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Checkmating Ourselves
by George de Poor Handlery
26 April 2004Iraqi Flag

The siege of Fallujah -- complete with "negotiations," withdrawals, and truces -- is nothing more than an elaborate hoax. 

This would be a very funny story. If only it were a joke. It is. But the joke is on us. Which is quite our own fault.

Scene One: An Iraqi city. Irregulars conduct a general attack on all American targets. A bit of massacring takes place. We are admonished to put it in perspective: the kidos are frustrated. The Nasty Occupiers underreact to the provocation. Losing a few of our men is nothing compared to their frustration.  Because the Fighters for God are cleverly embedded amidst civilian targets not much of what would be possible can be done. That is because we are (idiotically) committed to respect what they abuse. The Godless (that is us) have inhibitions against killing “bystanders.” Whether innocent or not. (Since you asked: mainly “not.”)

Scene Two: In self defense the exasperated Americans shoot back. Arab news agencies are, naturally quite accidentally, on the scene to record the ensuing atrocity. That consists of kids being killed who are sent by knowing adults into the line of fire. You also get a speech from a ranting cleric denouncing everyone who does not bow to his wishes. Resisting his killers is especially condemned.

Scene Three. The ugly American Storm troopers encircle the city. From your knowledge of WWII you would expect that they demolish with heavy weapons every house from which they are fired upon. And then they would proceed to liquidate the Cleric and His Affiliated Nuts. Wherever they might be hiding. The Crusaders demand the surrender of the heroic fighters who hide in the city. Before it happens they are prepared to negotiate. (About what and why? Only the confused can tell.) Supposedly, destroying the heroes who fight for the impunity of nice folks that dismember the dead bodies of those they had just massacred, would anger the defenders of God. No, this has to be done with their consent. Otherwise the mad can get even madder. (Bad people would say, that their surfacing would be a Godsend: as a visible target they could be helped to their desired martyrdom.) One learns about angering the irreconcilable from the press.

Scene Four. Negotiations. Cease fire. This allows that they shoot, nevertheless, when they find good targets. The agreement imposes restraint on the US forces. To show good will by risking a few good men. Days later scrap weapons are surrendered. Amidst threatening suicide attacks. Translation: they are antagonized.  Their hearts and minds need to be won. So nothing that would be a proper reaction happens. Being rational, “they” are emboldened. The siege looses a lot of good men on the altar of what!?

Scene Five: (Summary: they shoot a little bit and we talk a lot.)

Since this act in the theater of the absurd has not yet taken place, there seem to be two alternatives.

1. The US forces withdraw beyond the range of fire of “Insulted Islamists.” The Americans stammer half-hearted apologies for their provocations. The Jihadists promise not to fire and to be “on their best behavior” -- till they find targets they can reach. After God’s Fighters have a decent chance to enjoy R&R, the game is resumed at the original beginning of the story. Except, of course, for the guys who are sent home in coffins.

2. US forces begin to play according to the rules of the “war” they were forced into by a foe that underestimated them. War being fought like war, they storm, smother and erase the centers of resistance. They use their superior firepower to reduce their own casualties. Game over.

The reader is left with the task of choosing the likely end of the story. He is to determine whether “Scene Five” will be played and if yes, whether anything close to act “1” or “2” will take place. A last confidential remark: in choosing, please do not confuse that should be done with what is likely to be done.

George Handlery is an historian. He has lived and taught in Europe since 1976.

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