it easy for the media to revel in an intense frisson over an intense issue (their favorite kind of story) since all they have to do is press play and talk. No background research or special intelligence is needed; this issue shifts from "What are the facts in Iraq" to "Which candidate and party do these indisputable facts support." This allows them to bypass the Iraqi issue altogether, to parameterize it as an independent variable in the much more accessible meta-math of electoral give-and-take.

If the whole thing autocatalyzes and self-sustains until the election, which it should, then even if McCain loses the election it should be politically impossible for a President Obama to precipitously withdraw from Iraq.

Just a thought.

4/15/2008 06:55:00 AM  
Blogger Habu said...

Teresita,
I think there might have been a point in your ramblings but darn if I could find it.

Also, Instead of always counter-punching , beginning with bold letter re statements by other posters why don't you attempt some original production? Just for a change of pace.
eg..style
I think there might have been a point in your ramblings but darn if I could find it.

You couldn't find it because the sea snakes weave a watery path soon lost in the liquid, which if heated will turn to vapor, and the caravans of al Sadr are loose on the dunes. Thats deep and clear.

4/15/2008 07:33:00 AM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Aristides said...

someone needs to finance and release an incendiary, controversial teaser that hangs the Democrats with their own words by juxtaposing them with the strongest minute-long rebuttal to defeat we can create.

Your idea is a good one, but rather than wait for the elusive white-hat Good Guy Soros figure to ride to the rescue, cough up $29.95 and be that someone.

$14.95 if the tax man has been particulary merciless.

Enough of us together can Beat Hollywood.

4/15/2008 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

You couldn't find it because the sea snakes weave a watery path soon lost in the liquid, which if heated will turn to vapor, and the caravans of al Sadr are loose on the dunes. Thats deep and clear.

And the rolling of his cannons makes the sand squeak in mouselike tones of jihadi fervor. The people respond, only to be snapped up by the jaws of the sea snake, ambushed like Rachel Corrie in the Straits of Her Muse, which is also deep, but not so clear.

Take that!

4/15/2008 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger Habu said...

jj mollo,

You have the spirit of the diaphanous web that winds mute in transition to the harmony nature would have of the beast who gambols and bronks, not the flow of the stream you can step into twice but the print of a Dali as time flys.

4/15/2008 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger Steeple said...

Aenea,

I agree with you that there should have been more shared sacrifice by the American public. The most useful approach in my opinion would be a massive campaign to reduce petroleum consumption, in order to help turn down the financial taps.

What I don't disagree with is the assertion that since the US has made mistakes here, that we are somehow either evil or incompetent. Using that logic, we would have miles of regret for fighting WWII as we did.

4/15/2008 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger Aenea said...

Steeple: What I don't disagree with is the assertion that since the US has made mistakes here, that we are somehow either evil or incompetent. Using that logic, we would have miles of regret for fighting WWII as we did.

I didn't say we were evil, I was offering a series of counter-examples to the assertion that the Left caused this problem or is compounding the problem. This isn't a left and right issue anyway. George Will, Pat Buchanan and the late William F. Buckley Jr. oppose(d) the Iraq War, some from the gitgo, some after the Golden Mosque was bombed, which signalled the start of major sectarian violence.

4/15/2008 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger Pyrthroes said...

From "Honored This Day", final verses of an award-winning memorial to 1/Lt Brian McPhillips, USMC, killed in action near Tuwayhah, Iraq, in May 2003:

"Hard fought, the Victory's won.
Posted now far and away
To fields washed in sunbeams a-down,
Their sacrifice honored this day--

"Acclaimed in cathedrals of grace,
Attended by captains and kings:
Semper Fidelis, advancing apace,
Our defenders in memory spring green."

God Bless America!
JPB

4/15/2008 02:58:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

aeneas -- what would you have us do in response to Saddam's provocations (throwing the inspectors out for the zillionth time, more promises that will be broken as before)?

We had two choices, both awful. Get rid of him and be seen as strong, or roll over like a good dog and be seen as weak.

Being seen as weak only invites more attacks. Something every HS boy knows but women generally can't fathom.

Democrats could NOW withdraw funds from combat operations and declare defeat in Iraq as a "moral" requirement. They have not because it's totally unpopular.

4/15/2008 03:36:00 PM  
Blogger Coyotl said...

Totten is to be commended for some excellent reporting here, but he neglects to describe, let alone interview, the Baathist Dead-enders and assorted Sunni scum with American blood on their hands who the US has foolishly put in charge (again!) of Falluja.

