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Read The Fucking Story

I see from my Trackbacks that a lot of 'wingers are taking news of American pummelling of Falluja as a rebuttal to the much-cited-by-liberals story in the Los Angeles Times that the Bush administration was delaying major action in the Sunni triangle for political purposes until after the election. I direct all such triumphalists to the actual story: "But a military spokeswoman in Baghdad, Sharon Walker, said, 'It is not the beginning of a major offensive.'"

The underlying reality is that the US government, taking heat for its inaction, but unwilling to see significant US casualties before the election, has decided to try and conduct counterinsurgency warfare largely by means of airstrikes and artillery. This is a great idea if you (a) don't know anything about counterinsurgency warfare, or (b) just don't really care about anything other than creating the appearance of progress. This is "destroy the village in order to save it" territory, plain and simple.

October 15, 2004 | Permalink


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» The new Fallujah offensive from Mark A. R. Kleiman
We're bombing Fallujah again. What does that mean? [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 15, 2004 5:39:58 PM

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Tracked on Oct 7, 2005 9:20:05 AM

» Gift Basket from Tom Jamme's Blog
Sweet Blessings, a new Christian-based online shop featuring cookie bouquets, candy bouquets and gift baskets, opens with a campaign to donate a portion of all profits to Habitat For Humanity. The devastation of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, while not a... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 7, 2005 9:22:04 AM


You have to wonder if bombing is the best way to take back Fallujah. No matter how precise the precision bombs are, there are bound to be innocent people killed and wounded. These people have family and friends. How many hearts and minds will we win by this policy?

Posted by: janeboatler | Oct 15, 2004 10:39:56 AM

No, we're going create more insurgents and terrorists.

But, anything to get The Dear Leader and The One True Party re-elected...

Posted by: Ras_Nesta | Oct 15, 2004 10:47:57 AM

And another thing about Faloojeh...Mary Cheney! Mary Cheney! Mary Cheney! Mary Cheney!

That's all I heard on the 'nets this morning:
JCPenney Model AnchorAsshole: Now to get the Faloojeh story from our man in the field, Dick Notprettyenough.

Dick Notprettyenough: Thanks, JCPenney. Today, artillery and bombs pounded this closely-packed city as...

JCPenney Model AnchorAsshole: Uh, Dick, before we get into that, I want to ask you about this Mary Cheney thing? Did John Kerry go too far dragging the sexual perversions of the former Coors Beer Gay and Lesbian Outreach Director into the public sphere?

Dick Notprettyenough: ummmm...

Posted by: Ras_Nesta | Oct 15, 2004 10:58:01 AM

1. Plain and simple, eh? Sitting in front of your computer halfway around the world, you can say that about an ongoing operation. No room for discussion. Wow.

2. The professional military, on the ground, has no idea what it's doing. You, the philosopher journalist, never having set foot in Falluja, know better. Categorically. Plain and simple. Uh huh.

Posted by: ostap | Oct 15, 2004 11:11:18 AM

I've had my doubt about whether or not bombardment by jets is an effective means of tackling an insurgency. It does give one the impression that this is all about casualty reduction. Still, CNN reports (http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/10/15/iraq.main/index.html) that the bombing is indeed a presage to ground action against the insurgents in Fallujah:

U.S. military officials insisted the operation was not an offensive to retake Falluja, but is an operation to lay the groundwork for that eventual offensive.
Officials want to stabilize the city and other restive areas in time for elections scheduled in January for a transitional national assembly.

It seems to me pre-ground attack bombing is a fairly standard M.O. from the military strategy handbook. Also, the upcoming election didn't stop the U.S. military from launching a ground offensive to retake another insurgent stronghold recently, Samarra.

Are domestic political concerns influencing the conduct and management of this war? Without a doubt. Just like every other war the U.S. has fought in going back to at least Lincoln's day.

Posted by: P.B. Almeida | Oct 15, 2004 11:18:37 AM

Maybe we're just discussing what the professional military is saying, ostap. That it's not the inevitable ground op.

And actually, our professional military has little more than any of us "setting foot" in Falloojeh. Remember, we handed it over to the insurgents months ago.

That's why we're bombing and shelling the shit out of the place. We'll pay for it with more insurgents for every innocent we kill, but it'll make morons like you get your bloodlust up and help Dear Leader's election chances.

I don't have to be there to know this, I only need half the brain you're missing.

Posted by: Ras_Nesta | Oct 15, 2004 11:21:40 AM

When American troops are taking heavy casualties, there is a tendency to rally round both them and their commander, at least for awhile. Thus, a Halls of Montezuma assault on Fallujah could occur a couple of days before the election.

