Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Reality Check Fallujah

Fallujah which is being cited as the prime example of the new surge tactic in Iraq.

John Robb on Petraeus taking Katie Couric through Fallujah as a modern day Potemkin village:

Indications of calm and tranquility in the "pacified cities" of Iraq is at the expense of viability. Essentially, to pacify urban areas we have destroyed the basic levels of connectivity that make them work. For example, Fallujah residents are disconnected...
  • from the country. A wall around the city with biometric entry points.
  • from each other. The city is divided into 10 walled districts with few entry/exit points. Each is guarded by a combination of neighborhood militias, police and US soldiers.
  • from basic mobility. The city has been under a vehicle ban since May 2007.
The natural result is zero economic activity. Its industrial area is closed since it is a security risk. The city suffers from 80 percent unemployment with the bulk of the remainder of those employed are either working in militias or with the police. There are chronic shortages of basic necessities like food and fuel. Reconstruction is nearly at a stand-still (in part due to a complete lack of support from the central government).

What's cool is that this "pacification" has had as good an effect on the modern day Queen Katherine (Katy) as it did on on the earlier Queen Catherine.

NOTE: This post doesn't make the claim that things are worse in Fallujah today than it was under jihadi committee. Rather, it does make the case that locking down a city until it stops doesn't prove that we have a solution for urban insurgency.
And as Juan Cole points out, there are huge numbers of arrested and jailed young men in the area.

In other words, exactly as Robb predicted months ago, the surge follows the ink-blot strategy of the British in Malaysia. It is based on an agrarian insurgency not an urban one. You have to cut off all connection and either arrest or publicly execute (as the British did) masses of young men.

Again Robb's last sentence is the clincher: it is not to say it is worse than under jihadis, just that it does not represent a viable success/model.

Why Democrats fold over and not attack the strategy as Wesley Clark has said repeatedly I'll never understand.

Not that this is ever covered in the "liberal" mainstream media, but Fallujah is to the Arab and Muslim world what the Alamo is to American history. A story of the injustice of a foreign invader, corrupt and of ill-will, slaughtering heroic resistance fighters. That Petraeus is taking Katie Couric around there, that he chose that city as his Potemkin village suggests he doesn't understand what kind of image that sets off for the Muslim world. [Or more darkly, he does, in which case, expect long term Hugh Hewitt-style occupation and destruction of the Middle East. That would be the message of such ads.]

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