Totten writes:
Only desperate necessity granted Americans a reprieve from Fallujah’s fear and loathing of outsiders, which it now directs at Baghdad, Iraq as a whole, and international as well as local jihadism. Jeffersonian democracy has not yet come to the banks of the Euphrates.

Unfortunately it won't, not with our current "allies" in charge, like Baathist villain Col. al-Zobaie. You can read all about him here:

"We don't have any Thomas Jeffersons here," said Marine Capt. Sean Miller, who works closely with al-Zobaie. "What we do have here is generally a group of people who are trying to save a city." . . . "Every time they talk to you there's an agenda," Miller said. "You have to figure out what they want right now. If it is this easy, it begs the question: What are we giving them that we don't know that we're giving them?"

What al-Zobaie wants is for the U.S. military to hand over full control of Fallujah. He believes Iraq's current leaders aren't strong enough. Asked whether democracy could ever bloom here, he replied: "No democracy in Iraq. Ever."

"When the Americans leave the city," he said, "I'll be tougher with the people."


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/23/AR2008032301990.html

Great. We've traded in Saddam for a hideous patchwork of fiefdoms ruled by little Saddams. (Victory!) Baathist shits who deserve nothing but a bullet in the back of the head for crimes against their own people and the spilling of American blood. Scum like al-Zobaie and Abu Abed of the Ameriya Knights. Die-hard warlords who will never integrate into the Shiite-Islamist-led government of Iranian stooges we're desperately trying to keep together in order to avoid admitting that the whole notion of turning a tribal Islamist society into a Jeffersonian democracy was a mistake. A liberal interventionist mistake.

4/15/2008 04:02:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Well said, Coyotl. Totten is generally a good guy and I like reading his dispatches, but MJT has a fatal flaw. MJT is way too sympathetic and forgiving to Arabs, but I guess that's the price he must pay to get access.

4/15/2008 04:43:00 PM  
Blogger Aenea said...

Whiskey_199: Being seen as weak only invites more attacks. Something every HS boy knows but women generally can't fathom.

All warfare is based on deception.

Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.

Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him. If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him.

Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.

Democrats could NOW withdraw funds from combat operations and declare defeat in Iraq as a "moral" requirement. They have not because it's totally unpopular.

Then it doesn't matter who we elect to Congress and the White House. If we elect Democrats, the war will continue, for 100 years, becaus it would be "totally unpopular" to withdraw.

Today 29 percent of Americans say the results of the war were worth it; 64 percent say they were not.

4/15/2008 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I've read several articles by different authors about how warm and fuzzy Fallujah is now.

And I can't help remembering those four charred American bodies dragged through its filthy streets and hung up from its tacky steel bridge ... and the capering, gesticulating, grinning young Iraqi's prancing in the streets, celebrating those deaths and announcing in Arabic, "We're Number One!"

I wonder if those youths are still alive now. If so, I don't trust 'em, and do NOT want anything good to come their way, especially if I'm paying tax dollars towards making their city habitable again.

At some point, Arabs, Muslims, Iraqi's and Fallujans need to learn that "payback's a bitch".

Maybe Fallujah's learned that.

Maybe not.

4/15/2008 06:29:00 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

What is so terrible about " a hundred hideous little fiefdoms"
that Coyotyl bemoaned. Better than having one hideous big fiefdom.

The principle is called federalism. Result is called a federal system of government. Power thus diluted has harmfulness
limited. That opens the possibility of the type of coalition building which tends to harness power to contrstructive ends.

A federal Iraq is proof against Iraq being part of any caliphate anybody can dream up. We are on the right track.

4/15/2008 10:35:00 PM  
Blogger TmjUtah said...

Aenea:

"All warfare is based on deception."

Well. No. Not nearly, actually. You might be confusing diplomacy with warfare.

There comes a time when you call bullshit and kill enough people to see your interest served. The reason those sheiks are sitting in a council room in Fallujah is because they recognize that we really do mean what we say. Sometimes.

They may go back to brigandage. Or not. If they attempt to be Pirate Kings, who is to say that the central government won't crush them and thus maintain the monopoly of power of the state? I don't know. Neither do you.

But I know what we are trying to accomplish, and am willing to see the effort through. You aren't, and never were.

The Democrat caucus in D.C. and the national Democrat party are lined up with the forces who seek failure of our national policy, as enacted by congress and signed by the president, in Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Not to mention our schools, tax system, and entitlements pantheon, as well, come to think of it...

... all for short term personal political gain. See, I can say that because I live in a free country. For now.

