Friday, August 20, 2004

Writing in The New Republic, Peter Beinart makes an excellent point:

Imagine what conservatives would be saying if John Kerry did the things President Bush has done this year in Falluja and Najaf.

Here's a little refresher. On March 31, four American contractors are murdered in Falluja, their mutilated bodies dragged through the streets. American officials pledge to retake the city and bring the killers to justice. On April 5, 1,200 Marines encircle Falluja--digging trenches and blockading roads. After two weeks of sporadic fighting in which 36 Americans are killed, the United States halts the siege--on the condition that the militants hand over their heavy weapons. When they don't, the United States extends the cease-fire, despite insurgent attacks. Finally, on April 27, the Marines prepare for an all-out assault. U.S. planes drop flyers reading, "If you are a terrorist, beware, because your last day was yesterday." Lieutenant Karl Banke, a platoon leader with the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, tells The Washington Post, "Every one of them [in his platoon] has a hunger deep down inside to finish the job. We've now shed our blood in the city. The last thing we want to do is walk away."

On April 29, the United States walks away. Taking senior military officials by surprise, the White House orders the Marines to pull back from the city, which will be patrolled by the Falluja Brigade, a roughly 1,000-man force composed of Saddam Hussein's former soldiers. The force is supposed to disarm the militants. In early June, the Post's Daniel Williams slips into Falluja and reports that, while the "brigade stays outside of town in tents, [and] police cower in their patrol cars," masked militants "[pull] cars over at will." The insurgents impose sharia on the city, banning the shaving of beards and parading alcohol venders naked through the streets. Terrorists flock to Falluja--using it as a base from which to launch kidnappings and attacks. Asked on June 17 about conditions in the city, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz tells the Post, "We're making progress."
Beinart goes on to cite similar examples of American unwillingness to confront insurgents head on in Fallujah and Najaf and concludes,
If John Kerry, or Bill Clinton, had done all this, conservatives would be apoplectic. Falluja and Najaf would be exhibits A and B in their case that Democrats lack the toughness, and moral fiber, to protect America.
Here's a prediction: if Kerry gets elected, the Weekly Standard and the National Review will miraculously rediscover the "sensitive" policies employed by the U.S. military regarding Sadr and other insurgents. We will be treated to an array of articles - some of which will seep into the national media - documenting how we are losing in Iraq due to our reluctance to take on the terrorists.


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