Annan Condemns US Assault on Fallujah
The caretaker government was appointed by an envoy of Mr. Annan, so if he lacks the standing to speak out on Fallujah and/or is a fool to do so, that raises the question of whether he had the legitimacy to install Mr. Allawi and his colleagues in the first place, or whether he was wise enough to choose the right government for Iraq.
The serial pleas for US soldiers to sacrifice their lives in Iraq, and the preference for them to fight guerrillas by inflicting massive civilian casualties through aerial and tank bombardment of residential neighborhoods, seem to me to rest on thinner and thinner grounds.
First, Iraqi expatriate politicians alleged that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction that threatened the US and was linked to al-Qaeda. And he had killed large numbers of Kurds, and of Shiites in East Baghdad and Najaf.
But after he was overthrown and captured, it turned out that there was no WMD or al-Qaeda connecton. Then the Sadrist Shiites proved hard to control, and the United States was called upon to kill thousands of them and to bombard Sadr City, Kut, Najaf and other places, killing rebellious Shiites just as Saddam had done. So in retrospect was Saddam’s crushing of the Sadrist uprising in 1999 really different from the US crushing of the same movement in 2004?
Now it is being argued that it is necessary to kill hundreds, perhaps thousands of civilians in Fallujah, in order to “save” them from a handful of foreign guerrillas. But every evidence is that most Fallujans support the uprising against the Americans, and the evidence for any significant number of foreign fighters being in Iraq is thin. Can it really be necessary to destroy a city to get at 200 foreign volunteers? So what is really probably being argued is that it is necessary to kill hundreds or thousands of Fallujans in order to remove a challenge to Mr. Allawi and his colleagues.
As Annan implies, the argument that Fallujah has to be razed in order to prepare the way for elections makes no sense. The US attack on Fallujah may well push most Sunni Arabs, who identify with the Fallujans, into boycotting the January elections, thus profoundly weakening the legitimacy of the new elected government.
Many prominent Iraqi political figures are deeply critical of the US tendency to use massive force in Iraq.
Who will be next? And how many Americans will have to die to accomplish these increasingly brutal and absurd missions? Is it really hoped that the ghetto Shiites of Sadr City can be bombed into accepting Thomas Jefferson? And what exactly did the United States expect to find in Fallujah, if not Baathists and Sunni fundamentalists?
If the Kurds don’t get what they want, and start making trouble, will the Allawi government or its successor then argue that dozens of Marines must die fighting the Peshmerga, and must kill hundreds or thousands of Kurds?
Isn’t that where we came in?