Sunday, June 20, 2004

What is wrong with these people?

So - having besieged Fallujah for weeks without success, you hand it over to a new and rather vague "Fallujah Brigade" in the hope that they will be less provocative (with the subtext that it's a Kosovo Protection Corps-style way of incorporating the gunmen into something quasi-legitimate). Then, without apparently considering any further, you call in an airstrike on a house in the middle of the city, killing 22.

What kind of sense is this supposed to make? How are the Fallujah Brigade meant to even survive if their ally tries to make arrests with a 500lb bomb in their patch? The retaliation will come and it will come right to them, if not from within their own ranks. And what then? The risk in giving up the siege once it started was always that it would validate the insurgents' control of the area, giving them or a front for them effective power there. If the Brigade dissolves, will the Marines be called back in? And what is the point of doing what is in effect an arrest operation with an F-16? Surely this could have been achieved quietly, simply and without unnecessary destruction by sending a truckload of squaddies around to the address to arrest the people concerned and search the place? That way, of course, there would also be the benefit of whatever information might be obtained by searching the building. It all reminds me of Operation Iron Hammer and the mad firing of an ATACMS missile at a house 120 miles away.

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