Topic: American Military Intervention Abroad
Recently, units belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and The Levant elements of Al-Quaeda reclaimed the city of Fallujah-less than 43 miles from Baghdad. The quick reclamation of Fallujah by extremist agents occurred rapidly after months of Iraqi Government denial of imminent attack. Fallujah, a town of moderate size, is tactically significant for its location between Baghdad and the hostile-threatened Anbar Province. Fallujah was also the location of a major battle during US involvement in Iraq. The Second Battle of Fallujah was the largest battle fought by the US since the Battle for Hue City during the TET Offensive of the Vietnam War. The campaign lasted for most of 2004, as Marines had to clear the city building by building, many of which were booby-trapped. All in all, 2000 extremists and almost 100 Marines died in the conflict. Today, US and Iranian military forces are offering airborne support for Iraqi Government forces.
As a civilian, I am irritated. I can’t imagine how a Fallujah veteran feels. What Americans struggled to take for a year, insurgents reclaimed in two days. Unfortunately, I believe this waste of American lives and resources is a combination of two factors. First is the illusion that the US can truly change the culture and circumstance of another country without first destroying its culture. The illusion of this ability perhaps stems from the glory of victory in WWII. The US saved the world from the Nazis, and we haven’t been able to let go of that. From Vietnam to Iraq, proxy wars in the name of peace and freedom have cost the US.
Second, I blame poor leadership in both the US and Iraq. President Bush led the US into Iraq with fervor that masked mixed motivations. Though conditions under Saddam Hussein were miserable, it was the business of the entire UN, not just the US. Next, President Obama, in order to appease campaign promises, rushed the US out of Iraq using the same tactics of Nixon’s failed Vietnamization. Iraq wasn’t ready to support its own military. Finally, Iraq Government officials failed to utilize the strongest defense against Al-Quaeda: an armed populace. The Sunni majority eventually welcomed the US into Fallujah in 2004 in order to rid themselves of draconian Al-Quaeda rule. Indeed, most citizens fleed the city as it fell several weeks ago. In total, I am disappointed in international leadership. Perhaps the US needs another President with military roots, or perhaps we need to return to the morals that made WWII and the Cold War a victory for longterm peace.