November... is going to be rough for America.

Democrats are seventh graders passing notes and tagging the school yard walls after the sun goes down.

Except... except they are aiding and abetting people who kill Americans.

Does that piss you off?

I mean, does my statement piss you off?

If you are into reality, you should just nod and move on.

If we could have freed those countries with a wave of a wand, and made everything perfect, the Democrats would still attempt to sabotage the outcome. Because they just can't grow past their hate of Bush, and their frustration that a free America continues to resist being baby sat.

I'm way done worrying about debating with, or listening to, what any Democrat has to say about anything of substance. You can consult with a loyal opposition. You defeat an enemy.

I don't see socialism, identity politics, and surrender as holding much of a future for America. Call me bitter, I guess.

The combination of Obama, Hillary, and the sad clown show that has become the Democrat party are just enough to make me cast a ballot for McCain. Just.

But if he persists in pandering for Green votes and talking up the Journalist Shield Law, I may still sit out.

The Democrats may well win in 2008. But it will be a default if they do.

4/15/2008 10:58:00 PM  
Blogger Towering Barbarian said...

Teresita/Aenea,
Thank you for your extensive paraphrasing of Sun Tzu, but you should keep in mind that his advice was for autocrats rather than for republics. It is also worth remembering that an excessive reliance upon his military advice turned China into a football for the Mongols and the Manchus outsiders who didn't play by the rules layed down by Sun Tzu. There is a value in "the strategy of the indirect" - But the dhimmis and fifth columnists who make up ANSWER, Code Pink, and the coven headed up by the "reverend" Jerry Wright do not constitute that value.

I am sorry but the Left has proven itself worthless this time. They pawned their honor for the sake of a opportunity at political power and now they are left with neither honor nor opportunity. Serves them right.

Do you doubt me? Then consider this, Michael Totten's account is something that should be a matter of rejoicing for all Americans. Michael Yon's book is something that should be rejoicing for all Americans. But what joy can those who spent 5 years drooling down the sides of their mouths while whining "we are already defeated" take in being proven as big a set of fools as the Iraqi Information Minister who worked for Saddam? Consider them weighed in the balance and found wanting. The question is, knowing what they are, how long will you remain among them? o_O

4/16/2008 12:42:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I think it must say something about something that Yon's book broke Amazon's top ten sellers (and they ran out) on the same day as the NY Times announced they will (finally) start having to lay off people.

There *is* a market out there in America-land for news. And please spare us the sanctimonious quotes by the Washington Post, Coyotl, because what they print is NOT news any more than the dreck the NYT has been ladeling out for the last ten years.

I wonder if AP will have the nerve to assign Bilal Hussein to take more of his patented brand of pro-terrorist photographs in Baghdad now. Hopefully during the last two years that he's been in jail, all his friends, relatives and buddies have been surged and killed and he'll starve to death for lack of terrorist opportunity.

4/16/2008 06:13:00 AM  
Blogger amr said...

Yes, Americans just being Americans many times has the good come through laud and clear. The cover picture on Michael Yon’s new book, Moment of Truth in Iraq, of Major Mark Bieger cradling an Iraqi child dying from a car bombers attack while rushing it to the hospital shows the real America. As I said today at dinner while reflecting on recent anti-American slurs, ours is a country that was so damn powerful after WWII, with Europe and Asia devastated, that we could have made Western Europe and parts of Asia into our own empire as the Soviets did in Eastern Europe. Instead we rebuilt Japan and Western Europe into strong economies that we knew would in the future become our competitors. In 1946 we even gave the Philippines their independence as was promised and pushed Europe to dissolve their colonial empires.

We may not be perfect, but America is the best of the imperfect. I challenge the America hating Left to declare what other country in the history of the world has ever rejected an empire in favor of returning home to family and friends as soon as possible.

4/16/2008 06:48:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

NahnCee said:

"There *is* a market out there in America-land for news. And please spare us the sanctimonious quotes by the Washington Post, Coyotl, because what they print is NOT news any more than the dreck the NYT has been ladeling out for the last ten years."

Yon's writing style is excellent! Yon's writing is the opposite of the boring NYT tripe written by some moonbat reporter hiding in the Green Zone. Yon's honesty and courage radiates from his prose.

4/16/2008 11:50:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

...boring NYT tripe written by some moonbat reporter

Or, even worse, printing the product / propaganda of active terrorists like Bilal Hussein, and then telling us that we're racist because we won't accept it as The Truth.

4/17/2008 06:12:00 AM  

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