Monday, November 15, 2004

Those Who Do Not Learn From History...

...Are bound to repeat it.

There was an interesting piece on NPR this Saturday where Annas Shallal, a Sunni Muslim who is founder of the group Iraqi-Americans for Peaceful Alternatives, discussed the history of Fallujah. The things he spoke of, while well known to historians of the area, seem to be exactly those things which BushCo. either are ignorant of or have ignored.

The name Fallujah itself does not bode well for anyone thinking of subduing it; it is derived from an old local dialect and means "divided." For millennia, this area has been ruled by warlords and strongmen and has vigorously resisted outside authority. The British learned this lesson the hard way in the 1920s when insurgents in the Fallujah area were instrumental in driving them out of Iraq.

We're already hearing from "embedded reporters" and administration sources that Fallujah is occupied and nearly "pacified." Nobody's used that exact word, but you just know it's right on the tips of their tongues. But these Iraqi fighters have hundreds, if not thousands, of years of experience driving out foreigners. They have the kind of patience we cannot imagine.

During the next four years, Bush will rightly be judged on, among other things, what he does to clean up the mess he's created in Iraq. He has just the next 48 months to prepare and polish his "legacy." But compared to the centuries of history in this area 48 months passes in the blink of an eye. The insurgents will move from town to town, avoiding our grasp, melting into the local population. They will wait out whatever this short-sighted and historically blind administration does, they will scheme against the US installed government. And when Bush is long retired to his ranch, when Iyad Allawi is retired or assassinated, they will still be in Fallujah.

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