Al Qaeda Seizure of Falluja Throws U.S. Attitudes Toward Iraq Into Sharp Relief

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

After the fall of Falluja to al Qaeda affiliate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, disappointment was expressed by many U.S. Marines who fought to wrest it from Iraqi insurgents. In a New York Times article on January 9, Richard Oppel quoted Kael Weston, who he described as “a former State Department political adviser who worked with the Marines for nearly three years in Falluja and the surrounding Anbar Province.”

Though he would not send troops back, Mr. Weston, the former State Department official, said it was “almost immoral for us to say, ‘It’s all up to them now, we’re out of there.’ ”

His concerns may be humanitarian. On the other hand, they may mask a desire for revenge or a belief that Americans won’t be defeated. On the other hand, someone Oppel describes as a senior active duty officer said:

“What the Iraqi forces lost in the last month, four years after transition, is not a reflection of Marine efforts. If it is a reflection of anything, it is the nature of the Iraqi social fabric and long-suppressed civil discord.”

While this view doesn’t discount humanitarian concerns, it’s a civilized way of saying what most Americans, I suspect, feel about casualties in Iraq, most recently estimated at reported 500,000, but which could be as high as one and a half million. To wit: sure, there were some deaths. But what did those crazy Arabs do with the freedom from tyranny we gave them? They took it as a license to torture, kill, and maim each other.

From this writer’s perspective, though, the bulk of the blame falls on the United States for throwing a match on the tinderbox that was Iraq, watch it light up, and continue to throw fuel on the fire.