The Pointless Fallujah Offensive

From Holden:

While boosting the count of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq to 36 for the month of November and 1,157 since Bush’s war began (as well as 178 wounded in Fallujah alone) the offensive itself has not lived up to the hype:

“In military terms, Fallujah is not going to be much of a plus at all,” says Bernard Trainor, a retired three-star Marine Corps general. “The downside is that we’ve knocked the hell out of this city, and the only insurgents we really got were the nut-cases and zealots the smart ones left behind — the guys who really want to die for Allah.”

[snip]

“The big question is the elections — they are the key,” says David Phillips, who served through most of the first term of this Bush administration as a senior adviser on Iraq matters before stepping down in September. “Can you make elections go forward in Fallujah and elsewhere by rolling over the city? I don’t think so. You can’t bring people to the polls at gunpoint.”

A bit of an anticlimax, even a setback, for the U.S. military in Iraq. But for the people of Fallujah it’s a disaster:

“We call on the Iraqi government and U.S. forces to allow us to do our humanitarian duty to the innocent people,” said Firdoos al-Ubadi, Red Crescent spokeswoman.

“This is their responsibility,” she said, adding that judging by reports received from refugees and pictures broadcast on television, Falluja was a “big disaster”.

A U.S. military spokesman said the Red Crescent had permission to help refugees in towns around Falluja, but could not say if it had been granted access to the city itself.

[snip]

Scores of buildings in Falluja have been completely destroyed, with TV footage showing some districts all but levelled. There has been no water and electricity for days and food shops have been closed, residents say. The stench of dead bodies is hanging over some areas of the city, the say.

[snip]

U.S. commanders say civilian casualties have been low, but residents dispute that, describing incidents in which non-combatants, including women and children, have been killed by shrapnel or hit by bombs.

In one case earlier this week, a 9-year-old boy died after being hit in the stomach by shrapnel. Unable to reach a hospital, he died hours later of blood loss.

“Anyone who gets injured is likely to die because there’s no medicine and they can’t get to doctors,” said Abdul-Hameed Salim, a volunteer with the Iraqi Red Crescent. “There are snipers everywhere. Go outside and you’re going to get shot.”

[snip]

“There’s no water. People are drinking dirty water. Children are dying. People are eating flour because there’s no proper food,” [Fallujah refugee Rasoul Ibrahim] told aid workers in Habbaniya, which has become a refugee camp, with around 2,000 families sheltering there.