April 13, 2008

Published in City Journal -- Hope for Iraq's Meanest City

Fallujah is strange, sullen, wild-eyed, badass, and just plain mean,” writes Bing West in his 2005 war chronicle No True Glory. “Fallujans don’t like strangers, which includes anyone not homebred. Wear lipstick or Western-style long hair, sip a beer or listen to an American CD, and you risk the whip or a beating.” Fallujah has been Iraq’s bad-boy city since at least the time of the British in Mesopotamia; even then, travelers were warned to stay out. More recently, Saddam Hussein recruited some of his regime’s most ruthless officers from Fallujah. Even though it was a quieter city than most in Iraq after the American invasion in 2003, with less looting than in Baghdad and a staunchly pro-American mayor, the Americans should have known that Fallujah was trouble.

But they didn’t, and so they were unprepared when a rogues’ gallery of Islamists, Baathists, and garden-variety malcontents made the city the launching pad for an Iraqi insurgency. The Fallujans who embraced the insurgency were foolhardy, too: had they looked at what similarly-minded Islamist totalitarians had done to Afghanistan, they would have known what hell awaited them at the insurgents’ hands. General David Petraeus’s radical transformation of counterinsurgency tactics has come at just the right time: the overwhelming majority of Fallujans, deciding that America is the lesser of evils, have now aligned themselves with the Marines and the American-backed city government.

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.

Read the rest in City Journal

Posted by Michael J. Totten at April 13, 2008 4:20 PM
Comments

Bravo! Nicely done.

Posted by: Lindsey Author Profile Page at April 13, 2008 10:56 PM

The Fallujans who embraced the insurgency were foolhardy, too: had they looked at what similarly-minded Islamist totalitarians had done to Afghanistan, they would have known what hell awaited them at the insurgents’ hands.

Which is one of the reasons why Iraq had to be invaded as well as Afghanistan as part of the War on Terror. Afghanistan is simply too far, culturally and geographically, from the Mideast swamp where pro-Islamist terrorist ideals breed and spread. The very biases and compromises of the global mainstream media ensure a hard clamp on any cultural transmission that makes the West look good and terrorist Islam look bad. For that, the Iraqis have needlessly had to suffer.

Posted by: Solomon2 Author Profile Page at April 14, 2008 11:13 AM

I think you're right about Fallujah. In OIF I, when we were aimlessly patrolling Baghdad with no guidance whatsoever, I can recall at least three occasion when an Iraqi, without being prompted, approached me and said that "bad men are gathering in Fallujah" or something to that effect. If it happened a few times with me, then I'm sure that it happened hundreds of times across the entire division. I always passed it along to the intel folks, but I don't think it sunk in. We didn't send a brigade to Fallujah until it was apparent that the city had already begun an inevitable slide into chaos.

Posted by: Saint in Exile Author Profile Page at April 14, 2008 11:35 PM

A bit superficial by MT's usual standards, but all in all good stuff. And even the "generalizations" are meaty and based on real experience.

Posted by: Brian H Author Profile Page at April 15, 2008 2:38 AM

Somehow, much of the best stuff is stuff I've seen somewhere before ... haven't I?

Congrats on getting it published!

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad Author Profile Page at April 15, 2008 11:09 AM
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