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Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Citizen Smash posts on the car bomb in Baghdad and the small arms attack in Baquoba. He thinks that the new Iraqi government will attempt to clean out the current safe havens of Fallujah, Baquoba and Samarra prior to the January elections held there.

What bothers me most about the war in Iraq right now is the progression of events we have seen several times:

An series of attacks, followed by an expedition to Fallujah, where the "insurgents" are surrounded, outgunned and (to this non-military eye) terribly vulnerable, followed by "successful" negotiations for a cease fire pursuant to which we back off. The cease fire, of course, turns out to be meaningless because no arms are surrendered and no one is taken into custody. Then, three or four weeks later, a new series of attacks are mounted from the same places we had surrounded, and the whole process is repeated (and I fume impotently).

It won't take long for people to start comparing that state of affairs to the Tet Offensive, which was simultaneously a military disaster and a huge political win for North Vietnam. That war truly was won (and lost) on the streets of the United States.

The on again/off again attempts control Fallujah have happened twice, now. If it happens much more, US voters might well conclude that Bush is waiting to get past the US election to finish cleaning out the three towns.

That would not be good. Trying to control the timing of anti-terrorist military efforts for political purposes can only hurt by politicizing the conduct of the war. To be perceived as trying to do so (even if it is untrue) is almost as bad.

If the bad guys are surrounded and cut off from food, water and ammunition, for God's sake kill them or capture them. Bush bet his reelection on Iraq. This is no time to start hedging that bet.
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