Thursday, October 14, 2004

More On Fallujah

The Strategy Page has some interesting reading on the war of attrition going on in Fallujah and gives us some insight into the psychological effects of the Coalition's strategy on the insurgents:

October 14, 2004: Sunni Arabs in Iraq are becoming more agitated about being caught in a war pitting an alliance of Saddam supporters and Islamic radicals, against the majority Shia Arab and Kurds who want peace and prosperity, at any price. The Sunni Arabs are increasingly desperate to do something about their situation. Despite the threats from Saddam's old enforcers (almost all of them Sunni Arads), and the al Qaeda influenced Islamic radicals; tribal and religious leaders are suggesting that the Saddam hardliners and foreign Islamic radicals leave.

Leave Sunni Areas, leave Iraq, leave this life, it doesn't really matter. The Sunni Arabs see nothing but woe from the Saddam supporters and Islamic radicals. The American smart bombs hit Fallujah daily, while American and Iraqi troops continue to tighten the noose. The Saddam and Islamic gunmen regularly use civilians for cover, believing that, even when that tactic does not work, dead civilians make good propaganda for their cause. But most Sunni Arabs want nothing to do with seeing the Baath Party back in power, or having an Islamic Republic. The Sunni Arabs have been cowed by the terror, but not completely immobilized. Deals are being cut, to be finalized when Iraqi troops and police enter Sunni Arab towns under the shadow of American firepower. Will the Sunni Arab leaders remain with the Iraqi majority. Considering the alternative, they probably will.

October 13, 2004: Although the details are secret, American and Iraqi troops are on the offensive against Sunni Arab and terrorist gangs. Over a year of effort in building up an intelligence network among the population has paid off. Even in the Sunni Arab areas, many people are fed up with the lawlessness and violence created where the gangs operate. So information comes in about who is who and is doing what. This provides more, and higher quality, targets for raids...

There's more here.

UPDATE: Fox News reports that it looks as though an assault on Fallujah is imminent. See the report here.

Francis Crick, R.I.P.

Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of the double helicoid structure of the DNA molecule, has passed away at the age of 88. Mark Steyn graces us with an excellent obituary.

Crick was an atheistic Darwinian who was most interested in taking his naturalistic assumptions to their logical conclusions, though like most such thinkers, he stops well short of going all the way.

For instance, Steyn quotes him as writing in his last major work, The Astonishing Hypothesis, "that 'You,' your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll's Alice might have phrased it: 'You're nothing but a pack of neurons.'"

In other words, the human being is for Crick nothing more than a clump of chemicals, mud and blood, a muscle and bone machine. If Crick is right about this, however, it has the most distressing and devastating consequences for our view of human existence. As Viewpoint has argued on previous occasions, every major yearning of the human heart is hopelessly unfulfillable if all we are is a pack of neurons. Life and the world are completely absurd, there's no meaning or purpose to human love, striving, or suffering. There's no ground for moral judgment, no real justice, no basis for human dignity or rights. There is only, for most people who've ever lived, the prospect of pain, conflict, alienation, and finally annihilation with perhaps a few fleeting moments of joy arising briefly like the ephemeral light of a firefly in an otherwise uniformly dark and bleak night.

The worldview of such as Francis Crick leads anyone who is serious about its logical consequences into the abyss of nihilism and despair. Anything else is just whistling past the graveyard. It is an odd thing about atheism that few people are able to live consistently with its fundamental convictions that we are an accident of blind, impersonal forces and that this life is the only life there is.

Progress in Iraq

Senator Kerry claims that Iraq is in chaos, that the president is botching it so badly that Kerry has no idea what he will find when he takes office in January. He may, he claims, find that Iraq is another Lebanon, and so on. Yet everything we read coming out of that country, except what we read in the MSM, suggests that the Senator simply doesn't know what he's talking about. This is understandable, of course, since he never attends the meetings of the Intelligence Committee he serves on, but it's not excusable.

