Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Reading about reading "Fiasco"

I haven't read "Fiasco," Thomas Ricks's account of the Iraq war, but I enjoyed reading Jack Kelly's review of it today. Kelly wrote that as a supporter of the war, he felt put off by the title. However, he found much of what Ricks wrote convincing. I found the concentration on the first Battle of Fallujah the most intriguing in Kelly's synopsis of the book:

After the CPA and the Army made most of Iraq's Sunnis mad at us, our "leadership," by wimping out in the first battle of Fallujah, gave the insurgents reason to think they could win.

The Marines were ordered to take Fallujah after the grisly murders of defense contractors there in March, 2004. But as they were on the verge of taking the city, political pressures forced the Marines to halt their assault. The insurgents were handed a victory. Their prestige and their morale soared. Thirty nine Marines and soldiers died for nothing.

Kelly finds more with which to agree and also points out two weaknesses he finds in the work.

The first Battle of Fallujah has long stood out with me. At the time of the battle, Bush enjoyed solid public approval of the Iraq war and he appeared in good shape as the November election loomed. The first Fallujah occurred concurrent with the 9/11 Commission hearings, which did not help Bush. As the battle in Iraq unfolded, through al Jazeera, insurgents unleashed a propaganda campaign focusing on suppossed American military atrocities in Fallujah. (Sounds a little like this past summer on the eastern Mediterranean coast.) The Bush administration flinched and halted the assault. GW Bush became much more vulnerable strategically and politically. He's not recovered yet, but already may have started walking out of the valley. The November elections may prove a good indication of that.


Blogger Joe Guarino said...

Glenn, thanks for the reminder about that event. Indeed, it was important in shifting the psychology of public perception. Of course, some will argue that the first time Bush bowed to political considerations was when he sent so many troops home after the initial success with regime change.


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