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December 22, 2004 3:46 AM   Subscribe

There are only two ways to describe the US army plans for Falluja: either "American gulag" for those who enjoy Stalinist imagery, or "concentration camp" for those who prefer the Nazi version of the same. But maybe we should just call it a plain old police (city-)state, just like it's feared US is becoming.
posted by acrobat (43 comments total)

 
MeFi Earlier.
posted by meehawl at 3:55 AM on December 22, 2004


New Papers Suggest Detainee Abuse Was Widespread

In a second case, Army investigators concluded that a sergeant committed offenses including assault, dereliction of duty and cruelty when he conducted "a mock execution of an Iraqi teenager" in front of the boy's father and brother, who were suspected of looting an ammunition factory. Investigators also found that the actions were condoned by a lieutenant who conspired with the sergeant.
...
An investigative report also details an incident two days earlier, in which the lieutenant ordered a suspected looter to kneel, pointed a 9mm pistol at his head and then pulled the gun away just as he fired a shot. The outcome of both cases is unclear from the records released yesterday.

The documents also divulge a probe of the beatings of three mosque security guards in Baghdad in September 2003. After being arrested and cuffed during a search, the three Iraqis were kicked, stomped and dragged by a group of U.S. soldiers.
posted by matteo at 4:02 AM on December 22, 2004


It all sounds so familar... from the DIA's November 1982 assesment of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan:

DIA's analysis of the war indicates that it saw the Russians in a very difficult situation: "We believe the Soviets would have to double their strength to break the current stalemate."

And more to the point:

... the resistance forces could continue the insurgency for the forseeable future at its present level against current soviet forces. we believe the soviets would have to double their strength to break the current stalemate. a 50,000 man increase in soviet personnel in afghanistan would not significantly alter the current situation. however, if a 50,000 man increment were to be concentrated in one area, it could be temporarily pacified. but when they move on to another problem area, the insurgents would probably reassert control.
posted by three blind mice at 4:08 AM on December 22, 2004


acrobat, Why do you hate Freedom? I could explain how these actions are only promoting Democracy but I'm not going to negotiate with myself in public.

One minor quibble though. As the US is doing this in a foreign country surely it just makes the US a sort of Empire. If this were in someplace in the midwest and this was done retaliation for the Oklahoma City bombing that would make the US a police state.
posted by sien at 4:25 AM on December 22, 2004


These people should be proud to wear an American-issued identity badge when they are allowed to return to their ruined homes.

Choose from three:

"Fallujan-American and Proud!"
"Freedom-loving Iraqi"
and
"Please don't shoot me, I love America!"
posted by scaryduck at 4:34 AM on December 22, 2004


Good to see we're defending America and freedom.

(Why does that even remotely sound like a sincere statement that the Defenders Of All Things Dubya might repeat?)

Do you support President Bush and the troops? Or are you gay and French?

We must destroy the village in order to save it.
posted by nofundy at 4:49 AM on December 22, 2004


The saddest part about all this is, after I read that story about 55% or so of the country now being against the war, I read a few right-wing weblogs and their response (other than the polls being liberal biased, of course) was generally along the lines of "yeah, well we won the poll on November 2nd. Tough shit."

It's really sad that it's a game to so many of them. I knew months ago that once the election ended we were going to start seeing how few of them really cared about the war as opposed to having their small victories; it's still sad to see it when it actually happens.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:54 AM on December 22, 2004


If National IDs are a tell tale sign of a police state then Britain is a lot closer.
posted by drscroogemcduck at 4:57 AM on December 22, 2004


I think it's going to more of a classic Ghetto than a gulag or police state. There's not that much to come home to in Fallujah, anyway.

American desperation is expressed in a willingness to treat all Fallujahns as part of the insurgency -- the inevitable fate of an occupying army that tries to "root out" a popular resistance.
Bingo. It's how we're treating all Iraqis--ensuring a popular resistance that grows and grows.

Is Mosul next? Karbala? Is this how we're going to do it now?
posted by amberglow at 5:17 AM on December 22, 2004


Maybe so, but I don't believe even Tony Blair's Home Office are talking about requiring their citizens to wear their national ID cards "in plain sight at all times."
posted by pnh at 5:19 AM on December 22, 2004


drsetc: true, IDs are not a tell tale sign of a police state, but very handy to a police state. For example, the way they are used in Falluja; and, IMHO, the way they are going to be used in the States by this administration. There were more points raised in the second link, though. As for Britain, I don't think the Brits are as gullible, but still...
posted by acrobat at 5:21 AM on December 22, 2004


I remember reading once that a large number of Iraqi soldiers had been stranded in the middle of Iraq with their identification papers taken. Apparently, this meant it would be wildly unsafe for them to travel.