There is much news from Iraq which indicates that things are going much better there than the Senator would have us believe. One such story at National Review Online concerns the quality of Iraqi troops which are daily growing more competent, more effective and more numerous. Consider these excerpts:

The enthusiasm of U.S. Marine captains Thomas "Tad" Douglas and David Nevers can hardly be contained. Their voices, alternately crackling over a weak satellite-phone connection, are heartening as they describe the successes they are witnessing in Iraq. The insurgency is losing ground. Iraqi civilians, feeling less afraid than in previous months, are increasingly coming forward with solid information about the bad guys. And a new Iraqi special-operations force is taking the lead in wiping out guerilla strongholds, south of Baghdad.

From their operating base in Kalsu...Douglas tells National Review Online, "The Iraqis are performing well-above my expectations. Their strengths are their aggressiveness and mobility, and we are enhancing those strengths."

"This is an emerging force, and yet they are taking the lead in our operations against the insurgents," says Nevers. "We conducted an operation a month ago in which this force did most of the planning and then physically led the way. The operation was very successful, and it consequently set the stage for what we are doing right now."

Asked if those on the team are more-formidable fighters than the best Iraqi troops faced by U.S. forces during the spring 2003 invasion, Nevers is quick to respond, "Yes, and they are far better than the Iraqis we were contending with in April 2004 [during the brutal fighting in and around Fallujah and Ramadi]."

Speaking of Iraq, there is another helpful article on the conditions in Fallujah in the Washington Post (free registration may be required). Evidently, the American tactic of wearing down the insurgents in that city is paying dividends by setting the various groups against each other, and the foreigners are feeling both the heat and the fear.

Local insurgents in the city of Fallujah are turning against the foreign fighters who have been their allies in the rebellion that has held the U.S. military at bay in parts of Iraq's Sunni Muslim heartland, according to Fallujah residents, insurgent leaders and Iraqi and U.S. officials.

Relations are deteriorating as local fighters negotiate to avoid a U.S.-led military offensive against Fallujah, while foreign fighters press to attack Americans and their Iraqi supporters. The disputes have spilled over into harsh words and sporadic violence, with Fallujans killing at least five foreign Arabs in recent weeks, according to witnesses.

U.S. and Iraqi authorities together have insisted that if Fallujah is to avoid an all-out assault aimed at regaining control of the city, foreign fighters must be ejected. Several local leaders of the insurgency say they, too, want to expel the foreigners, whom they scorn as terrorists. They heap particular contempt on Abu Musab Zarqawi, the Jordanian whose Monotheism and Jihad group has asserted responsibility for many of the deadliest attacks across Iraq, including videotaped beheadings.

"He is mentally deranged, has distorted the image of the resistance and defamed it. I believe his end is near," Abu Abdalla Dulaimy, military commander of the First Army of Mohammad, said.

One of the foreign guerrillas killed by local fighters was Abu Abdallah Suri, a Syrian and a prominent member of Zarqawi's group. Suri's body was discovered Sunday. He was shot in the head and chest while being chased by a carload of tribesmen, according to a security guard who said he witnessed the killing.

One way or another Fallujah will be pacified by the end of November as will be Ramadi and Sadr City. Elections will be held and foreign corporations, eager to get a chunk of Iraq's oil wealth, will stream into the country to further hasten reconstruction. This will drive the left in this country to near hysteria, not only because George Bush will be largely vindicated and given the credit, and the judgment and motives of the left will be indicted, but also because once Iraq is stabilized, the attention of the world, i.e. the U.S., will perforce turn toward Iran's nuclear program. If Iraq begins to settle as November draws to a close, look for the left to employ every play in their playbook in a desperate attempt to preempt military action against Iran should it be deemed necessary.

Moreover, if Bush is re-elected in a couple of weeks look for the French, Germans, and Russians to join the coalition against Iran. They will seek to redeem themselves after their disgraceful behavior in Iraq, where they accepted bribes from Saddam in exchange for thwarting the American demarche. Unless, of course, they're also accepting bribes from the mullahs in Tehran.