Posted by: Bob H | Oct 15, 2004 12:03:07 PM

Actually, Matt's analysis mirrors that of a number of middle east experts including Juan Cole, who predicted that an air campaign on Fallujah to limit U.S. casualties would have little effect but to create civilian casualties and a resentful populace, an assertion that has been borne out according to local doctors.

By the way, did anyone realize that parts of Baghdad still receive air strikes on an almost daily basis? I sure didn't, and it really puts the situation in a different light for me. If south and west Detroit suffered bombing runs each day I'd have a hard time describing it as a liberated city.

As for the criticism of philospher journalists, they are hardly more guilty of overreaching their limitations than the freeper cotillion, where every angry twenty-something typing from his parents' basement who WASN'T an editor at Harvard spouts off on the war or Kerry's military record with the temerity of a battle-hardened four star bird.

It's because everyone can't be on the ground everywhere that we have analysts, who take in the available information and draw conclusions. When provided with accurate information analysts don't need to be on the ground, which is a good thing as otherwise generals would need to run the war from the front lines.

Posted by: Windhorse | Oct 15, 2004 12:31:35 PM

I would like to remind all the military analysts here, that the enemy has a vote. How those insurgents react to the bombing will determine the next step we take. So while you are busy figuring everything going on in Iraq from the nice clean confines of your living room, remember – the guys who are sleeping out in that sandy, nasty place are the ones dealing with the reality on the ground. Their lives and the lives of their soldiers are on the line. If insurgents dig in and build up defensive positions, you look to one set of courses of action, if they flee the city – then you look a different direction – If the people of the city get sick of the bombing around them and raise up against the insurgents, or take up arms with them, then you have to look at different courses. At any rate, partisan politics is not the primary concern for the command in Baghdad.

Posted by: Kevin | Oct 15, 2004 1:30:53 PM

The aerial attacks on Falluja have been going on for at least several weeks so this latest report doesn't actually appear to be news on the strategic front. Some reports indicate that it has been effective in turning the natives against some of the foreign fighters that have poured across the unprotected borders. Sorry for no link, it was a week or so ago and I've lost it. I'll try to track it down.

I do find it astounding that Matt is making judgements about counterinsurgency warfare tactics as if he were an expert--even implying that if you don't agree with his assessment, you must not "know anything about counterinsurgency warfare." You can certainly build a reasonable argument that this is not the best tactic but such outright dismissals is an unfortunate, and unhelpful, habit.

Posted by: Gedanken | Oct 15, 2004 5:53:45 PM

It seems to me pre-ground attack bombing is a fairly standard M.O. from the military strategy handbook.

Which means that, despite what the Pentagon says, there should be a ground assault within the next few weeks at a maximum, right? Because otherwise it's enormously counterproductive and just enflames the population against the coalition forces.

The problem with an insurgency is that there isn't a finite number of fighters -- you create new fighters every time you do a bombing run and somebody's grandmother gets killed. Kill one insurgent, and two more take his place.

Posted by: Mnemosyne | Oct 15, 2004 6:40:44 PM

I know it's hard for decent minded folks like those wimpy liberals to believe, but the recent bombing started when Kerry passed Bush in the polls.

The Iraq war was an election ploy from the beginning. The bombing is an attempt to provoke a reaction that will help Bush get re-elected.

Posted by: epistemology | Oct 15, 2004 7:06:36 PM

I try to keep the Orwellian bummer trip straight in my mind. Seems like only yesterday, American Pro-Iraqi occupiers were to reliberate civilian noncombatants from Iraqi anti-Iraqi, occupiers. Today, the freely appointed Allawi threatens to kill a whole bunch of civilian noncombatants in an act of liberating collective punishment, using American forces who do not answer to him,... so that the survivors will be able to further the cause of democracy by voting...unless they "rise up" to liberate themselves from the Iraqi anti-Iraqis led by Zarqawi, who is not actually Iraqi, although he certainly seems to own a hell of a lot of buildings in Fallujah. I guess that's sort of double plus good in the end....for an epsilon.

Posted by: 1MaNLan | Oct 15, 2004 11:54:32 PM

What the pro-military types are missing is that this war is being driven by politicians trying to get re-elected. That's always the bad for the guys and the ground. I have absolute faith in the professionalism or our military, but no matter how professional our military is, if it is ordered to take action it knows to be wrong, it will take that action. I think that with every bomb that is dropped and reported back to the Muslim world, more foreign fighters make their way into Iraq. Have you thought about the possibility that bombing civilian populations excites a whole new wave of volunteers from other countries? Men who had no particular qualms with the US until now. We are creating a whole new and larger generation of would-be terrorists. And guess what, their numbers are potentially infinite and they won't confine themselves to fighting in Iraq alone. That's some fucking war strategy.

Posted by: Pescadero Bill | Oct 16, 2004 4:02:56 PM

send me fucking story

Posted by: ass | Feb 22, 2005 2:30:18 PM

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