I don't think things have gotten any better out there.
posted by effugas at 5:21 AM on December 22, 2004


Ron Paul is my favorite Republican. Talk about a voice crying in the wilderness. I wonder how long it will be before he gets "Wellstoned"?

three blind mice : Why is the statement you presented so obvious to everyone except the people who planned this fiasco? Not the commanders in the field, but George "There won't be ANY casualties" Bush and Donald "Cakewalk" Rumsfeld.

If you'll pardon the analogy, I can envision a political cartoon of Uncle Sam futiley stomping scurrying cockroaches while a seething mass of thousands more wait behind the walls.

Come to think of it, that pretty much sums up the "War on Terror", doesn't it?
posted by Enron Hubbard at 5:24 AM on December 22, 2004


Once you cross the line into Wellstoning, there's no limit to the number of American dissidents you're willing to eliminate.
posted by fleener at 5:35 AM on December 22, 2004


"Freedom is on the march." - GWB
posted by nofundy at 5:51 AM on December 22, 2004


enron hubbard: Why is the statement you presented so obvious to everyone except the people who planned this fiasco?

it was the dukes, it was the dukes, it was the dukes....
posted by three blind mice at 6:02 AM on December 22, 2004


I think it's going to more of a classic Ghetto

But Ghettos were early concentration camps.

Ironically, the first Italian ghettoes were erected by the Venetians to corral their German population. Only later were they extended to Jewish people.
posted by meehawl at 6:19 AM on December 22, 2004


From the article by Lew Rockwell (whoever he is):

Washington DC provides a vivid illustration of what our future might look like. ... The people are totally disarmed; only the police and criminals have guns.

So... did you mean to say that Fallujah will become like Washington D.C.? I'm so confused.
posted by Turtle at 6:28 AM on December 22, 2004


Oh, my bad, that quote was by Republican Congressman Ron Paul, not Lew Rockwell. It all makes sense now.
posted by Turtle at 6:32 AM on December 22, 2004


I think we are all missing the point about Fallujah. It's going to make for a kick ass Hollywood feature starring Harrison Ford.
posted by effwerd at 6:33 AM on December 22, 2004


"In the first siege of Fallujah in April 2004, the Iraqi Resistance inflicted a severe defeat on the Americans. In April 2004, while over 1,200 Iraqis were killed, blown up, burnt or shot alive by the Americans ? two thirds of them civilians, mostly women and children ? while 2,000-pound bombs were falling on the the city, AC-130 Spectre gunships were demolishing entire city blocks in less than a minute and of course silence of the plop as Iraqis targeted by Marine snipers hit the ground, nonetheless the operative portion remains - The Marines were beaten back in no uncertain terms. This was followed by a "truce". 

The truce did not hold for very long. 

This humiliation of the American military was spun as a "strategic retreat" but the desire to get rid of the "weeping sore that Fallujah was" has been on top of the US agenda since then. Fallujah represented a "stellar act of defiance" one that allowed the resistance to "actually secure and control a city, and to beat off the US military" 

The second formal large scale assault on Fallujah (Nov./Dec 2004) pitted images of the world's most powerful military force against fighters in tennis shoes, wielding homemade rocket launchers. There were three declared tactical objectives. The first was to either kill or capture the Jordanian born "terrorist" "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi" (if indeed he exists) and to "battle and destroy some 4000 to 5000 suspected fighters". The Americans also vowed to "liberate" the residents of Fallujah from "criminal elements" and to "secure Fallujah" for the January elections. Lastly, it appears an additional declared tactical/political objective of the American Military's task was to engage in a "fight of good versus evil". Additionally it appears (presumably per their intelligence reports) that the mission also was to "destroy" "Satan" since it appears that "he lives in Fallujah" 

On the face of it, it appears as if none of these tactical/military objectives have been met, including, it appears, the desire to presumably meet Mr Satan, resident of Fallujah. 

As for the other very laudable and rationally quantifiable objectives including that of stuffing democracy into a city by simply obliterating it, all of these seem to be a bit astray. 

