[Marxism] Latest battle of Fallujah will not defeat resistance

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Tue Nov 9 17:55:48 MST 2004

Very interesting point by P. Cockburn: The elections are taking place
only because of the armed resistance.  The US has made concessions and,
if they want to pull out in a different way than in Vietnam, they will
have to make a lot more.  I've also noticed, I think, that waves of
struggle in Iraq tend to be followed by more struggle for revolutionary
objectives in Venezuela.  
Fred Feldman

Likely to Prove as Disappointing to US as the Capture of Saddam
Crushing Fallujah Will Not End the Iraq War

The belligerent trumpetings of the US Marines bode ill for Fallujah. Sgt
Major Carlton W Kent, the senior enlisted marine in Iraq, told troops
that the battle would be no different from Iwo Jima. In an analogy the
Pentagon may not relish, he recalled the Tet offensive in Vietnam in
1968 and added: "This is another Hue city."

American voters last week never seemed to take on board the extent of
the US military failure in Iraq. The rebel control of Fallujah, half an
hour's drive from Baghdad, was the most evident symbol of this. It was
as if a British government in London had been forced to watch as an
enemy force occupied Reading for six months.

The US army ceded control of much of western Iraq during the Sunni
uprising last April. Its failure to recover fully from this setback
underlines the extent to which the US as a military power has proved
itself much weaker than the rest of the world had assumed before the
invasion of Iraq last year.

There is no doubt that the US can recapture Fallujah, if only by blowing
most of it up. But this is unlikely to have much of an effect on the
guerrilla war in central and northern Iraq which continues to escalate.
It is still unclear how far the rebels will stand and fight against the
massed firepower of the marines and the US air force. They know they are
far more effective in launching pin-prick attacks with roadside bombs
and suicide bombers.

The recapture of Fallujah is likely to be as disappointing in terms of
ending the resistance as was the capture of Saddam Hussein last December
or the hand-over of sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government at the
end of June. Each event was billed as a success which would tip the
balance towards the US. Instead the fighting got bloodier and more

There should be no mystery about why this is happening. All countries
object to being occupied. Foreign invasions provoke nationalist
resistance. This has happened with extraordinary speed in Iraq because
of the ineptitude of the US civil and military commanders, but in the
long term it would have happened anyway.

The US in Iraq has always behaved as if the resistance was fomented by
foreign powers or adherents of Saddam Hussein. A lesson of the ground
war last year was that few Iraqis were prepared to get killed for their
old leader. Earlier this year I asked American helicopter pilots
operating from a base near Fallujah whom they thought they were
fighting. They said firmly that they were at war with "FFs" and "FRLs".
These turned out to be Foreign Fighters and Former Regime Loyalists. One
of the pilots added nervously that there seemed to be a third somewhat
shadowy group "who want us to go home".

The US and the British are trying to seize Fallujah and the central
Euphrates cities . These may have been the original heartlands of the
rebellion, but today there are guerrilla attacks in every Sunni region
in Iraq. US and interim government control of Baghdad is limited.

One of the strangest justifications for the attack on Fallujah is that
it will allow an election to take place. This would only be true if the
Sunni rebellion was a mirage and was entirely the work of FFs and FRLs
oppressing a local population yearning to break free. A much more likely
result of an increase in the fighting is a boycott of the election by
the Sunnis. Even if they do vote then there is no reason to suppose that
the guerrillas will stop fighting any more than the IRA laid down its
arms despite numerous elections in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and

The election will take place in January and voting will be heavy because
Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the Shia religious leader, wants the Shia to
show at the polls that they are 60 per cent of the population. The
Kurds, who total another 20 per cent, will also take part. But Sistani
has made clear ever since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein that he is
against the occupation and has steadfastly refused to meet American
officials. The Sunni, another 20 per cent of the population, have shown
that they are strong enough to destabilise Iraq just as long as they
want to. (The Kurds, with a similar proportion of the population, were
able to destabilise Iraq for almost half a century.)

It is worth remembering that the elections are taking place largely
because of armed resistance. Until guerrilla war started in the summer
of last year US officials in Baghdad were speaking airily of an American
occupation going on for years. It was only as the military situation
deteriorated by the week that the US suddenly decided to appoint an
interim government and hold elections. Many Iraqis say quietly that the
only way to get concessions from the Americans is to shoot at them.

The French failed to hold Algeria against a nationalist revolt despite
fielding an army of half a million. With similar numbers the US failed
in Vietnam. With a much smaller army in Iraq, it will fail again. As in
Algeria and Vietnam, the war in Iraq will only cease when an end to the
occupation is in sight.

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