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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Deja Vu in Falluja -- Gory, Gory Hallelujah

Did you hear 'em talkin' 'bout it on the radio
Did you try to read the writing on the wall
Did that voice inside you say I've heard it all before
It's like Deja Vu all over again

One by one I see the old ghosts rising
Stumblin' 'cross Big Muddy
Where the light gets dim
Day after day another Momma's crying
She's lost her precious child
To a war that has no end

From "Deja Vu (All Over Again)" by John Fogerty

Has Iraq now drifted off the scope Americans' attention? Didn't we all sense a disaster there was just on the horizon? It seems it's time to redeem the lottery ticket for those who predicted terrorist takeover of the "new" Iraq in less than three years.

Al Qaeda and other jihadis are in control of Falluja, a place whose "freedom" was paid for by tremendous loss of precious American lives. During the Iraqi War, the battle for control of the town was one of the bloodiest for American troops.

It seems Falluja and the future of Iraq is back to square one. Terrorists are gaining the upper hand.

Just two years after the United States withdrew all combat troops from Iraq, the U.S. military is helping Iraq again in the fledgling government’s all-out battle against insurgents. A massive C-17 cargo plane landed in Baghdad this week to deliver ammunition — this time, 2,400 rockets — for Iraqi helicopters, military officials said, as Iraqis fight a resurgent Al Qaeda in al Anbar Province.

Fighting rages daily in Falluja and in parts of Ramadi. While the regular Iraqi army has stayed outside the city, Iraqi special forces are deeply involved in the fight and are said to be taking heavy casualties. Tribal leaders and American officials say the government-supplied weapons are not nearly enough to beat back the militants, who are armed with sniper rifles and heavy, truck-mounted machine guns.

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Robert Beecroft told ABC News that Al Qaeda posed a threat to all of the country. The terror group has been responsible for deadly attacks that, according to the United Nations, killed 7,818 people last year, the highest number in years.

In Baghdad alone, bombings have killed more than 700 people in the last month — more than double last year’s number.

At Home From Iraq

At home here in America human costs of the War in Iraq include nearly 5000 American dead, unknown social and psychological damage from cruel maiming, high veteran suicide rates, and, harshest of all, the haunting horror of soldiers that their sacrifices may indeed have been in vain.

Consider this report about the latest news from Falluja in a recent The New York Times:

"The bloody mission to wrest Falluja from insurgents in November 2004 meant more to the Marines  than almost any other battle in the 12 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many consider it the corps’ biggest and most iconic fight since Vietnam, with nearly 100 Marines and soldiers killed in action and hundreds more wounded. (Another source reports during the two battles of Fallujah in 2004, the U.S. lost 51 and 95 troops, respectively. More than 1,000 U.S. troops were injured in total.)

"For many veterans of that battle — most now working in jobs long removed from combat — watching insurgents running roughshod through the streets they once fought to secure, often in brutal close-quarters combat, has shaken their faith in what their mission achieved."

(Richard A. Oppel, Jr. "Falluja’s Fall Stuns Marines Who Fought There." 
The New York Times. January 09, 2014)

Kael Weston, a former State Department political adviser who worked with the Marines for nearly three years in Falluja and the surrounding Anbar Province, and later with Marines in Afghanistan believes this is just the beginning of the "reckoning and accounting."

Weston is writing a book, and he remains in close contact with scores of the men he served with.
Weston said, “This has been a gut punch to the morale of the Marine Corps and painful for a lot of families who are saying, ‘I thought my son died for a reason.’ ”

Weston likens Falluja to Khe Sanh, the bloody 1968 battle where Americans triumphed only to abandon the base months later, though he did not disagree with the 2011 troop pullout and does not believe that American troops should be sent back in. “This makes the analogy complete,” he said.

When in the hell are we going to learn that attempting to "fix" other peoples' cultures is foolish? The wars in the Middle East still rage, and Washington continues to lose moral standing for its misguided involvement. Where is leadership and clarity of vision? Is it all tied to shady alliances with big money, corporate control, and senseless politics? And how does any other nation stop religious factions and those of many distinct backgrounds bent on revenge from waging civil wars, anyhow?

In the meantime, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said it was time to clear al Qaeda-linked militants out of the rebel-held city of Falluja, but set no deadline for any military assault. "Those criminals are seeking to ignite sectarian strife and to end up with the division of Iraq," Maliki said.

No shit, Sherlock al-Maliki. Why don't you just make your way up to Falluja and show these outlaws who's boss? Maybe you can establish control for a day or two.

The United States rejected suggestions that American troops could help stabilize the situation. "If we couldn't control that border with 150,000 troops in that country during the war, what would a few hundred accomplish?" one U.S. official said. Meanwhile the U.S. is selling al-Maliki lots of Hellfire missiles and Scan Eagle surveillance drones.

(It's now time while reading this post to tune up some more CCR and remember the ARVIN attempting to hold onto South Vietnam after the American withdrawal.)

Al-Qaeda has also been strengthened by the civil war in neighboring Syria. The war there has attracted foreigners who came to fight under the al-Qaeda banner. Some of those fighters may be spilling into western Iraq, analysts say.

And, yes, John Fogerty, it's definitely "Deja Vu (All Over Again)." But, we knew what was coming after we left, didn't we... well, didn't we? And then there's Afghanistan, the home of Papaver somniferum, the infamous opium poppy. Let's see... oil and opiates. I wonder who's running the ship of state? Guns, money, and drugs -- damn, this all sounds so familiar.

Our fine fighting forces can kick ass, but our government has abused them. The government has limited their ability to wage and win wars and has asked them to fight senseless conflicts without the true intention of holding and controlling ground. I am sick of the armed services being used in reckless Imperialist actions. We must fight for proper reasons and with proper support. I fear we have not done so in Iraq. And, I fear even more that this abuse continues unchecked.

For example, we have asked tens of thousands of American men and women to sacrifice their lives and bodies to the war in Afghanistan, ostensibly in defense of American national security. I respect these forces to the utmost -- they are among the best of us. Yet, as America ploughs through its 13th year of war in Afghanistan, what do we hope to win and what do we hope will last?

I fear the Afghans will return to business as usual with Karzai. America has lost sight of the value of human life in favor of trusting misguided warring instincts.

Will we ever learn?

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