48 hours into the offensive, the official narratives were filled with reports that Zarqawi (if indeed such an entity exists) may have "slipped outside" of their perimeter defenses. 
This of course left Mr "Satan" still in residence together with the rest of the unfortunate inhabitants of the "militant stronghold". The city of 300,000 residents had perhaps an estimated 40,000 civilians left per the US military. Since this estimated number included 5000 resident "militants", one can presume that the rest (per the US military) would be civilians – 

The actual civilian count remaining in the city on the 8th of November is around around 60,000 to as much as 100,000 since males between the ages 16 and 60 were disbarred by the US military from leaving the city. 

One can also infer the most vulnerable--the poor, the old, the women, children and the sick--continued to reside in their city in significant numbers ? of the order of 40,000+"

I wanna see how Hollywood is going to deal with this part of the scenario.
posted by acrobat at 6:35 AM on December 22, 2004


Truth to tell, guys, I could care less anymore. Screw it - the 'Mericans voted the chimp back into office - this is what they want. I could care less about the international backlash and the boo-hoo rising casualty lists and the frenic scrabbling for some way to get out. Pile the fields high with the noble American freedom fighters - I support my troops right down into the ground. I've got my fiddle all tuned up and a great view of Rome burning. The hell with all of them.
posted by Perigee at 6:41 AM on December 22, 2004


Leaving the city in charge of violent thugs seems to me as unacceptable, nor do I like imposing draconian population control measures. It's trivially easy to denigrate the Fallujah strategy and we could have fun playing the "but if you did it the way I wanted, it would have turned out better" game. However, what is sorely lacking, is a discussion of viable alternatives. Granted, a series of failures in strategic thinking led to this situation, but what is the best path from here, if not this one?
posted by forforf at 6:41 AM on December 22, 2004


It's unfortunately becoming very clear to me just how much of a game this is. And I'd like to see GWB stop coaching and start playing. I'm sure he'd give his life so that the Iraqi people can finally know Freedom.

Strategy 1: People who don't know what's going on can't be angry about it.

Merry Christmas Fallujah!!
posted by nTeleKy at 6:47 AM on December 22, 2004


So... did you mean to say that Fallujah will become like Washington D.C.?

i think the gaza strip is a more accurate. that's what bush has done. he's turned iraq into gaza and like sharon he will have to leave.

having complete and total military hegemony isn't enough if you aren't able to do like the vikings and kill every able-bodied man, build fires with their dead bodies, throw their babies onto the pyre, and sell the women into slavery.

or terror bomb and massacre the civilian population into submission as was done in dresden, tokyo, hiroshima, nagaskai, etc.

fortunately, or unfortunately, as bad as bush is, i don't think he'd go this far. the russians didn't in afghanistan. nixon tried in vietnam, but lost his nerve in cambodia. sharon wouldn't/couldn't/didn't in gaza and he had as good an excuse as anyone.

bush has no viable option but to leave, but of course the "bring 'em on" cowboy ain't going nowhere.

pity the soldiers.
posted by three blind mice at 6:48 AM on December 22, 2004


on a related note i thought that this article from Reuters was kind of interesting. it is a sort of diary entry detailing the rules that journalists must follow when visiting guantanomo (sp?)

posted by hpsell at 6:49 AM on December 22, 2004


forforf, you need to check your thinking: people defending their freedom from invaders cannot be called "violent thugs". It's the Americans who are the thugs and their controllers know it. Otherwise how do you explain this?
posted by acrobat at 6:52 AM on December 22, 2004


Perigree - Do you live in America? I do, and I might only be watching, but I'm still on the sidelines, and that's not a good feeling. Especially when the players are rapidly leaving the game (for good) and the fans on both sides are getting ever more rabid.
posted by nTeleKy at 6:54 AM on December 22, 2004


Leaving the city in charge of violent thugs seems to me as unacceptable

That's no way to talk about the US Army sirrah. We prefer "liberators".
posted by meehawl at 7:17 AM on December 22, 2004


forforf, you need to check your thinking: people defending their freedom from invaders cannot be called "violent thugs". It's the Americans who are the thugs and their controllers know it. Otherwise how do you explain this?

acrobat: What term is appropriate for people that decapitate non-combatants they have captured on video for shock value. Violent thugs seems to work for me ...

I don't have a problem with people defending their way of life and what they believe in. I do have a problem with people that happen to believe in intimidation through violence.

We can have endless discussions on whether an all out offensive against the city was the best course of action to solve that problem, all of which would be as useful as any other Monday morning quarterbacking exercise.
posted by forforf at 8:26 AM on December 22, 2004


I wanna see how Hollywood is going to deal with this part of the scenario.

