Saturday, November 13, 2004

Pyrrhic Victory

Pyrrhic victory \PIR-ik\, noun:
A victory achieved at great or excessive cost; a ruinous victory.

A Pyrrhic victory is so called after the Greek king Pyrrhus, who, after suffering heavy losses in defeating the Romans in 279 B.C., said to those sent to congratulate him, "Another such victory over the Romans and we are undone."
What will become of Fallujah after the current battle is done?

If you've seen the pictures, you know that in many parts of the city little remains but rubble. There is no electricity, any water or sewage service there was is now disabled, there is no phone service and the streets are too torn up even for bicycles. Apartment complexes, houses, stores and mosques are pockmarked with bullet holes, have gaping holes from tank rounds and RPGs or are completely demolished by mortars, artillery and bombs.

Because BushCo. telegraphed this move and then postponed it until after the US elections, the insurgents mostly melted away leaving a rearguard contingent to tie up our forces and moved on to other areas in Iraq to cause additional troubles. This was so effective that not only are the main US forces still trying to "mop up" the remaining insurgents in Fallujah, but an entire battalion of troops that were to contribute to the cordon around the city had to be sent to a nearby town after insurgents there overran the police stations making off with uniforms and more weapons.

So not only did we not kill or capture the main force of insurgents or any of their leaders, we've destroyed a city in the process.

What will the inhabitants of Fallujah think when they return? The insurgents will come back as soon as Operation Phantom Fury ends, along with the remaining residents. And they will play on the fears and emotions of those residents, coming back to ruined and destroyed homes and businesses. They and the imams will speak of the destruction wrought by our soldiers. They will tell stories of the desecration of the mosques, or the wanton killing of women and children, of the bombs falling indiscriminately from the sky; and true or not, the people will believe them.

And those young men who might have been more interested in their jobs or their schooling before will not have a place to work or study. Their families will not have a place to live or work. And those young men will join forces with the insurgents. And where there were 5,000 there will now be 7,000 or 10,000.

As our soldiers move from town to town, at the direction of the generals who get their marching orders from Bush's neocon cabal, they will leave a path of destruction in their wake. It's what they are trained to do and they do it better than any army on earth ever did. And as happened in the jungles of another third world country thousands of miles away and three generations ago, they will discover truths bought so dearly then: you really can't "win hearts and minds" by killing people, you can't save a village by destroying it, and in an insurgency you only control the ground you are standing on.

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