In the neo-Orwellian policy world of the Bush administration and the Pentagon, there is never any need to admit defeat, just as in the Machiavellian mindspace of the presidency of George W. Bush, it is axiomatic that one never admits making a mistake....

By Jack Kus

** Not. **

United for Peace of Pierce County
May 1, 2004

In the neo-Orwellian policy world of the Bush administration and the Pentagon, there is never any need to admit defeat, just as in the Machiavellian mindspace of the presidency of George W. Bush, it is axiomatic that one never admits making a mistake.

So it comes as no surprise that the American defeat in Fallujah -- which, as the following Reuters article demonstrates, is clearly understood as such by Iraqis who are best placed to judge, and who are marking it by rallying around symbols from the regime that the U.S.-U.K. coalition supposedly overthrew -- is being presented by the Americans as the Iraqi solution they were looking for all along.[1]

This must come as a surprise to marines outside Fallujah, many of whose comrades in arms died in the name of the view that there was no alternative to the Coalition taking control of the city.

On Saturday, the New York Times wrote: "Military officials took pains to assert that they were not 'withdrawing' but 'repositioning.' General Kimmit said, 'Any suggestion we're handing over responsibility or withdrawing is patently false.' Colonel [John] Coleman, [chief of staff for the marine expeditionary force,] asked what he would tell marines unhappy at giving up their hard-won positions, said, 'I would tell these marines they have been replaced by another element of their force.' "

What these marines would reply to that would not be printable in the New York Times.


By Fadel Badran

May 1, 2004

FALLUJA -- Soldiers of the old Iraqi army led by one of Saddam Hussein's generals are patrolling Falluja, a year after George W. Bush declared the U.S. "mission accomplished" in ousting the Iraqi regime.

Cries of "victory over the Americans" echoed from minarets on Saturday and guerrilla gunmen celebrated in the streets under the green banner of Islam and Saddam-era Iraqi flags. Thousands who had fled a month of heavy fighting streamed back to their homes after U.S. Marines pulled back from their siege positions.

Mired in a confrontation that spilled blood on both sides and outraged Iraqi and Arab opinion, U.S. commanders withdrew to more distant positions on Friday. Security was entrusted to police and a new force of ex-soldiers under General Jasim Mohamed Saleh, formerly of Saddam's feared Republican Guard.

U.S. officers call it an experiment that may be reversed, while Marine commander Lieutenant-General James Conway said Saleh's 1st Battalion of the Falluja Brigade would tackle the insurgents and foreign fighters aiding them.

"They have a plan," he said just outside the city. "They understand our view that these people must be killed or captured. They have not flinched and their commander has said as much to his assembly of officers within the last 36 hours."

Saleh's offer came just in time, Conway said.

"It got to the point that we thought there were no options that would preclude an attack," he said.

But some Iraqis, impatient with an occupation that brought them pictures this week of U.S. and British troops abusing detainees, see a military debacle.

"The city's defenders are celebrating," yelled one man as a group of gunmen in civilian clothes raised green banners and rifles aloft on a street to acclaim the "defeat" of the Marines, also proclaimed from mosque minarets.

A uniformed member of General Saleh's 1,000-strong force, looked on. He smiled.

On foot and in civilian four-wheel-drive vehicles, Saleh's force began patrolling the streets of the Sunni Muslim city, which was among those most loyal to Saddam.


Americans, deciding whether to re-elect President Bush in November, may also wonder where the Iraq venture is taking them after the bloodiest month for U.S. troops since the war began.

Bush, in his weekly radio address, said that despite "the serious and continuing challenges", Iraqi life was improving.

"Life for the Iraqi people is a world away from the cruelty and corruption of Saddam's regime," he said.

A Pentagon spokesman said the United States was going into the Falluja deal with its "eyes wide open", aware of the risks of dealing with the relatively unknown Saleh, whose influence over -- or links with -- the insurgents are unclear.

Lawrence Di Rita said the Marines had had to end the siege or risk new challenges to U.S. authority that could jeopardise plans to hand over to an interim Iraqi government in two months.

Marine commanders say they are playing the new arrangement in Falluja by ear and may return to the city. They are still hunting the killers of four American security guards, images of whose mutilated bodies prompted the U.S. offensive a month ago.

Hammad Makhlas, returning to Falluja with his wife and five children to find windows smashed and walls damaged at his home, said: "Praise God. The most important thing is that the town's dignity has been preserved with the defeat of the Americans."


The United States turned to Saleh after failing to root out some 2,000 guerrillas dug in among 300,000 civilians. Bush's critics accuse him of wading into a Vietnam-style "quagmire".

The rising death toll is not helping Bush's re-election campaign. In all, 129 Americans were killed in action in April -- nearly a quarter of the combat toll of 541 since U.S. forces invaded in March last year. Two of those died on Saturday.

U.S. television programme "Nightline" sparked controversy by devoting a show to broadcasting names and pictures of the dead.

The bloodshed in Falluja has also not helped Washington win over Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority, long dominant under Saddam. Doctors say 600 died in the siege, enraging many in the "Sunni Triangle" of towns north and west of Baghdad.

And U.S. efforts to maintain the goodwill of those Iraqis who did welcome the overthrow of Saddam's Baathist state, such as the Shi'ite majority to the south, have been hampered by the scandal over the abuse of prisoners by military jailers.

The Arab world was outraged by photographs published this week showing U.S. troops abusing detainees in Saddam's once notorious Abu Ghraib prison.

On Saturday, a London newspaper published images it said showed British troops, who control the Shi'ite south around Basra, abusing an Iraqi detainee. Britain's army chief ordered an inquiry.

Bush said on Friday there had been tough fighting since he declared major combat over on May 1, 2003, but that the war had been worth waging to get rid of Saddam.