What, you mean beyond throwing in really cool computer-generated effects?
posted by AlexReynolds at 8:32 AM on December 22, 2004


I do have a problem with people that happen to believe in intimidation through violence.
Do the numbers: who has killed more women and children, the US or the "insurgents"? If your family or friends were murdered by bombs from the sky, you too might adopt strategies that cannot be easily justified.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:51 AM on December 22, 2004


for people that decapitate non-combatants they have captured

Are you talking about those mercenaries hung from the bridge that started this whole Fallujah thing? How on earth do they EVER qualify as non-combatants? Meanwhile, back in Fallujah, it is very certain MOST of the people killed by the US WERE "non-combatants." Jeez! Quit watching Faux News so much!
posted by nofundy at 8:52 AM on December 22, 2004


Do the numbers: who has killed more women and children, the US or the "insurgents"? If your family or friends were murdered by bombs from the sky, you too might adopt strategies that cannot be easily justified.
sonofsamiam So its justified to commit atrocities under some circumstances?
Come on man, think these things through ... Is it ok to torture prisoners (one example of atrocity)? NO ... Does it matter who is the warden and who is the prisoner? NO
Let me reiterate my statement, and I stand by it.
I have a problem with people that intimidate through violence.
Get it?
This is a complex problem to solve ... Ignoring will it make it worse. Collective punishment may make it worse . My post was trying to find out if anyone had any good ideas on how to solve the problem in a more positive fashion.

nofundy So you, like sonofsamiam, are saying that extra-judicial atrocities are ok, as long as its an eye for an eye thing? That's how I read both your comments.
posted by forforf at 11:11 AM on December 22, 2004


Sun Tzu:
Therefore the skillful leader subdues the enemy's troops without any fighting; he captures their cities without laying siege to them; he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy operations in the field.
If you read The Art of War, you quickly realize that the US has violated every single basic principle of effective warfare in our invasion of Iraq. And for that reason pretty much our every goal over there - both publicly stated and ulterior - will be unsuccessful.

The incidences of abuses and thuggish activity by US troops are very telling - well-disciplined troops with capable commanders and a clear mission don't do things like that. Since the mission is no longer clear or even compatible with a military operation, discipline falls apart.

The only reason we're holding up as well as we are is our technological superiority in weapons, application of firepower and communications. Note that this is barely sufficing to keep our troops on top, with a determined and inventive insurgency.

All the spin in the world can't change the facts on the ground; we're holding an increasingly resistant country with too few men, and the technological advantage will not end the constant attrition. We're simply not doing the war properly, and it is biting us on the ass, hard.

Highly recommend reading Sun Tsu very carefully, and thinking about how it applies to this "war."
posted by zoogleplex at 11:21 AM on December 22, 2004


forforf: were the Poles in the Warsaw Rising justified?
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:27 AM on December 22, 2004


were the Poles in the Warsaw Rising justified

Which one, the Jewish Uprising or the non-Jewish uprising?
posted by meehawl at 11:46 AM on December 22, 2004


sonofsamiam
I can understand people defending their way of life from invaders.
I have a problem with people using violence to intimidate others.

Poles in Warsaw = people defending their way of life
Iraqis in Fallujah = people defending their way of life

Zarqawi Cutting off heads = violence to intimidate
Beating prisoners = violence to intimidate
posted by forforf at 12:01 PM on December 22, 2004


Violence with a message attached is less moral than indiscriminate violence?
I think that's a specious distinction, but I'm willing to allow that others may not see it that way.

meehawl: I was thinking of the Ghetto Uprising in comparison with Fallujah.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:12 PM on December 22, 2004


The distinction is codified.
posted by forforf at 12:58 PM on December 22, 2004


I was thinking of the Ghetto Uprising in comparison with Fallujah.

The Polish Jews were facing deliberate, methodical, routine extermination. Their uprising was one of survival.

The Polish Home Army in Warsaw, a year later, were not faced with extermination. They were fighting against an occupying army, and in an attempt to gain political leverage before the Red Army arrived.

I think the Fallujah struggle is more like the latter than the former Warsaw rising.
posted by meehawl at 7:38 PM on December 22, 2004


But, forforf, maybe they agree with Ashcroft's replacement, that the Genava Convention is quant and outdated?
posted by Iax at 11:03 PM on December 22, 2004


it was the dukes, it was the dukes, it was the dukes....

Thanks 3BM, that give me the first big laugh of the day.
posted by ciderwoman at 6:11 AM on December 23, 2004


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